After receiving multiple praises on her big-hitting performance on the film adaptation of award-winning novel Smaller and Smaller Circles, actress Carla Humphries has finally added the cherry on top of her year. But it’s been a long time coming.
After more than a decade as an actress, Carla Humphries is taking a step forward by turning her focus on rebranding herself. Last February, she created a Youtube account and revealed to everyone her real name: Madeleine, or Madz for short. She explains, “I feel like for a long time I wasn’t really able to share who I was as an artist and as a person because I have a screen name. It’s a huge part of me being able to repackage myself as the real me. So I created the Youtube channel to share myself as Madz and to share a side of me that I feel like people really weren’t able to get to know.” Months after her launch, she released her first music cover, uncovering another talent under her belt. And just a few weeks ago, she officially changed her Instagram handle to @callmemadz.
2017 has been full of surprises for the French-American-Filipina beauty but her biggest break? Being handpicked by acclaimed director Raya Martin to be the female lead of crime-thriller Smaller and Smaller Circles. Based on F.H. Bataclan’s novel, the story revolves around two Jesuit priests investigating a series of gruesome murders in Manila. The film was a big opportunity for Carla not only because she played alongside a carefully selected cast including veteran actor Nonie Buencamino and Sid Lucero, but it also came at a time when she was on the verge of giving up her acting career. “It was amazing to have that validation as an actress that some of my past works have caught the attention of the right people and to be part of such an amazing cast. And of course, I respect and admire Raya so much for all his accomplishments as well. It was really a saving grace right before I kind of lost hope.”
Off screen, Carla is a far cry from her serious role as reporter Joanna Bonifacio. She has the laid-back demeanor of a truly relatable person. The cheerful, animated 29-year-old had a palpable energy that permeated on set. Her dancing was so infectious; we had to stop ourselves from dancing along with her. Her choice of music? Motown. And choice of lunch? A Subway sandwich, a bag of chips, and a side of cookies. She was a total chameleon on the makeup chair and had an undeniable sense of self that shined through every pose. But make no mistake: she’s not your typical high-maintenance actress thanks in part to her French-girl approach to beauty. Carla entered the studio in a ‘40s cut dress with her hair tucked up into a neat chignon. When asked about her skincare routine, she answered, “To be honest, I’m a very wash and wear kind of girl. But now that I’m a woman, I realized how important moisturizing is so I normally clean my face, use a toner, moisturize, and use eye cream. When I can remember.”
Apart from having a wealth of beauty tips, we made up Carla in the holiday season’s hottest beauty trends as we talked about what empowers her as a woman, cutting her hair short for her movie role, and how it took two decades to finally embrace her own body, flaws and all.
“Sometimes you enter a situation not knowing you have the strength to overcome it, or just because you’re a woman or you’re soft-spoken doesn’t necessarily mean you’re weak. When I discover that on my own, it makes me feel a little more empowered as a woman. ”
So your movie Smaller and Smaller Circles is coming out this month. How are you feeling right now?
I’m actually really happy and at the same time a bit nervous because I know it’s not the typical easygoing movie. But I believe in the project so much that I’m so attached to it. I hope people hit the cinemas and really appreciate it for the good quality film that it is. I’m also happy to finally have work out there. I’m really proud of this movie, not that I haven’t been proud of my other works but it’s very close to my heart because I became very close to my director and the producers. They were just so loving and nurturing so I really want this to succeed not only for my personal gain but also for the gain of the movie.
What was it like playing Joanna Bonifacio?
It was amazing to play a female role that was strong, intelligent, and not a pushover like a lot of the roles we get in the Philippines for women.
What makes you feel empowered as a woman?
I feel empowered when I’m faced with hard life situations and when I realize that I’m so blessed to have that foundation of love that my parents gave me. To know where I came from and the fact that now I’m a more mature woman, I know myself a bit more so I can be more sure of myself. I can make my boundaries clear, I can speak my mind, and I’m able to voice out my thoughts and opinions, and speak to people I respect and get their attention in a positive way. Also, when I discover my personal strength after going through trials in my life. Sometimes you enter a situation not knowing you have the strength to overcome it, or just because you’re a woman or you’re soft-spoken doesn’t necessarily mean you’re weak. When I discover that on my own, it makes me feel a little more empowered as a woman.
What was it like working with some of the country’s top actors?
At first it was really overwhelming because these are not just actors that are just famous. They are actors that are respected and for me, there’s so much more weight to that. I respect them so much and to be in scenes with them, to even have my name alongside theirs, it’s a great stepping-stone for my career. Because one, it gives me just a little more credibility which I need since I’m still proving myself. And two, it’s given me the opportunity to learn so much from people that I look up to.
Has this been your most challenging role so far?
It’s not necessarily the most challenging role but it’s probably one of the biggest opportunities of my career. But I hope I keep getting more challenging roles after this to prove myself as an actress.
“Even as a little girl, each time my parents would scold me, I would run to the mirror and watch myself cry… I’ve always been a dramatic child.”
What has the showbiz industry taught you about being an actress?
This industry taught me that you don’t always have to be good. Sometimes you just have to have the right opportunities. It has taught me a lot about patience, to make the most of the opportunities that come my way because you’re only as good as your last work. And it’s actually helped me grow a lot personally, it’s helped me mature, it’s helped me understand my profession at a business level because it is a business, and sometimes we forget because it’s an avenue to express yourself. It’s a very personal thing and at the same time it’s still an industry where you make money. You still have to be smart about your decisions and know the best way to sell yourself as an actress and to find your place or niche in the industry.
Was it something you’ve always seen yourself doing?
Even as a little girl, each time my parents would scold me, I would run to the mirror and watch myself cry. I would pretend to faint a lot. I get so easily affected by movies and after watching every movie, all of a sudden I’ll have the same accent or I’m imagining myself as the lead actor. I’ve always been a dramatic child and I’ve always dreamt of being in films.
What’s your advice to people searching for what they want to do in life?
I guess my advice would be it’s okay if you’re still figuring it out. Sometimes what you want to do in life isn’t necessarily what you’ll end up doing but it will lead you to what you are meant to do in life. So keep dreaming but at the same time be flexible to whatever comes your way.
You cut your hair for the role. Can you tell us more about that?
During the first meeting, they asked me if I could cut my hair and without hesitation, I said yes. You know as a woman, we all know that we take our emotional stress or whatever we’re going through out on our hair. I think I had grown my hair for so long and it carried a lot of baggage that I was just ready to get rid of. I had left for one of my best friend’s weddings and when I got back, I cut it off. I just felt that I really wanted to be Joanna Bonifacio. And I’ve actually learned a lot from her character in the sense that she’s a very confident and intelligent woman. I had been such a shy, reserved person in past situations that I was just ready to enter a new chapter with the character.
Do you think you’ll ever get the pixie cut if a director asked you to?
I was really willing to cut my hair and all that because I really believed in my director, the producers, and the story. It all depends if it’s the right project for me. I would even be willing to shave my head. (Laughs)
“I think I had grown my hair for so long and it carried a lot of baggage that I was just ready to get rid of.”
How has your relationship with your body shifted over time?
I was actually a prude and very conscious and conservative when I was younger. Then [I became the] typical teenager who was kind of insecure of her body and the new forms that were appearing. And when I got a bit older, I kind of pretended to be a lot more confident and liberated but more than a physical thing, it was a mental thing. I was still getting to know myself and it affected my body image. Now that I’m in a state where I’m more comfortable with who I am, I’ve accepted my flaws, and I’ve loved my positive physical traits. I think now I’m more carefree, more forgiving, and more in love with who I am emotionally, mentally, and physically. I think being comfortable with who I am had a lot to do with how I perceive my body.
Was there a particular moment when you felt like you truly embraced your individuality?
When I was traveling alone, I was able to quiet down the voices of the people who have influenced me growing up. That’s when I started to really get to know myself and to test my capabilities without having a security blanket. So when I was traveling alone, I didn’t really have anyone to lean on or anyone to ask opinions on what I would do. That’s when I started appreciating my own judgments and my being more sure of myself as a person.
You’re also half French. How did this influence your outlook on beauty?
The French have a saying, “Vive la différence” which means celebrate your differences and so I think it gave me a broader definition to the term beauty and so it helped me be appreciative of different types of beauties.
How has your approach to beauty evolved?
Even at a young age, my mom told me, “It doesn’t matter Madeleine if you’re beautiful on the outside as long as you’re beautiful on the inside.” That kind of molded my image of beauty and how important it is. So I’d like to think that I’m not a very superficial person despite being in an industry that’s visual. I’m not afraid to get old but I realized how important it is to take care of what you have. So now that I’m not a child, I realized that you know, I have to take care of my skin, I have to take care of how healthy my hair is, I have to drink water. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how much makeup you have on, it matters how nice your skin is underneath all that makeup.
“Now that I’m in a state where I’m more comfortable with who I am… I’m more carefree, more forgiving, and more in love with who I am emotionally, mentally, and physically.”
What’s your ultimate self-care ritual?
Not to sound hippie-dippy or anything but I actually enjoy meditating. I feel refreshed. I feel that it reflects also my outer image when I take care of my inner self. I also sometimes like to put coconut oil all over my hair and body. That’s pretty much it. I’m pretty low maintenance.
What makes you feel most beautiful?
Hope this is not too deep but what makes me beautiful is my experiences in life and the love of my family and friends.
Who in the industry inspires you in terms of beauty?
I find Angel Aquino very beautiful inside and out. She’s a naturally beautiful Filipina. Also Gloria Romero. I was lucky enough that I would always play the younger version of her and I just find her so beautiful. I think also the person’s personality makes them more beautiful or ugly so I also admire these people morally.
“I’m not afraid to get old but I realized how important it is to take care of what you have.”
What is your favorite makeup hack?
My favorite makeup hack is you can actually use lipstick for almost anything. For your lips, your cheeks, or for your eye shadow. And also mascara. If you find the right shade, you can put your brows in place and open up your eyes.
What was the last beauty item you purchased?
This nice eyelash curler from Japan and new makeup brushes because clean new brushes just make you so much more excited to put on makeup.
Is there a beauty trend you’ll never try?
Never say never.