The girl with the magic touch shares how she creates content people can’t get enough of
Ivana Alawi is inescapable. The half-Filipino, half-Moroccan ingenue is currently reigning over the internet after a long struggle to break into local show business. Ivana, she of the large doe eyes, clickbait body and cheeky sense of humor, shot to new heights of fame with a video she uploaded on YouTube—you know, the one where she’s doing her laundry.
“A Day in a Life” videos are a dime a dozen in the vlogosphere. And, honestly, Ivana’s own take on it isn’t that out of the ordinary: from the cooking, to the sexy tank top and even the part where she eschews the washing machine and dryer, opting instead to hand wash her clothes (legitimately too). It’s the in-between scenes. It’s the part where she points to a stain on her duvet, telling the audience that it’s not fecal matter, but makeup. And again when she jokes with her mother, asking her to touch tongues to prove that they are not precious and squeamish. Her mom huffs off and calls her “baboy” as Ivana and her younger sister, 16-year-old Mona, dissolve into laughter.
And before you know it, you’re clicking on the next video.
Getting It Right
“They never expected it. Pag tiningnan kasi ‘ay sosyalera’ but they don’t know that there’s so much more to that,” she says of the viral video, which racked up over 26 million views last year. “Parang, I am still a normal person. I do home chores, I clean, I cook—I’m just like them.”
She is like us, but she is also very different. Not everyone, for example, has her face, with the delicate bone structure, girlishly upturned nose and perfect skin. Nor does everyone have her body, which is buxom where it matters and graceful everywhere else. Not everyone too, has millions of enamored followers and multiple blue-chip endorsements. Not everyone had her meteoric rise to the top.
In many ways, Ivana is just like us, but she’s also got loads of something else. X-factor? Luck? Destiny? Whatever the case, she’s dealing with all of this with the right attitude.
Perhaps it has something to do with her early struggles.
“I used to be really shy and I never appreciated myself physically. My mom was the only one who used to believe in me—and I always told myself na parang, hindi ata ako maganda, hindi yata ako sexy. Parang ganun,” says Ivana. “And then my mom would always remind me, ‘hey, maganda ka.’ And I’m like, ‘kung maganda ako, bakit hindi ako nakukuha sa project?!’ May mga ganun, mga rejections. And then [finally] there was a time na parang sabi ko, ‘you know what, I have to start working on myself, I have to start believing in myself, I have to start loving myself. And that’s when everything came together.”
It would be a disservice to content creators to simply chalk up their success to determination and being true to oneself. There are many of them out there doing the exact same thing, but not all of them have what Ivana has. Why does she work? Why does she click?
As Real As It Gets
“I think it’s because I’m real to the audience and what they see is what they get. I don’t try to be someone else. I’m authentic with them.” Ivana explains. It’s true. Even when she’s giving us a tour of her palatial childhood home in Bahrain, she doesn’t gloss over the fact that the house, which she inherited from her late father, is also a work in progress. While she was born with a silver spoon in her mouth, at one point, that spoon had to be pawned and Ivana and her family faced a lot of challenges.
Now that’s she’s found success, Ivana is grateful, but also keen on keeping the positive upturn of her narrative. This means to keep on working, even during a pandemic. No easy feat considering the combination of a very real health threat hovering over every venture outside, as well as the public’s almost insatiable need to see something “new” every single day. So far, Ivana’s been delivering gold.
“Super random. Pag bigla lang may pumasok sa utak ko,” she says, describing her creative process. “Kasi, before when I’d try to force myself to think—wala, hindi ko gusto yung fino-force ko. So I usually just let it go. If I’m taking a bath or if I’m cleaning or if I’m cooking and may pumasok sa utak ko bigla na aha! Or even sometimes when I’m in the car, when I’m outside and I see something and it really touches my heart, I start to plan for it. Parang sabi ko, ‘shet, I have to show this or I want to do this.’ Parang ganun.”
Clearly Ivana is in the zone right now, attuned to what her audience is looking for and listening carefully to the whispers of the universe.
Read more: Ivana Alawi on dealing with fame
Photography BJ PASCUAL
Creative direction JANN PASCUA
Fashion direction JEB FRONDA
Production design PRINCESS BARRETTO
Makeup MICKEY SEE
Hair RENZ PANGILINAN
Stylist ADRIANNE CONCEPCION
Shoot coordination PATRICIA RAMOS
Shot on location at JUSTIN BELLA ALONTE PHOTOGRAPHY STUDIO
Special thanks to PAOLO LUCIANO