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Kylie Verzosa: Girl on fire

By MARBBIE TAGABUCBA, The Philippine Star Published Sep 10, 2021 5:00 am

Somewhere in a fictional hermetic household, a long-held equilibrium of power imbalance and submissiveness threatens to go up in flames. They bargain using money, sex and efficiency. But who has the most to lose? This is the big question behind Roman Perez Jr.’s same-titled adaptation of the 2010 Palme d’Or-nominated Korean thriller, The Housemaid.

The titular role is portrayed by Kylie Verzosa. It is the Miss International 2016 titleholder’s first leading role since transitioning into acting. She also uses her platform to spread mental health awareness and has recently expanded to founding her mental health organization Mental Health Matters. With The Housemaid, she is able to do both.

 Kylie Verzosa on her first leading role: "Daisy is the best example of what could happen if abuse continues to happen, and we continue to do nothing about it."

It’s a (mostly) one-take wonder with a stellar lineup. The all-seeing mayordoma is Jaclyn Jose. Albert Martinez is the wealthy man of the house who gets what he wants, no matter the price. Alma Moreno is the manipulative mother to a young woman who married well — and determined to keep it that way. Up-and-coming talent Louise delos Reyes is that daughter. She is pregnant with twins and content in her expensive idleness until the new nanny threatens the ennui that now hangs by a thread.

Known in the industry for being eloquent and shrewd, Kylie channels the naiveté of new nanny Daisy who comes to meet a grotesque end. During a lock-in taping in Batangas, Bulacan and Tagaytay, Kylie is confronted with her character’s realities of mental health, violence against women, and gender and socio-economic inequalities.

We caught up with Kylie Verzosa for this exciting moment in her career.

YSTYLE: What were the challenges you encountered in portraying Daisy? How did you prepare for her role?

She was very difficult and challenging for me to play because the character is very dark and heavy. She was totally my opposite, and for a “newbie” in acting, this is very difficult. I had to go through lots of workshops, collaborating with different acting coaches and my director to get this role right.

How do you get in and out of character?

I need a lot of isolation from the people around me on set. I didn’t like to be disturbed and spoken to. If I wasn’t needed on set, I wouldn’t be there. A lot of alone time was needed for Daisy. No distractions. To get in and out of character, a big part of my acting is music. I would listen to music to get me in and out of a role, and take time away from the set.

Does taking on this project mean you want more challenging acting roles in the future?

Yes, I would love to take on more challenging projects. You’ll never grow if you don’t take on a challenge. It’s part of your growth as a person and for your craft.

Violence against women does more than inflict physical pain. In The Housemaid, your character Daisy succumbs to (Spoiler Alert!) suicide as a result. How does your work as an actress bring awareness to these issues of mental health and women’s abuse?

Daisy is the best example of what could happen if abuse continues to happen, and we continue to do nothing about it. In the film we also see a difference in class or socio-economic situation, so the way she handles this is different from how someone in the upper class would. Because she’s just used to being told, “Suck it up, and move on with life.”

Can you share with us something about mental health that you didn’t know about until you created Mental Health Matters, your mental health organization?

Mental health is a never-ending process of self-discovery. It’s not something you just take care of once, but all the time. It should be made as important as taking care of your physical health. We are all more alike than we think. People relate to pain, suffering, happiness, and joy in the same way. A true connection and true compassion is needed to connect.

As we continue to face a pandemic, the country is also undergoing a mental health crisis. Can you tell us about how you approach it with Mental Health Matters?

It’s true that we’re facing mental health issues, especially from being isolated at home and away from our friends and family. It can be really difficult. As a constant reminder to people, Mental Health Matters has been doing online talks continuously to different schools, organizations and Instagram Live events.

Something we’ve been working on the past months is trying to get psychological help to those who need it. With mental health it’s important that we have someone around us we can talk to and trust, a good support system that surrounds us.

We’ve partnered up with KonsultaMD to give free psychiatric treatments to all Mental Health Matters members. Just type in the code MHMKYLIE to avail of a one-month Mental Health care plan and talk to doctors 24/7 anytime and anywhere.

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Stream The Housemaid on Vivamax.