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Call Her What You Want, But Yam Concepcion Is Here to Take Over

Meet the new girl everyone loves to hate.

by Marj Ramos | Dec 6, 2018

Call her a snake, a mistress, a cheating wife—whatever it is, the fact remains the same: Yam Concepcion gets the whole town talkin', and rumor has it, she's the next big thing.

We’ve all seen it happen before: a feisty confrontation between the legal wife and the mistress, complete with slapping and hair-pulling, and occasionally ending with someone’s face being splashed with a glass of water (or, if she’s that unlucky, red wine). The concept of an otherwise happy marriage ruined by a scandalous affair has become a tried-and-tested formula for a blockbuster film or a primetime slot success. While it may not seem as prestigious of a role as the iconic Darna or Dyesebel, playing the part of an often-despised mistress could potentially open the floodgates of internet-breaking success and a promising acting career. After all, there have been tough acts to follow: Think Anne Curtis in No Other Woman (2011), Maja Salvador in The Legal Wife (2014), and Bea Alonzo in The Love Affair (2015)—all of whom are today’s most sought-after leading ladies in their own right.

In the case of Yam Concepcion, she not only portrays a mistress in ABS-CBN’s Halik. Jade, her character, is also a cheating wife, which arguably makes her the kind of woman all mothers warned their sons about. Coincidentally, for her Preview cover shoot, we dressed Yam in the season’s hottest trend: animal prints. Commenting on her first look—a black sweater and a snakeskin-print pencil skirt—Yam jokingly tells us, “Naku, sasabihin na naman ng mga tao, ‘Bagay sa ‘yo yang suot mo kasi ahas ka,’” and the room naturally bursts with laughter. But kidding aside, we actually think it’s quite fitting. After all, her TV persona also slithers her way into Twitter’s trending topics, eliciting strong reactions from outraged viewers who call her all sorts of names. And truth be told, this only confirms what we already knew: Yam Concepcion is officially the new girl everyone loves to hate.


Yam Concepcion for December 2018

The "Sexy Star"

Lorraine May Concepcion is no stranger to being the talk of the town. In fact, she started in show biz back in 2012 when she was cast to star in her very first movie, Rigodon, by acclaimed director Erik Matti. It eventually turned out to be a career-defining move, resulting in her being typecasted as a “sexy” actress. “It became very controversial kasi it’s not a typical movie and there’s nudity. It’s a sexy film, an adult drama. And since we’re a very conservative country, people may judge you for doing things like that,” Yam recalls. “Until now I’m being judged [for it]. They would say, why did I do that kind of movie? Na parang, ‘ang cheap naman niya, bakit niya ginawa ‘yun?”

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Instead of being taken seriously as an actress, she was quickly perceived as another fair-skinned pretty face who only had a sex scene in her resume.

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It seemed as though whatever acting chops Yam had didn’t matter after being stereotyped. Instead of being taken seriously as an actress, she was quickly perceived as another fair-skinned pretty face who only had a sex scene in her resume. It was tough, but if she really wanted to survive in this cutthroat industry, Yam had to be tougher. She asserts, “You become all the more challenged to prove to them that you’re not just what they perceived you to be.”


Make no mistake, though: Yam does not regret the decision she made six years ago when she agreed to be part of Rigodon. While she admits it was a struggle having to deal with the labels, she’s not here to play the victim. In retrospect, she knew what she was getting into. “I have to admit that I came in [the industry] pretty late already,” says the 30-year-old actress, who jumpstarted her career only six years ago. “I started not very young anymore, kaya din siguro ‘yung entry point ko was that sexy drama film because ano pa bang entry point ko sa show biz… syempre hindi ka na pwedeng pa-tweetums eh, ‘di ba?”


It’s the same level of self-awareness and tenacity that has led her to appreciate even more what she’s given. “I want to look at it in a positive way,” she explains. “It opened doors for me, more opportunities. Because of the movie, [I landed a] network contract in ABS-CBN.”

That aforementioned contract gave Yam her first teleserye, Dugong Buhay (2013), a noontime drama in which she starred opposite Ejay Falcon. It was followed by Pure Love (2014), a number of episodes in Maalaala Mo Kaya (MMK), an initially two-week acting stint in Ang Probinsyano that was extended to six months, and—her biggest break yet—a buzz-worthy role in Halik as the loathsome Jade Flores-Bartolome.

The "Kontrabida"

Admittedly a huge fan of her co-star Jericho Rosales, Yam tells us that he was one of the primary reasons why she was excited to work on this new project. “Sabi ko, ‘Oh my god, I’m actually working with him now!’ Talagang fan ako nun because of Pangako Sa ‘Yo. Yun lang talaga pinanood ko na Filipino teleserye na talagang tutok ako,” Yam reveals. Back then, she wasn’t even an actress yet—never in her wildest dreams did she expect she would be able to star with him in a TV soap, much less play his cheating wife and, simultaneously, the mistress of Sam Milby.


The margins separating Yam the actress from Jade the fictional mistress have become but a blur, and there has been no shortage of hate for both.

Of her on-screen character, though, Yam notes that she wasn’t aware in the beginning that Jade would eventually be getting a villainous twist or would become, simply put, a kabit. “I didn’t consider [the role] as a kontrabida kasi hindi pa clear sa pilot episode kung sino talaga si Jade eh,” she explains. “May backstory siya. Hindi naman sinabi na magiging kontrabida ka dito. Bigla na lang kinagat ng tao ‘yung pagiging maldita niya, so I guess they [shifted it towards] that direction.” Of course, it’s “that direction” that also had millions of viewers glued to their TV screens every night, their episodes giving birth to one viral meme after another. To date, Yam can't escape getting glared at by the titas of Manila when she eats out in restaurants. The margins separating Yam the actress from Jade the fictional mistress have become but a blur, and there has been no shortage of hate for both.


“I’m not gonna lie. Nung umpisa affected ako,” Yam admits. “People are just so mean. Like, ano ba, that’s not me, that’s just the character I portray. But sometimes kasi people take it too personally eh. They would think na you’re really malandi, kabit ‘yan, pumapatol ‘yan—all these hateful words. Of course, I’m a very sensitive person so I get hurt also.”


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Thankfully, it didn’t take too long for Yam to just get with the program. It is, after all, a validation of her effective and noteworthy portrayal as the antagonist. It certainly helps as well that she decided to consciously overshadow the negativity with all the positive feedback she’s been getting from her supporters. And as further validation, she was recently awarded by the Philippine Social Media Awards as the Trending Actress of 2018 for her role in Halik. “Finally, just this year, I got my first ever award. Nakakatawa nga eh, even in my speech I included, thank you to all my supporters and bashers,” she laughs.


What makes her so effective as Jade comes from a place so real and raw. “Kapag ang dami nang experiences ng character mo, you believe it to be true, that it’s really happening,” she notes.

The "Trending Actress"

The high ratings and virality of Halik may be attributed to a lot of things. Yam, for one, is quick to give credit to the show’s directors and her co-actors. After all, it does take a village to mount a successful show. But to masterfully execute a TV character who has the capacity to break the internet, that entails truly convincing acting and dedication to the craft as well. Yam—who admits that she still has a lot to learn—takes her role to heart. What makes her so effective as Jade comes from a place so real and raw. “Kapag ang dami nang experiences ng character mo, you believe it to be true, that it’s really happening,” she notes.


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Emerson Verastigue, a Trainee Associate Producer for ABS-CBN, only has good things to say about Yam’s work ethic on the set of Halik. “She’s super professional,” he says. “A day before taping, she’ll ask [which of her] scenes ang kukunan kinabukasan para makapag-prepare siya. Ina-aral niya ‘yung script, ‘yung continuity ng emotion niya… She’s eager to learn, malaking factor ‘yun.”

"Syempre gusto mo lang mas natural ‘yung pagkasabi mo ng dialog mo. You don’t want it memorized lang. I have to feel the lines also before saying them.”

But more than just memorizing her scripts, Yam also tweaks them in a way that makes them her own. She explains, “Hindi naman ‘yung over na parang feeling mo ako na ‘yung writer, ako na ‘yung director ah. Hindi ganung level. Syempre gusto mo lang mas natural ‘yung pagkasabi mo ng dialog mo. You don’t want it memorized lang. I have to feel the lines also before saying them.” She politely brings it up with the director whenever she feels like altering a line or two, opening up a discussion on what would make her character more human, and not shying away from asking for help when she needs it. In fact, one of her now-iconic lines—“Akala mo ang ganda ganda mo? Dibdib lang ang meron ka. Pero ako, mula ulo hanggang paa, panlaban na,” which was delivered in a confrontation scene between her and the character of Yen Santos—was not originally part of the script. It was Sam Milby’s makeup artist, Reniel Cadiz (fondly referred to as Poison), who thought of the punchline and suggested it to Yam. Recounting how the infamous line came to be while they were waiting for their scene to be shot, she narrates, “Sabi ko, Poisy, parang walang dating ‘yung gagawin ko. I’m very uncomfortable. Kung mag-e-eskandalo ako, gusto ko may something, may punchline tayo. Sabi ko, isip ka nga, then right before the take, ‘yun na, sabi ng director, go! Nag-click naman. Tatak talaga.


Apart from her attention-grabbing lines, the signature look of Jade is another testament to how deep of an understanding Yam has for her character. “It was all my idea, ‘yung transformation look ni Jade,” she reveals to Preview.Parang gusto ko siyang gawing character talaga na pag nakita mo, ‘Ah, si Jade ‘yan!’” Yam calls the look Jade 2.0, and true enough, she owned that look. Her mid-parted jet-black hair and bold red lipstick have become synonymous with her character, often a signal for viewers that she must be up to something ominous.


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The Woman Off-Screen

Yam takes it upon herself to give more depth to her portrayal. The way she puts it, “That’s your responsibility also as an actor, ‘di ba? You should know your character.” She studies the character of Jade to the bone, fleshing out even the tiniest things about her that make her human albeit despicable. She says of her role, “Actually, hindi nman talaga lovable ‘yung character ni Jade eh. Her moral compass is just down the drain. She makes really bad choices in life, and I like [the role] so much because she’s so human, she’s not perfect.”


"I’m not saying that I’m perfect. I also have my own demons.”

Perhaps one of the very few similarities that Yam shares with her on-screen character is that they both come from a broken family. But unlike Jade, Yam has never felt deprived of love and attention. “Normal childhood naman ako, except I didn’t have a father. Pero ‘yung mommy ko tumayong mom and dad ko,” Yam reveals, opening up about what it’s like to be raised by her single mother. “My mom is very loving. She’s given me love and she’s given me attention, ‘yung pagiging nurturing ng isang mother nabigay niya sa ‘kin. Napalaki naman ako ng maayos, so ‘yung moral compass ko okay naman siya,” she adds with a laugh. “But I’m not saying that I’m perfect. I also have my own demons.”


While Yam is grateful to be entrusted with the role of Jade, she does hope that being a kontrabida won’t limit her career trajectory. “If it’s really meant for me to be a kontrabida, then I’ll continue on. But I’m still open to doing other projects, especially roles that will help me with my growth as an actress.” She describes her dream project to be something very similar to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind or Ex Machina“’Yung medyo sci-fi na about sa love. Gusto ko love story na malalim, ayoko ‘yung lines na sobrang cheesy. Beautifully written script, dialog is on point, and I don’t want it to be campy; just natural and real and from the heart. Tapos magandang cinematography, gusto ko sa ibang bansa,” she giddily tells us.


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Funny how life always manages to surprise us, because if you asked Yam five years ago what career path she would’ve taken if she didn’t become an actress, she would’ve easily replied with something that had to do with the arts—perhaps an art teacher or a painter. But today, as invested as she already is in the craft that she’s chosen, Yam can no longer see herself doing anything else other than acting.

Naturally, the follow-up question was what we should expect next from Yam Concepcion. To which, she smiled slyly and replied, “You don’t need to expect anything from me. You’ll just be surprised.”


Produced by Marj Ramos

Photographed by Dookie Ducay

Art Directed by Mark Buenaobra

Styled by Steven Coralde

Co-produced by Yanna Lopez

Makeup by Mac Igarta

Hair by Mark Familiara

Nails by Beautique Beauty and Wellness Center

Shoot Assistant: Teresita Gabat

Special Thanks to John Navarro of Viva Artists Agency

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