Especially in the entertainment business, it’s quite rare to meet anyone who displays wisdom beyond their years. Issa Pressman enters the studio with a beaming smile, barefaced in Harry Potter specs, hair undone. Already, she seems too sure of herself to be only 19. She’s still a typical millennial in that she’s eager to dip her finger in every pie, but atypical in that she has a good grasp of how the world works.
Here, we sit down with the free spirit to dissect her life and style (which is as cool and whimsical as she is).
What do you do?
I’m exploring the world of art. I’m into acting, dancing, singing. On the side, I’m trying my hand out in painting and filmmaking–mostly personal productions, nothing major.
Can you tell us how you began in the entertainment industry?
With acting, I started at age 4. Then just 2 years ago, I joined Viva, so I’m back to doing it again. I started dancing when I was 3, breakdancing when i was 5. With singing, I just started now, actually. Last year, I was in this group with Viva where we danced and sang together. Jessy Salvador was actually one of the girls in the group.
What kind of dance are you into?
Dancing for Viva, we did the “kikay” type of dance. It’s different from real hiphop, or dance with real texture. Now that the group hasn’t been active for a year, I’m able to explore hiphop and other genres.
How do you stay inspired with your craft?
I see a lot of dance groups growing and they’re just so good and it’s so inspiring. So I just look at how good they are. They make me regret stopping when I hit college, because I love dancing and I don’t get why I stopped. But it’s never too late—I’m so young!
Maybe you just don’t know what to specialize in?
It’s true. With dancing and singing, I don’t know what “style” to specialize in. Even with my painting, I always tell people I’m a “freestyler” because I don’t know what my style is.
Who’s the most interesting person you’ve met on the job?
I don’t want to say my sister [Yassi], but I can’t think of anyone else. Especially as an artist and as a public figure, she knows what to do, where to go, and how to act properly. I grew up a very normal college kid, and Yassi’s the one who teaches me how to be proper and how to talk to people. People often think I’m a snob, but I’m just shy.
Do you look up to her?
Yes! Not just as an artist, but as a person and as a sister. She’s the head of the family, the boss. [laughs]
What usually goes on when you hang out?
When we were young, we used to dance together, and dress the same like twins! [laughs] But we grew apart when I went away to college, so when I’d go back home, we’d make the most of it. And now that she’s super busy with work, I’d set aside my stuff so we could go out whenever she’s free. We’d plan beach trips, family dinners out…
Do you fight?
We used to. But now, when we have “fights” and misunderstandings, it just always ends with “love you!”
Do you have project with your sister that you’re most proud of?
We haven’t worked together, but I actually wanna sing and dance with her if she weren’t so busy.
Do you have a project that you’re most proud of?
Luck at First Sight—coming up March 22 with Bela Padilla and Jericho Rosales. My role here is only a cameo, but to be in a movie with them is a big deal for me. I love art, so I really appreciate people who show how artistic and smart they are with their craft. I’ve worked with Jericho when I was 10, and I’m still blown away every time I’d see him onscreen. And Bela conceptualises stories and does a lot of things production-wise. She’s obviously such a great actress, but more than that, she’s such a great person.
Does performing affect your sense of fashion?
Sometimes I’d go really street, sometimes I’d go girly, menswear, or classy. I don’t have a particular style, because I just have fun with it. Everyday is a different day! But my style is never simple–there’s always a little extra something.
Do you style yourself?
Yes. I love picking outfits, designing clothes, putting makeup on.
I have one in different categories, but probably in the Coachella type of world, it’s Vanessa Hudgens. Even with layering, it’s Vanessa. I super love layers.
That easy-breezy hipster look is so H&M. What do you think about the brand?
I’m wearing H&M right now! These pants are from H&M! [laughs]
What’s you favorite thing in H&M?
I prefer their basics, and then I mix and match. I get printed stuff very seldomly because i don’t want people to recognise my clothes or have the same things that I do. I love getting plain stuff like sandos which I wear under jackets.
How about H&M accessories?
I love their accessories! Most of the time I wear black pants, black simple boots, and a shirt. But then a lot of accessories. A lot of necklaces, earrings.
3 things in your closet that you can’t live without?
Basic pieces! 1) Boots, 2) Accessories, 3) Shirt. [For Issa’s style tips and more H&M Fashion Inspo, click here.]
Do you have a peg everyday?
I have this thing where before I take a bath, I already have a “set” in mind. After showering, I go to my wardrobe to look for that exact set. If I can’t find it, I spend the whole day looking for it. I’m very OC.
Any style inspirations?
I always visit Beyonce’s account. She rarely posts, but when she posts, it’s a barrage. She’s never tiring to watch! Even her dancing and singing is so powerful.
You’re an influencer yourself. How’s that like in the Philippines?
I’d say the biggest thing I ever did on social media was for McDonald’s. I super enjoyed it! Before doing that, I always thought being an influencer was an easy job, but it’s really not. There are demands–I was required to post on this exact time, with this exact caption. But I love it nonetheless.
Do you interact with your followers?
I love when people direct message me on Instagram. They tell me they love how real I am, and I get so touched that they see that in me even though they don’t get to talk to me in person. As an artist, you have a particular way of posting to reach your target audience. So if you guys really love what you see, then you’re seeing the real me. So thank you guys. Thanks for reacting to the songs I post. It’s like they know me as friends! [laughs]
Anything you want to say to them?
I hope I get to inspire them also to be real, to be true to themselves. However you wanna do something, you just do it! Maybe that’s why I don’t have a particular style–I love exploring. I hope that they also explore their world, their talents, their true selves. ~
Story | Iris Lee
Photography | Jerick Sanchez
Styling | Aldrin Ramos
Hair | Jhaypee Tamayo, Jomar Lopez and Ma. Cristina Omayan of Hair Lounge
Makeup | Anacleta Paredes of MAC Cosmetics