Natural is better, says Jessica Connelly, who admits she was a rebel at 15, with a short blonde bob and nose piercings.
“I was the opposite of what I really looked like [then]; I even had a fake tan,” the Fil-Australian actress tells Living Stars. “When my dad said, ‘You look so much better when you stick to what you’re born with,’ I dyed my hair dark and let it grow long again. I also stopped doing stuff to my skin and embraced the fact that I was white.”
Jessica, now 20, recalls the reason for her decision to go blonde. “This happened in Australia. Someone told me, I looked scary, like that girl Sadako from ‘The Ring.’ I was very affected by that. I cut my hair really short, like Rihanna’s.”
When Jessica was 16, her family decided to live permanently in Cebu, her mother’s native province. She relates, “I was finishing high school at that time and didn’t want to go to college. I just wanted to be a singer. Dad said he’d let me, if I wanted to go to the Philippines with the rest of the family.”
In 2012, Jessica signed up with talent manager Betchay Vidanes. She joined the reality program “Pinoy Big Brother Teen Edition 4 Uber,” and then joined ABS-CBN’s Star Magic. She was cast in the drama shows “Angelito: Batang Ama” (2012) and “Paraiso” (2013).
“I’m enjoying show biz,” Jessica says. “My dream is to record an album.”
Jessica keeps a plum Topshop dress that she wore on PBB. “I used it only inside the PBB house. I gained weight inside and could no longer fit in it.”
She considers her black vintage dress she bought for a birthday costume party special. “It’s a 1920s thing. I wore my hair vintage-style, too, and wore red lipstick, pearls and a head band. It was so memorable.” She has a beige vintage dress from Forever 21 that she hasn’t worn. “I lost weight so it’s loose. I like the satin and lacy fabric.”
When in a boyish mode, she dons an oversized cardigan that used to be her brother’s. “I just wear it with jeans and high heels when I go out. I steal a lot of my brother’s stuff.”
She holds up a hand-painted skirt. “This is from an ex-(PBB) housemate, who is wheelchair-bound,” Jessica says. “He gave it to me when I got evicted. I was surprised, because it wasn’t like him to do that.”
Finding the perfect pair of jeans is always a challenge for her. “I don’t have a normal figure,” she explains. “My hips are big! The best-fitting denims for me are from Mango and Forever 21. I avoid light-colored fabrics because they make me look bigger in photos. I also love jeggings (tight stretch jeans). They look good, and are comfortable.”
Jessica used to hate high heels. “The first time I had to wear them was for prom. I took them off immediately and walked around barefoot,” she recalls. “But when I learned to wear them, I bought a lot.” Her “ultimate favorite” pair is from Topshop.
“Heels make you look thinner; and your legs, shapelier. It improves your posture, especially when doing photo shoots,” Jessica notes. “That is why photographers ask you to wear heels even when your feet won’t be shown in the pictures. Platform heels are very comfortable, except maybe if you have to walk in them for hours. Aldo and Topshop are my go-to stores for high heels.”
For a casual look, Jessica picks Converse rubber shoes. “It’s easier to get around with, especially when going to the mall. I have a lot of canvas shoes, but I’m not too keen on those with crazy designs and colors.”
Jessica’s everyday bag is a black leather piece from Zara. “I got this slouch bag because I always have to carry a lot of things around lately. The design is perfect for any outfit. It’s comfortable and isn’t so expensive. It holds up my stuff well.” She also likes products from the Australian brand M!mco. “I bought this, my first designer bag, when I was 13. Until now, the leather still looks nice.”
Jessica says she never really liked carrying bags or clutches when she was younger. “Every time I’d go out, I’d make my friends put my phone or wallet in their bags. This is the first piece that I actually liked,” she says of a red-gold clutch from Zara. “It was on sale when I saw it. It really stands out. I also have a clutch, in patent leather and suede, that I used when I attended the Star Magic Ball.”
She then shows a Forever 21 studded clutch, which she described as “nicer and sturdier” because it’s made of hard-case shell.
“I’m obsessed with rings. I have a ridiculous amount of them,” says Jessica. “I get a lot from Forever 21 or in department stores. Those in flea markets are cheap but also look really good. I like vintage designs and anything that’s gold. I buy stuff that are unique, like these pieces with animal designs. I also have stuff sent from Australia.”
In looking for interesting pieces, Jessica advises shoppers to have loads of patience. “You also have to know what you like. If you just try to buy what everyone else is wearing, that won’t work. I remember buying feather earrings just because a lot of people have been using them. It had been a waste of money.”
Even while she has many watches, like the “really blingy ones” from Forever 21, Jessica still prefers to use her Gucci piece, a hand-me-down from dad. “I like manly things. This is the first proper watch I own. “
Jessica’s favorite pair of sunnies was a birthday gift from actor Stefan Alino. “He gave this to me because I said I had wanted the one used by (Hollywood actress) Megan Fox, who is one of my idols,” she says.
“When I was younger, I’d save money to buy Dior or Channel shades. They have crazy designs so I don’t use them anymore. I think they’re just a waste of money. I’ve learned to become more simple in terms of style.”
“I have a thing for men’s fragrances. I find female scents too strong sometimes,” Jessica notes. “There’s something about men’s scents, like this bottle of Bulgari Aqua, that I got so addicted to. My first addiction was the Jean Paul Gaultier Le Male. My first crush used to wear it.”
She confesses to buying both the female and male versions of the Estee Lauder scent and finishing the latter first. “It smells softer,” she explains. “I like vanilla scents—I think that’s why the sweet scent in male perfumes works for me. I’m still looking for the perfect vanilla smell. Even at home, I keep lighting vanilla sticks and candles. I also like vanilla oil on the body. Who can hate that, right?”
She started collecting original compact discs (CDs) when she was 13. “I keep them on display. I really don’t like people touching them. I have records of Mariah Carey, Lauryn Hill, Alicia Keys and John Legend—some of my favorites. They are mostly R&B, rap and pop. I like albums that you can play from start to finish.”
“I’m obsessed with the video game ‘Grand Theft Auto.’ However, it is not the most child-friendly game,” she admits. “This is what I do a lot when I’m at home. I try not to get into it too much anymore because it’s so addicting. I turn into a different person when I play this game.”
Jessica confesses to not being a gadgets girl. “I only buy what I need. I don’t try to own too much stuff just because they’re new and in fashion,” she explains. “Before I switched to iPhone, I used BlackBerry Bold. It has been through everything, even a drop from the balcony.”
She adds: “I suggest that everybody get an iPhone. I’m now addicted to Instagram and all the other apps. I used to have an iTouch, but decided to go back to the classic iPod—all my favorite tunes are in there.” Tunes in Jessica’s iPod are mostly R&B, soul and rap. “It contains tunes from Kanye West, Alicia Keys, Jay Z, Lauryn Hill, Aaliyah, Baby Face, Beyonce and Cris Brown, as well as Aretha Franklin and BB King.”
The actress used to have a really bad case of acne so she could not wear thick makeup on her face. “The best brand for me is Laura Mercier. Its powder and cream-based foundation are so light. A little blob of cream covers your whole face. It’s worth its price.”
For lip color, Jessica advises: “Every girl has to own a red lipstick. When I don’t like it too strong sometimes, I just dab it on my lips. I also use a lot of hot pink. I like colors from L’Oreal, Mac and Lancome.”
“Girls who cover their faces with makeup too much tend to lose the sparkle in their eyes,” she observes. “The really important thing is to have well-shaped eyebrows. Also, remember to match your powder with your skin tone. Less is better, especially if you have nice skin… I’m also not into big fake lashes and dark smokey eyes.”