More Than Eye Candy

By Marane A. Plaza

She grew up right before our eyes. And from the looks of it, we’re just getting started to see Julia Barretto beyond more than just meets the eye 

Julia Barretto’s presence is unassuming, modest, graceful yet fierce. And with the ultra-star status that she’s earned and worked hard for in her many years of experience in the entertainment industry, it’s pretty refreshing to witness how she carries herself with so much simplicity, humility and relatability. Meanwhile, her fierceness is something you can feel from within her–  the kind that tells you that this woman has truly mastered the ropes in overcoming a thousand storms and tribulations in her young life.

During our cover photo shoot at the Stylish Magazine office in Manila Coworking, Julia went straight to the glam room to work with her trusted makeup artist and hairstylist on the looks for the concept we’d pitched the past days to her team at Viva Artists Agency. Recently, the actress has been hard at work promoting her new movie under Viva Films. And yet you can never tell that she’s been working tirelessly, because well, Julia always looks flawlessly gorgeous. This is the same girl who can mesmerize a crowd with her effortless dance moves (hello, Dancing Queen!), and cause a viral video from her night-out with friends without even trying.

Julia has been acting in various TV shows and movies pretty much her whole life. Coming from the showbiz royalty of the Barretto family, we’ve seen her captivate the viewers with a lot of television dramas at such a young age. By age 10,  she’s part of the leading ensemble of the popular sci-fi drama television series “Kokey” as she played the role of Anna Calugdan. And by age 14, she played her first leading role, this time for the fantasy drama series “Mirabella” as she took on the titular character of the show. 

Before she even turned 20, she played popular lead roles in many superhit rom-coms and drama movies, such as “Para sa Hopeless Romantic,” “Vince and Kath and James,” “Love You to the Stars and Back” and “Unexpectedly Yours.” My personal favorite among her blockbuster films is “Between Maybes” opposite her current real-life boyfriend Gerald Anderson, because the storytelling is truly moving and the ending just unexpectedly pierces the heart. Seriously, I always stream the movie on Netflix. 

That’s why when I first saw the trailer of Julia’s new movie “Expensive Candy,” I instantly got curious as to how she would show a different side of herself as an actress, as she gives life to the character of Candy– a no-nonsense stunner, unapologetic sex worker who will help high school teacher Toto, played by Carlo Aquino, explore his sexuality.

Embracing Candy

“The movie itself required a lot from me physically, mentally and emotionally, but I really enjoyed the process and the journey into becoming Candy,” Julia shared with me during our interview after the photo shoot.

“It’s challenging but everything that I had to do (for the movie) turned out to be really worth it. When I look back and when I’m asked what the journey was like, I can say that every day, I was just really enjoying being Candy, because it is very different from everything I’ve done before. It took a lot of immersion to prepare for the role,” she added.  

The actress voiced out how her new character inspired her.

“Just being Candy has helped me so much to be even more confident with my own skin. These past days, I’ve been showing a lot of my skin and my body, so I feel like it’s made me become more comfortable with my body, and with what it is.”

During our shoot, it was a breath of fresh air how Julia was game with the risque looks we’d come up for her, while still holding her ground and expressing her mind about what she wanted. I and my co-stylist for the shoot, Kath Vapor, wanted to play with pearls, chains and stones for fashion editorial looks inspired by modern boudoir, but only made more wearable for outside the private room. Our plan so we can tone down the sexiness a little was to have the art direction more on the ethereal side. We’re so glad that fashion photographer Shaira Luna truly helped us achieve the sensual yet sophisticated and dreamy vibe we’re going for for the shoot with her ingenuity. 

“I actually really enjoyed the looks, and I love that every layout is different from each other, so we really played today,” our cover girl told me casually. 

She also shared that playing her new movie character has exposed her to new consciousness, as well as helped her become more open and experimental too when it comes to donning fashion looks that she’s never tried before.

“I really enjoyed (playing) Candy because I’ve learned a lot from her. After doing the film, I’ve just become braver– braver too when it comes to fashion and being comfortable with my own skin, and being more open.”

“My personal style is very laidback and relaxed. I just really love the essentials and the basics. I love things that are plain,” she said. “My fashion staples are a pair of jeans, good sneakers and either a good sweater or a nice t-shirt.”

As she certainly knows what it’s like to be eclectic with styles, the actress shared her own take on how a girl can find her own sense of fashion. 

“Growing up, you’ll go through a lot of phases like this is your style today, and then tomorrow, it changes. You get influenced by a lot of the things that you see, so maybe next year, it could be a whole lot different wardrobe for you. With me, growing up just going through a lot of phases and being in the showbiz industry and getting to try a lot of different clothes, you find yourself, you learn to find yourself. So my advice is find yourself and be patient with it. Just wear whatever you feel the best in.”

No doubt, filming the movie as the feisty, fun Candy pushed Julia to go outside of her comfort zone– making her more comfortable showing skin. And let’s be real, she’s stunning while doing so because the girl’s got glowing skin. That’s why I couldn’t help but ask about her skincare secrets that she can share with us.

“When you’re growing up, your skin challenges you when it comes to finding the right products. But I feel like everything starts internally. It might be cliche but it’s true– water is really important. Plus, I’ve just learned this recently- don’t drink too much alcohol. Like, just choose the days that you want to enjoy some drinks. Like before, I really loved cocktails. Now, I just choose the events where I can enjoy cocktails, because I’ve seen the effects of lessening alcohol on the skin.”

Embracing her own woman

Aside from being fearless when it comes to trying out risque styles of clothing, Julia shared one thing about her new movie character that truly resonated with her.  

“One of the things that I really like about Candy is how confident she is with herself, and how much she really embraces who she is,” she said.

“Every woman has that sensual side. Sometimes we tend to be shy about it, or be afraid to flaunt it. But I feel like, it should be something to be proud of. As women, we all have our own unique sensual sides.  Like, my sensual side is not the same as yours. But it is something to be proud of.”

“I think growing up, something I’ve really developed is how to become comfortable and confident with myself. And especially being 25 years old and just transitioning into becoming a woman, I think I got to that point in my life where I feel comfortable in myself and in my own skin. And I just truly embrace the person that I am today– flaws and all that jazz.”

“Expensive Candy” is now showing in cinemas nationwide.

You can watch the behind-the-scenes of our photo shoot and our sit-down interview with Julia Barretto next week on our style narrative series Stylish TV on September 23, Friday 7PM on MYX Global SkyCable Channel 23 & CignalTV Channel 150, with global airing schedule on TFC on September 24, Saturday. It is also available for streaming on iWantTFC on September 24, Saturday, 5:30PM Manila time.

Photography: Shaira Luna

Concept, Fashion & Beauty Direction: Marane Plaza

Styling: Marane Plaza & Kathrina Vapor

Makeup: Kaye Misajon

Hair: RJ Dela Cruz

Videography: Joey Alaiza & Kaye Alaiza

Production Assistance: Ryan Servidad

Special thanks to Caryl Paraico, Viva Artists Agency, Saralee Abesamis, Manila Coworking, Slam Event Production and Illo’s Party Trays.