The pandemic hasn't been easy on everyone, not even for our cover star. But Heart Evangelista-Escudero is finding ways to cope and keep on creating.
The last time we saw Heart Evangelista-Escudero, actress-artist-content-creator- animal-lover-crazy-rich-Asian-Vogue-100, was at the launch of a luxury brand. The rumblings of the coronavirus were just starting to get louder, but we were still bussing cheeks, drinking too much champagne and freely sharing limited spaces. In a crowd filled to the brim with Manila’s loveliest and most glamorous, where the baubles were bigger than golf balls and the dresses costing more than two month’s salary, Heart still stood out, still managed to turn heads and elicit the kind of enthusiasm the fashion set usually reserves for sample sales.
Since then, the pandemic happened, putting everything to a halt and sending all of us into this dystopian limbo, including our cover star. That was, ridiculous as it sounds, two years ago.
Life On Pause
“You know that my world was just always on fast forward. After working for almost 24 years it was such a high with my career, with my profession,” she says without a trace of conceit. There were invites to fashion shows, dinner with the heads of fashion houses and even Hollywood was supposedly calling. “It was taking me to different places, and there were just so many opportunities opening up and then all of sudden it just stopped.”
One minute she was Heart in Paris, and the next she was stuck at home—lucky to be healthy and privileged to be able to stay home—but stuck nonetheless.
She admits to struggling with anxiety and depression, stubborn things that clung on, no matter how high her career flew.
While Heart speaks confidently and articulately, at times during the interview, it seemed like she was being extra cautious with her words. She’s no stranger to criticism, but the pandemic and the societal chasms it exacerbated made her easy prey for bashers and trolls.
“Like everybody, I’m still adjusting, but I’ve accepted the situation,” she says. “For now.”
“You know, the only constant thing in this world—[apart] from death and taxes—is change. I feel like this is part of the evolution of the world. If we fight it, we lose; if we just adapt to it, I think we’re going to be fine. I feel like I’ve been adapting and I’ve been surviving.
“So let’s just carry on and keep doing the same thing we’re doing everyday and I think we will be fine.”
Here's To Hope
After a period of darkness, Heart eventually got back on her feet, as she always does.
“Before, I always felt so useless whenever I wasn’t doing anything. I felt antsy, jittery,” she says. “But now I’m very surprised how I’m able to fill up my day even if I’m not leaving the house. I still have my time for myself for my healing, for my soul.”
She credits her husband, Governor Chiz Escudero, for helping her navigate her way back.
“My husband told me, ‘necessity breeds creativity,’ and I feel that’s when I started to become more active with YouTube, with TikTok—with all the platforms that we have these days,” she says. Heart went full on these platforms, back to doing what she did best, which was to create and entertain people in the process. But instead of simply throwing herself full on to content creation, she made sure to give time to herself. There are daily Bible readings, meditation, time with the family, and of course, herself.
“I feel the trick is delegating time, planning your day out. You have to have a schedule: your me time, your work time, your Zoom time, your cooking time... I feel like we’re given so much time to really assess and dissect our lives more and also fix the right schedule for yourself. So that’s what I’ve been doing and I feel like it’s working. I wasn’t used to it before but now I’m so, so happy that I actually have time for me.”
“Self care isn’t selfish,” she declares. She rattles off a series of beauty advices, even admitting to indulging in some retail therapy. We prod her about her beauty regimen, because, well, she’s Heart. And also because this is Heart, her products are likely to include many on premium end of the spectrum, such as the 111SKIN Face and Eye Masks she’s been sharing on her Instagram of late. A cult favorite in the beauty world, Heart was one of the first to share about it and its exclusive distributor BFF Manila, the home of many so-called “holy grail” luxury beauty products. Of course, Heart isn’t the only beautiful face that indulged in them, but she tends to be the first one seen.
After the shoot she walked out of the studio with a makeup-free face. Perhaps there was an eye mask waiting for her in the car or at home, as these things are often used to prep skin before shoots and soothe them after. Unsurprisingly, we found ourselves wondering if the pricey 111SKIN masks were indeed worth the splurge.
While prepping for the shoot her makeup artist whispered to us that her eyes were quite sensitive, apologizing that he would have to touch up her makeup often. We were worried of course—was Heart all right to wear all that glitter and crystal on the delicate under eye area? It shouldn’t have surprised us that she didn’t once peep a word about it. It’s well known in the industry that the actress is the consummate professional, often arriving well before the appointed call time, completely ready— and eager—to work.
That’s influence. That’s Heart.
There’s no questioning Heart’s place in the cutthroat world of influencers. The mere fact that she was still being tapped to collaborate and partner with brands during a pandemic speaks volumes of her character and work ethic. One of those recent partnerships is with RLC Residences, which Heart took to because she realized that, again like many of us, how important it was to choose the right house and to make it a home.
“I’ve always loved home stuff, but I feel that now is the perfect time for this collaboration because everyone is at home. And everybody realizes that, no matter if your house is big or small, fixing it up and feeling secure and making it into a place that will make you happy is really important these days,” she says.
“We all save up and work really hard for years and years to actually have a place that one can call mine,” she continues. “I feel that they [RLC] have made it attainable for people who are working really, really hard to have a really nice house, a nice home. Whether that’s a one-bedroom, a studio, a two-bedroom, you don’t feel like you’re stuck.” Indeed, most people were treating their houses as places simply to eat and sleep in. Now, many have discovered the importance of having premium amenities such as swimming pools, private function rooms, playgrounds and even, in RLC Residences’ case, a private cinema. If most of us knew there was going to be a quarantine in our future, we would have made wiser choices on where and how to build our homes.
It’s interesting that Heart, despite being associated with luxury and an almost unattainable lifestyle, can sound so resolute when discussing more practical subject matter.
We can chalk it up to many reasons, but it’s clear that she understands how fortunate she is, how #blessed her life is from the outset. Perhaps it was her years in showbiz, her current role as a wife to a public servant, but when she speaks of hard work and the value of material and immaterial things, there is a sense of genuine appreciation on her part. When Heart speaks of being grateful and working hard for a dream, of the value of having a beautiful, well-designed home house, we believe her, because, well, she believes it too.
Love To Dream
“I really believe in dreaming big. Whether you don’t exactly get what you want, you still get sort of that,” says Heart. How does that Rolling Stones song go? You can’t always get what you want, sang Mick Jagger, but if you try sometime, you get what you need.
It’s easy to keep on dreaming, but nurturing it to reality is another thing. In her over two decades of working, Heart understands this well. We’ve seen her go from a fresh-faced teenager to this stunning woman of the world. Along the way, not a few dreams of hers were dashed—in fact, many of them we hungrily read about on gossip rags and sites. In a way, the strength of her influence and her character partly lay in how her story played out, how she gave as much as she was given. We saw her rise, we saw her fall, and then we saw her stand up again. And again. And again.
“Yes, you become stronger, but it’s really more of character development. I guess I understand why each problem happened, because there’s going to be another one,” she starts. “There’s always going to be another one. Nobody has a perfect life and we just gain wisdom and immunity towards certain problems.
“I feel as I got older, and I feel like, only as a you get older, you will understand and you’ll learn how to deal with your problems or your broken dreams or your frustrations—stuff that could’ve been but didn’t happen.”
Wishin' And Hopin'
“Have you guys adjusted?” Heart asks us as she readies for a shot. She’s clad in a feathery, all black Chris Nick ensemble, dripping in Bvlgari Serpenti jewelry. The necklace is the showstopper, filled with an eye-watering amount of pavé diamonds shaped sensuously into a deadly viper dipping itself down to the hollow of her throat.
“Kind of,” replies Jeb Fronda, MEGA Fashion Editor. “It gets better the more you just keep working.”
Heart nods emphatically. “It does.”
A sense of normalcy is one of Heart’s direst wishes. When asked what she would like the universe to manifest for her, she includes this and good health for everyone.
Like so many busybodies, she felt the panic rising up as the days plodded on, excruciating in their silence. “In the beginning I was so pressured—what am I going to do next? What am I going to come up with? What do I do in my profession?” she recounts. “But then I realized that the world is on a pause, it’s not like you just decided to take a day off. Everyone is on a pause.”
I would wish for that necklace, I tell her jokingly. She puts a hand on her throat. “Maybe I should,” she says with a laugh. As the stylist slowly removes the rings, bangles and watch, the necklace’s clasp refuses to budge. Perhaps the universe heard you, we say. A girlish giggle escapes from Heart and briefly we wonder if indeed the cosmos was in the habit of granting her special favors. After a few tentative, careful tugs, it comes off. Heart shrugs theatrically. “I’ll have to work for that,” she says with a rueful smile.
Perhaps it was her years in showbiz, her current role as a wife to a public servant, but when she speaks of hard work and the value of material and immaterial things, there is a sense of genuine appreciation on her part. When Heart speaks of being grateful and working hard for a dream, of the value of having a beautiful, well-designed home house, we believe her, because, well, she believes it too.
We don’t doubt she will. She doesn’t either.