Alexandra Joan Phillips on the Brown-Eyed Perspective
Born in Hong Kong and growing up across Indonesia and Australia, Alexandra Joan Phillips (@alexandrajoanphillips) is a multi-hyphenate living between Sydney and Los Angeles. The Filipino-Australian is a content and social media consultant and filmmaker.
“My mother is Filipino and my father is Anglo-Celtic Australian,” says the multi-disciplinary creative. “When I was younger, I always felt out of place, given that I’m of mixed heritage. Now I have found comfort and power in identifying as both Asian and Caucasian; I can see that it has given me insights others may not have.”
“I’m becoming the “did you know” machine at dinner party conversations now!” Alexandra tells BEAUBIT. “I try to be a bridge between ethnic groups. I regularly have friends asking me what’s appropriate or correct to say, and I love being that safe place for them — that’s a place where I think I can make the most impact, with what I like to call my ‘brown-eyed perspective’.”
Alexandra currently freelances at alexandrajoanphillips.com and takes lead at Unseen Residence, a modern collective dealing with projects in the realms of fashion, beauty, wellness, lifestyle, and travel. She works with artists and social media natives to bring brands to life with socially conscious storytelling.
Let’s start from the beginning. How did your career in filmmaking and marketing begin?
I was always stuck between two worlds — I loved both creativity and business, so I was a stressed-out young person trying to figure out which path to take. To me, filmmaking, media and marketing were sister industries that belonged together so I decided to do a double degree. It was a long five-year journey but I am so grateful to have learned both commerce and art. It truly has formed my career and I continue to slide between disciplines.
When it comes to filmmaking, I refer to the cinema as my first love. I’ve always been a generous vessel for that space. When I was a student, I would rush from a commercial acting job to a Consumer Behaviour lecture and then sneak into a Screenwriting class, hoping no one would notice my heavy breathing from running across campus since the faculties were on opposite sides! That’s kind of a metaphor for my life (laughs). Whether it’s being talent in front of the lens or behind as a creative producer, it’s, however, I can best serve the project.
I’m trying to champion more BIPOC women on our screens and at the conference table; it’s something I am very passionate about. I’m currently represented for film/TV projects with amazing teams at CBM in Sydney and BAM in Los Angeles, they seek out opportunities where Southeast Asian women like me can bring value to a story. Right now, I believe Asian women are being stereotypically put into one melting pot when in reality we’re all very diverse from our features, skin tones to our culture.
As for marketing, it has always been an anchor for me. I love planning, analytics and consumer psychology. It’s a less risky and linear career path than filmmaking for me as such and I think I’ve always needed both in order to feel balanced. If I focus too much on one, I feel a burnout episode coming. My first marketing job was at the startup beverage company FOUND, I then dipped my toes in corporate marketing at eBay inc. Fast forward a few years later, I found myself consulting with clients at social media and creative agencies in Los Angeles.
Where are you finding your inspiration these days?
I’m finding inspiration when I’m alone in nature. I know that sounds a little hippie but I believe there’s an overload of content trends and surface-level consumption right now, especially since everyone has jumped online during the pandemic. I like escaping into nature and inhaling moments of stillness instead. When I do this, I feel waves of new ideas come to me and then I look for references that refine my vision, versus the other way around.
What has been a career highlight for you so far and what has it taught you?
Collaborating with amazing brands like Chanel are obviously at the top of the list! On a more sentimental level, it’s been seeing younger professionals I managed to grow in their roles. One of my now-best friends began as my intern and quickly became my right-hand photographer who I’ve worked endlessly with.
I’ve worked five years in bootstrap startups and have had to prematurely take a lot of young people under my wing (as a young person too, yikes!). I’ve usually worked directly under the boss or directly with clients, so I’ve had to be intrapreneurial to figure things out instead of tapping a fellow coworker on the shoulder for help. Therefore I’ve been thrust into leadership roles I didn’t necessarily seek out but have in return taught me that empathy, honesty, and kindness always win when working with a team more than anything. It brings me a lot of joy to see them grow.
What does beauty mean to you?
My perception of beauty has changed recently and to me, it means being proud of your unique heritage story. For me, I’m proud of my skin tone and my mixture of Filipino and European features. I am a product of two people with different skin colours, finding common ground and love.
What is a typical skincare ritual for you?
I frequently alternate between a few favourite products depending on how my skin is feeling, but mainly this is what my routine has been looking like:
I splash my face with warm water before using Cle Cosmetics’ Oxygen Cleanser or Klur’s Gentle Matter Cleanser. Then I rinse off with cold water and tone with Summer Fridays’ toner and add Alpha-H’s Liquid Gold Midnight Boost Serum for when I feel like I need a more intense skin cell turnover. For serums, I also like Cle Cosmetics’ Vitamin C Elixir or Biologi’s Radiance serums.
I’ll go in with face oils and then use my gua sha tool to make sure the product sinks in. I am addicted to gua sha; it makes my face much more contoured in the mornings and releases built-up tension. Then I’ll finish up with NuFACE’s tool and serum to tighten my skin and prevent wrinkles — I’m in the sun a lot these days so this is important for me!
On my off days, I like to take it easy with a face mask. Right now, I am loving Mario Badescu’s Enzyme Mask and Eluo’s Facial Polish.
What is the most exciting beauty purchase you’ve made recently and why?
It’s not a product but I recently got my eyebrows laminated for the first time and it’s reshaped my whole face. I highly recommend trying it out!
What would you like to have accomplished in the next five years?
In terms of exact accomplishments, I’m not sure if I am a crazy goal-setting person anymore, I think 2020 has changed that for a lot of people. I would love to continue working with clients and projects that at large, adds value to sustainability, equality or representation and mental health awareness.
Alexandra’s Beauty Picks
Cle Cosmetics Oxygen Foam Cleanser, SGD37
Klur Gentle Matter Daily Moisture Cleanser, USD40
Alpha-H Liquid Gold Midnight Boost Serum, SGD105
Summer Fridays Soft Reset AHA Exfoliating Solution, SGD71
Cle Cosmetics Vitamin C Elixir, SGD59
Biologi Bqk Radiance Serum Duo, AUD138
Eluo Forma Oleum Face Oil, CAD56
True Botanicals Deep Repair Eye Oil, USD90
Furtuna Skin Replenishing Balm, USD78
Omorovicza Elemental Emulsion, SGD80
Omorovicza Queen of Hungary Mist, SGD40
NuFACE FIX Kit, SGD198
Mario Badescu Enzyme Revitalizing Mask, SGD44
Eluo Forma Viridi Facial Polish Mask, CAD54