Solenn Heussaff is no mystery. For years, she has always dared to be an open book when it comes to both her career and personal life. Make no mistake though: everything she puts out there isn’t a façade but an extension of her spirit that’s 100% genuine.
As one of the most talented people you could ever meet: actress, singer, author, and model—not to mention an impressive painter, it’s surprising to hear how she could never call herself an “artist”. But also not so surprising as humility is something that’s part of her nature. Mirroring Solenn’s modesty is her aesthetic. She came on set almost barefaced, dressed in head-to-toe black, and flashed a bashful smile. On top of being strikingly beautiful, she is extremely kind and possesses not an ounce of a diva attitude; making you feel instantly eased by her presence. With a balance of elegance and ferocity, it became clear why the 32-year-old is best described with just one word: goals. Having studied Fashion Design and Makeup Artistry in Paris surrounded by the arts, it’s no wonder the French-Filipina found herself making strides in show business. A self-confessed workaholic, the last year has been busy for the actress who spent most of her 1-year marriage with Nico Bolzico on the set of Encantadia. But the time apart made zero strain on their relationship and instead became the key to their enviable marriage.
Apart from knowing the right formula to a successful relationship, Solenn, too, knows the recipe to a successful life. Her Instagram feed is filled with the basics of what makes her happy. To foster her own creativity, the multi-hyphenate is now going more public than ever with her most recent project: solenn.ph, a personal space where she shares tips on fitness, beauty, cooking, and a web series called “Naked Chef” with her husband (that has since gone viral). As Solenn prepares to launch her next endeavors, she tells us her love for her crafts, shutting down haters in the best possible way, and the one more thing she wants to accomplish.
How has married life been so far?
There’s not much difference. Nico and I have been living in together 5 years before we got married so nothing’s changed. (Laughs)
Nico has pretty much invented the hashtag #wifezilla. How do you keep your relationship interesting?
Since we both work a lot, we hardly see each other. That’s one way to keep the relationship exciting because every time is like a first date. It’s very important to have a “me” time so at least when you get to see each other, you enjoy that moment even more. We also try to do different activities together like traveling but we do really have our own lives as well. We even have our own bank accounts so my money is my money and his money is his. We don’t ever fight about stuff like that. We have a common bank account though for things like groceries, dues, and employees. But I guess it will change when we have a family.
You started out with fashion design and makeup artistry. When did you realize that you also wanted to try acting?
Actually, I didn’t realize I wanted to try it. It just kind of happened. I never dreamt of becoming an actress. Maybe when I was 5, when every little girl dreamt of being a star. But when I started working, I was behind the cameras as a makeup artist and someone told me, “You should join Survivor.” So I did it for fun to see if I would actually get in. Then I got in and when I finished Survivor, they offered me a show. So I was like, you know what, this doesn’t happen to everyone so I might as well try it. If I don’t like it, I still have a job. And if I like it, then who knows where it can take me.
“I never dreamt of becoming an actress. Maybe when I was 5 when every little girl dreamt of being a star.”
What do you enjoy most about it?
I like to have different personalities because as a person, I’m, I wouldn’t say I’m bland. (Laughs) I’m very chill and laid-back. If you see me in a group, I’m not the loudest one. I just like to observe. I’m quite understated and my personality doesn’t super shine. So when it comes to acting, I get to be a b****, I get to be angry, I get to be a sweetheart, or a flirt. I can be anything I want to be. I don’t get angry in real life so at least I kind of get to release the tension inside my body.
What do you enjoy more, acting or singing?
I like both. They’re very different. I love the adrenaline you get on stage when you’re performing live. I do wish I could be someone like Beyoncé. Like if I had a really, really, really good voice, I think I would focus on singing because, I don’t know, it’s just nice to have everyone’s attention in one go. Whereas in movies, like I said, you get to be different people and you get to wear different costumes. It’s like playing; it’s like being a child again. You know, when you invite your friends over for a play date and then you pretend to be something or someone. It takes you back to your childhood.
What was your favorite thing about being in Encantadia?
My character went through a lot. She was Cassiopeia, the first diwata out there and the most powerful one. Cassiopeia didn’t have many lines but it was pretty hard to have like 15 scenes in one day where I would just have to do different emotions with my eyes. That was a lot of practice for me. I think I got eye bags because of that. (Laughs) The costumes are also amazing on Encantadia and I was able to do a lot of fight scenes.
“When it comes to acting, I get to be a b****, I get to be angry, I get to be a sweetheart, or a flirt. I can be anything I want to be.”
Did you do your own stunts?
Yeah, even my flips. It was very nice to be part of a teleserye that lasted a year on TV and a year taping. That’s probably why I didn’t really feel my wedding because I started shooting Encantadia two days before I left for my wedding and I ended it three days after my anniversary. So I didn’t see Nico for a year, I was on set the whole time. (Laughs)
Aside from your other talents, you also paint. Can you tell us the exact moment you realized you had potential to be an artist?
For me, it’s just a hobby. I can’t say I’m an artist. I’ve been painting since the age of 3 so my mom made it a habit for me. Every Saturday, my friends and I would go to this Spanish teacher and we’d be there from 11am to 4pm. We experimented a lot—with oil, acrylic, watercolor, dyes, and everything you can think of. And then from there, I switched to tapestry for two years. When I went to fashion design school in France, we had to live sketch naked men and women every week, so that was a lot of training as well. I think after 18, I really just started doing it on my own as a hobby and I eventually discovered that acrylic was my thing.
How does it make you feel when you’re in your zone, painting?
I love it. I just hate being disturbed. When I paint, I need to be alone. Sometimes my dad and my mom come and chat with me. But I can’t focus so I love putting music really loud. Yesterday, I painted from 9AM ‘til 7PM nonstop. And my dad had to bring me water, because he was like, “You have to drink, it’s hot outside.” When I’m focused and in the zone, nothing can bother me.
“For me, [painting] is just a hobby. I can’t say I’m an artist.”
I heard you also sell your paintings.
My first exhibit was sold out last year. I had my first solo exhibit last April in Pineapple Lab. I had 27 artworks and designed 3 embroidered cowhides. I also did a collaboration on furniture with Stephanie and Jessica Kienle from Philux. We sold everything so that was good. And now I’m currently working on my second exhibit that will happen in October or November this year.
What has been your most memorable art piece?
It would have to be this tribe I painted from Bukidnon. They’re an indigenous group there. My friend from Bukidnon sent me a photo of them and I loved their colorful outfits. I sold it during my exhibit and 100% of the money I got from that painting, I donated to that tribe in Bukidnon during their peace treaty. It was so surreal to see thousands of them all in their outfits. It felt like I was in a movie back in the days. I think that was one of my most memorable artworks.
You also recently launched your website. What made you decide to create it?
Actually, Nico said that Solenn should become a brand. But I was too lazy. When I’m free, I’d rather exercise, paint, or cook. Having a website is a job on its own and there are too many bloggers out there that I don’t want to compete with. I’m not the type to take photos of my outfits everyday. It’s difficult and I totally give it to them. There are also food bloggers, but I’m not a chef. So I decided to stick to what my Instagram page is, which is a bit of everything. When I conceptualized my website, I didn’t want to make it too glitzy and glamorous. I didn’t want to curate it because I just wanted it to be very me, very kalat. (Laughs) Thankfully, Nico was smart enough to buy the domain 6 years ago when we met which was solenn.ph. He’s more of a millennial than I am. So far, it’s been getting good reviews. My best videos are the Naked Chef series with Nico and my makeup tutorials.
Who are some of the women that inspire you in life?
My mom, obviously. She’s one of the women that inspire me because she’s such a strong person. Actually, for a Filipina, she’s not as malambing as Pinays would be. She doesn’t really share her emotions. She’s more European in that sense. She’s very Pinay in the sense where she tells me that I’m always hubad. (Laughs) “Magtakip ka naman, Solenn. Lagi kang hubad.” She’s my biggest critic when it comes to everything. My dad is my biggest fan, like everything I do is amazing. My mom, she always says, “You did good, but you could do this, you could do that.” But it’s good to have a critic. She grew up from a family where there were nine of them and had a really hard life. I love that now that she has a nice life, she still doesn’t take things for granted. She sticks to the simple things. You’ll never see her buy expensive stuff.
“When I conceptualized my website, I didn’t want to make it too glitzy and glamorous… I just wanted it to be very me.”
Aside from your dad, who would you say is your biggest cheerleader?
Nico is definitely one of my cheerleaders. He really pushes me to do better, to do the things I want to do. If there’s any role that would be daring, he’s not the type that will say, “You can’t do that.” He doesn’t really ask about my roles. He just knows I go to work and come home to him. That’s all. (Laughs) If I have some advice that I need, I usually ask him. And he’s quite good. I’m more of the street-smart; he’s more of the book-smart in the relationship.
What should we look forward to in the season 2 of It Girls on E!?
We’re shooting in August, I think, if I’m not mistaken. This season, it will be more of a spin-off before we do the third season. This season is a spin-off on Besties. So it’s about me and Georgina [Wilson]. There will be a lot more husbands and her baby.
Sharing your life on TV and online can draw out all sorts of opinions from people. How do you deal with the negative things people throw at you?
Every time I see a negative comment on my Instagram, I delete and block. But sometimes I answer back, because I find the things they say so, I don’t want to say dumb, but for example, I did this show called Karelasyon and my role there was a girl who got drunk and got raped. I posted it and asked people to watch it. And when I watched the video on YouTube and saw all the comments, a lot of people were so backwards saying things like, “Well, it was her fault ‘cause she was drunk,” or “her outfit’s too revealing,” and you wanna shake them and say, wake up, no matter how drunk or unconscious you are, the moment it happens without your consent, that’s rape. So sometimes when I see comments that are so below the belt, I just need to answer and put them back in their place. One time, I was wearing a bikini next to the pool. Of course it was sexy, but someone said, “Magtakip ka naman.” And so I just replied sarcastically, saying, “You’re right, next time I will wear my turtleneck and my jeans when I go tan next to the pool.”
So you’ve done pretty much everything. What’s one more thing you want to accomplish?
Well, one thing that I’ve wanted to accomplish for the longest time is to speak Tagalog fluently. (Laughs) I feel like my language barrier has stopped me from feeling more emotions on set because I don’t think in Tagalog, and I definitely don’t speak Tagalog every day. People are so used to me being baluktot that they don’t even correct me anymore so I feel like I’m saying it correctly. I’ll say like, “magkape kami” instead of “tayo”, stuff like that. It’s just so engraved in my mind. But I feel like if Tagalog were one of my main languages, acting would be so much easier because I would feel the emotions more instead of thinking of the next word to come out of my mouth.
You also love to travel. What has been your favorite country so far?
Argentina is one of them. Not because of Nico, but because I’m an outdoorsy person. I love the mountains and I love the rivers. I used to hate horses because I was scared of them. But when I went to Argentina, Nico taught me how to go horseback riding and we literally got on these massive horses and went for hours into fields and waters so it felt like I was in a Western movie. One time, I was galloping so fast after a bunch of wild horses and I just wanted to cry because it felt so surreal to be controlling an animal that’s so big and powerful. Life there is so simple. Nothing is too flamboyant or fancy.
What 5 things do you always bring with you when you travel?
I always have sanitizer. I love to sanitize my hands. I always have lip balm because my lips get chapped really fast and you never know when you’re changing weather. Cellphone obviously, so I can take photos and be in touch with my family. Two other things would have to be a good pair of jeans. You can use it for 7 days straight and it’s not going to smell. (Laughs) And I always have a leather jacket or a sweater.
“Nico is definitely one of my biggest cheerleaders. He really pushes me to do better, to do the things I want to do.”
Which style icon do you relate to the most?
I love Kate Moss. I love Nicole Richie. I’m more into the chill boho look, so I love just wearing dresses and slip-ons, because they’re easy to wear. You don’t have to think of what to match it with and you can wear it with sneakers or heels.
What piece in your closet has the most mileage?
I actually have a pair of stretched leather pants. They’re not taut and they’re high-waisted and just gives me a really nice a** and makes my legs look thin. I look taller with it too. It’s so easy to wear because I can easily dress it up or play it down. I’ve had them for years so if I lose them I’m going to cry. (Laughs)
What’s your current favorite beauty trend?
I love, actually, this kind of makeup [I have on for the shoot] because I always hated the black smokey eye. I love the whole faint look. They don’t really put eyeliner or anything. It’s just smudged, light brown, reddish eye shadows, the lips are pale, and you have nice contour. It’s just kind of like the sick look. (Laughs) I love that.
What’s one makeup look you’ll never try?
If it’s for a shoot, I don’t mind putting anything on my face because there’s always a concept. But if it’s for an every day look or me going out, I would never wear colored eye shadows. I stick to browns and nudes. I don’t like blues, greens, purples, or pinks on the eyes.
What 5 products do you never leave home without?
Hand sanitizer, Vitress hairspray so when I eat at a Korean restaurant or when my hair smells like barbeque, I just spray it and it masks the smell. That’s super useful. Then lipbalm, tissue, and a powder or blotter, something that will remove the shine on my face.
Can you share a skincare tip that never fails you?
I used to put Aloe Vera on my face but I haven’t done it in a while so that would be a lie. I just usually moisturize at night. I have a facial cleanser in the shower which I use morning and night. And then I only moisturize at night because I don’t like it when you sweat and then you put cream on your face. To moisturize, sometimes I just put oil on my face to keep it healthy.
How about when it comes to maintaining healthy hair?
You need to drink a lot of water. I just read that somewhere and apparently it works. I would have to say brush your hair slowly, don’t tie your hair when it’s wet so your hairline doesn’t recede, and if you have tangled hair, always start from the bottom while holding it and work your way up slowly. That’s one thing I learned when I went to makeup school, I had to take three months for hair. I hated hair. (Laughs)
What are you looking forward to the most this year?
I just renewed my contract with GMA so I’m looking forward to seeing what other roles they will give me this year. A lot of the shows right now are focused on the young ones, so I think I’m kind of going to that second phase in my life where I’ll become a mom. (Laughs) I want to be more picky with the movies because I used to be game to do anything, now I kind of want a role that will leave a mark.