When it comes to Philippine entertainment’s most beautiful faces, Iza Calzado is almost always sure to make it to this list. Ever since we saw her on a shampoo ad, which was her biggest break on television that jumpstarted her career, we all have always been enamoured by her classic, ethereal beauty. Yet through the years, she has proven that she is more than just a pretty face and is finally getting the accolades she deserves while bringing home pride to our country with her Yakushi Pearl Award win at the 2017 Osaka Asian Film Festival.
Now as part of women's summit She Talks Asia, the soon-to-be Mrs. Ben Wintle is also on the path of inspiring women all over, using her platform to promote women empowerment and embracing one’s uniqueness and individuality.
[related: ABS-CBN Lifestyle Asks Resident 'WHIP' Iza Calzado: What's The Essence Of Being A Woman?]
What or who motivated you to be good at what you’re doing?
Iza: I would have to say my biggest motivation in my professional career is my dad (the late Lito Calzado). The amount of respect and adoration that people had for him when it came to his work, professionalism and creativity was very inspiring. Anybody who got to work with him only had good things to say about him so I wanna be regarded just like that. He worked behind the scenes, and I’m on cam, but still I would love to be remembered the way that people remember him so fondly. Like how he always made people in the industry feel good while on set, somehow, in my own way, I try to really be like him. And so I do my best to make my dad proud.
Any female role models growing up?
I: Growing up in the field of showbiz, someone I really look up to is Judy Ann Santos. I really admired her for her work ethic and for being real. It even came to a point that when I’d encounter some hardships while working, I’d always think: WWJD (What would Juday do?). I just love how professional she is and how fun and naughty she still can be at the same time. Di sya ma-showbiz, saktong sakto lang sya.
[related: ABS-CBN Lifestyle Asks Resident 'WHIP' Gretchen Ho: What's The Essence Of Being A Woman?]
Describe your social upbringing and how it affected your views on girl power.
I: Funny how you should ask that 'cause I recently had one of my biggest realizations after being part of She Talks Asia. I used to be so intimidated by the word feminism and what it exactly means. Growing up, trying to fit in and not being one of the prettier ones, I’ve always been a tomboy or one of the boys so my view on male chauvinism has always been tainted, knowing that it’s the norm and should just be accepted though it shouldn’t be and so I realized that I was part of the problem. So now, I am trying to help shift this paradigm 'cause we all can educate ourselves and unlearn these misogynistic practices. I am still far from being like an Emma Watson but I’m learning more about what feminism is really all about.
How do you compare the state of gender equality then and now?
I: Again, growing up I never thought that inequality existed 'cause of the environment I was brought up in. But now, I guess when it comes to roles for women, there are already a lot of the more empowered types and not just about women fighting over men. A notable progress is that of Sylvia Sanchez’ career right now where she can already headline a soap opera. Before it was always just about the love story and the love teams. So, I think in terms of roles for women, we are headed towards the right direction.
[related: ABS-CBN Lifestyle Asks Resident 'WHIP' KaladKaren: What's The Essence Of Being A Trans Woman?]
In your own ways, how do you empower your fellow women?
I: First is by sharing my story. In a way, that is very personal, as I share what I’ve been through, embracing my uniqueness and using it to my full advantage through She Talks Asia. Secondly, is this side project I have with Karylle, Diana Zubiri, and Sunshine Dizon where we’re producing something that we can have creative control over and we hope that this would pave the way for other actresses in the industry to be more in control of their careers, too.
How do you react to “victim-shaming” among women every time you hear about it?
I: There should be no excuse for it but then, with how our society was shaped, and how 80% of our people still don’t have access to the right education, how can we change people’s mindsets that it isn’t right. So, that should be the media’s role, to educate the public, and the more ‘woke’ people we have, we can soon change this mindset. This cannot happen overnight though so we just have to persevere and educate people regarding this matter.
[related: Love Actually: How Food Binds The Newly Engaged Iza Calzado And Ben Wintle]
If it were up to you, which person (local or international) would best represent the term WHIP?
I: Definitely, Meryll Streep 'cause as an actress, what else can she not portray? Maybe just being an action star, but aside from that, she’s done it all. And she uses her influence to promote her causes so she really is the embodiment of empowerment in the true sense of the word.
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Photography by Christina Zabat