EXCLUSIVE: Ageless Beauty At 36—Jodi Sta. Maria’s Take On Beauty Will Inspire You To Make Happiness The Key To Success (Not The Other Way Around!)
“I’m happy. I’m at peace with a lot of things…”
Actress Jodi Sta. Maria is 36, and proud of it! But if you didn’t know her, it won’t be surprising for you to think she’s in her 20s. Truth be told, Jodi admits, “I’m heading towards late 30s, but I feel like I’m in my 20s.” Not only does she look youthful, her incredible enthusiasm about life also feels like it’s coming from a young adult who’s passionate and eager to get a taste of independence and live life according to her own rules.
“…I am calm and even if there are so many things going on with my life—I’m a mother, I’m a student, I’m an actress , and I have a lot of other things going on—there’s just this sense of calm and peace in my life. It transcends all understanding. So maybe that’s where it’s coming from.”
By “it,” Jodi means the beauty, the glow, or the positive aura that people see in her and often compliment her for. “No makeup product can really put that natural glow in a woman’s face or in anyone’s face. I think that glow will radiate from within,” she points out. And who wouldn’t agree with that? You can hide scars and blemishes on your face with concealer and foundation, achieve a flushed look with blush, or fake a glow with highlighter, but makeup can never replicate the brightening effect genuine happiness seen through one’s eyes makes.
“It’s really about having inner peace,” Jodi says, her eyes beaming. “It’s being able to, you know, do something for yourself that will cultivate that, and that makes us glow. Even if beauty is not the goal, parang side effect siya. It will just show.”
On Jodi: 1) Black ensemble by John Rufo, 2) White top by Rhett Eala and sequined pants by John Rufo, and 3) Silver gray turtleneck by John Rufo and pants with slits by Bennita. All jewels by Ocampos Fine Jewellery
A beautiful mind
Jodi is, no doubt, beautiful. But the moment she opens her mouth and speaks her mind, that’s when she becomes even more beautiful. Just one conversation with her will make you realize how much of a woman of substance she is. Her inspiring and life-enriching words of wisdom bear more meaning, knowing that they come from someone who didn’t have an easy life but has managed to emerge on top of her game.
She refuses to be bounded and hindered by pointless thoughts, what-ifs and regrets. Despite some inevitable mistakes along the way, she knows her past should never define her future. “I acknowledge that I am in my own timeline and not following somebody else’s schedule,” she shares. It’s her life, after all, and she’s the one steering the wheel to the right direction.
One way by which she proves she’s fully in charge of her life is her determination in achieving a dream that had to take a backseat due to showbiz commitments and responsibilities as a mother; she has always wanted to pursue further studies, and she believes it’s not too late to do so. In fact, she’s so close to achieving it.
If Jodi had a motto, it could might as well be how Girl Boss author Sophia Amoruso puts it: “Life is short. Don’t be lazy.”
Already equipped with background in Medical Biology from De La Salle University, Jodi went on to enroll at Southville International School and Colleges, and took up BS Psychology. Early this year, Jodi received a recognition from her school for being part of the Dean’s List. And recently, she made headlines again as she received yet another recognition—this time for being the Top 1 student in her course, earning a GPA of 3.800. It’s a feat that is difficult to achieve even for a full-time student—more so for someone like Jodi who needs to juggle her studies with her career and motherhood. This fact alone makes Jodi even more amazing and inspirational than she already is.
How she does it, Jodi herself is quite surprised. But one thing’s for sure, she says, “I’m the type of person na when I put my heart into something, I make sure na I’ll do it right. I’ll do it excellently. I won’t aim for perfection, yes, but I set goals and I make sure that I set realistic goals. Parang may gagawin ka na lang, gawin mo na nang tama. Galingan mo na ‘di ba?”
She attracts success with her positive mindset. And the thing that makes success sweeter for Jodi is her very concept of it: “Happiness and success for me before, in my early 20s, were just being with friends, going somewhere far away from home, being able to assert my independence, having shows, earning money, having people look up to me. But when I reached my 30s, I realized that happiness and success have different meanings.”
She sees life differently now, putting more value to building and nurturing relationships with people around her than obsessing about superficialities and shallow gratification. She says, “At the end of the day, people will not ask you, ‘Jodi, how many awards have you own?,’ ‘How many movies have you done?,’ or ‘How much money do you have in your bank account?’ At the end of the day, it’s about how you made an impact in someone else’s life… Success is something that does not depend on the external circumstances; it is something that comes from within.”
A beautiful heart and soul
With that as the case, Jodi’s "success rate" then is amplified tenfold by the purity of her heart, the authenticity of her soul, and the sincerity of her actions.
Last June, she turned 36, and instead of receiving gifts on her special day, she chose to give. She threw a simple yet fun party, and celebrated with about 50 kids at Kythe Foundation, a non-profit, non-stock organization aimed towards improving the quality of life among hospitalized children with cancer and other chronic illness, which she has been supporting for a couple of years now.
As a mom, she has a soft spot for kids, and the opportunity to put smiles on the faces of these sick children is simply priceless—and a gift more than enough to fill Jodi’s heart.
Hoping to inspire the kids to stay strong and keep fighting, Jodi ended up going home more inspired and motivated by their resilience. “I went there with an expectation of, you know, inspiring these people. I wanna make them happy,” she says. “But when I got there, it was the other way around and the roles were reversed. I was the one inspired, I was the one motivated, I was the one strengthened by their strength. Their joy was just so contagious that you just couldn’t help getting teary-eyed and moved by the whole event.”
While she makes sure to maintain her physical appearance, sticking to simple skincare and fitness routines that prioritize moisturizing, hydrating, eating only the good stuff (with occasional sweet tooth indulgence), and leading an active lifestyle, what Jodi truly prefers investing her time and effort in is seeking a greater purpose in life. She shares, “God uses us as His extension—His hands and His feet. And when I had that kind of understanding, helping came naturally.”
A beautiful direction
Just as she believes that God has moulded her as “a channel of blessing to other people,” she also knows that He has already prepared the path for her to take. With full trust in His plans, she doesn’t worry herself about turning older.
“Before, I would think, ‘Wait, 30s na ako!’ Parang feeling ko, ‘Shocks, tumatanda na ako.’ But it came to a point wherein I realized na, ‘Hey Jodi, you are not running on somebody else’s schedule. You are on your own schedule. No one is pressuring you. No one is pushing you. It doesn’t matter if you’re 36, 38, 40, 50. You can still do what you want to do.’”
Some are all too focused on the increase in number that comes with aging, but not Jodi. In four years, she’ll be 40, and she looks forward to it—because then it will be a new phase that will welcome new opportunities, new adventures, and new passions. “Are you growing to become a better person as you age?” Jodi asks rhetorically. And if she were to answer her own question, she can proudly say “yes!”
As a single mom to 12-year-old Thirdy, there’s still much to be learned about parenthood, but what Jodi constantly teaches and reminds her son about is respect for everyone and honesty even with the smallest things. On the aspect of being a mom, she does get better with age.
As a showbiz personality with two decades of experience and several recognitions under her belt, the best is yet to come. The Sana Dalawa ang Puso star may be dividing her time into different real-life roles now, but what is certain is her knowing a good role when she sees one. “I might do a film. I just finished one, but I’m about to do another one,” she reveals. On the aspect of being an actress—with memorable portrayals such as George in Tabing Ilog, Maya in Be Careful With My Heart, and Amor in Pangako Sa’Yo (which even earned her a nomination for the Best Performance by an Actress category at the 44th International Emmy Awards in 2016)—she does get better with age.
Me-time is important for happiness, and happiness is key to success (not the other way around!). So, no matter how busy she gets, she never forgets about giving herself time to breathe and break free from work—as she puts it, “celebrating the gift of time by giving myself time to relax, recharge, and reflect after weeks of hard work.” She does so by traveling. Her last destination was Seychelles in East Africa, and she’s also set for a trip to Maldives. All these memories she documents via her other travel-focused Instagram account she named @auspiciouspilgrim. On the aspect of being happy and fulfilled as an individual, things do get better with age for Jodi.
Turning 40 soon? No problem! “By that time, I’m done with school. I’m still a mother to Thirdy. I can help more people with a new profession that I’ll have as a psychologist after I graduate. I’m excited for that,” Jodi ponders. “But for now, I’m just living by the moment. What I have is now. I enjoy what’s now.”
Produced by Grace Libero-Cruz
Photography by Seven Barretto
Art direction by Butchie Peña
Makeup by Ting Duque
Hairstyling by Jay Wee
Styling by Patricia Coronado, assisted by Sophia Pre
Shoot assistants: Cheska Santiago and Kate Sarmiento
Shot at Bulb Studios
Special thanks to Star Magic