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Kylie Verzosa Is No Longer the Beauty Queen We Once Knew

Now a full-fledged actress in her own right, Kylie Verzosa is ready to embody her new title as Leading Lady.

by Jamina F. Nitura | Feb 5, 2021

“I don’t think you can be a beauty queen forever. It got me to where I am now and I’m always going to be grateful for it. But I’m at this new stage of my life and I’m doing different things."

Kylie Verzosa has everything you’d imagine her to have: dazzling pageant smile, graceful tact, and near-flawless glowing skin, even through what seems like the 480p resolution of a Zoom video call. She’s the picture-perfect image of a beauty queen, after all—our very own Miss International 2016 in an embellished powder blue Francis Libiran evening gown and a Mikimoto Crown sitting pretty atop her head. 

It’s been almost five years since that fateful day and the pageant moniker remains her primary marker when mentioned in news spreads and articles online. Of course, the treatment is nothing new for other notable beauty queens. The way Pinoy pride works, the title is bound to shadow you wherever you go, and whether or not they attach a “former” to preface it makes no difference.

Kylie, for her part, is well aware of this fact, but as she trades her impromptu Q&A speeches for well-rehearsed screen lines, she’d like you to join her in flipping a new script altogether, thank you very much. “I don’t think you can be a beauty queen forever. It got me to where I am now and I’m always going to be grateful for it. But I’m at this new stage of my life and I’m doing different things,” she tells Preview. “I did the best I could talaga for Miss International and for Philippine pageantry even. It’s where I started. But now I would want them to see me as an actress more.”


Kylie Verzosa for February 2021

While entering the entertainment industry has ostensibly been the natural next step for most pageant queens, where some simply dip their toes in the water, Kylie deep dives. Being thorough comes second nature to the rising actress. She tends to immerse herself in anything she sets her mind to, with each new venture posing like a thesis paper to be conquered. “I’m kind of a nerd,” admits Kylie who, FYI, is actually a major bookworm; she credits David J. Schwartz’s self-help book The Magic of Thinking Big for having helped her win Miss International. That said, her dedication to acting is no different, especially not when she’s finally top-billing two major projects this 2021, three years into her young career. One of them even possibly career-defining.

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Turning Page 

If you’ve followed Kylie’s growth in recent years, the narrative of her transition from beauty queen to actress might seem banal by now, but perhaps nothing else is quite poised to make or break this plight of hers than her first-ever titular role for the upcoming Filipino adaptation of The Housemaid.

This old Korean film from the 1960s is best known for its 2010 remake, which competed for the coveted Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival in the same year. The erotic thriller will find Kylie as Daisy, a maid hired by an upper-class family. As the man of the house takes a lustful interest in her, things take a twisted turn when she’s caught in a love triangle between her employers.


Bodysuit, rings, and hair barrettes, MONKI. Tights, H&M. Heels, ZARA.

Gruesome, rough, and overtly sensual aren’t words one would describe the actress’ present filmography. When she’s not playing the polished supporting role in comedy-dramas, she’s the wicked yet done-up kontrabida in projects like Kasal and Los Bastardos. Hence, why it took a while for the actress, who’s also very much in tune with her own agency, to accept the offer. “I was very hesitant kasi parang ‘kaya ko ba to?’ They were giving me such a big first title role,” she admits. “One of my concerns also was that it was going to be a little bit on the sexier side, and as for my first lead role, I didn’t want it to be super-duper sexy…So we had to sit down and talk about my restrictions as an actor.”


South Korean actress and 2010 The Housemaid lead Jeon Do Yeon received a total of six Best Actress nominations for her performance. To say the pressure was on for Kylie is an understatement, only further fueled by the fact that she was set to star alongside veteran actors, Albert Martinez and 2016 Cannes Film Festival Best Actress Jaclyn Jose. “It was my first time by myself. I always had, for example, other actors my age to help me or to coach me,” shares Kylie. “This time I was on my own, and I really needed to be prepared going into a set or going into a scene because I knew that my actors were one of the best in the industry, so that was quite a challenge.” 

“I had to deglamorize myself—no makeup, no nothing…I didn’t even want my makeup artist to talk to me as Kylie...It really took some time and some solitude to be on my own to get this role right."

Faced with yet another daunting endeavor, Kylie did was she does best. She studied up and plunged headfirst into her character. Apart from having read books on the craft, and watching the original Korean version twice, she also joined acting workshops to better hone her skills—all of which took her about eight months to finish. The rookie actress turned leading lady wasn’t afraid to go method either if it meant fully embodying the psyche of her character. Kylie explains “I had to deglamorize myself—no makeup, no nothing…I didn’t even want my makeup artist to talk to me as Kylie. The way she spoke to me, gusto ko as Daisy na. It really took some time and some solitude to be on my own to get this role right. And thankfully naman, with the lock-in setting, I was able to do it.” 


Devoted as she was to her role, leaving it behind at the end of each day proved to be another roadblock for the former beauty queen. According to Kylie, stepping into Daisy had drained her and often put her in a somber mood, a dazed feeling her boyfriend Jake Cuenca thankfully knew very well. “I was super emotional talaga. Buti na lang my boyfriend, Jake, is an actor too so he understood what I was going through. I was so emotional from the smallest thing. I would cry,” says Kylie who credits the seasoned actor as her inspiration. “I see how passionate he is about his craft and it just inspires me to want to do more or to want to learn more.”


Before fans can finally meet Kylie’s dark side though, they’ll first be treated to a considerably lighter romantic drama this February, which also stars the actress, alongside Xian Lim and Marco Gumabao. Instead of sex, betrayal, and revenge, Parang Kayo Pero Hindi, Vivamax’s first digital series, regales the familiar frustrations of an intimate relationship devoid of a clear label.


Cardigan and skirt, BERSHKA. Shoes, CHARLES AND KEITH. Rings, H&M.

Having been in the same position herself in real life, Kylie reveals that shooting the web series came more natural to her than filming The Housemaid. “I saw myself in her,” says Kylie, pertaining to her character on the show, Daphne. “She was very me at one point. It was very relaxing to play.” Luckily, production for PKPH started first before she had to make the immediate 180-degree shift from romantic and relatable to seductive and sinister. The mark of a true actress perhaps? We can’t wait to find out. 


Behind the Big Screen

A few things you should know about Kylie Verzosa: She has an eclectic taste in music—ranging from the indie rock band Pale Waves, to soft R&B revelation Khalid, to any type of EDM music she can work out to—she’s an avid reader of self-help books, she’s an introvert, she’s hopped onto the K-drama craze and is particularly head over heels for Ko Mun-Yeong’s fashion from It’s Okay to Not Be Okay, she prefers playing “crazy” characters, she keeps her immediate circle to two to three close friends that she can really trust, and she’s admittedly a moody person.


Cardigan, bandeau, and shoes, ZARA. Earrings and shorts, FOREVER 21.

There’s no way to completely grasp someone’s multiple facets online, not even if you spend a productive hour with them on a video call. It’s enough though, to know that beyond Kylie’s “stiff beauty queen” image and perfectly polished Instagram photos lies a nuanced human being beneath the surface. At least, that’s what Kylie hopes to show her fans and casual onlookers through her newly launched YouTube channel. “I think that there’s a part of me na gusto kong makita ng tao,” says the actress. “I just want people to get to know me more, and I don’t think I was able to show [all of who I am] as a candidate for Miss International.”


Her first official video, published last Thursday, is a concrete testament to her goal. In true pageant alum fashion, Kylie staged a question-and-answer segment in her living room, but instead of a bedazzled evening gown and rigorous judges, the Baguio-native can be seen sitting comfortably on her sofa, rocking a rainbow tie-dye sweater, and cradling her adorable pup Leo. She answers queries personally sent by fans to her Instagram account, including the sport she’s good at, how many pillows she sleeps with, her first heartbreak, if she was ever cheated on, and even humorously recalls the one time she jumped off her room’s veranda in the middle of the night. Just casual coffee table conversations with a certified beauty queen turned actress and, soon enough, YouTube personality.

Even when it comes to YouTube, Kylie already has her metaphorical Research Queen cap on in place of a crown, and it wouldn’t surprise us in the least if she makes a well-oiled career out of it too.

Apart from straightforward Q&A videos though, the former Miss International plans to take up vlogging—it’s yet another avenue to showcase a whole other side of Kylie. She promises a peek at her daily routine, onset shenanigans with her co-stars, as well as segments detailing her pageant journey. With a random mix of content planned, the possibility for her channel is endless.


Dress, H&M. Puff sleeve top, TOPSHOP. Heels, ZARA. Hoops, FOREVER 21.

Kylie’s initial videos will apparently serve as a learning curve for her other future content, as she hopes to experiment on the types of vlogs her viewers might eventually respond to the most. In short, even when it comes to YouTube, Kylie already has her metaphorical Research Queen cap on in place of a crown, and it wouldn’t surprise us in the least if she makes a well-oiled career out of it, too.


Through the Motions

Whether she’s a pageant girl, an actress, or a vlogger, Kylie remains, first and foremost, a mental health advocate. It’s safe to say that no matter where she finds herself in life, she’ll always gladly bring the issue with her. Having suffered through crippling depression around six years ago, the actress has taken it upon herself to constantly keep the dialogue on mental health awareness open and available for anyone going through the same thing she did. 


The matter has proven to be even more pertinent as of late as the ongoing pandemic continues to force millions of Filipinos in isolation or sequestered in their homes. Kylie combats it all with her own personal self-care methods, from journaling to listening to music, to exercising, getting the right amount of sleep, and most important of all, eating healthy. “The gut is basically our second brain so whatever we eat affects the way we feel,” she tells Preview.

Such routines aren’t as easy to maintain or even start for most though, so Kylie reaches out the only way one can in the midst of a global catastrophe: online. Mental Health Support Group by Kylie Verzosa is a Facebook community established by the actress last 2017. The growing group of 6000 is facilitated by Kylie’s father, and essentially acts as a safe space for those diagnosed with a mental illness, especially if they ever “need emotional support and good vibes to get through the day.”


”I don’t think being a beauty queen should limit you to having an advocacy..With regards to me as a person…I still have so many things I want to accomplish."

Being part of Kylie’s FB community also means getting free online mental health consultations as facilitated by certified counselors. A quintessential champion of the cause, Kylie’s even gone as far as searching for psychiatrists herself who would be open to giving discounts for those who’ve personally approached her but can’t afford professional treatment.


Beret, MONKI. Cardigan, BERSHKA. Trousers and heels, ZARA.

While her tiara days are well behind her, it’s clear this woman of diverse devotions has a lot more to offer. ”I don’t think being a beauty queen should limit you to having an advocacy,” says the actress. “With regards to me as a person…I still have so many things I want to accomplish.” With an outlook on learning and a life like Kylie’s, tomorrow is just another day for her to do just that while she, no doubt, sashays full speed ahead to her next character arc.


Photographed by Shaira Luna

Creative Direction by Eldzs Mejia

Styled by Adrianne Concepcion

Makeup by Jelly Eugenio

Hair by Paul Nebres

Set Design by Justine Arcega-Bumanlag

Styling Associate Dodley Gallardo

Video by Silver Belen

Words by Jam Nitura

Special thanks to Harry Hartman and Denielle Hernandez

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