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Why Solenn Heussaff can’t cry

The Naked Truth: Solenn will be one of the Bench superstars to walk the ramp on Sept. 19.

I greet Solenn in her newly opened restaurant, Crisp. She has zero makeup on, her hair is messily tied, wearing a loose tank top and shorts. She has just finished painting a wall inside the restaurant. Right now she’s eating a steak and salad (she takes a few bites of a deadly chocolate dessert), one week before the much-talked-about Bench Naked Truth fashion show. Here are 10 things you should know about Solenn Heussaff.

1. It takes serious work to get Solenn’s body: “Rest day? Just because my coach says I need to.”

“I work out six days a week. Now, if I didn’t have this interview, I would’ve probably gone for a run,” Solenn says. “Of course when my work sched is full I can’t work out as much, but I go a minimum four times a week. I work out so early in the morning, that when it gets to the evening and I have nothing to do, I’ll work out again. I love boxing, Plyometrics, and the gym. I do have times when I eat anything I want — fried food, crispy pata, burgers. But it’s all about balance. If I have a heavy meal on a Monday, the next day is light. I want to enjoy life and food!

“My brother Erwan and I started getting fat when I was around eight years old. From there, we gained and gained and we were fat until I was 14. I was called Free Willy and Shamu,” she recalls. “There was a time I became anorexic. Our parents left for vacation for around a month, so I ate an apple a day for that whole month. I became so thin, I got hospitalized, and I lost a kilo a day. I didn’t even think that was possible. From then on, I started eating healthier,” Solenn recalls.

“Back then, all my crushes were insulting me about my weight. When you’re young you get super affected. Now they all have a crush on me, and I’m like, back off,” she laughs.

2. She didn’t “learn” how to make friends until she was in college.

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“All my friends were half-French. We all grew up in the same place, we were in the same school from kindergarten to Grade 12, so we never had to make friends. We were born with friends. We were in this little bubble where we never had to mingle,” she says of her days at the Eurocampus. “When I moved to Paris for college, it was so hard. I didn’t know how to approach someone to strike up a conversation. So my dad enrolled me in a dorm instead of an apartment, we were around 100 girls with a communal bathroom. It was a convent.

“I had a boyfriend at that time back in Manila who was very strict. I never took the subway so my phone wouldn’t lose the signal, so I walked an hour to school every day,” Solenn chuckles. “I took up fashion design at Studio Bercot. I had my phone on my lap all the time! I regret it now. If I could go back I’d work extra hours and wouldn’t be so stupid to have my relationship in the way. While in college, I did all the fashion weeks in Paris. I was a dresser and I earned 500 euros a week! We’d dress the models with outfits with, like, 300 buttons, we’d dress them up all day with the entire collection. Then I became an intern for Fanny Liautard, a bridal designer. All our customers had these extravagant weddings and I was tasked to embroider all the veils. With butterflies, with little pearls, I embroidered for hours and hours.

“I came home to Manila and it ended up not working out with my boyfriend, so I was heartbroken. I worked as an intern with Lulu Tan-Gan, but after a few months I just decided I had to leave the country. I liked putting makeup on my friends so I decided to go back to Paris to study makeup in Fleurimont for three months. I ended up staying a year and a half. While in Paris, I came across Bobby Carlos of Make Up Forever who I had worked with before, and he said, ‘Why don’t you join us?’ So when I came back to Manila, they signed me up as one of their makeup artists.”

3. On her artistic side: “For someone who loves design and painting, I hate museums!”

“My mom enrolled me in painting with my kinder teacher and we were there every Saturday for seven years. After that I enrolled in painting in Ayala Museum, I learned tapestry with the wife of the Israeli Ambassador, then I took up painting again with an Indian teacher. I kept on taking lessons until I was 18, and from then on I just painted on my own with what I learned,” Solenn shares. “I love exhibits, but I don’t like museums. I had art history in school but I was like, ‘Ugggh.’ I like creating but I don’t really like the studying. I do have my favorite artists, like Salvador Dali, Paul Gauguin and Pablo Picasso. I get my inspiration from traveling.

“I have so many paintings at home that are so nice, I made the face so well, but when it comes to the hands — I hate hands — I’ll say, ‘Okay, I’m gonna rest.’ Three years later, they’re still hand-less! I’m scared to ruin it,” Solenn laughs.

4. On what most people probably don’t know about her: “I’m super kuripot!”

“My first ad was for a junk food brand, but the one where I got noticed was Pop Cola, the one where I was wearing glasses. I was around 15, it was right after my fat phase,” Solenn recalls. “Then I did a facial wash ad, then I joined this Teen Philippines magazine model search. I won! That’s when I got a modeling contract with Cal Carrie’s. I flew to Thailand a lot to shoot TVCs, for everything from shampoo to soap ads. I’d earn maybe P30,000 a project at the most, and I saved everything in my bank account. I didn’t even have a first big purchase. My first car was a gift from my parents when I turned 21. Kuripot ako!

“I’ve only probably had two designer bags my entire life. And even that I probably think about for like three months, reserve it, go back, before buying it. I’m into shoes, but in my entire closet I only have around five designer pairs. This is me,” Solenn stops to look down at what she’s wearing and laughs. “That’s it!”

5. Solenn Heussaff in numbers:

10: Number of hours it takes her to paint a whole canvas. “When I paint, I need a whole day. That’s my problem, if I don’t finish it, I will never touch it again.”

4: Number of restaurants she’s invested in with her brother Erwan: Hatch 22, Crisp on 28th, and two more opening before the year ends.

4: Number of hours of sleep she gets when she has straight taping days. “I try to sleep in between takes, but I usually study my Tagalog lines every minute I have.”

410,588: Number of views of the YouTube video “Solenn Heussaff Wears A Man’s Suit” for Esquire Philippines.

6: Number of tattoos she currently has. “The mother I have on my left rib cage is the most recent one.”

6. On her top travel destinations: “I spend on travel, but not on the hotel. I just want the toilet to be clean, and I’m happy.”

Patagonia, Argentina: “I love the outdoors. There, in the summer, you’re basically hiking on the glaciers in a T-shirt. Ten minutes away from that you have horseback riding and rock climbing. I’m not really a lamb eater, but the lamb there, it’s so freaking good.”

Paris, France: “Paris will always be my favorite. I’ve worked there, all my friends are there. It’s up to date in fashion, food, exhibits, there are all these festivals, everything is there.”

Amalfi Coast, Italy: “It’s both the beach and the mountain in one place. I’ve always had a fascination for Italian things. Like I wanna get married in Tuscany but I’ve never even been there! I just watched a movie and now it’s my dream wedding destination,” she says with a laugh.

7. She had zero plans of joining showbiz. “When I started in 2011, I said after three years I’d stop. Time goes by so fast!”

“I was in Lulu’s office three times a week, and the rest of the days were either free or for doing makeup. I did the makeup of Heart (Evangelista), and Mond and Ruffa (Gutierrez). One time I went to Ruffa’s house and she said, ‘Chard (Gutierrez) is hosting Celebrity Survivor, you should join.’ And I was like, ‘First of all, I’m not a celeb. Second, I don’t speak Tagalog. And third, I’m not gonna be on TV!’ But Lulu left for two months to be with her daughter in the States, so she said, ‘Solenn, don’t come to the office.’ Wow, what was I gonna do for two months? I’m not that sikat in makeup so I don’t have work every day, so I decided to send my résumé. GMA called me in. I was super nervous. I went there and all they asked is if I could swim, or do this and that, and I said, ‘Yeah.’ Weeks after, I was with Erwan and Anne (Curtis) at Coachella and I got a text saying I was accepted for Survivor. What did I get myself into? All my friends and even my parents thought I couldn’t do it. I’m very sheltered and I’ve had a good life. Even Mond was like, ‘Sos, see you in five days!’ So when I was there, I was like, eff all these people. I thought, might as well do things well while I’m here. I ended up second place!

“After Survivor, they created this whole love angle with Chard. But when I look at Chard I see Mond, so I was very comfortable around him. I rode along with it. Then, they offered me a role in Captain Barbell. What?! I don’t speak Tagalog and I’ve never acted a day in my entire life. All my friends were telling me to not do it. But my dad spoke to me and told me, ‘People join these things to get this chance. And now it’s practically being given to you. Why don’t you try it? If you don’t like it you’re not losing anything, just go back to your designing, and we’re comfortable, we can take care of you.’ So I decided to try it. After that I got a movie, then tuluy-tuloy na and I started enjoying it. I’m learning Tagalog and I’m getting to know my roots. I’m only learning now how to cry for a scene!”

8. On having trouble crying for a scene: “I’ve never been screamed at in my life!”

“My first-ever crying scene was for the movie Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow. Jun Lana was the director. I told him from the very beginning that I can’t cry. He made me do this workshop. He tried to make me think of sad things. Not working. Tried to make me think of something happening to my family. Not working. What could I do? I’ve had a happy life. So he had this girl come. She held my hand, and cried in front of me. And I started sobbing. I felt her energy. He’s like, ‘We’ll be fine for the movie,’” Solenn recalls. “Shooting day comes and I had to cry. I could not. He screamed at me. Direk said, ‘Don’t make me think that I made the wrong decision!’ Deep inside, I said, ‘Yes! I’m going to cry because I’m so embarrassed right now!’ But, still, I couldn’t cry. I just had teary eyes. He had to shoot me separately for the crying. Now I’m starting to understand it. If I need to cry, I’ll be emo in the corner. If I need to be angry, I’ll scream in the middle of the set.

“I’m working on a movie with Judy Ann Santos now, the remake of Tiyanak, with direk Peque Gallaga. Last day of shooting will be a scene with me and Juday, full-on crying. I’m so nervous. Aaaah! But I feel I will be able to deliver.”

9. On her boyfriend Nico Bolzicco: “Before, I didn’t really care about getting married, but now, I know I want to. I feel he’s the one.”

“We met in Opus four years ago through Tim Yap. Tim made me touch his abs,” Solenn laughs. “It was a time I was single and set on staying single. When we met in Opus, even if he was good looking, I was enjoying being single so I didn’t really mind him. But I kept seeing him after that. One time, we went to Time, and a common friend introduced us again. I told him, ‘I’ve met you like seven times before, you just don’t remember me.’ He said, ‘No, I remember you.’ I asked him, ‘Where’s your next modeling stint? Japan or Thailand?’ And he was like, ‘What?’ I said, ‘Aren’t you based three months here, three months there, you keep moving, right?’ He smiled and said, ‘I’m an economic analyst.’ Wow! My eyes brightened,” Solenn beams. “We exchanged numbers and that was the start of that. Apparently, he was working for Bloomberg, moving every three months. All of Africa, Israel, and his first stop in Asia was Manila. He was supposed to leave but he ended up staying. Now he has his own company here. His dad is a farmer in Argentina and they have hectares and hectares of land with cows, so he decided to bring the machinery and technology for agriculture that they had there, here to the Philippines. He’s been doing projects everywhere from Bulacan to CDO. He knows Philippine geography better than I do!”

On haters bashing her for being open about living together with Nico: “For me, no matter how long you’re together as a couple, you won’t fully know that person until you see how they live. It’s the little annoying things, like him leaving his T-shirts on the floor. It pisses me off. But I’ve learned to deal with it. So many married couples separate or cheat. I just believe you really have to know the person well before marrying them.”

10. On how she sees her next 10 years: “I’m not gonna be an actress forever, but right now, I’m enjoying it.”

Currently juggling doing a movie, two teleseryes, a Sunday noontime show, and hosting two other programs, Solenn isn’t planning to slow down anytime soon. “I wanna go back to designing for sure. But lately I’ve become such a fan of weddings. My sister Vanessa is into it, she’s a very good graphic designer, and she organized her own wedding in Sri Lanka. Not knowing anyone, she put it all together. I wanna get into that industry with her. Now, I’m also investing in Erwan’s restaurants, we come up with concepts together. I also want to teach art to kids. I got in touch with my first art teacher and spent a week with her in Catalan, Spain, learning child psychology and how kids perceive art. I’ll teach probably when I have my own kids, I’ll have classes for my kids and their friends,” Solenn says with a smile.

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It isn’t just Solenn’s fit body and gorgeous face that makes her hot. It’s her energy, her unapologetic way, and her openness to life that makes her arguably the country’s sexiest woman. Every girl calls her a girl crush, and every guy dreams of being with her. To this she says, “Of course I’m flattered. They also inspire me to keep fit because I don’t want to disappoint them if they see me in person! ” Gotta love this girl.

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Email me at askiamsuperbianca@yahoo.com or message me on Twitter and Instagram @iamsuperbianca.

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