Kaila Estrada: Pretty Young Thing

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When you’re born into a family where both your parents are two of the most bankable actors in the country, how do you go about living an ordinary life? Model Kaila Estrada finds normalcy in her not-so-typical situation from the fact that they do everything that everybody else does as a family. She’s the daughter of actors John Estrada and Janice de Belen, and what stunning symbiosis their genes must have to produce such an angelic-looking young woman.

The fourth among six siblings, Kaila admits that she acts as if she’s the eldest among all of them. “I’m a very protective person, especially when it comes to my family. Whenever we go out, I’m the party-pooper. Ako yung laging nagyayaya na umuwi. If my sibling didn’t come home on time, ako yung nagtatanong kung bakit ganung oras sila umuwi,” she laughs. She’s not keen on entering showbiz—at least that’s what her stand is at the moment because even though she’s living under the spotlight, her privacy is still very important to her. “I know that sounds ironic because all my social media accounts are public and I’m a model, but I still keep a lot of things private as much as possible. We really have to be extra careful and conscious because people know my parents. The smallest mistake will be publicized and turned into a big deal, and then people will talk about it. I was never really comfortable with situations like that, that’s why I never really considered entering showbiz,” Kaila shares. But one of the good things about being her parents’ daughter is that she gets to see how things work behind the camera, which she finds fascinating.

This 20-year-old is a graduating student from the College of Saint Benilde. “I’m taking up Arts Management, which is basically where you get baseline information about everything in the arts. My jobs when I graduate will most likely be a gallerist, a curator, or in production,” explains Kaila. According to her, she’s always been interested in the arts, in any form—music, film, plays. She enjoys going to galleries and museums—that’s why she pursued her course, in order to know how the business side of art works. But currently, her heart is set on modeling, so she juggles work and school at the moment. She admits that managing both is tough, but she is determined to do both. “So even if work is exhausting, I still make time to do it because that’s what I want. It’s difficult, but it’s just a matter of setting your priorities and weighing your options. There are times when work and classes overlap, so I just choose which jobs to say yes to,” she reveals. Kaila is currently handled by one of the country’s top modeling agencies, Mercator Artist and Model Management, and shares that she’s very blessed her agency is very understanding since her priority right now is finishing her degree. “It takes a lot of commitment to be a model. You just can’t do it and not continue. That’s usually the misconception of people from the outside looking in—they don’t see it as a real job, but it is,” she says. Her modeling career started three years ago when fashion designer Randy Ortiz, a good friend of her father (since John used to model for him), asked her if she wanted to try out modeling. “I’m really shy,” she admits. But curiosity got to her, so she landed a spot at Randy Ortiz’s silver anniversary fashion show at The Peninsula Manila in 2013. “It was a huge show with lots of models and we were all wearing gowns. Since I am not that tall, they asked me to wear extra-high heels. [I was surrounded by] professional models, and I was just in the corner, too shy to talk to anyone. My nerves were killing me,” she recalls. “But when the show ended, I was really happy. That’s when I realized that this was something I wanted to do. I enjoyed the thrill and excitement of being in a fashion show, wearing designer clothes. It’s really fun. My parents were also there, and it’s funny because my mom and sisters cried!”

A year after that, Mercator president and “beauty queen creator” Jonas Gaffud met with Kaila. Initially, they wanted her to train to be a pageant contender. “They asked if I was interested, but it’s not my personality to become a beauty queen. I would rather they train somebody who really wants to become one. I told them I just wanted to try out modeling.” You might think that Kaila had it easy since she has famous parents, but she has had her share of disappointments. “I went to all those castings and go-sees, and I’d get nothing, as in zero call backs. There was a time that I got really upset because I couldn’t get a modeling job, but then I realized that if I think I’m not cut out for it, others would feel that way too. If I’m not confident with myself, they won’t hire me. I just need to try harder, find what I can improve on, so that’s what I did. Finally, I was able to book a few jobs.” This year was a huge break for Kaila’s modeling career because out of 3,000 hopefuls, she was chosen to be one of the ambassadors of SM Youth, The SM Store’s teens’ wear line. “[Kyle Perry and I] are the models for their campaign. We go around the country to represent the brand and interact with the supporters of SM Youth. We want to make them feel appreciated and let them know that they’re a huge part of the brand’s success,” explains Kaila. She conquered her shyness and learned how to be more assertive during the competition. “I remember the panel telling me that they really saw my growth. Nearing the end of the challenges, I was more outgoing and comfortable doing shoots, videos, and interviews.” She finds it perfect that she belongs to the SM Youth family since she describes her fashion style as androgynous. “I really like wearing boys’ clothes. My go-to outfit is just jeans or shorts. I don’t really wear a lot of dresses.” If she’s not working or studying, Kaila likes to keep herself fit. She does cross-fit training almost four times a week. “Working out is the best kind of therapy, in my opinion,” she says. And just like any other girl, she also has a kikay side. At a recent event for L’Oréal Professionnel Majirel #FrenchBrowns, Kaila appeared as one of the models who had her hair colored. “I’m really liking my hair color now because it’s not too loud. I want to keep it this way for a while. It’s like a dark brown with copper undertones.”

As for the future, Kaila is looking forward to more work, more time to travel, and graduating from college. And as she absorbs her newfound success, she carries with her key pieces of advice that her parents have given her—you can’t please everybody, always stay grounded, and be grateful.

Photographed by Shaira Luna
Styled by Edlene CabralMakeup by Iya Yujuico for MAC Cosmetics
Hair by Lenard Vasquez for L’Oréal Professionnel
Published in Style Weekend, November 2016

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