Jessy Mendiola’s road to stardom
Amid fast rise in showbiz, Kapamilya star keeps feet on the ground

DELIGHTFUL, PROVOCATIVE. Jessy as cover girl of literary edition. Photo courtesy of Esquire

MANILA, Philippines – Jessy Mendiola is a fast-rising star.

The month of September finds the “Kapamilya” actress in two magazine covers, reports ABS-CBN – sleek and classy in the latest Cosmopolitan, but delightful and provocative in its sister publication in the Summit Media enterprise, Esquire Philippines.

Jessy was previously the cover girl of Metro, Chalk, Men’s Health, Meg, and Preview. She has also become a much sought-after product endorser and image model.

Esquire’s “The Fiction Issue” is a decidedly literary number, still somehow complemented by its cover girl – whose increasing fame may soon open doors to projects regarded with the standard prestige, apart from the teleserye industry.

The 20-year-old star not only has the beauty and figure but also the character to withstand the crazy frivolities of showbiz, as her admirers themselves will swear by.

READ: Sam Milby feels good about Anne and Jessy

But the teleserye environment in which Jessy currently thrives is itself evolving in its increasing validation, affirmed by the involvement of renowned directors like Laurice Guillen, Jeffrey Jeturian, and Chito Roño – Jessy’s director in her upcoming serye, “Maria Mercedes.”

This version of “Maria Mercedes” has also been validated by Thalia, the Mexican telenovela superstar directly associated with the serye.

Jessy had the surprise of her life when Thalia sent her a message via Skype.

“Thank you to Jessy. All the luck in the world” was Thalia’s message.

“You’re going to make an amazing job.

“All the production and all the cast, good luck in Maria Mercedes!”

Jessy is the 4th Filipino actress to portray a Thalia role.

In 2007, Marian Rivera hit it big with “MariMar.” In 2009, Carla Abellana was the lead actress in “Rosalinda.”

And in 2011, Erich Gonzales took the lead in “Maria la del Barrio.”

“Maria Mercedes” was the next big telenovela for Thalia after the success of “MariMar” and “Rosalinda” in Mexico in 1992.

Grateful to Thalia

Jessy was overjoyed by Thalia’s message.

“Sobrang laking pasasalamat ko at napakaswerte ko na mapili bilang si Maria Mercedes.” (I’m so grateful and lucky to have been chosen as Maria Mercedes.)

“Napakabait at napakaganda ni Thalia at sobra rin akong nagpapasalamat na ibinigay niya sa akin ang basbas niya.”

(Thalia is so kind and so nice and I really thank her for her support.)

“Mas lalo pa akong na-inspire na paghusayan ang pagganap ko bilang Maria Mercedes.”

(I’m all the more inspired to do my best in my portrayal of Maria Mercedes.) 

Star maker

Jessy was only 14 when she joined a workshop by Star Magic, ABS-CBN’s artist-management division, in 2007. She immediately caught the eye of star maker and acclaimed actor-director Johnny Manahan.

“I can still remember Mr. M asking me, ‘Gusto mo bang mag-artista [Do you want to be a star]?’ The clueless me back then answered, ‘Is it okay if pag-isipan ko po muna [if I think about it first]? Can you give me 3 days?”

She did think about it for 3 days and after discussing this with her mom and siblings, Jessy signed up with Star Magic.

Her motivation to venture into showbiz was not fame but something more immediate and practical.

“Life wasn’t easy for us, especially before I entered showbiz. I grew up without a dad and it’s only my mom who was working to support our needs.

“I’ve experienced very tough times. I have experienced not having much – even eating instant noodles for dinner for many days.”

Jessy was born in Dubai to a British-Lebanese dad and a Filipino mom, who returned to the Philippines soon enough, bringing along her children, to start anew here.

Jessy grew up seeing her mother as both dad and mom.

“My mom had been working hard all her life. That’s why it was very easy for me to take a stand and unburden her of the responsibility of providing for our family,” she said.

Acting bug

Like any other aspirant in showbiz, she went through a series of workshops and did minor roles in various ABS-CBN dramas.

She would wait long hours on the set, for her turn do just a few speaking lines. But the star-on-the-rise would soon embrace her newfound passion, acting.

“I have learned to love the craft and it motivated me to do better. I am working not only to provide for my family, but because I have actually started to enjoy acting. I realized that I really want to become a good actress.”

Her big break was In 2010, the titular role of the serye, “Sabel.” Then it was the series “Budoy” and the afternoon soap “Precious Hearts Romances Presents Paraiso,” and soon, her first movie, “The Reunion.”

Her path to stardom was now secured.

For Jessy, “Maria Mercedes” is “really one of my dream roles. I grew up watching ‘Maria Mercedes’ and I still can’t believe that I will actually become the Pinay version of this character loved by many Filipinos.” –

Here’s a clip about Jessy:

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