Hit girl
Cate de Leon (The Philippine Star) - December 7, 2013 - 12:00am

At an age when many of us were still being coddled by those around us, 10-year-old Andrea Brillantes was already filling up on her quota for rejection. She has frozen up at auditions when asked to read a script, shaken her head when asked if she could dance or sing, bungled up an audition for Dyesebel because she didn’t know how to swim, and given ridiculously awkward walks, poses, and smiles at a pageant for little girls when she was six. “Akala ko maganda eh,” she says after gamely horrifying us with a few demonstrations. “Yun pala panget.” And when asked how she finally got her act together, she can’t really recall much, except practicing her walk while shopping with her mother at SM.

Andrea is the ironic combination of being delicate and soft spoken, but also the last person in the room who needs perking up. Not only does she excitedly tell us about her unforgettable experiences, she gets up and re-enacts the scenes for us without being asked to do so — like the time she had to ride a grown-up roller coaster in Malaysia multiple times to get a scene right. There are literal, in-the-moment screams on her interview recording. Andrea is clearly an out-of-the-box type of person, which we guess is what hooked her up eventually despite her rough edges. She is the type who will keep throwing herself out there, whether or not she, in the traditional sense, “has what it takes.”

Her ultimate peg is Anne Curtis — not for the recent bar fiasco (“Wag ka lang uminom, ha,” someone interjected) — but for her keber attitude. “She makes me inspired that it’s OK if you don’t have a good voice. You can still sing. And look! We all know that she doesn’t have this (points to throat), right? But look! She had a concert in other countries, and there were so many people,” said Andrea, who is also still aware that acting is her forte.

Do what it takes

“Work smart and work harder. Do what it takes to be a star,” says the Annaliza lead on her recipe for success. Although ironically many of the times she was discovered she was outside, taking a break from workshops and playing on an iPad with her peers. As for the secret to pulling off her acting prowess, “Just be natural. Do what you would do in real life. Some people like to think of things that have happened to them, pero ako kasi minsan pag inisip ko ng inisip yung nangyari sa’kin, nagsasawa din eh. Di na ako naiiyak. Kaya mas mabuti kung yung iisipin ko na lang yung eksena talaga.” A still limited amount of experience is no problem for this trouper.

Andrea did not expect to win Best Child Performer at the recently concluded 27th PMPC Star Awards for Television. “Sobrang saya ko. Hindi ako makapaniwala. Nung una nga ayoko pang tumayo eh. Ewan ko kung bakit,” she recalled, also mentioning that she couldn’t decide what to eat for dinner after being handed the award. “Late na ata ako natulog nun eh, because… I couldn’t believe it,” she beamed dreamily, her eyes big and wide.

Dealing with the haters

Even harder to miss was how Andrea addressed those who used to bully her in her acceptance speech.  “Sinasabi nila na pangit ako. Hindi ako magaling umarte. Hindi ako sisikat. Tapos kung ano suot ko aasarin nila head to toe. Siyempre nasasaktan ako, pero wala naman akong magagawa. Hindi ko naman pwede patulan,” she said. And when we asked her what her answer to that was, the demure little package simply said, “Yung sagot ko yung speech ko. Yung sagot ko yung award ko.”

Andrea’s advice for those who, like her, find themselves the object of other people’s harsh remarks? “Wag sila magpapaapekto dahil inggit lang sila. If they’re trying to pull you down, that means you’re above them.”

As for the haters, all Andrea has to say to them is, “Look at me now.” Do not be fooled by her angelic, Bambi-like demeanor. Talk to the award is this kid’s sophisticated version of vengeance.  “I’m happy that I proved to them that I can. They said I couldn’t, pero nagawa ko. Hindi naman ako nag-artista para sa kanila. Nag-artista ako dahil gusto ko.”

Indeed, at 10 years old, Andrea seems to have found her gold — not only in terms of achievement, but also in terms of attitude and sticking up for herself in what can often be a nasty world. We asked her what she would like to do after all this. Her reply, “I want more.” She says she wants to bag a Gawad Urian next and act for the rest of her life.

After the initial wave of being impressed, there is an unspoken hesitation among us adults, faced with someone so naïve she can blurt out the biggest of dreams just like that. There is something about children and the way they voice their dreams that inspire in us adults the urge to protect them by filling their heads with the realities out there and how everything is harder than it looks. But then you realize how far her daydreams have gotten her, and through real and rough terrain, too. She is here precisely because her dreams carried more weight than her reality. At that point, you decide to leave her alone and let her have her shots — especially since she already has a lot to show for it. And while innocence may not look like much in our current world, you shrug and consider that maybe Bambi knows better.

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Tweet the author @catedeleon.



Produced by DAVID MILAN

Makeup by HANNA PECHON of Shu Uemura


Shoot assisted by GUILLY VALENZUELA

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