The Voice of the Philippines finalist Jessica Reynoso confides that she has had her share of being discriminated because of her skin color.
"Aminin na natin, let's be honest, hindi lahat ng tao tanggap yung black, na experience ko din yung bullying before kahit nung nasa show [The Voice] ako..."
The 17-year-old half-Filipino, half-African-American singer completed her five- year contract with GMA-7 after joining Popstar Kids in 2007. However, she says she didn't get much attention and exposure, a predicament that she attributes to her skin color.
"Before wala po ako masyadong shows, five-year contract pero sobrang konti po ng shows parang hindi ako napapansin... siyempre alam naman natin pag showbiz, kailangan maputi, kailangan ganyan..."
Does she still get this treatment after joining The Voice?
"Siguro ‘pag nakilala nila ako, hindi. Pero before kasi ‘pag naglalakad ka kunwari sa school, may mga tricycle drivers na parang ewan... pero ‘pag tumitingin naman ako sa kanila ngumingiti ako. Sasabihin nila, ‘Ay, in fairness, maganda ka," she quipped.
Jessica, who hails from San Pedro, Laguna, is currently on her third year in college, taking up Air Freight Operations in PATTS College of Aeronautics in Parañaque.
ON HER COACH AND MENTOR APL.DE.AP. How would she describe her The Voice PH mentor Apl.de.Ap?
"Sobrang humble, mabait tapos fun to be with, easy to talk to tapos lagi siyang nag-yayayang kumain sa labas kaya pag nandito siya tumataba kami lalo," she reveals.
"Sobrang kengkoy, as in parang yung pinaka korning joke sa buong mundo tatawa siya."
Jessica says coach Apl likes to keep things light during rehearsals but is also strict when it comes down to business.
"Hindi ko pa naman siya nakikita magalit pero depende sa sitwasyon yung pagiging strict niya, kunwari rehearsals namin sa The Voice, sasabihin niya kung ano'ng dapat mong gawin pero ‘pag fun, fun sobrang saya niyang kasama."
Everything seemed to change for Jessica when she met Apl.de.Ap.
The Black Eyed Peas member took her under his wing because he instantly felt a connection with her as though Jessica was his long-lost sister. During the blind auditions of The Voice Season 1, Apl.de.Ap mentioned that he and Jessica shared the same story: both of them never had the chance to meet their biological father.
According to the young singer, the best advice she received from Apl was to simply be herself.
"Sinasabi maganda raw boses ko pero since hindi nga ako pang showbiz dito sa Pilipinas…so sabi ni Coach sa 'kin always be yourself, kahit ano pang sabihin ng ibang tao sa'yo, be yourself and stay humble."
Jessica is the newest addition to the roster of artists who signed with Apl.De.Ap's record label, BMBX (Boombox Entertainment). She released a new single titled "Just Like You" distributed by Warner Music Philippines.
ON INFLUENCES AND ASPIRATIONS. Jessica says she discovered her musical inclinations when she was just five years old.
"Love ko na yung music, love ko na yung singing ever since bata pa ako, pero siyempre andun yung gusto ko mag-showbiz gusto ko maging artista. Before nag VTR [video tape recording] ako pero hindi ako natatanggap, pero sa singing talaga, yun talaga yung strength ko, panglaban ko."
The singer says she wants to be an inspiration to all the kids who have been underestimated by other people, which is one of the reasons why she auditioned for ABS-CBN’s reality singing competition.
"Sumali ako sa The Voice hindi lang dahil sa pera or sa mapapanalunang prize or kung ano man pero dahil gusto ko ma-share yung talent ko, gusto ko mapakita sa mga taong nag underestimate sa 'kin na meron din akong mapag-mamalaki," Jessica stressed.
She cites Beyonce, Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin, Joss Stone, Etta James, Amy Winehouse and Michael Jackson among her musical influences.
Who does she look up to in the local music industry?
"Lani Misalucha and galing niya, sobrang galing niya sa control, Jaya and Regine Velasquez din," says Jessica.
Out of hundreds of singers in the Philippines, what sets her apart?
"Sobrang dami po talagang magagaling na singers, ang daming magaling bumirit, ang daming magaling magkulot pero hindi lahat may puso at may soul kumanta so feeling ko yun po yung advantage ko," says the singer who was among the last six artists of Team Apl in The Voice of the Philippines Season 1.
Mitoy Yonting from Team Lea Salonga emerged as the champion.