Into Isabelle’s zone
Nathalie Tomada (The Philippine Star) - July 21, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Isabelle de Leon will have the TV launch of her debut album Love Zone today on ABS-CBN’s ASAP 18. If the new singer is a familiar face to you, it’s because the 18-year-old is a former child star.

Among her projects were the GMA 7 TV shows Munting Anghel, which she headlined, Daddy DiDoDu as Duday, daughter to lead star Vic Sotto, as well as the award-winning Magnifico, where she portrayed a mentally-challenged child, a role that won her a Best Child Actress award.

Isabelle did some tween roles before deciding to skip the awkward stage that many a child actor go through by taking a break from showbiz and finishing high school.

When she started to make her presence felt again, Isabelle came ready not just with the fresh charm of a blooming young lady, but also with surprises up her sleeve.

Now, meet Isabelle the up-and-coming singer-songwriter.

“During the time I studied high school and took a rest from showbiz, it gave me the chance to explore another field of the arts, which is music. I was influenced by my father (Dean) because he’s a musician, he plays different instruments, so natuto ako,” said Isabelle (who has put on hold her communication studies for a semester to focus on her career) when asked how she discovered music. “My father always gives me encouragement. But if he doesn’t like the song, he will say, tama na yan anak, walang patutunguhan ’yan (laughs), so he is my No. 1 supporter and critic.”

Isabelle is now being managed by Arnold Vegafria, whom she said really pushed her to perform, and with good reason. 

Maybe unlike actors/actresses who are not excellent singers but can carry a tune that they are given an album, this girl has a strong, full, some kind of old-soul voice. To complete the package, she plays the guitar and apparently, can write songs more than good enough to deserve the trust of major label PolyEast Records (which has the likes of Bamboo, Martin Nievera and Zia Quizon among its roster of artists) to produce her — take note, all-original — first record.

And did we say she’s only 18?

Love Zone has six songs, which she penned based on personal experiences and the experiences of her friends. The overall feel and flavor is acoustic-rock/pop-alternative. You have her singing her heart out, in a breezy, sassy kind of way, on young love problems like 1 Week To Move On (about cheering up a friend after a heartbreak) and Feelingero (about a guy who turned her off after he learned and boasted that she liked him). She’s also capable of deep, haunting songs with Sa Yakap Mo.

She wrote Sa Yakap Mo when she was feeling down and depressed, and praying hard for comfort. “In the process of making that song, I got comforted. Ang musika talaga ay kakampi ko sa mga pinagdadaanan ko sa buhay.”

Isabelle’s favorite artists and influences growing up are The Beatles, U2, Coldplay, Janis Joplin, Adele, Katy Perry, Noel Cabangon, and lately, Jimi Hendrix (“because he’s such a great guitarist”) and Bob Dylan (“because of the way he writes his lyrics”). She related that whenever she writes, she prays for inspiration. Sometimes, the melody comes first, or the lyrics, or they go together.

Isabelle, however, is not dropping her love for acting. As a follow-up to her Nasaan Ka Elisa? project last year, she’ll be back soon via Maria Mercedes, playing Digna, the geeky sister of Jorge Luis (played by Jake Cuenca), the love interest of the title character (played by Jessy Mendiola). “It’s a challenging role because we’re used to seeing nerdy characters mostly providing the comic relief, but my character is not. She will also have (a dramatic change) and bloom.”

Isabelle’s father, meanwhile, revealed some interesting stories about his daughter. Daddy Dean, who single-handedly raised Isabelle (the mother is abroad), spotted Isabelle’s talent even in her toddler years. It was so hard being a single father, but he took comfort in his little girl’s antics. She liked play-acting so Dean would invite co-workers to watch his daughter’s mini-performances. He would always bring her to his work and his other interests. During one screenwriting workshop under the multi-awarded Ricky Lee, he was the only one who brought along a kid but it paved the way for Isabelle to be discovered as a child actor.

Today, Isabelle does realize that not every aspiring artist gets the lucky breaks she got in the past, and what she’s now getting — particularly the opportunity to resume an interrupted showbiz career. She said, “I’m very grateful, I feel very blessed” and is very determined to make the most out of it. 

“I’ve always felt I’d return to showbiz. Ito lang kasi din yung place kung saan ko pwede ma-express ang sarili ko. I love both acting and singing because these are (avenues) I can express myself fully.”

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