Isabelle Daza: Beauty ready for action

Isabelle Daza

She’s got the looks, the body, the Miss Universe DNA. And she can kick butt!

Meet Isabelle Daza—model, host and actress—and yes, daughter of the Philippines’ first Miss Universe Ms. Gloria Diaz. Indeed, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Isabelle is quite a stunner, even when she’s in casual pants and tucked-in tee.

Isabelle was in Cebu last month to promote “Kubot: The Aswang Chronicles,” (an entry at the Metro Manila Film Festival that was co-produced by GMA Films, Agosto Dos Pictures and Reality Entertainment) and before a mall show, she indulged the Play! pool in a casual conversation, mostly about her role as Dra. Lex.

As the movie’s leading lady, Isabelle throws punches and kicks, lifts, and climbs a four-story building. With no body double! That’s not all. Off camera, she is also a swimmer, biker, runner, hiker, football, and tennis player.

But is she giving in to the “pressure” of following in her mom’s footsteps and be a beauty queen? Isabelle answers in the negative, with a smile. The young actress instead wants to hone her acting and hosting skills. Truly, there’s more to this woman than meets the eye.

How did you get the role of Dra. Lex?
Tinawagan lang ako ng manager ko and sinabi niya na they’re thinking of me for this role. So when they told me na it’s for the part two of “Tiktik,” then I remembered na it was a blockbuster… that’s when the real pressure came in. “Tiktik” did so well. I hope that “Kubot” would do just as well.

Tell us about your character.
Ako ‘yung partner dito ni Makoy, not really a love interest pero more of like partners as an aswang slayer. Ako dito si Dra. Lex. Mission ko na matulungan ang mga tao na hindi maging aswang.

What was your impression of “Tiktik”?
I really liked its special effects and how it was really well done—the computer graphics and all pero I think mas mahirap ito because ‘yung unang Tiktik” shinoot siya sa studio so kahit ano kayang gawin. Pero this one ‘yung location namin was in Binondo, the rooftops and in Marikina so talagang madugo.

How physically challenging was the role?
It’s the most physically challenging role I’ve ever played. Mayroon ako ditong isang scene na bubuhatin ko si Miss Lotlot sa pool and mahirap yun because I have to keep my eyes open as well as carry her. And you go on with the rigging so you have to keep a lot of elements in mind while shooting it.

Did you have to undergo training?
I’m fit naman pero I have to learn a lot of the stunts. A lot of our stuntmen are from China so mala-Bruce Lee ‘yung mga moves nila and yeah I did all of my stunts and I am proud of that. When you see it, there’s a scene in Binondo where I am climbing a building na four-story at alas kwatro ng umaga naming ginawa ‘yun na paulit-ulit.

Did you feel challenged that you’re the central female character considering that Lovi Poe did well in the first film?
Yeah, I am siyempre. Kasi naman more than being challenged by others, I am also challenged by myself kasi as you know I am a tri-athlete and I grew up very competitive. More than being competitive with other people hindi ko naman inisip na kailangan kabugin ko siya. Iniisip ko din na kailangan ko din gawin with the best of myself to do this scene. I always challenge myself to do scenes with one take, kunyari heavy or crying scene. I want to do it once para ‘yun na ‘yun. So I guess ‘yung challenge is to always be the best version of me once I am on  the set and onscreen para happy ang lahat.

What was your mom’s reaction while you were doing this movie?
Ay naku! My mom doesn’t want me to do the stunts pero I told her na after I did the film and she was like: “You have to get a stunt double for that!” Pero, she was actually very excited to watch the film most especially nung nakita niya ‘yung sayaw ko dito. I am so scared for people to see that.

What dance?
I have a little dance parang pang-patawa or pang-break lang ng character ko so parang ‘yung dignity ko talaga kinuha ni Direk Erik (Matti). The dance moves was like a call for other aswangs so mahirap siya gawin, it’s one of the hardest things that I did. Harder than the crying scene, harder than the action sequence kasi sabi ni Direk: “Kailangan magmukha kang gago.”

So every 30 minutes we took a shot and then ibang moves naman. Walang choreography na dapat matawa ‘yung mga tao. It’s just so embarrassing na even talking about it now I am parang nahihiya.

How was it working with Erik Matti?
It’s not my first time working with him dahil nag shoot na kami ng commercial before pero this was the first time na in film, so what I learned is that si Direk Erik napaka-metikoloso. Lahat ng things na gusto niya perfect talaga and if makikita niya na it’s not 100 percent well then sasabihin niya na, let’s do one more. Pero once makita mo na ‘yung pelikula you feel na it’s all worth it. For one day sa isang scene, pine-perfect niya ‘yan. Ang dali dali ka work ni Direk kasi he’s the type na very approachable and he would sometimes let you interpret a scene the way you like it. Tapos magaling siyang mag-constructive criticism. Encouraging siya, hindi ‘yung parang ano ba yan na sisigawan ka. Ako naman it’s not effective for me pag sinisigawan ako. Mas okey sa akin na sinasabihan ako na I have to adjust.

How long did it take to shoot the film?
Nine months. Talagang madugo siya. It’s one thing na I’m very proud of kasi blood, sweat and tears siya.

Who is your inspiration for this character?
Mala-Angelina Jolie. ‘Yung tipong “Tomb Raider,” “Salt” and “Mr. and Mrs. Smith,” those typical character of hers. In this film, direk Erik did not want me to become sexy, he wants me to be more astig like a fighter talaga. Kaya minsan nga he yell cut because I seem to look sexy and he wants it astig—mas kickass. Because in this movie, I am more of like Dingdong’s counterpart.
Isabelle Daza
Who are your acting idols?
 Internationally, Meryl Streep is very, very good. I also like Leonardo DiCaprio. Johnny Depp I also like him. I admire him as well as Diane Kruger. Locally, I have worked with Maricel Soriano and
I think she’s great. Bea Alonzo is an amazing actress for me. During my mother’s time, Ms. Vilma Santos. And of course, my mom! I have to say that!

If you’re not acting or hosting, what do you usually do?
On my spare time, I do sports. I do training for triathlon such swimming, running and biking. I play tennis, horse backriding or football. I like to be active so hiking as well. The most extreme sport that I have done is rappelling.

Nabalitaan ko sa Cebu meron daw dito and I want to try it.

What did you learn about yourself while doing this film?
That working hard pays off. And also that I am good at Martial Arts.

You model, host, and now you’re into acting. Do you see showbiz as a lifetime career?
Well, acting has always been there on the side. I just tried my luck hosting and then now with acting I am enjoying it, especially working with Direk Erik’s cast and his crew was amazing, they always make it easy for me. And Dingdong (Dantes) was also very kind, one time tinutulungan niya akong makaiyak;  he gave me tips. I am enjoying acting, as well as hosting as I get to be myself, nagpapasaya siya.

Any dream role?
I did it na. Me doing this film like an action adventure. I still have to think of others pero as of now, this is in my bucket list na gusto ko talagang magawa.

So which one is difficult to do, drama or the action/adventure?
The crying scene. Because kasi as a viewer hindi nila na re-realize na while doing it most especially at 5 a.m., then it sometimes get maingay tapos the people in the crew are wanting to make-uwi na so ang hirap niya. Sa action naman ang hirap kasi paulit-ulit because it has to look smooth so pareho siyang mahirap. It’s both physically demanding kasi pagkatapos mong umiyak drained ka talaga and you just want to face a wall and same with action.

Your mom is the country’s first Miss Universe. Do you have plans of following  her footsteps?
I don’t! Hahaha!

How do you answer these persistent questions of you becoming just like your mother?
I always do get asked but I always say na I don’t have any plans. But parang people have plans for me.

Do you get pressured to at least give it a try?
No, I don’t really feel any pressure right now. Hahaha! I don’t get pressured into joining beauty pageants.

It’s flattering that people would want me to, that they think I deserve it or I qualify pero ang dami nang magagandang babae out there. It’s just hard to compete ‘di ba?

Isabelle Daza and  Dingdong Dantes during their mall show at the Gaisano Island Mall Mactan for “Kubot: The Aswang Chronicles” (Photo by Dr. Francis Xavier Solis)

Isabelle Daza and
Dingdong Dantes during their mall show at the Gaisano Island Mall Mactan for “Kubot: The Aswang Chronicles” (Photo by Dr. Francis Xavier Solis)

Who are the actors you want to work with?
I have worked with Sarah Geronimo and she is so funny. I am working with Shaina (Magdayao) now and she is very, very mabait and she helps me by giving me acting tips. And, yes, Bea Alonzo
because growing up I watched her movies. Hindi naman idol. I just want to see how she acts… she is good kasi ‘eh. Angelica Panganiban is also very good. Judy Ann Santos is also good sabi ni Solenn (Heussaff). Actually more than working with them gusto ko lang makita how they do it.

Your transition from being the sosyal “it girl” to pang masa. How has it been for you?
The image… am I more being masa na ba? Yeah, I think “Eat Bulaga” has helped me do that and a lot of people has said na, nakakatawa ka pala. I just say na dati na, wala lang talaga akong venue for it. I am enjoying it naman. I don’t think na dapat you have to be one thing or the other na you only have to be sosyal or you only have to be masa.

How do you want to see yourself in the next coming years?
Still in showbiz, still acting. I want to choose my roles carefully also I just don’t want to accept films kasi wala na akong choice. I want to be proud of the film as I am proud of this film. So for my succeeding roles hopefully, maging ganito rin. I want to do well in my life now. I want to challenge myself.



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