Kaila Estrada is tall at 5’7”, precocious at age 20, and Instagram-famous with over 90,000 followers. Her face—full lips, prominent cheeks—is reminiscent of Old Hollywood glamour. And when she swaps the model’s pout for a smile, her dimples are instantly charming.
But even as a daughter of Janice de Belen and John Estrada, she has built her career through her own efforts. “I worked hard to get to where I am,” she says.
Kaila deals with fierce competition, self-doubt and false assumptions on a regular basis. In a cutthroat industry, she has trumped the tough times with grace—and that’s what we can learn from this young talent.
On the job
“I did a runway show for Randy Ortiz when I was 17,” Kaila recalls. “It was my first experience as a professional model, and that’s when I realized I wanted to do it more often.”
Since then, the Mercator model has been booked in countless catwalks and editorial shoots. The opportunities, however, didn’t come easily. “I’ve been rejected many times for runway shows because I lacked confidence,” she explains.
“I used to be extremely insecure,” she admits, “but when you’ve accepted your flaws, you’ll start to appreciate your beauty. Even now, I have days when I get really anxious and the photos come out awkward. It takes practice.”
In last year’s SM Youth Go-See, Kaila’s commitment to improve as a professional paid off. Out of 5,000 hopefuls, she landed among 13 finalists who took on modeling challenges week after week.
The webisodes showed her walking the ramp, posing for the camera and even writing and acting in her own commercial. “It was a roller-coaster ride of emotions,” she recounts.
That ride ended with Kaila as a new SM Youth Ambassador. During deliberations, judge Tommy Esguerra described her as a rocket ship: “We got someone coming up, and we don’t know how much farther she’s going. With Kaila, we’re taking a girl who has the dreams to become something bigger.”
And what does Kaila the Ambassador have to say about her title? “I want to inspire the youth to reach their dreams,” she says, “to never give up on what makes them happy.”
As far as the daily grind is concerned, Kaila juggles modeling with school at the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde, where she studies Arts Management.
“I’ve always been interested in the arts and wanted a course that would give me varied opportunities,” she explains. “I could be a curator, gallerist or work in a production company.”
Between gigs or classes, you’d probably find her in the gym, or the newest restaurants. She’d be frocked in something minimalist, sans loud prints. “My off-duty look is very chill—CC cream, cheek stain and lipstick.”
But as fun as downtime is, Kaila lives for the rush of the runway. “I can’t wait to have more time to do it after school,” she admits. “I’m enjoying myself.”
“I like to be busy,” Kaila adds. She has been busy—working on her craft, being a model for the youth and making her own name. We’d better keep tabs on where this rocket of a girl goes next.
Photography Maika Anthoni Styling Luis Carlo San Juan Makeup and hairstyle Miko Dacanay