Tuesday, November 27, 2012

RACHEL GRANT: BEYOND BEING A BOND GIRL (First of three parts) (January 23, 2012)

While we all got starstruck with The Bourne Legacy's Rachel Weisz, the real-life leading lady of Skyfall's Daniel Craig, we grabbed the chance to talk to another Rachel -- Rachel Louise Grant de Longueuil – who was also here recently.

Internationally known as -- Rachel Grant -- this former Miss Hawaiian Tropic andMiss Great Britain finalist, by the way, is half-Filipino. Her mom, Isabel Padua, is a Spanish mestiza whose pedigree is distantly related to such actors as Alicia and Ace Vergel and Alma Moreno as well as singers like Joanne Lorenzana and Martin Nievera. According to Rachel, her maternal great-grandfather who was a doctor was one of the pioneers of the World Health Organization (WHO) regional office in Southeast Asia. Her, dad, on the other hand, is Michael Charles Grant -- the 12th Baron de Longueuil -- and her granddad is Baron Raymond De Longueuil -- second cousin to Queen Elizabeth II of England -- whose mother was Lady Ernestine Maude Bowes-Lyon.

Supposedly baptized “Phoenix,” she was born prematurely when in 1977 a fire gutted her grandparent's home where her parents were vacationing forced her mom to give birth. Within the month of her arrival to their newfound home in the Philippines, a typhoon caused a flood that would drive them back to England. Her sisters Angela, born in 1974, is now an international model/ballet teacher and Rebecca, born in 1981, is also a famous actress like her. All three of them -- beautiful, brainy, and be-medalled -- used to perform regularly around the United Kingdom at dance and drama festivals and competitions as well as numerous charitable events notably the Royal Society of the Blind. Third cousinto Princes William and Harry, Rachel was raised in England where she studied drama in London. But she remains very Asian. In fact, her hobbies include martial arts, origami, sushi, and weaponry -- from nun-chakus to the single sword.

However, it was television that gave her the big break. She, as hot warped Nina, hosted the highest-rating horror-show Sci-Fright in 1999 that led her to doing different commercials for Galaxy Chocolate, Lynx Pulse, Carlsberg Lager, Anadin Tablets, Bank of Bangkok, Gouda Cheese, Vics Menthols, to name a few. Eventually, having the same height and measurement as Angelina Jolie, 5'8” Rachel – who took up Kali under Grandmaster Dan Inosanto -- became the body double for Lara Croft: Tomb Raider in 2001.

And would you believe Rachel's first-ever feature film appearance was in Pierce Brosnan's fourth and final turn as James Bond in Die Another Day in 2002?

In 2003, she popularized in Sky One series Brainiac: Science Abuse the character of Professor Myang Li! Later, she was able to play “Li” in The Purifiers (2004) with Dominic Monaghan, “Jill” in Brotherhood of Blood(2006) with Sean Connery's son Jason; “Maria Ronson” in Until Death (2007) with Jean Claude Van Damme; and “Lina Sofia” in The Tournament (2009) with Robert Carlyle. Then, she appeared in the critically acclaimed short filmRed Princess Blues, where she bagged the Best Actress and Best fight awards at the 2010 Shockfest Film Festival in Los Angeles, where is now based.

Aside from being Cathay Pacific's regular art and travel host on inflight entertainment, Rachel, who has reached more than 35 countries, can still find time to write for magazines namely -- Travelife, Monday, and Only The Good – where she, as a photographer too, has a column called Rachel Writes.

We can also find her not only inside on the cover of such leading magazines asMartial Arts Illustrated (2011) and Inside Kung Fu (2010). After she, being a sports lover with an IQ of 140, won the Tour of the Hamptons Car Rally trivial pursuit contest -- she also won the hearts of every Filipino when she served as one of the Miss Earth judges. While in the Philippines, she helped poor farmers and the underprivileged – as both the Global Ambassador to Human Nature and supporter of the United Nations-recognized Gawad Kalinga. Back in London, where she grew up in the legendary Robin Hood city of Nottingham, she launched Breast Cancer Awareness Month twice, aside from aiding the Cancer Research UK, World Society for the Protection of Animals, SPARKS Sports Aiding Medical Research for Kids, the ban-bear-farms campaign, among others.

Today, as we celebrate Chinese New Year, let us listen to the humanitarian Rachel who assumed the role of a Dragon Lady posing as a masseuse named Peaceful Fountains of Desire, the Bond Girl with a record-breaking long name.

And, by the way, as we also commemorate the 50th anniversary of Agent 007, allow us to announce that for that particular part, Rachel was ranked #6 by M16, or The Home of James Bond, as the Most Popular Bond Girls of all time, with Halle Berry (#5), Cecilie Thomsen (#4), Cassandra Harris (#3), Caroline Munro (#2), and Caterina Murino (#1).

Vim Nadera: Your dad is a great doctor, hypnotist, and nobleman, and you end up as a versatile artist. Is your Filipina mom's DNA responsible it?
Rachel Grant: My mother’s family composed of several pianists and opera singers, as well as academics. My childhood involved many lessons of piano, singing and dancing. Filipinos are known to be naturally gifted in music and dance. My father is tone deaf and does not dance. So yes, I would say so!

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