TAGS: Black Sheep, Elisse Joson, McCoy De Leon, McLisse, Sakaling Maging Tayo

Photography: Raymond Cauilan

MCCOY DE LEON

Whenever he enters a room full of people, whether it’s for work or for mere socialization, Mccoy de Leon exudes a certain aura that’s hard not to notice. The 23-year-old actor and Hashtag member has a very warm personality that comes with a charming gaze. He makes sure he says hi to everyone in the room and flashes a welcoming smile to put us all at ease.

Mccoy makes this fine afternoon of photo shoot and interview with StarStudio.ph even more of a breeze as he tells his story in a light and friendly manner. His is the only sound that matters amid the busyness inside one of ABS-CBN’s dressing rooms—and we’re all ears.

Young McCoy with his father, Mark De Leon. Photo from Instagram (@hashtag_mccoydl).

Born Marc Carlos Francis de Jesus de Leon in Tondo district in Manila, Mccoy talks fondly about his birthplace and hometown. “Sa mismong palengke po kami nakatira, parang hindi na po nawawalan ng tao,” he tells us. “Kapag fiesta doon sa amin, naghahanda kami. Pupunta ’yung mga kaibigan namin, ’tapos ’yung mga taga-Bulacan na kamag-anak din namin.”

He also remembers that his grandfather, who’s the barangay chairman, would often hire a band to make the occasion, which happens every January, grander and livelier.

Photo from Instagram (@hashtag_mccoydl)

Growing up, young Mccoy attended several academic institutions, mostly at Chinese schools because he has Chinese lineage, courtesy of his maternal great-grandparents. Two such schools he’d gone to are St. Stephen’s High School and Chiang Kai Shek College. At that time, showbiz was the farthest thing in his mind.

 “Noon, hindi talaga, e,” he says, shaking his head. “Gusto ko maging engineer. Kasi gusto ko gumawa ng bahay, mag-design ng bahay. ’Tapos ’yun, kasi dream din ng family ko magkaroon ng bahay na malaki.” 

On Instagram, Mccoy captioned this photo as “Totoy,” apparently as a description of his younger self. Photo from Instagram (@hashtag_mccoydl).

That dream of having a big house inspired Mccoy to take up Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering at Mapua University. But on his third year in college, fate stepped in for him to take the route to showbiz. That was in 2012, when the daytime teleserye Be Careful with My Heart was ruling the ratings game, and his friend Marlo Mortel was part of the cast. Marlo recommended Mccoy to the show’s staff for the role of a theater actor and schoolmate of Janella Salvador, who’s one of the lead stars. 

McCoy wrote on Instagram: "Miss ko na mag-theater." Photo from Instagram (@hashtag_mccoydl).

Mccoy was perfect for the role of Inigo, the theater actor, because he acted in theater when he was younger. He also felt his love for acting was rekindled because of that unexpected break on TV.

He then tells us that he got the acting talent from his parents, particularly his father, Mark, who’s a professional theater actor and dancer. Young Mccoy then discovered he could act, too, and longed for the limelight.

“Nakikita ko sila uma-acting,” he says of his parents and their theater productions. “Lalo na pag Mommy at Daddy ko ’yung mag-partner.” He adds that he got his first acting role at 7 years old, and he played Cupid in a play that was staged at the University of the Philippines and at some malls.

Mccoy’s official photo from Pinoy Big Brother Lucky Season 7. Photo from ABS-CBN PBB.

Shortly after playing Inigo in Be Careful with My Heart, Mccoy bagged a bigger break. He was cast as one of the 2-in-1 housemates in Pinoy Big Brother (PBB) Lucky Season 7 in 2016, joining the likes of Nikko Natividad (who likewise became a Hashtag member later on) and Elisse Joson. Mccoy and Elisse eventually became a love team known as McLisse.

Mccoy in one of his portrayals for a Maalala Mo Kaya episode. Photo from ABS-CBN MMK.

When Mccoy stepped out of the PBB House, he worked on more projects, such as teleseryes and several Maalala Mo Kaya episodes. He’s particularly remarkable as Obet in the talked-about TV series, The Good Son. Currently, he’s in FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano as JP, a brother of lead star Yassi Pressman’s character. He was also part of the 2017 movies Instalado and Ang Panday.

ELISSE JOSON

If people were to enumerate the celebrities with the most beautiful faces in the country today, Elisse Joson will undoubtedly be on that list. But beyond Elisse’s picture-perfect looks, she has far more interesting and arresting stories to tell.

Minutes before she sits down with StarStudio.ph for an interview, the PBB alum already impresses us with her friendliness and openness as she greets us with a bright smile while walking along the hallways leading to where we are. Indeed, she remains the pre-stardom Elisse Joson that we’ve seen on PBB. She looks relaxed and at ease, like she’s meeting up with a friend for a casual chat.

Young Elisse with her mom, Christine. Photo from Instagram (@elissejosonn).

Elisse, whose full name is Maria Chriselle Elisse Joson Diuco, recalls fond memories she’s made in Balanga City in Bataan province, where she was born 23 years ago, on January 6. Her mother Christine Joson-Diuco is a doctor and a single parent.

Back then, she was quite shy and preferred blending in the background. “Dati pinapasali ako sa mga singing contests,” she says, smiling. “Ayoko talaga, napipilitan lang ako kasi ’yung mom ko pinupush ako lagi.”

Elisse’s mom said on Instagram that she found this photo on Elisse’s scrapbook and it was shot in one of the stores in San Francisco, California. Photo from Instagram (@mcspicybellemuchob1b2_joson).

When Elisse was 10, her family left Bataan to live in the U.S., specifically in the state of California, and stayed there for 5 years. She remembers having a difficult time integrating into her new environment and making friends at her new school.

“Do’n ako nag-aral, do’n ako natutong maging magaling mag-English,” she narrates. “In the beginning, it was hard kasi nabu-bully ako dahil parang ang bago ko do’n, ’tapos it’s a foreign country. So parang ako ’yung new kid in school.” 

Elisse made heads turn at the 8th Star Magic Ball in 2014. Photo from Instagram (@elissejosonn).

From being a nobody in the U.S., Elisse turned her life around when she came home in the Philippines. At 15, she auditioned for Star Magic, the talent-management arm of ABS-CBN. When asked if she still remembers the song she sang during the audition, she answers with an enthusiastic yes.

“Kasi no’ng time na ’yun very limited lang ’yung mga saulado kong kanta,” she explains. “So I sang Big Girls Don’t Cry by Fergie. Ewan ko, pero favorite ko siyang kantahin noon.” 

An outtake from one of her commercials. Photo from Instagram (@elissejosonn).

Needless to say, Elisse passed the audition with flying colors because she soon began appearing in teleseryes, such as Be Careful with My Heart and Sana Bukas Pa Ang Kahapon, and in other Kapamilya shows, like the teen series, Luv U. Then her breakthrough happened via a fastfood chain’s ad campaign in 2016.

In the TV commercial, Elisse played a girl whose heart was once broken but soon recovered. It went viral, and she became known as Elisse, the “hugot” girl in the ad. 

Elisse’s pictorial photo for Pinoy Big Brother Lucky Season 7. Photo from ABS-CBN PBB.

Soon after, Elisse was cast in Pinoy Big Brother Lucky Season 7 as the “Hugot Babe of Mandaluyong.” She and Mccoy De Leon gravitated toward each other in the show and they eventually became the McLisse love team that we all love today. McLisse made a mark in the TV series The Good Son and FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano. On her own, Elisse spread her wings to playing a kontrabida role in another drama series, Ngayon at Kailanman. 

“Wiser” is how Elisse describes herself now. “It’s so cliché,” she admits. “Pero masasabi kong fearless and passionate.”   

Art Direction: Alfred Amado

McCoy's Glam Team

Hair and Make-Up: Ryan Panaligan

Stylist: Rodel Briñas

Elisse' Glam Team

Hair: Bee Amarga

Make-Up: Varda Atienza

Stylist: Ryuji Shiomitsu

Photographer's Associates: Mark Jayson Santos and Jonathan Gonzaga