By: Marane A. Plaza
It was an early morning in late October at 1920 by Studio MNL in Taguig City, and the day was just getting started.
The Stylish Magazine team was pretty excited to finally have the cover shoot with Filipina-British actress Yassi Pressman. As she was being glammed up, the star seemed to be in a very good mood, as she bopped her head to some beats at the retro-inspired studio.
Fresh from the success of her romance-fantasy film “Video City: Be Kind, Please Rewind”, we decided that the fashion direction for the photo shoot would be based on the styling of some of the fun ‘90s to early millennium chick flicks, such as “Clueless” and “Mean Girls”.
The concept was to give a nod to the ’90s fashion. Video City, the central theme of Yassi’s latest movie, was the favorite video rental place in the Philippines back in that era.
In the film, Pressman takes on the role of Ningning, a Video City staff employee in 1995, who’s also an aspiring actress going to a lot of auditions in the hopes of becoming a star someday. She meets Han, played by actor Ruru Madrid, who is originally from 2023 and gets to time travel and meet her through a portal in an old VHS tape rewinder.
“Ningning is just really a ball of sunlight. Her character is just always happy. She’s very optimistic. She aspires to be an actress. She actually is in 1995, so there’s time travel in the movie. There’s some love about it, romance, and a little bit of fantasy,” she said.
“It’s a love story that my heart can relate to. She wants to be immortalized by being on television, so she fights for that,” she added.
Finding Her Spot on The Limelight
Unlike her “Video City” character Ningning, Yassi did not always know that she wanted to be an actress. But she knew she had always wanted to dance, sing and perform on stage at such an early age.
“In the beginning when I was around 4 years old, as a family we would always watch VHS tapes of pop queens like Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera. And I always wanted to be like Britney. I always knew that I had a love for performing, a love for dancing,” she narrated.
Born to a British dad and a Filipina mom, Yassi recalled how her childhood honed her artistry as a stage performer — along with her sister Issa, who right now is an artist-musician under Careless Music.
“Our dad would actually book us personal dance instructors to come to the house for at least an hour every MWF, from what I remember. At the time, it was more of a little game for us, me and my little sister. We would sometimes invite friends over, and it was more of a bonding time for us.”
From her exposure to dance classes, Yassi and her sister eventually were exposed to go-see’s for television commercials.
“Then from that, I think acting came from us doing a lot of TV commercials when we were younger. Soon, we did small roles as young characters of stars in local television series,” she said.
“When I was 6 years old, I had an ad for toothpaste brand Colgate. Colgate got me to be their talent, and we had a lot of billboards along EDSA and C5. It was a proud moment for my dad, and me of course.”
TVC stints eventually turned into TV show jobs. Yassi recollected that her first acting gig was as the young Luisa in ABS-CBN’s drama series “Gulong ng Palad” in 2006, whose older version was played by Filipina star Kristine Hermosa.
“That’s how I knew that my heart was into acting also, and not just dancing,” she said.
When it comes to acting, she has always looked up to Hollywood actresses Rachel McAdams and Angelina Jolie. But her heart has always been for stage performances.
“As a kid, I also loved singing. But nowadays I only sing mostly in the shower!” she said in jest.
“Growing up, I also loved watching ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ and shows celebrating talents. I’ve always loved Britney Spears!”
With her passion and talent, Yassi soon started performing on stage professionally for noontime shows like SOP as a dancer. Eventually, she was dubbed as the “Princess of the Dance Floor” by Party Pilipinas.
Breakthrough in Acting
“My first-ever movie project was when I was 18 years old, and it was Diary ng Panget,” Yassi said.
“Diary ng Panget” was a box office success, earning an estimated total of 120 million pesos during its theatrical run in 2014. Yassi was one of the main cast members, along with Andre Paras, and former love team Nadine Lustre and James Reid. The film was a romantic-comedy based on the best-selling novel of the same name written by Denny R.
In 2016, Yassi took on the role of Alyana Arevalo, a media reporter who would marry Cardo Dalisay, the protagonist of “Ang Probinsyano.” The show was the longest-running and top-rating action drama series of ABS-CBN, airing from 2015-2022. Yassi left the role in 2021 during the pandemic, citing that she would take on the job of a TV game show host for “Rolling It In Philippines”, a show originally from the UK. Yassi shared with the media that she was honored to have been given a lovely exit from the story of “Ang Probinsyano”.
Resonating With Her Characters
Yassi shared that her character Ningning from her latest movie “Video City” is actually her favorite character she has played so far.
“Ningning is so bubbly, she’s so bright,” she said.
“Every other character I played before was a bit more serious and dramatic. So this character is more on the fun side of roles, but when it needed to be more emotional, the character really goes there, too. The expressions and terms of the characters we used in the movie were based on the ‘90s.”
Styled in shades of pink, in a shiny outfit in the next, and in tweed in one layout, Yassi indeed looked like one of the characters from some iconic chick flicks from the ’90s, like Cher from “Clueless” as played by Alicia Silverstone.
“I feel like Barbie!” she quipped in excitement during the shoot, while in an all-pink ensemble as styled by the team of Cath Sobrevega.
The actress described her fashion sense.
“I would say that I am a very moody dresser. I really dress based on how I feel on the day. Sometimes, I do a lot of things, be it active or relaxing with my friends or going to work. Sometimes, I would dress more like my character to get into the mindset.”
These days, Yassi is hard at work taping for drama-action TV series “Black Rider” wherein she plays the part of Vanessa, a petty thief with a dark past, who is connected to the notorious syndicate called Golden Scorpion. She works alongside Ruru Madrid, her co-actor from “Video City”.
The character of Vanessa in “Black Rider” is totally the opposite of the eternal optimist that is Ningning from her latest film. She imparted that there were days she was shooting those two projects at the same time, and fashion truly helped her get into each of the two, different characters.
“My character right now is Vanessa or Bane, medyo astigin po siya (she’s a little tough). So I would go to the set in loose shirts, big t-shirts and big shorts, to internalize the character.”
Aside from being a tool or prop that helps her with her acting, Yassi considers fashion as an expression of self-love.
“For events, I like wearing long dresses and gowns. Before, I liked A-Cuts, and I would be seen in a lot of A-Cuts. These days I am more experimental with how I dress. Even though it is still simple, I still want to do something exciting. Last year, my style was a lot of pops of colors and prints-on-prints, and patterns and patterns. But towards the latter part of the year, like now, I see myself more going on the classy side of fashion.”
The actress also explained her own definition of self-love.
“Self-love is always listening to yourself– to your mind, to your soul, to your body.”
“For your mind, make sure you are giving yourself enough time to process your own thoughts, and to deal with what you are going through so you can start a new week with a clear mind.”
“Take off all of the load that you have, be it for the day or the whole month, anything that’s heavy. By giving yourself that gift, I think that’s loving yourself.”
“For your body, giving your body what it needs is important. Give yourself a lot of good nutrition. As I get older, the more I see the value and effects of food toward our bodies.”
She also shared that self-love is important even more so when you are in a romantic relationship. “Listen to yourself as much as you listen to your partner.”
She also thinks it is about believing in yourself, and with that same self-love comes with the commitment to improving one’s self.
“I take a lot of constructive criticisms, because there are some people who have something to say that you can use for you to grow as a person.”
“But I think it is important to choose what really affects you. Have the people who affect you to affect you in a positive way. The ones who just want to bring you down should be silenced out of your mind, because at the end of the day, it won’t help you. In fact, it is going to hinder you from doing better and being your best, from striving to be better.”
For her, self-love is also about learning from one’s mistakes, and taking in the lessons that will better her.
“My character in my new television series ‘Black Rider’ is Vanessa Bartolome. In the beginning, it was a little bit rough for her because she did a lot of bad things. But now she tries to correct all of her mistakes.”
“I love her character. She’s such a strong woman. I think it is nice to see a leading lady who’s powerful on her own. She stands for what she believes in. She fights for the right thing, especially now. She tries to correct all of her mistakes. Let’s see how her character will unfold in the coming days.”
“I think everyone of us just wants to be better versions of ourselves versus who we were yesterday.”
In a separate interview, I told her that she seems to be a cool girl. So I asker her, what is the meaning of being a cool girl for her?
“For me, it’s cool to be nice. And it’s something that should become a trend: that you’re cool when you are nice. A cool girl is someone chill, relaxed, approachable and warm. She is nice to hang out with, fun to work with or spend time with.”
Indeed, nice is the new cool. There’s definitely no Regina George from “Mean Girls” on the set right here…
“Video City: Be Kind, Please Rewind” will be available for livestreaming on Netflix on December 20, 2023.
Photography: Dookie Ducay
Styling: #StyledByCath by Team Cath Sobrevega
Makeup: B Delgaldo
Hair: Brix Batalla
Shoot Concept: Marane Plaza
Layout Art: John De Guia
Stylish Magazine “The Clean Slate Issue” will be available online on December 26, 2023, meant to guide you to doing some spring cleaning just in time for the new year, while navigating your journey toward your goals — as inspired from interviews with some of our favorites and most inspiring visionaries we’ve interviewed the past months. Stay tuned for updates.
Watch the one-hour special of Stylish TV, the style narrative television show of Stylish Magazine on TFC video-on-demand, iWantTFC, MYX Global & ANC Global in more than 50 countries. Check out the airing schedule for your country or region.