Filipina Actress Dianne Sison: Renaissance Woman
As a writer for Fine Filipinas, I’m constantly reminded that there’s often far more to a fine Filipina than meets the eye. Behind Alodia Gosiengfiao’s giggly cosplay girl persona, for instance, is a strong-willed young woman determined to push the boundaries of an emerging artform. Behind Mia Marquez’s sophisticated prodigy model persona is a fun-loving, lighthearted, and vivacious teenage girl. Behind Giselle Sanchez’s crazy sexy comedienne persona is a fiercely intelligent and deeply spiritual woman of substance.
Most fans of Filipina actress Dianne Sison know her as the perky and sassy gamer girl from More on Gaming TV, a show about video games. She’s the girl who played the classic Legend of Zelda, the girl who reviews all the cool new games. She’s the girl who appeared in a calendar for a major Philippine game publisher. She’s the girl who’s smart enough to appreciate gamer passion. A method actress and a graduate of theater arts, she’s the girl who loves the strong immersive narratives of fantasy role-playing games. Behind Dianne’s gamer babe persona, however, is a complex balance of fiery ambition tempered by precocious wisdom.
The daughter of a self-made man, Dianne grew up knowing the value of hard work, determination, and self-evolution. Those values made Dianne a prodigy. Having already skipped kindergarten as a child, Dianne started writing poetry by age eight, and began theater training at age ten. Having toured Europe by the time she was fourteen, Dianne had already developed an admiration for the European ability to balance human pursuits and passions — arts and sciences, work and play, intensity and relaxation. That admiration extends to European languages, of which she speaks Spanish and French.
Many children who develop their academic and vocational skills at an early age, do so at the cost of their social skills. Dianne is an exception to that rule. This is a girl who understood the key concepts of social dynamics far earlier than her classmates did. “I grasped the concept of dating by the time I was fourteen,” says Dianne of her early social development. Unfortunately, this presented problems for the young Dianne, whose conservative Catholic school classmates just couldn’t grasp her gregarious nature.
Though Dianne’s ultra-conservative high school did not allow students to render public performances, it soon became clear to school administrators that the young girl needed a social outlet. That’s why she was given special permission to work in media — a field in which Dianne flourished.
Soon Dianne was modelling for the famous international agency Cal-Carries. From then on, the breaks started coming one after another. Dianne was hosting TV shows, playing in a girl band, starring in soap operas. The talented young prodigy faced opportunity after opportunity, and she took them on like there was no tomorrow. Her childhood admiration for European balance gave way to the hustle and bustle of a performance artist’s life. Sleep deprivation became Dianne’s constant companion. That’s when disaster struck.
Tragedy and Recovery
While driving home on a long stretch of road from yet another hard day of taping, a sleep-deprived Dianne blacked out at the wheel. The next thing she knew, she was extracting her broken body from a total car wreck.
Dianne Sison, the prodigy, the go-getter, the exception to the rule, had suffered a spinal whiplash injury. She was bedridden for a year, and spent three more years recovering.
Even though she had to go to school on medication for her spinal injury, even though she had to fight through clinical depression, even though she had to “take exams on Valium”, Dianne didn’t give up on her passion for performance. Through running and swimming and healthy eating, Dianne managed to lose the thirty-five pounds she had gained during her four-year convalescence — sculpting herself into a shapely 32B-24-35 figure.
Not content with rebuilding just her body, Dianne rebuilt her mindset as well. Understanding that her self-destructive workaholic attitude almost got her killed, Dianne rediscovered her admiration for the European ethos of balance.
Balance of Forces
That sense of balance now pervades Dianne’s attitudes on life. Her geekier fans know that she prefers Star Wars over Star Trek. That’s because one of the major themes of Star Wars is the mystical balance between the Light and Dark sides of the Force. In fact, all six of the Star Wars movies tell the story of how Anakin Skywalker brought balance to the Force.
While Dianne enjoys electronic music from the nineties, she’s also a huge fan of mellow music from the sixties. She can articulately expound on the beauty of both electronic beats and acoustic lullabies. “There’s just so much good in sixties music,” says Dianne, “and you absorb what you hear.” While she’s an artist through and through, Dianne actually counts math as one of her favorite subjects. She appreciates how the mathematical properties of music form the basis for its beauty.
While Dianne appreciates that Macs give artists direct control over their content with as few technical hassles as possible, she doesn’t carry an iPhone. Instead, she carries a Nokia E71, the full-keyboard phone favored by legendary anti-Apple tech columnist John C. Dvorak.
Dianne took up quite a healthy lifestyle to rebuild her body, and she maintains that lifestyle to this day. As a member of Greenpeace, she helps keep the Earth healthy as well. Dianne’s belief in balance extends from her mind, to her body, to her planet.
Lest anyone think that balance equals ambivalence, make no mistake: Dianne is a driven performer. Just a year out of convalescence, Dianne’s back with a TV show and an upcoming movie. She even plans on moving to Singapore, the central hub of Southeast Asian showbiz. Heck, her next stop could be Hollywood.
Even Dianne’s dream acting role is ambitious: a psychotic yet sympathetic character, with the insanity of Fatal Attraction Glenn Close and the vulnerability of Meryl Streep. If any scriptwriters out there are working on such a complex character, pitch it to Dianne.
Though passionately driven to succeed as an actress, Dianne makes her passion sustainable. Her zest for work is equaled by her zest for life. She drinks her wheatgrass, she counts her carbs, she banks her sleep, she smiles ear-to-ear like Jennifer Love Hewitt, she stops to smell the roses and sip the Italian coffee and taste the tiramisu. There are a few young workaholic Filipinas on this blog who could take a hint from Dianne.
Despite her global ambitions, Dianne is determined to stay down-to-earth and personable. “I don’t want to become too showbiz,” says Dianne earnestly. She answers all her own fanmail, and customizes all her communications with fans as deeply as time allows. Dianne’s remarkable mental balance gives her the ability to evaluate people and situations with astounding clarity. Have her sign an autograph, and she might surprise you with a written insight into your own character.
Dianne is an admirer of Leonardo da Vinci, the quintessential Renaissance man who excelled in both the arts and the sciences. With her keen sense of balance, with her ability to observe and appreciate her environment without the perceptual blinders of mental preoccupation or emotional predisposition or physical exhaustion, this fine Filipina is well on her way to becoming a modern Renaissance woman.
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