MCCOY DE LEON & ELISSE JO­SON

YES! (Philippines) - - In This Issue - text by GABBY REYES LIBARIOS pho­tos by SHAIRA LUNA

SOME­THING’S BLOOMING

McCoy De Leon and Elisse Jo­son, who are also known by the uni-name McLisse, are po­lar op­po­sites.

McCoy, who is turn­ing 23 in Fe­bru­ary, is a batang ka­lye who grew up in Tondo, Manila, and is a

kuya to his five younger sib­lings. Elisse, who turns 22 this Jan­uary, was born in Balanga, Bataan; is the only child of a strong, in­de­pen­dent sin­gle mother; and stud­ied in Sacra­mento, Cal­i­for­nia, U.S.A., where she learned to fend for her­self.

He is re­served, madal­dal only in the com­pany of close friends, and more of­ten than not, he keeps his thoughts to him­self.

She is funny, can­did, and not afraid to speak her mind.

But in their firstever YES! in­ter­view and photo shoot, we learn that McCoy De Leon and Elisse Jo­son, who come from dif­fer­ent back­grounds, are ac­tu­ally more sim­i­lar than dif­fer­ent.

Since she was a lit­tle girl, Elisse Jo­son has al­ways been fas­ci­nated with show­biz. While she was a painfully shy girl, afraid of do­ing any­thing that would draw at­ten­tion to her­self, Elisse dreamed of one day ap­pear­ing on tele­vi­sion.

“No’ng bata po ako,” she re­calls, “mahilig akong maglaro-laro ng act­ing sa mir­ror at saka ku­manta na nagpe-pre­tend na merong au­di­ence, ganyan. Pero mahiyain po kasi ako. So, hindi ko ’pina­pakita sa ibang tao na gusto ko.”

It was her mom, Chris­tine JosonDi­uco, who en­cour­aged and at some point prod­ded the seven-year-old Elisse to take act­ing work­shops.

“’Yong mom ko po ang nagpu-push sa akin na mag-work­shop, ganyan. So, no’ng bata ako, nag-work­shop ako sa ABS- CBN. Hindi pa siya Star Magic work­shop. Pero I was still shy. Na­ga­galit nga ’yong mom ko, kasi sayang daw ’yong work­shop, kasi hindi ko daw sinasabak ’yong sar­ili ko sa mga au­di­tions. Kaya ayun. Ngayon ko na lang sig­uro me­dyo ki­na­palan ’yong mukha at it­u­loy ’yong pag-aartista.”

Elisse con­sid­ers the orig­i­nal Pan­gako Sa ’Yo, a hit ABS- CBN drama se­ries that ran from Novem­ber 2000 to Septem­ber 2002, her fa­vorite show when she was grow­ing up, and per­haps the cat­a­lyst that got her in­ter­ested in act­ing. She was just around four or five years old at the time the show aired.

“So­brang tu­matak sa akin ’yong Pan­gako Sa ’Yo nina Kris­tine Her­mosa at Jeri­cho Ros­ales. ’Yon ’yong sikat na sikat no’n. And parang ’yong mga artista do’n ang tinitin­gala ko.”

It was also around that time that the idea of mak­ing it in show­biz was formed in lit­tle Elisse’s head. But she didn’t see it as the ca­reer she would be get­ting into.

“Hindi ko siya naisip na mag­ing ca­reer, kasi ang dream ko dati was to be a doc­tor, since ’yong mom ko kasi, doc­tor. So ang ki­nalak­i­han ko, hospi­tal. I thought na gano’n din ang gagawin ko.”

When she was 10, she and her mom, an anes­the­si­ol­o­gist, moved to Cal­i­for­nia, U.S.A. Even though Elisse was busy with her high school stud­ies at the In­derkum High School in Sacra­mento, she did not com­pletely for­get her big show­biz dreams in the Philip­pines.

The op­por­tu­nity to try her luck in show­biz hap­pened in 2011, when Elisse and her mom came to Manila for a va­ca­tion af­ter five years in the States. Elisse was around 15 then.

“Nag-try lang po akong mag-au­di­tion, kasi meron akong tito na nagsabi sa akin, ‘Try mo lang, ganyan, ha­bang nakabakasyon ka dito.’ I tried au­di­tion­ing [ sa Star Magic], and then I waited. Sig­uro nagh­in­tay ako ng sign. Sabi ko sa sar­ili ko, kung meant to be, sige, try kong i-push. Pero kung hindi na­man, okey lang, kasi ba­ba­lik na­man ako sa States. Do’n po kasi ako na­garal no’ng time na ’yon.”

The “sign” that Elisse was wait­ing for came in the form of an in­vi­ta­tion to the Star Magic Ball in 2012.

“It wasn’t re­ally a call­back. Hindi siya straight call­back, kasi in­in­vite lang na­man ako. Pero sabi ko, ‘Sige, subukan ko lang. So, I stayed here for that, and then ’yong mom ko, bu­ma­lik na sa States. And af­ter Star Magic Ball, pinag-work­shop na ’ko. And then dire-di­retso na siya na parang in­ala­gaan na ako. But I didn’t have work yet. So, puro train­ing lang, puro work­shops.”

It was through work­shops that Elisse re­al­ized she loved act­ing and wanted to be in show­biz for the long haul.

“Do’n ko na-re­al­ize na I ac­tu­ally en­joyed do­ing this. And no’ng time na

’yon, hindi na rin kasi ako masyadong mahiyain, kasi I came from the States. So, me­dyo meron nang con­fi­dence level na kayang i-push.”

That “con­fi­dence level” mo­ti­vated her to take on a string of projects on TV and film. In 2013, she was cast in a sup­port­ing role in Be Care­ful with My Heart, the ABS- CBN day­time tele­serye top­billed by Jodi Sta. Maria and Richard Yap, aka Ser Chief. Elisse later ap­peared in the drama se­ries Sana Bukas Pa ang Ka­hapon (2014) and in the movie She’s Dat­ing the Gang­ster, which was head­lined by Kathryn Bernardo and Daniel Padilla.

Elisse then took on a role in the 2015 dig­i­tal in­die movie Sarang­haeyo #Ewankosau, star­ring Bar­bie Forteza and Fran­cis Ma­gun­dayao. That same year, she be­came part of Pi­noy Big Brother Lucky Sea­son 7, along with May­may En­trata, Ed­ward Bar­ber, Kisses Delavin, Marco Gallo—and McCoy De Leon, who would later be­come her love-team part­ner.

If Elisse Jo­son had stars in her eyes when she was grow­ing up, her loveteam part­ner McCoy De Leon did not.

McCoy did not nur­ture dreams of en­ter­ing show busi­ness when he was a kid. His as­pi­ra­tions were sim­ple and prag­matic: he wanted to fin­ish his stud­ies so he could have a sta­ble ca­reer.

“Masasabi kong mas pinan­garap ko na makat­a­pos ng pag-aaral,” he re­calls. “Pero ’yong pagig­ing artista, nag­ing pas­sion ko, nag­ing kasiya­han ko na lang din. Hindi ko akalain na nan­dito ako ngayon. Akala ko kasi, mag-a-act lang ako, arte lang ako, to en­ter­tain ng tao.”

It was through his par­ents, who were both theater ac­tors, that McCoy de­vel­oped an in­ter­est in act­ing.

“Bata pa lang ako, nakikita ko na ’yong par­ents ko na uma-act­ing, e. Ako ’yong siyem­pre palag­ing kasama sa work. ’Yon ang work nila. Kaya nakikita ko palagi na kung pa’no sila umarte. Kum­baga, na-adapt ko na din na kaya ko na rin ’to, kasi mag­u­lang ko, umaarte, nagteth­e­ater sila. Sig­uro, ha­bang tu­mata­gal na, tinry ko mag-theater din. Pero di ako naka­pag­bida, kasi ayaw ng par­ents ko, kasi may school­ing ako. Gusto nila, ex­traex­tra lang.”

Even if he did small roles on stage, McCoy loved the feel­ing of per­form­ing be­fore a crowd. The au­di­ence’s ap­plause at the end of ev­ery show was sweet mu­sic to his ears.

“Ang sarap sa paki­ram­dam tuwing nagpe-per­form ka sa stage, na af­ter no’n

pa­palak­pakan ka ng mga tao na maram­ing natu­tuwa, nag­papa-pic­ture, ayun po.”

In 2012, the chance to ap­pear on TV pre­sented it­self to McCoy. His good friend, Marlo Mor­tel, whom he met through theater, told him that the TV se­ries that Marlo was work­ing for was look­ing for a new tal­ent to fill in a bit role.

“Part siya ng Be Care­ful with My Heart,” McCoy says. “Kailan­gan daw nila ng isang tal­ent na theater ac­tor na for one scene lang. Ayun, sin­uggest niya ako. Grinab ko na­man.”

See­ing that he had noth­ing to lose, McCoy took on the small role of the cam­pus “crush ng bayan,” Iñigo Ca­banatan, who also hap­pens to be the love in­ter­est of Janella Sal­vador’s Nikki Lim char­ac­ter.

“Triny ko lang sa TV ’yong gi­na­gawa ko sa theater, ’pinakita ko lang sa TV. Hang­gang, ayun, na­gus­tuhan daw po ng man­age­ment na i-try ako. Nagkaro’n ako ng ibang tap­ings. In­ab­sorb na po ako ng Star Magic dur­ing Be Care­ful with My Heart.” In 2015, McCoy be­came a mem­ber of the all-male dance group Hash­tags, which also served as the launch­ing pad for Ron­nie Alonte, Zeus Collins, and Jon Lu­cas. “Masasabi ko na nag­painit lalo sa ca­reer ko ’yong Hash­tags. Do’n ta­laga nag-start la­hat ng ito, ’yong buhay-show­biz ko. Kasi ’yong sa Be Care­ful, nag-aaral pa po ako. Tap­ing, then aral. E, mas pri­or­ity ko pa rin ’yong school no’n. Ex­tra-ex­tra lang muna.” A year later, McCoy be­came part of Pi­noy Big Brother Lucky Sea­son 7, where he crossed paths with the then un­known Elisse Jo­son. McCoy, not Elisse, ended up as the big win­ner of what was known as the long­est sea­son of Pi­noy Big Brother, but they both went on to be­come the faces of “McLisse,” one of the nextgen­er­a­tion love teams of ABS- CBN. What is it about act­ing that made Elisse de­cide to pur­sue a ca­reer in show­biz? “Maybe it’s the way that I get to be vul­ner­a­ble,” Elisse says. “Kasi sa to­toong buhay po e ayokong nararam­daman ’yong mga prob­lems. Ayokong in­oopen ’yong mga sugat ko from the past. And I guess, pag act­ing, do’n ko siya na­ga­gawa, do’n ako puwe­deng umiyak nang walang magdya-judge, do’n ko puwe­deng ba­likan ’yong mga masasakit na pangya­yari nang walang puwe­deng sabi­hin ’yong ibang tao. “Kum­baga, do’n ko puwe­deng il­abas ’yong vul­ner­a­ble side ko, sa act­ing. So, parang nakakaano rin siya, nakaka-re­fresh, nakaka-open ng puso, nakak­a­gaan ng weight sa shoul­ders.” Ad­mit­tedly, the McLisse tan­dem has yet to land a big-ticket project that will cat­a­pult them into the leagues of Kath­Niel, LizQuen, JaDine, and AlDub. Elisse and McCoy do not mind wait­ing. In the mean­time, they want to fo­cus on im­prov­ing their skills in all depart­ments: act­ing, singing, danc­ing, and host­ing, so that they are ready when their big break comes.

“Sa ngayon,” Elisse says, “gusto ko, parang ev­ery work ko, masasabi kong iba, lag­ing iba, lag­ing may nai-im­prove sa act­ing ko. Pag sig­uro nasabi ko na ’yon sa sar­ili ko, I think ’yon lang ang gusto kong marat­ing, e, ’yong magkaro’n ng self-sat­is­fac­tion dahil naibibi­gay ko ’yong buong-buo na ako. In terms of the lev­el­ing of ca­reer, wala na­man akong gus­tong i-reach din. Gusto ko lang muna mag-im­prove.”

As for McCoy, the good-look­ing fel­low wants to give his all in ev­ery project that he will do.

“Ugali ko kasi, once na may pina­sok akong work or some­thing na naump­isa­han ko, ibibi­gay ko la­hat dito, hang­gang mat­a­pos ko, hang­gang ma­g­a­gawa ko. Sig­uro, masasabi ko— magig­ing hon­est ako—nan­dito na ako, gusto kong sumikat. Gusto kong il­abas ’yong tal­ent ko. Gusto kong mag­ing masi­pag pa lalo. At the same time, gusto kong sumikat para mag­ing in­spi­rasyon sa ibang tao at makat­u­long din. Hindi para pataas ako, ganyan. Hindi. Gusto ko mag­ing in­spi­rasyon sa la­hat ng tao.”

Elisse be­lieves that she and McCoy may have their dif­fer­ences, but at the end of the day, they want the same thing: to be good at what they do.

“’Yong pagig­ing magkaiba makes our jour­ney more fun,” Elisse says. “Kasi, siyem­pre, hindi ko nakikita ’yong sar­ili ko sa kanya. Kum­baga, lagi akong me bagong nalala­man tungkol sa kanya. ’Ta­pos, he’s al­ways think­ing about the pos­i­tive side of things, which is good. Kasi ako, ka­ba­lik­taran no’n. Parang kino-com­ple­ment namin ’yong isa’t isa. Ha­bang tu­mata­gal, nakik­i­lala namin ang isa’t isa. Na­gagabayan namin ang isa’t isa. We know each other’s strengths and weak­nesses.”

“No’ng una, malay­ong-malayo kami,” McCoy says. “Laki ako sa Tondo. Siya na­man, tu­mira sa States. Pero nag-meet kami sa gitna. Sa ta­gal ng pagkakak­i­lala namin, nala­man namin kung ano ba ’yong pan­git sa amin, ano ba ’yong meron sa amin, ano ba ’yong nagu­gus­tuhan namin sa isa’t isa. Kaya sig­uro ’yong jour­ney namin, mahi­rap pero nag­ing mem­o­rable.”

Nat­u­ral chem­istry and rap­port—those are hard to come by. McLisse has them in spades.

Elisse says that she and McCoy keep their re­la­tion­ship on a pla­tonic and pro­fes­sional level. She does not want to give their fans false hopes.

“Yeah, we talked about that din, e,” Elisse ex­plains. “Kasi there was a point na lagi nam­ing ini­isip kung ano’ng mai­isip ng mga fans, ganyan. Pero I think they de­serve to know what­ever is go­ing on, the truth lang.

“Kung hindi ta­laga, hindi ta­laga. Pero kung oo, e, di, oo. Parang there’s no need to pre­tend, kasi makikita’t mararam­daman din nila ’yon. So, ang na­pag-us­apan namin, sabi namin, ‘’Wag tay­ong magpa-pres­sure. Let’s take it slow and en­joy the mo­ments we have to­gether. Hindi na­man natin kailan­gang umamin kahit na hindi, para lang mag­pak­ilig or some­thing. It will hap­pen.’ Alam na namin sa sar­ili namin ’yon.”

When it comes to his show­biz ca­reer, McCoy hopes to fol­low in the foot­steps of John Lloyd Cruz and Coco Martin. “Pag­dat­ing sa ak­tin­gan, si Kuya John Lloyd ta­laga. Pero pag­dat­ing sa sipag? ’Yong grabe ta­laga sa pas­sion? Si Coco Martin.”

McCoy adds that he is cap­ti­vated by John Lloyd’s man­ner of de­liv­er­ing his lines and Coco’s way of ap­proach­ing his roles.

“Si Kuya John Lloyd kasi, parang smooth, e. Once na binigkas niya ’yong linya, pa­sok sa puso. Parang mararam­daman mo ta­laga. Si Kuya Coco na­man, once na umak­t­ing siya, todo bi­gay. Kum­baga, buong ef­fort ta­laga niya, ’ni­lal­abas niya. ’Yon ang sinasabi kong sipag. Ang sipag niya ta­la­gang matuto ng mga karak­ter niya. Kasi nakita ko, nagdi-di­rect­ing siya, nagpa-Pan­day siya [Coco’s movie at the Metro Manila Film Fes­ti­val 2017], at the same time Probin­syano [the ABS-CBN prime­time se­ries]. Kum­baga, ang hi­rap mag-switch ng bawat karak­ter, kaya di ko alam kung pa’no niya na­ga­gawa ’yon. ’Yon ang gusto ko na­man makuha din sa kanya.”

SHOOT PRO­DUCER: IRENE MISLANG ART DI­REC­TOR: MAYA IdANAN FASH­ION STYLIST: tEAM RAINxEM MAKEUP (ELISSE): dENISE GO HAIR (ELISSE): ARIES MANAL GROOM­ING (MCCOY): MANUEL MAjARUcON

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