Young Star

Mandy Moore: A talk to remember

GIMMICK! - Ginggay P. Joven -
LOS ANGELES — For weeks, teaser billboards had been plastered all over Manila, revealing fractions of her face appropriately affixed with the copy "Want Moore?" It was too obvious — people instantly knew — yet still so intriguing and exciting at the same time. Not only was it because Penshoppe, the 16-year-old fashion brand was revealing a new face; they were also launching to their name Mandy Moore, probably one of the hottest teen idols in the world today, who at 18, already has three platinum albums, a smash hit debut movie, and an oh-so-promising film career. The Hollywood industry has even proclaimed her as America’s newest sweetheart and she’s been reported to start filming with Julia Roberts. The next question would inevitably be: How much did they have to pay? A smile was Penshoppe’s big boss Bernie Liu’s response.

Alas, the endorsement war continues and now, on a higher level.

This is not a first time a local consumer product or brand has consolidated efforts to complete an endorsement marriage between a Hollywood face and a Filipino label. Steven Seagal has sold us alcohol, Jean Claude Van Damn has invited us to take energy drinks, and Alicia Silverstone has showed us how fun it is to be a girl. So what will make this ad any different?

In this cutthroat marketing environment of ours today, Bernie Liu, president and CEO of Golden ABC, the holding company of Penshoppe reflects, "Mandy Moore was a god-send. We were looking for someone who would create noise for the brand. We wanted someone to send the message that we wanted to be bolder, bigger, and better, aligned with our expansion in China. We wanted to bring the brand to a higher level. Then the opportunity came. The first thing that struck us was the personality of Mandy. She was a perfect fit to the brand. She’s dynamic and vibrant."

In the past, Penshoppe was never known to have the biggest names of endorsers — with the exception of movie actor and teen heartthrob Cogie Domingo, who at his stature, was still a far cry from the Richard Gomezes of the Philippines. Bernie continues, "We were never obsessed with big names. We looked for character and personality more. In fact, our Club Pen and Penshoppe Council models were never really known. We really discovered them like Ryan Agoncillo and Paolo Bediones. We featured them when they weren’t popular yet. But as times changed and competition got tougher, we learned to adapt. We saw that Cogie Domingo had good potential so we developed him. And now, Mandy Moore. More than just a beautiful face and figure, what’s also important is to find a right match. Penshoppe is fun, youthful, and wholesome. And that’s exactly what Mandy is. We have never projected the brand to be cutting edge or sexy. I’ve always said it’s cool to be good. That’s the character of the brand."

Acquiring this endorsement deal was not easy for Penshoppe. Not only did they have to deal with the difference between Philippine and the Hollywood culture, but they also had to fly in to L.A. the entire creative team, a contingent of some 20-plus people to make this mega-production possible. That’s apart from the fact that the majority of the production people like the director, photographer, makeup artists, stylists, and technical crew had already been earlier sourced in L.A. Talk about ouch on the budget! We’re also talking Hollywood standards in terms of catering, services (Mandy had her own trailer!), and production materials. Double ouch!

Bernie justifies, "This is a major production. Of course, we were concerned about the cost. But Mandy made it all worthwhile. I always say, you have to spend money to earn money. We did this to create more excitement for the brand. We didn’t do this because we wanted to brag or show off. But we are confident that we did not make a mistake. We are more convinced now that she was the perfect choice. She’s been very professional and easy to work with.

Everyone behind the camera was more than pleased with Mandy’s professionalism, beguiling charm, and youthful excitement. She impressed everyone with her promptness, efficiency, and consideration. Not once did she complain about her work. On her first pictorial day, she shot six hours straight without breaks. And on her second shooting day, she worked non-stop from 7 p.m. to 4 a.m.

Mandy’s first day of work with Penshoppe was to view and fit the clothes she’d be wearing for her pictorial. She arrived at the Marriot Residence Inn in Beverly Hills on the dot. At first, she appeared rather typical for a California teenager. Tall (she towers at 5’10") with her hair brunette and chopped, Mandy wore your average gray tight shirt, jeans, and sneakers. "Nothing great," you’d easily react. The following day, she came into the pictorial studio at 9 a.m. sharp. She did her makeup and when American photographer James Allen, who’s photographed the likes of Pink, Shakira, and Tara Reid, started clicking — the seemingly typical California youngster transformed into the sweet and sassy star that she is.

She practically directed herself — flirting with the camera and communicating right through the lens. James Allen muses, "Mandy’s amazing. She’s such a trooper. She gave her 150 percent all day long. She’s genuine through the lens. She’s got a genuine excitement about life that comes across the photos. As a result, I think we were able to take shots that were very fashion-forward, clean, fresh, and full of attitude and character."

Mandy’s shoot stylist Jazmine Krosba whose worked with the cast of Friends, Frasier, and Just Shoot Me describes, "The clothes looked great on her. She’s very versatile. She went from casual to sporty to glam, and she looked great in all." So what were the tales in the dressing room? Jazmine smiles, "She was very pre-occupied thinking about her boyfriend who’s playing at the U.S. Open tonight for the quarterfinals. She was gushing." Of course, she’s referring to Andy Roddick, the current 11-rank professional tennis player in the world today. Unfortunately, he lost the quarterfinals match that night to U.S. Open 2002 champion Pete Sampras.

Brad Turvey, Penshoppe Council member and partner in Mandy’s pictorial and commercial describes, "She’s the easiest to get along with. She’s very professional. I was nervous at first, working with someone like her. But then she makes you realize that she’s just an ordinary girl."

Who is Mandy Moore anyway?

Just another Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, or Jessica Simpson clone, perhaps? Nope, definitely not. And the hair change sends that message clearly. Yup, she’s no longer blonde! In a 15-minute interview with The Philippine STAR, Mandy enthusiastically shares, "No more blonde Mandy. It’s gonna be brunette for quite some time. My actual hair color is lighter than this. It’s half way in between this and the blonde. I don’t know but it’s fun being a dark brunette.

I’ve done just about everything to my hair. It’s the fun part of being a girl. I just did this haircut for a movie I did in Toronto. I was up there all summer filming it. So it’s for the character. I liked it so much I decided to keep it for a little bit. It’s not that I’m changing image or what, it’s just really part of being a girl and having the advantage of being able to change hair color when I’m bored."

Mandy Moore started singing lessons at 10 after four years of convincing her parents to enroll her. When she was six, she went to watch the play Oklahoma! and had wanted to be a performer since that time. However, the young Moore had to settle for a karaoke machine for the meantime.

Eventually, Mandy started singing in musical theater and performing the national anthem at sports event in her hometown in Orlando, Florida. Some producers spotted her there and gave her the opportunity she couldn’t resist. She recalls, "I was like at the right place at the right time." Next thing she knew, at 14, she was releasing her first album "So Real" with its most famous track "Candy." The ultra-colorful music video immediately classified her in the same category with the other pop blonde stars of which she was obviously the sweetest. Just when Britney, Christina, and Jessica were wearing less and less, Mandy Moore was, well, wearing more and more. Never provocative, she was always wholesome and squeaky clean.

She made an instant fan base among the pre-teens and early teens sector, all of whom helped her made her first album reach platinum status in 1999. A year later, she launched the platinum album "I Wanna Be With You", which presented her as a more serious love song singer rather than a booty-shaking performer. This was just about the same time she went on tour with N’sync and the Backstreet Boys, front-acting for the ultra-popular boybands. Mandy recalls, "It was a really fun experience and scary at the same time. When you perform in front of 15-20,000 people, opening for bands like N’sync and the Backstreet Boys, that can be really scary. I was freaked out at first. This was my first time to perform as a recording artist. But I think I warmed the crowd a bit. After that, teenagers were lining up for my autograph and I was thinking, ‘For me?!’"

Just last year, she launched her third and best album yet, "Mandy Moore," another platinum record winner. In the Philippines, her song "Cry" was on Billboard’s number one the longest this year so far. She also appeared as the bad kid in Garry Marshall’s The Princess Diaries with Julie Andrews. Immediately after, her film A Walk To Remember, a coming-of-age film based on the novel by Nicholas Sparks and criticized as a sappy excuse for a teenage film, came out and topped the local box office and remained on the number one spot, even longer than Star Wars.

Mandy smiles, "I’m glad people out there enjoyed the movie and understood the film. We’re so proud of it. I feel good that people have taken a liking to it. It’s a feel-good movie. For a film geared towards the teen audience, it offers something a little different from what the other teen films we’ve seen in the past couple of years. It’s so nice to be part of a teen movie that’s so positive. There are so many other movies for kids that are about sex, drugs, and rock ’n roll. They’re all about losing your virginity before prom night. Hopefully, we showed people another way to go about doing things. I hope people my age who watched the movie may come out of it learning something from it. It’s really to make a difference to people my age."

Yup, she’s a good girl all right. She doesn’t smoke or drink. She doesn’t like partying and would rather stay home and play with her two Yorkshire Terriers Oliver and Winston. She has her own apartment in L.A. but would still rather stay with her parents Don and Stacy, whom she’s bought a house for as gratitude to all the support they’ve given her. And probably her only vice? Shopping! It got so bad that her parents had to cut her credit card. Mandy justifies, "I try to get more bang for my buck. I’d rather get 10 T-shirts for 10 bucks each than spend a hundred dollars on just one T-shirt."

Mandy is also due to release her new film Try Seventeen with The Lord Of The Rings star Elijah Wood and Franka Potente; and just finished How To Deal with Allison Janney and Peter Gallagher. By the end of the year, Mandy will be back to the studios recording her next musical endeavor.

So as projects pile and popularity grows, the star on the verge meanwhile takes time out to pose for Penshoppe and answer some fast questions while in between takes during her ultra busy work day.

Young STAR: Three platinum albums, a smash hit movie, and a career on the rise, how are you coping?

Mandy Moore:
It hasn’t hit me. I take everything one day at a time. I’m lucky I’m surrounded by wonderful people who make sure my feet are firmly planted on the ground. My family, for one, has been traveling with me since I started at 14. I have people who love and care for me and who know who I am. I think that’s the most important thing. I’m just having fun and I realize that I’m lucky doing what I do, and not taking things for granted, rather taking advantage of them. I’m always striving for more and that keeps me working harder.

Don’t you feel you’ve gained a lack of privacy?

I’m not the biggest mega superstar in the world and I’m realistic about that. I don’t have people banging down my door, snapping pictures, and finding gossip about me, which is cool because I get to do what I want to do and I’m respected for it. At the end of the day, I can still go to the mall by myself and drive around alone without fearing for my life.

How have you evolved since you entered the industry?

I think that I’ve grown as a person so obviously that’s gonna reflect how I come across to people in interviews, pictures, music videos, and in my music, too, at the end of the day. Just growing up in a nice experience. It means I’m maturing. It all becomes part of who I am. Also, I feel like I’ve had much more life experiences in the past years, maybe not as much as the other people out there.

Who inspired you to get into singing? Who are your idols?

I like Madonna. She’s obviously had longevity in her career, which I obviously want to emulate. She’s got a great fashion sense, which may not necessarily be my taste, but she’s always been herself. She’s never been afraid to be herself. She is just a perfect example of a strong woman. She’s very strong-minded. She always just takes care of herself. But someone I respect and idolize beyond Madonna is Bette Midler. She’s accomplished so much in recording, film, Broadway, and TV. She’s funny. She’s always been herself and that kinda strikes me. I also admire jazz singer Norah Jones and Jeff Buckley.

You’ve been doing more movies lately. Is the Hollywood path something you’re more inclined to take?

Doing movies is something I just feel passionate about so I set some time off to pursue. I just kinda allowed the ball to keep rolling. I’ll be continuing to do a couple of more films this year. But I know full well that I’ll probably go back to the studio at the end of the year and that’s a good year and a half or two year commitment making a record, and promoting and touring and the stuff the music then the acting will take a backseat.

What do you find more fulfilling? Movies or music?

Probably music, yeah. At the end of the day, you can’t duplicate the gratification you get being on stage. Singing and performing music are my main thing. Being on stage gives the greatest high you could imagine. Even if you’ve had a bad day and you go on stage, all that changes.

Can you describe some of the people you’ve worked with, like, Shane West, your co-star in A Walk To Remember?

So talented, cute, gorgeous, really genuine and understanding of the fact that I was nervous considering I was nervous going into doing A Walk To Remember since it was my first lead role in a film. He’s very patient.

Elijah Wood?

Amazingly talented. It’s wonderful to just be able to sit back and observe and watch him work. He’s passionate about what he does. Great to work with.

Julie Andrews?

Regal, graceful, poised — just the ultimate to work with.

If you weren’t where you are now, what do you think would you be doing?

I’d still be a student probably studying journalism or fashion design. I really enjoy fashion. I don’t follow it too closely but I enjoy it like any other girl who reads magazines. I would love to study college. At this point, I’d study journalism or musical theater, something I can have fun with and just so I can have a good college experience.

What’s your worst fashion mistake?

The Billboard Music Awards in 1999. I wore a pink sweater and a checkered long skirt that looked like a tablecloth in my grandmother’s house. It was horrible. It was mine actually. I thought it was the coolest thing. I was like, "Oh it looks classy." I look back and it’s like the ugliest thing ever. Luckily I wasn’t criticized because I was just starting out. Nobody knew who I was, not that they do nowadays. Hopefully the picture won’t end up somewhere.

What’s your fashion style?

Casual, comfortable, sexy but not over the top. You gotta be yourself at the end of the day. If you put so much thought, time, energy to what they’re wearing, it’ll come across and people will see through it. That’s just not cool. I know this is cliché to say but as long as you are comfortable with something, you’re going to exude confidence. And I think confidence is sexy. Having confidence is better than any outfit you can ever put on. Less is more. I’m a huge believer of that. And definitely looking at trends and incorporating it with your own style. Not trying to be a full follower, instead be a leader. The problem is, these days, it’s easier to take the route of portraying a character, even if you’re supposed to be yourself. It’s either you take the sexy route or you have everybody’s opinion around you kinda stirring you to take a path you’re not used to.

What are your fashion essentials?

Jeans! They must be long enough that I can wear them with sneakers or high heels. Anything black, like a nice black sweater and a pair of high heels. I love sweatpants, track suits, and flip-flops.

Any weaknesses?

I collect jeans. I must have a hundred pairs of jeans. Just like any girl, I love shoes. I have about 200 pairs. I love makeup. Oh goodness, I’m such a makeup junkie. I get anything new. Even just new packaging would totally sucker me in. Eyelash curler I’m obsessed with. A good moisturizer, lip gloss, an all-over shimmer stick that I can put in my eyes, cheeks, and lips, like everything. Those are my essentials.

What are your style no-nos?

Anything too tight or too short. I like mini skirts sometimes but wearing mini skirts with six-inch heels just isn’t cute. I’m not a big fan of white pants either. White just doesn’t look good on anyone.

Do you have crushes?

I have a boyfriend now so I’m really not allowed to have crushes. But I like Brandon from Incubus and Robbie Williams. He’s totally cute.

So you have a new boyfriend?

It’s a very new thing. I’m very happy.

What turns you on?

Sense of humor is huge. I need somebody very understanding of what I do. And somebody who’s not in the industry, too. It’s nice to have someone whom I can learn from. (Mandy used to date Wilmer Valderrama of That ’70s Show fame. They were together for two-and-a-half years.)

What turns you off?

Dishonesty. Somebody’s who’s trying too hard, that’s a turn off. And what else? Too much cologne, I guess.

You’re both very busy? How do you manage to have a relationship despite your schedules?

If you want something to work out, you will find the time, bottom line. If something makes you happy, you’re gonna work hard to make sure it continues to make you happy.

What type of a girlfriend are you?

You’ve got to ask the boy about that. I consider myself to be a pretty romantic person, like I like sending little gifts and surprises or cards, stuff like that. I believe in true love, love at first sight, soul mates — the whole nine yards.

In three words, how would you describe Mandy Moore?

Sensitive, honest, and geeky. I’m a total geek. And I’m proud to be one.








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