It’s no secret that actress and singer Ylona Garcia is one of the most talented young stars in show business today. At just 14 years old, her career is moving quickly. But for an ambitious girl who’s merely entered her adolescent stage, she prefers to keep her future far in sight and focus on the challenges of today.
In just one year—after exiting the Pinoy Big Brother House where its alumni including James Reid and Kim Chiu rose to fame—Ylona has already gained over 1 million followers on Instagram. With a face of an angel and a magnetic presence beyond her years, her imminent superstardom is bound to happen sooner or later. A singing voice that would surely rival that of her Disney idols Demi, Miley, and Selena, her youthful exuberance could instantly light up any room she entered. But beneath the giggly teenage exterior is a girl who is serious about her growing career. On the subject of balancing work life and being a teenager, she says, “When it comes to work, I have to be very professional. Behind the scenes, I have this off switch like, ‘Okay, let’s be serious.’ And I’ve gotten used to it.“
Self-assured, the morena beauty clearly goes against the grain. Even when it comes to fashion, her unique sense of style has partly contributed to the revival of the choker trend. And with her maturing fame, there’s no denying that she will continue breaking boundaries. While Ylona is tight-lipped about her upcoming movies and teleserye next year, we’re certain that a great many more projects lie in her future— and we’ll be sure to turn every page in her book.
Here, we talk to Ylona about growing up on stage, being a role model, and her plans on walking down the runway.
A lot of teenagers are clueless about their future careers. How did you set your mind to having career goals at such a young age?
I didn’t actually set career goals at first. I’m a happy-go-lucky type of person and I try to experience everything. When I first experienced performing on stage, I knew it was the one thing I wanted to do for the rest of my life. If you find that one thing that makes you happy and you really see yourself doing it in the long run, don’t waste time, experience, and do what you want. That’s what I did and look where I am now.
What age were you like, “I want to be on TV?”
When I was 7. I was a Disney girl, I watched Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato, and Miley Cyrus. They’re literally my idols, until now. I was like, “Wow, If they can do that then maybe I can.”
Can you tell us about the moment you knew you could actually really sing?
When I was 9. I didn’t take it seriously at all. I really wanted to be a dancer before I wanted to become a singer. But I was really bad at dancing. (Laughs) Seriously I have two left feet and you know, two left feet don’t go together. But when I tried singing, I always sounded so weird but I kept going. My parents encouraged me and I was like, “Okay I’m doing this, weird, I’m actually doing this, I’m singing!” I don’t know, it just came to a point when I performed on stage one night and I didn’t know I had it in me. Like I belted out, it didn’t crack, and it didn’t actually sound bad. It actually sounded pretty good. Then people were like, “You go girl!” So I just kept on going and I did whatever I could to sing because it was fun.
What’s your favorite part about performing on stage?
Showing people who you are. Because you know what’s weird? Honestly, I’m a shy girl. It’s hard for me to talk to people. I can socialize but if people give me that look like they don’t want to talk to me, then I just stay quiet. But when I’m on stage, I’m a whole different person, like Beyoncé with Sasha Fierce. When I’m performing, I’m not hiding anymore. I’m showing people who I am and not caring what people think.
So every artist has a unique style. How did you find your identity?
When I was in Australia, I went to this talent school called JMA Entertainment and it’s basically an artist development program where we develop ourselves as our own artist. Before, I used to copy other people but now I think I figured out my own way. When people put me in hard situations, the way I handle it is the way I handle it. I don’t look at other people because what they do is their thing. When I was in Pinoy Big Brother, Kenzo [Gutierrez] would play the guitar and I would just sing randomly and realize I could do things I didn’t know I could. Singing with my own voice and not copying someone else’s style just makes everything raw and that’s how I like it.
Have you ever struggled with self-esteem issues?
Yes. I still do now because I’m going through the time of you know, adolescence. As an artist, when you’re going through puberty, it’s hard because you get moody and things pile up all at once. It just confuses you. The pressure gets to me a lot because I’m still new in the industry and there are a lot of things to learn. But my mom always tells me to just do what I love to do because people will always have something to say. So there are three solutions to a problem. One, accept it, two, if you can’t accept it, change it, and three, if you can’t change it, leave it.
Do you actively think about being a role model?
I don’t really see myself as a role model because I’m not a perfect person. I see myself as someone who just wants to be there for people when they need it. But as someone who’s just being herself, it’s really touching to have others look up to you.
Who are some of the people that you look up to?
Sarah Geronimo is really nice and down to earth. And Robi Domingo is like a big brother to me. He is really just so nice and he’s there for me no matter what.
What has show business taught you since coming out of the PBB house?
To put myself first. I used to always put other people first that it doesn’t matter what happens to me. I actually fainted for being so tired. I love my job and I love making people happy but I always tend to put it before me. But now I learned that I have to take care of myself first.
You met your on-screen partner Bailey May inside the PBB house. What’s your relationship like off-screen?
I think we’re a lot closer now. I was surprised that we actually became really good friends. I thought he didn’t like me talaga. (Laughs) But now, he’s one of my closest friends in show business and I like that I can really rely on him. We’re like Bonnie and Clyde. (Laughs) No, but we’re partners in crime.
By the way, congratulations on releasing your first album! Are you already thinking about your sophomore album?
Yes, I’ve actually written enough songs to make two albums! Yeah, that’s what happens when you experience a lot of things whether it’s good or bad.
But four years from now, do you have anything you want to accomplish by the time you turn eighteen?
Graduating from school with a degree in Psychology maybe. People are very interesting you know. It’s amazing what a smile can hide and it’s amazing how people just carry themselves. That’s what I’d really like to know.
Let’s talk fashion. Would you say your fashion on stage and off stage are the same?
No. My style off stage is very chill. Just very comfy and street I guess because I love wearing jerseys and big shirts like I’m going to sleep all day. When it comes on stage, I’ve very glamorous like Ariana Grande.
Who do you look to for style inspiration?
What item is on heavy rotation in your wardrobe right now?
Chokers, always and forever.
You’re such a hair chameleon. How is it a part of your identity?
I love trying on different types of hairstyles. That’s who I am. I just like experiencing different things. I want to dye it pink but since I can’t, I can always wear a wig. I want to try white, rose gold, and teal like Kylie Jenner.
You’re on a makeup chair almost everyday. Have you started experimenting on doing your own make up as well?
I tried. I failed. End of story. (Laughs) But I really just like to go bare on my face.
Do you have a favorite beauty product?
What’s something your fans would be surprised to know about you?
They wouldn’t be surprised. They actually know everything about me to be honest. Oh! One surprising thing, I’ve always wanted to model. Like as in seriously model.
Are you going to pursue modeling in the future?
I hope so. But you can never tell. For me, I don’t like to think about the future. I like to live in the now. Instead of thinking too much about the future, you forget to live. So whatever happens, happens. If I get to model and if I get to be in the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. I just hope to grow to 6 feet tall! (Laughs)