Bench Meets: Michelle Dee

Photography by Jack Alindahao
Styling by Jed Gregorio
Makeup by Pam Robes
Hair by Vien Nieva
Words by Cedric S. Reyes

The Bench Blog hears from the model and student Michelle Dee about life as the daughter of a beauty queen.

Just a few things that student, model, and social media maven Michelle Dee refuses to compromise: her love of rowdy sports, her degree in psychology, her tendency to travel (a lot), her taste for 90s pop, and her close relationship with mom Melanie Marquez. In between the last few classes she needs to complete for her undergraduate degree in Psychology, Michelle models for shoots, plays football for kicks, and travels the world, all while managing, somehow, to make time for her mom.

Michelle’s long, statuesque legs are scarred in different places, not from her adventures in different countries, but from her serious athletic streak. She credits her love of football, volleyball, and basketball to the brothers whom she grew up with.

Surprisingly, the eldest daughter of beauty queen and actress Melanie Marquez had to face some resistance from family when she decided to try her hand at show business. Michelle was raised in a small farm in Utah, far away from the industry’s spotlight. She came to the Philippines to land her degree, and nothing more. But Michelle’s desire to make it big in the local scene is just another thing she can’t compromise. Her unceasing, unblinking commitment to a rising career is Michelle’s favorite heirloom.

We spoke to the 22-year-old model about her early life away from the Philippines, and why she’s the only child who can ease her mother’s nerves.

BENCH top, belt, and jeans

Hi Michelle! What have you been up to lately?
I’m studying AB Psychology in La Salle. Mainly, that’s what keeps me busy, I’ve been focused on graduating. I basically have two more months of school. I also work out a lot to keep myself healthy. I travel a lot, too. I went to Hong Kong, Japan, Batangas, Bataan, Pampanga, Bangkok, all in the span of three months, over the summer. My summer was very fun-filled and relaxing. I got to just cut loose.
We don’t have long summers in La Salle, so whenever I do get the opportunity to travel, susulitin. That’s me, medyo FOMO. Fear of missing out. Other than that, there’s work. Shoots, shows, and events every now and then.

How much of your time do you devote to work?
Work is always on my priority list. Last night, my friends were inviting me to go out. I said no to all of them because I knew I had a shoot. I have fun when I know I can. But when I know I have to prioritize work, it comes first. The call time today was in the morning so I had to make sure I wasn’t groggy, or messed up, or drunk, or whatever. I also devote a lot of myself to work. That’s why I’m into fitness, and I’m conscious about my skin.

BENCH jacket and shirt, LA SENZA bra, ALDO brooches

What is your favorite memory from your childhood?
I grew up on a farm. I feel like I was kind of excluded because we lived on a ranch in the state of Utah. I wasn’t into fashion then, because I was riding horses. I would ride a horse to my friend’s house, that kind of thing. That was the lifestyle I had back when I was a kid. The era of the Gameboy and the Playstation 1, if I remember correctly. I played a lot of basketball games on that with my brother.

BENCH top and culottes, LA SENZA bra, CHARLES & KEITH heels

Did you imagine yourself becoming a model when you were a kid riding horses?
No, because when we were growing up, my mom didn’t really tell us about it. We had to stay grounded. We had chores and responsibilities. So it was only until I moved back here that I found out that what the hell, my mom’s this big superstar. It’s not that I was ignorant about it. I heard about it, but it wasn’t my bedtime story.

Do you feel like you take on a lot of your mom’s characteristics? How would you say you two are alike, or different?
Because we’re six siblings, I’m the kid that my mom talks to when she’s pissed. Because I’m the only kid that can calm her down. We’re a good team, because I know how to deal with her temper. Hindi ako yung sumasagot. I can calm her down even if she’s halfway around the world. She’ll just give me a call. In terms of temperament, we’re completely opposite. In terms of work ethic, and our personality, medyo similar talaga. When it’s work it’s work. When it’s play it’s play. I’m not the most kikay person, and that’s true of my mom, too. We both grew up playing sports and being on the varsity team. That’s how we’re alike.

BENCH hat and swimsuit, ALDO necklace

Who are some of your dream collaborators?
Oh my god, Mario Testino is on the top of my list. Emanuele Ferrari; he’s not too famous. His style is kind of explicit, but I like the rawness to it. For brands, Victoria’s Secret is my dream. Calvin and Klein, maybe. For models, Cara Delevingne, and maybe Alexis Ren. That’s the dream. I have a saying – work until your idols become your rivals.

BENCH top and skirt, CHARLES & KEITH belt, ALDO bracelets

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