The making of Lauren Reid
Irish Christianne Dizon (The Philippine Star) - August 27, 2016 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Magazine covers one after the other. Social media hype. The backing of a superstar brother. We’ve seen her kind before. And by now, we know how the story goes. The showbiz fate of Lauren Reid, 23, could go two ways: either she’ll turn out to be a beautiful disappointment or she’ll be the fulfillment of a promise. Lauren is working hard to be the latter.

Since signing up with Viva Artists Agency (the management behind the top-notch careers of Anne Curtis, Sarah Geronimo, Nadine Lustre, and Lauren’s own brother, James Reid), she’s been putting in the work. Her days are filled with photo shoots, acting workshops, Tagalog lessons, and — her favorite — dance classes, usually with her teacher, G-Force member Devon. (Anyone who watches that Instagram video of her grooving to Selena Gomez’s Can’t Keep My Hands To Myself probably wouldn’t believe that she doesn’t have any dance background, but it’s true. She attended a couple of ballet lessons when she was five, but that was it.) Lauren has her eyes set on becoming a host, just like her favorite Toni Gonzaga, but she gets why her management wants her to do these dance classes. “I suppose if you wanna be a real artista, you gotta be an all-arounder.” Think about the greats: Vilma. Sharon. Nora. And now, Sarah. Only a month into the game, and Lauren already understands that versatility is a trump card in this ruthless game.

There and back again

We are at Supreme headquarters, and Lauren is gamely reminiscing about her life as a private citizen. She was born here in the Philippines, in Caloocan, but moved to Australia with her dad when she was nine months old, following her parents’ split. Her father had seven children with different women, so in Sydney, Lauren grew up with different mother figures. For the first few years, mum was brother James’ mother Aprilyn; then came her other sibling Tom’s mother; eventually, there was Angie, their nanny; and finally, brother Jack’s mother. While a different person might have hang-ups about this setup, Lauren says it was no big deal. “It was really normal to us, not having one mother figure. None of our friends questioned it. It was what it was,” she says.

Lauren grew up well-off, but not spoiled. They lived in an affluent area and ate well, but they didn’t get everything they wanted. She and her siblings were pretty close growing up, and they went through the good and hard times together. In interviews, James has always been upfront about the time their dad lost everything; how they went from living in a AU$3,000,000 home to going to school wearing shoes riddled with holes because they couldn’t afford a new pair. Lauren doesn’t deny this. But she saw things differently growing up. “James remembers the time when we didn’t have money and we would eat eggs for dinner,” she says. Like the dad in the film Life is Beautiful, Malcolm Reid shielded his kids from harsh realities the way he knew how. “I never saw it as us going through poverty because my dad would clap his hands and say, ‘We’re going to have perfect eggs tonight!’ He kind of hid [poverty] in a fun way.”

When her dad decided to settle down in the Philippines to recuperate and retire (the bankruptcy took a toll on his health), she and James decided to be on that plane with him. After a few months, however, Lauren would suffer from anxiety attacks. She and James were put in Makati Science High School where they went through their own personal hells. His: female classmates chasing him and shrieking every time he passes by (a nightmare for any introvert going through puberty). Hers: trigonometry. (We’re not exaggerating.) “Makati Science has geniuses and I wasn’t at that level,” Lauren explains. “I don’t even know my multiplication table!” She could not cope with the advanced-level subjects, so pragmatic Lauren decided to fly back to Australia to finish high school there instead. You’re probably thinking, “Um. How is a first world curriculum easier than ours,” and she has a ready answer: “There, you could pick your curriculum. I’d pick art, commerce, and business services.” But don’t all those things, even art, involve math? “Yes, but you’re not taking exams. You’re using a calculator, a computer. I don’t need trigonometry,” she says, laughing.

With her dad and brother far away in the Philippines, Lauren lived with her friends; a South African BFF, and later on, with her Japanese buddy. Leaving the nest did her good and opened up her mind to new cultures and new ways of thinking. Living with “left field” South Africans was a chill pill. “I plan things ahead, I need everything to be in order, and I need to know what’s happening next. What I picked up from them is to be a bit more relaxed about life. They’re so carefree,” the self-confessed “stress head” says. Her Japanese bestie and family, on the other hand, taught her to be more “polite.” From them she learned to say Itadakimasu before a meal and Gochis?sama deshita after. In fact, to this day, she carries with her a remnant of living with them: “When I see people, greet people, I usually do a little nod. It’s just become second nature to me. Until now.”

Reid-Y to win

It was only this year that Lauren returned to the Philippines for good. She wanted to  be with her family — her dad especially. He’s pushing 80, and she needed to make up for lost time. “We didn’t have a great relationship for the past few years,” she explains. “Not because we had animosity between us. It was because of the distance.”

However, leaving Australia also meant that Lauren had to leave her friends in Sydney — including a boyfriend of five years. Her first few months back in the Philippines were lonely as a result, and so she decided to tag along with her brother for the US leg of the JaDine in Love tour. That turned out to be her therapy. She emerged from the trip happy… and ready to give showbiz a try. Blame the production people who kept telling her she could excel in this industry. But most of all, blame her brother James who posted Instagram photos of her looking gorgeous on a boat in the middle of Hudson River, and captioned it, “Look out for the new It Girl.” That resulted in two digital magazine covers and numerous online articles. “Everybody made it this big thing. And they turned out really, really well,” she says, smiling. “And I started to think, ‘You know what, this is actually something that I could do. And I’m confident now.’”

Of course, showbiz rookies always go through some kind of initiation. These days, that usually means surviving bashing on social media. For example, Lauren took the heat recently from allegedly snubbing fans who asked for a photo. And because it’s easier to believe hearsay than to go straight to the source, the story gets passed on until the person being talked about becomes this monster b*tch in your head. When the truth is, she was in the middle of an important phone call, and politely declined. It also probably doesn’t help that hers is a severe kind of pretty (See also: “resting b*tch face”), all sharp angles and eyes that gaze at you unwaveringly. She’s also quite straightforward, not exactly a virtue appreciated in these parts. She makes it easy for the haters, really.

But here’s a memory: I remember seeing Lauren at the Reid family home sometime in April this year. I was waiting for James, to wrap up interviews for their book Team Real. Their housekeeper was gently knocking on her brother Tom’s door holding his freshly pressed clothes. Lauren saw her, knocked on his door, and said, “Tom. Open up. She has your clothes. Get them already.” He does so and she thanks her. When Lauren, Jack and Tom leave to have their Korean food fix, I ask manang, “mabait ba si Lauren?” “Ay oo,” she says guilelessly. “Matagal na ako sa kanila. Mabait yan.” I’d take manang’s word over bashers’ any day.

As this and other features get published in newsprint and gloss, feathers will be ruffled. Lauren Reid knows this and she wants you to know that she understands. “I can understand that some people wait 10 years to be in magazines or to be in Supreme, and I’m getting these things after not doing too much,” she says. “But I wouldn’t say I have done anything to not deserve this. It’s not like I’m not putting in the effort. It’s not like I don’t want it. It’s not like I don’t appreciate it. Because I do.” And if you’re asking, with matching raised eyebrow, “Why her?” Lauren has an eight-word promise. “If you don’t know, then I’ll show you.”
They say eight is a lucky number.


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Tweet the author @IrishDDizon.

Photographed by Regine David

Produced by David Milan

Makeup by Mac Igarta

Hair by Raymund Defeo

Clothes by H&M

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