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Dolly De Leon On Her Fashion Choices, Advocacy, and "Dirty Linen"

We chatted with the award-winning actress and "Triangle of Sadness" star about her Golden Globes look, the upcoming project of her Ladies Who Launch group, and the trending series "Dirty Linen"

Dolly de Leon at the 80th Golden Globe Awards
Dolly de Leon at the 80th Golden Globe Awards | Photo from @dollyedeleon

Pinoy pride Dolly de Leon is back in Manila after attending the 80th Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, California. Before she leaves again to attend the 76th British Academy Film Awards (BAFTAs) on February 19 in London—where she is nominated as Best Supporting Actress for Triangle of Sadness—we got a chance to catch up with her at her "Hello, Dolly" homecoming press conference.

To kick off the conversation, she was asked what she plans to wear to the BAFTAs. She replied, laughing, "I don't know yet what I'm wearing... I really have to wear the dress to know. Hindi ko mai-imagine ano 'yung itsura ko until suot ko talaga." 

Her fashion choices

At the Golden Globes—which recognized Dolly with a Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture nomination for her role as Abigail in Ruben Östlund's Triangle of Sadness—she made a statement in a bespoke black faux leather AZ Factory dress with a built-in corset by Filipino design and image director Norman Rene' De Vera, as styled by LJ Perez. The haute couture piece, as Norman shares, was crafted from sustainable fabrics and entirely handmade in the brand's Parisian in-house atelier. As we complimented her bold and fearless fashion choice, Dolly told Metro.Style that she's very hands-on when it comes to putting her looks together.

She said, "I have a stylist (his name is LJ Perez), and sinasabi ko sa kanya kung ano 'yung mga ayaw kong suotin, 'yung mga colors na ayaw kong suotin, and then we also talk about kung ano 'yung mga elements that influence me, like fire, air, water ba. And then after that, tsaka siya namimili. And then papakitaan niya ako ng iba-iba and sasabihin ko, 'Gusto ko ito. Ito, hindi ko gusto.' So, it's really like that. Alam mo, at my age, hindi na ako du'n sa part na p'wede akong i-control ng mga tao sa kung ano ang susuotin ko. So, what you saw sa Golden Globes, that was really my choice. I really wanted to wear that dress. I loved it!" 

"May mga iba na medyo hindi nila type," Dolly added. "Na okay lang. Parang, for me, ganun talaga ang world, you can't please everybody eh. Parang if I wear something that everyone will like, may problema dun 'di ba?"

Her advocacy

Dolly's friends and co-founders of social enterprise Ladies Who Launch—which is gearing up for their Project Hulmahan exhibit this coming March 15 (the third anniversary of the pandemic-caused Manila lockdown)—tease her that what was missing in her sexy-feisty Golden Globes look was a latigo (whip). "In our other projects, we call her [Dolly] our executive director and also our ring leader. So, 'pag merong idea, siya 'yung taga-latigo, kami lang 'yung taga-galaw," shared Jasmine Ong, who primarily takes charge of the group's marketing efforts. 

The group of Ladies Who Launch was formed around 2013 by Zena Bernardo, Dolly de Leon, Judith Albano, and Jasmine Ong. During the pandemic, they started community kitchens, which sparked interest as a form of pandemic response when Ana Patricia Non (Zena's daughter), also known as Patreng, started the Maginhawa Community Pantry. "For those who don't know, community kitchens are kitchens basically established in certain spots in the metro and also outside of the National Capital Region, where people cook meals and feed the neighborhood," Dolly explains. Their latest project is Project Hulmahan, in collaboration with Bayanihang Marikenyo at Marikenya and UP Artists' Circle Fraternity.

Zena shared the story behind the project, "One day, in one of the communities ng Bayanihang Marikenyo at Marikenya called Isla Delata (it's a small informal settlers community ng mga nangongolekta ng junk, nangangalakal, so nagluluto kami ng champorado and 'yung hulmahan ang firewood nila." They lamented the way the shoe molds were used, especially because Marikina is considered the shoe capital of the Philippines and shoemaking is an industry and a craft the city takes pride in. "Para sa aming mga taga-Marikina, napaka-visual ng representation na mamatay 'yung industry ng Marikina," Zena added, further sharing that that was what sparked the idea of turning these hulmahan into artworks. The proceeds from the project will go to Bayanihang Marikenyo at Marikenya's livelihood projects, the community kitchen for disaster response nationwide, and community-based art workshops.  

Asking for support for this worthy cause, Dolly said, "At the end of the day, tayo-tayo na lang magtutulungan eh. Ang daming nawala sa atin nu'ng pandemya. Ang daming nawalan ng mga loved ones. Maraming nawalan ng trabaho. So ito 'yung paraan namin para tumulong kasi, at the end of the day, konektado tayong lahat, and we just need to help each other and just keep spreading the love."

Zena Bernardo (far left) and Dolly de Leon (fourth from left) with some of the artists who took part in Ladies Who Launch's Project Hulmahan (an art-driven mutual aid advocacy in support of livelihood, food security and disaster response).
Zena Bernardo (far left) and Dolly de Leon (fourth from left) with some of the artists who took part in Ladies Who Launch's Project Hulmahan (an art-driven mutual aid advocacy in support of livelihood, food security and disaster response)
Dolly de Leon - Ladies Who Launch, Project Hulmahan

Her thoughts on Dirty Linen

As Dolly is gaining more and more attention in the global entertainment scene, locally, the mystery revenge thriller series Dirty Linen that features her as a guest star is creating a lot of buzz and earning positive reviews. In this ABS-CBN series by Dreamscape Entertainment, Dolly plays the role of Olivia, the mother of Janine Gutierrez's Alexa, and it's a character that takes on a significant part in the plot. 

In an exclusive interview with Janine, she talked about meeting Dolly, saying, "Unfortunately, I didn’t get to shoot any scenes with her. Pero nakasabay ko siya sa taping. There was one specific day, I think it was her last day on set before she flies to the US and then we sat together for a while, we chatted, nagkukuwento siya about Triangle of Sadness and sobrang precious nung moment na iyon for me kasi we also all dream of being something that gets to showcase Filipino talent internationally. We're so proud of her, cheering for her and it was nice lang to have that moment. And she was like ‘Obalik ikaw ulit sa indie!’ and how she watched Babae at Baril. It was a really nice moment and I’m such a fan.” 

We took the opportunity to ask Dolly about her thoughts on the warm reception for the trending series Filipino viewers have been raving about. She said, "I really believe that Dirty Linen is changing the landscape of how we make teleseryesAng ganda-ganda ng Dirty Linen—from the way it's written to the acting, the actors, the direction. It gives me a lot of hope in the industry kasi this is really something I can be so proud of. And I'm not saying this dahil sa response sa social media ha. Pinanood ko eh. Ang ganda talaga. So, it's really something to be proud of."  

Dolly de Leon in Dirty Linen
Dolly de Leon in "Dirty Linen" | Photo from @dreamscapeph

For Triangle of Sadness, Dolly has so far received the Best Supporting Performance award at the 48th Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards, Breakthrough Performance Award at the 2022 Middleburg Film Festival, Best Actress in a Supporting Role at the 58th Guldbagge Awards in Sweden, and Best Supporting Actress at the 2023 North Dakota Film Society Awards. 

Lead photos from @dreamscapeph, @biancaparkes via @dollyedeleon, and Pexels