MCCOY DE LEON & ELISSE JOSON
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