Starweek Magazine

Aubrey Miles: A not-so-very ordinary AUBREY

- Philip Cu-Unjieng -
One has to forgive Aubrey Miles the perpetual smile that’s been plastered on her face for the past few weeks. A virtual unknown just a few months ago, she’s poised to be local cinema’s newest ‘nova’–a star whose trajectory is definitely on the rise. The Erik Matti directed Prosti is Aubrey’s first starring role and if Regal Films has its way, all the promotions and marketing will make Aubrey this year’s newest national object of desire. The requisite turn on the pages of FHM is already out in the market and by the time you read this, Aubrey’s face and name will have graced countless television shows and tabloids and broadsheets.

If there’s a twinge of discomfort to the beatific smile, it crosses her face when some older person politely inquires as to what her launching film is called. "There’s always that second when they don’t seem to be sure they’re hearing what they’ve just heard," she ruefully explains. "You know, it’s just not easy when it’s someone you would call Tita or Tito. Then it’s like you have to explain what the film is all about." There’s no prize for guessing the premise of the film; if you haven’t figured out that it’s the oldest profession the main character is involved in, you can put on the dunce cap this very instant. We joke that perhaps Dondon Monteverde (her manager) should have held on to the film and released it in December as a Christmas offering–Prosti, the Snowman.

However, given that it’s directed by Erik Matti, one can assume that it won’t be a run of the mill sexploitation film. I inquire if it’s Erik crossing over to the social realism territory of the late Lino Brocka and Aubrey demurs, "One could say that; but it’s better that people just watch the film and make their own judgment. I am proud of the film. Roy Iglesias wrote the screenplay and Jay Manalo is my leading man. The film does not glorify the profession but tries to give a matter of fact display of what a prostitute’s life is all about and we can’t deny they do exist in our society."

Born Aubrey Sandel on the 16th of March, 1982, Aubrey was named after the Bread song with that name. Yes, Bread as in David Gates and the song goes, "And Aubrey was the name...a not so very ordinary girl or name..." She lives with her mother, who’s separated, and has not seen her father for some six years now. A younger sister, Angie, is into modeling. A scant two years ago, Aubrey was a student at the UST Conser-vatory Music with a major in voice. What prior exposure she has had in show business came via a support role in the TV series Beh Bote Nga, where she played the girlfriend of mainstay Anjo Yllana. Uh-oh, given the personal history, I can already see some TV tabloid show staging a hokey reunion for Aubrey and her father!

Things are definitely coming up roses for Aubrey. Participation in the recent opus of Ben Chan and Bench has reaped dividends; Aubrey is now a Her Bench endorser. She will be gracing the walls of many a male-infested establishment and bedroom next year, as the 2003 Ginebra calendar and FHM calendar will feature her. Signed to a three-year, eight-picture deal with Regal, Aubrey has begun work on her second film, a project that again has Erik Matti at the helm and co-stars her with Richard Gomez and Carmina Villaroel.

"This is like some culmination of a dream. I used to admire Richard from afar, as a fan. So, to be in a film with him is really something special. Of course, whereas before I’d have died just meeting him, now, you realize that we’re all human…or Bench!" she laughs. "I’m taking my career and craft very seriously now. I did two weeks of workshop under Erik before filming Prosti; and there’s a new-found dedication and enthusiasm for this profession. I know I’ve been given a golden opportunity, so I don’t want to waste it."

Asked who her role models are in the celluloid world, Aubrey readily volunteers names that give an indication of just how serious she may now be: Tetchie Agbayani, Dina Bonnevie, Jacklyn Jose and Lorna Tolentino.

These four role models all share a start in show biz that had them playing sexy or daring roles. What’s interesting is how they transcended their film breaks and graduated into proven thespians, stage performers or even Hollywood supporting actress.

In Hollywood, Stallone and Schwarzenegger are stars, while Spacey and Sinise are actors. Then there are the lucky ones who straddle both classifications like Tom Hanks or Robert DeNiro. I asked Aubrey if years from now she’d prefer to be considered an actress or a star. "Of course it would be nice to be both," she answers. "But given I can only choose one, I’d really rather be recognized as an actress. That way, you stand, not just contingent on popularity, which can wane; but on talent, which no one can take away from you."

This early in the game, Aubrey has already developed a reputation for being very candid and forthcoming. When, during a press conference, the reporters were combative, saying that if she was a virgin, how could she essay the role of a prostitute with any sort of credibility, she straight-face replied with the admission that she had lost her virginity at the age of 17, to her then-boyfriend. "I wasn’t saying this with any pride," she states. "It’s just a fact that I’d rather not create a lie about. I looked towards Dondon and he quietly nodded, giving the support I needed. I know that with others, to maintain an air of mystery or whatever, they’re told to always say they’re virgins. Whether they are or aren’t, is of course open to conjecture. Well, the moment I said that, the raging question then became the name of the guy!" She laughs at the recollection. "But that was not the point at all, as he has nothing to do with show business and is no longer in my life." Welcome to the world of show biz, Aubrey– it’s now your world!

Aubrey’s story is an interesting one from the point of view of how our local star-making machine works. In what has been a relatively lethargic year for the industry, more likely to be remembered for deaths than anything else, it bears to pay careful attention to how effective all the hype surrounding Aubrey’s film will be in creating a career. What augurs well for her is that she knows, in the movies per se, she’ll only last by proving she can act, and that thanks to the career moves being plotted out for her, there’s the realization that one can no longer "live by bread (the movies) alone". The Bench endorsement, the image modeling for Ginebra... these all form part of the multi-media approach one must take to prosper and survive nowadays in the industry. And don’t be surprised if, in due course, Aubrey digs into that repository of voice lessons and embarks on a singing career. She can always revive some Bread ballad–maybe even sing the song from where she got her name!

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