There are people who are just lucky, and that’s how we see Alex Gonzaga. Born as Catherine Mae Gonzaga, the name Alex was coined from her character in her very first TV show, Let’s Go, aired about seven years ago. Yes, she’s been in the biz for a while now, but it took years before she even considered it as a serious career; mainly because she was scared to go through the pains and struggles that her sister (and Preview cover girl), Toni Gonzaga, experienced when she was starting out.
Blame it on genes or influence, but Alex’ knack for hosting and acting eventually caught the eyes of the bosses in TV5, the network who gave her first big break in showbiz. “When I moved to TV5 four years ago, I was surprised that they gave me a lot of projects right away. I never asked for it, they just gave them to me. So I told myself that I’d stop this denial thing in my head and go for it for the long haul, just like my sister,” she shares.
With her fun and playful demeanor as her biggest asset, the 25-year old earned her own following, especially in the comedy scene. Now with a number of shows and projects under her belt, she has proven that she’s also a force to reckon with, what with her spot on jokes and spontaneous spiels that only she can deliver with much ease. So if you think this girl is just riding on to her sister’s fame, well, think again. Because Alex is all set to make a name for herself, one witty punch line at a time.
Read on as we get up close and personal with this funny girl and learn a thing or two from her personal style, beauty secrets, and everything in between.
Have you always wanted to enter showbiz?
Yes, but since my sister, Toni, tried it out first, I saw how hard it was to get into showbiz especially if you don’t know anyone in the industry. Imagine, after hours of lining up and waiting during auditions, she’d finally get the part only to find out that her face won’t even be seen on cam. So I decided not to pursue it and just supported her. But then a go-see for a show in ABS-CBN was offered to me so I just grabbed the opportunity and then from there the rest is history.
Can you share with us your most unforgettable winning moment?
When I got the lead for Babaeng Hampaslupa, a teleserye in TV5. It was my first time to do hardcore drama and my co-stars were veterans like Susan Roces, Freddie Webb, Jay Manalo, and Bing Loyzaga. I was super pressured! I attended intensive one-on-one acting workshops and really gave my best and I was so happy that I got positive reviews. It even became the highest-rating show in the network!
What’s your dream role?
I really want to do a Koreanovela remake.
Have you always been into comedy?
Yes. Since I was a kid, I really like to be the center of attention. At school, I’m the girl who likes to crack jokes during class. I would even cut classes just to talk to the people around school—the guards, the janitor, the servers in the cafeteria. For some reason, I get to use our conversations for my punch lines. I really like to hang out with all kinds of people and learn from them. I guess if you really like to make people happy, it just comes out naturally.
How different are you from your sister, Toni?
She’s more calm, more mature, not impulsive. She’s more determined. I’m always in for the fun part. Like if we’re doing yoga or dance training, my sister would really pour her heart out and focus on the activity because she wants to learn and be the best. Unlike me, I just do it because it’s fun. (laughs)
Sisterly love. Photo from @cathygonzaga
In terms of career, do you mind being compared to Toni all the time?
I don’t mind at all. I’m used to the comparison because she’s my only sibling. Plus, whenever we’re together, she doesn’t make me feel like she’s better than me.
If you’re not in showbiz, what do you think you’d be doing?
I’d probably be a teacher, since I love talking to people.
How do you handle pressure especially when hosting a live show?
When Robi Domingo and I took over my sister’s hosting duties for one live episode of The Voice, I was really nervous. My sister told me to pray and just say this before I step on stage: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” She told me to say it out loud to everyone in the room, not minding if they’d get weirded out. So I did that and eventually, I calmed down. And as soon as I stepped on the stage, I felt so confident. I know it sounds cliché, but praying really works.
Can you share with us some of your hosting tips?
Don’t overdo it. Don’t focus on the fact that you need to stand out because it just adds more pressure and you’ll tend to make more mistakes. It’s better to watch someone who’s sincere with what she’s doing as opposed to someone who just likes to be the center of the show.
What do you like better, hosting or acting? Is there a particular field that you’d like to focus on?
Now that I'm back in ABS-CBN, I’m game to do everything. So whatever role or show they’d give me, I’m very much willing to accept and give my all. Honestly, I feel like I haven’t really reached my full potential when it comes to hosting and acting, so I need to do more shows to further improve on my craft.
Let's now move on to fashion. Can you describe your personal style?
My style is very casual and laidback—the type that’s not well thought of, but still looks stylish all the same.
Who are your style stars?
Kourtney Kardashian, Rachel Bilson, Jennifer Aniston, and Jessica Alba.
Where do you shop?
Surplus Shop, American Eagle, and Topshop.
Is there a particular fashion item that you collect?
I collect bags and cardigans. Not so much on shoes.
What’s the first big ticket item you bought from your first big paycheck?
I bought a pre-owned Chanel bag. I treated myself with a brand new one when my pay got bigger.
How many bags do you have now?
I’ve lost count! I used to buy a designer bag once a month. But for a time I stopped then now the urge is coming back so I have to control it again.
Are you saving up for something now?
I really want to buy my own car. Well, I actually bought a HiAce before but we use it as a family car now, since my sister gave me her old customized E150. Gotta love her! (laughs) But if given the chance, I’d like to buy a Chevrolet Suburban from my own money, so I’m trying to save for that. I just want that feeling of being able to buy something that I worked hard for.
Walk us through your style evolution. Are there trends that you regret trying or you think you'd never wear?
Actually, my style depends on the TV shows that I watch. When I was in high school, I loved Meteor Garden so I’m always in shirts and jeans, like San Chai. (laughs) Then during college I got addicted to The O.C., so I copied Marissa Cooper’s style—pointed flats, skirts, polo shirts. Then I got hooked on Friends, and I suddenly liked buying sweaters. After that was Sex and the City, which introduced me to designer brands and shoes. But the funny thing is, I don’t even wear them that often. Growing up, I’m always in pants and rubber shoes because that’s what my dad prefers. So I feel a little awkward when I try out trendy stuff. I only wear them when I’m in front of the camera.
What shows do you watch now?
Modern Family and Will & Grace. But my all time favorites are Friends, Sex and the City and Jersey Shore because they’re funny. Friends is my sleeping pill.
Name your top five favorite movies of all time.
500 Days of Summer, The Breakup, My Best Friend’s Wedding, How To Lose A Guy in 10 Days, Titanic.
Let's now talk about beauty. What beauty products do you swear by?
To clean my face, I use either Pond’s Cold Cream or Shu Uemura’s Cleansing Oil. I also use ProActiv. We were in the States at that time and my sister had a breakout. Our cousin made her try ProActiv and her pimples disappeared! So since then, I use it for prevention.
Can you do your own makeup?
Yes, but I can only do the everyday look: eyebrows, cheek tint, and lipstick.
For TV and shoots, I always go to Albert Kurniawan. He's the expert when it comes to chinky eyes. I love the way he does my makeup, as in super perfect! Plus, I really find Heart Evangelista so pretty so whenever Albert does my makeup, I feel like I already look like Heart. (laughs)
What’s your beauty secret?
If you don’t need to put makeup on, don’t. Make it a point to remove heavy makeup right after the shoot or event to avoid clogged pores.
How often do you go to the dermatologist?
I go to Belo once a week for a body scrub, not so much on facials. Whenever I get pimples, I just let them be. I only have them treated if needed.
Do you work out?
I do Pilates in Options Studios and I also have a personal trainer, Kuya Resty, who trains me at home. Our workout consists of body conditioning, focusing on the core.
How often do you work out?
Two to three times a week, when my schedule permits.
Are you a morning or night person?
Night, definitely! I normally sleep at around 3:00-4:00 am. For some reason, I treat those late hours as my “me time”. I just do random things like watch a movie, read a magazine, or fix my closet.
What time do you normally wake up?
Around 12:00-1:00pm. But if I have work, I try to sleep earlier, like 2:30 am. Which is still late, by the way. (laughs)
Do you follow a specific diet?
No. I eat everything but I’m really not into sweets. I like salty food. If I really like a particular dish, like this Lacquered Salmon here in Café 1771, I’ll make it a point to eat it every day until I get tired of it.
What’s your most recent food craving?
Recently, it’s Krispy Kreme. But I rarely crave for food, though. I even forget to eat sometimes! I know it’s bad, but when I’m super busy, it just slips my mind. So whenever I’m hungry, I would really eat a lot!
Do you like to travel? If yes, how often?
I always travel with my family. Unfortunately, we’re not allowed to travel alone or with our friends. I really want to try to travel with my friends though, hopefully my mom would allow me to.
When and where was your last trip?
We went to Florida last January. My sister and I celebrated our birthdays there and we attended a cousin’s wedding. Since we haven’t really explored Florida, we really took time to go around.
Name the top three places on your bucket list.
Since I’m highly influenced by the shows I watch or the things I read, I really get giddy when I get to set foot exactly where a particular scene took place. When I saw Friends and Sex and the City, I really wanted to go to New York. So when I finally got there, I made it a point to go the places where they shot my favorite scenes.
So now, I want to go to Israel, because I read the Bible a lot and I want to see the traces of Jesus. I also want to explore Europe because I’ve never been there, and then Australia, because they say it’s a really beautiful country.
Can't get enough of Alex? Click on the gallery to see her list of favorite things!
Shot on location at Cafe 1771, El Pueblo, Ortigas, Pasig City. For reservations, call (02) 470 6559.
Photography by Miguel Miranda
Makeup by Albert Kurniawan
Hairstyling by Redd Paule