She doesn’t mind being called ‘Anne Curtis’ younger sister’
“It’s overwhelming, hearing a rumor about you—not that there’s been plenty about me. How do people come up with these things?” said Australian-Filipino actress Jasmine Curtis-Smith, current subject of tabloid stories following a reported confrontation last week between her boyfriend Sam Concepcion and elder sister Anne Curtis.
During a recent press conference for TV5’s “SpinNation,” Jasmine refused to confirm the rumor that a drunken Anne had told Sam that he was “not classy enough” to be at the birthday party of her “It’s Showtime” cohost, Vice Ganda, held in a posh Makati club.
Anne also supposedly accused Sam of cheating on her sister. Sam has opted to keep mum, but the actress-TV host denied the report via a series of posts on her Twitter account.
“Sadly, these things entertain people,” Jasmine told the Inquirer. For her, posting hurtful comments online is “totally unnecessary.” However, she said, “I understand that this happens to everyone, not just to celebrities.”
The 20-year-old actress visited the Inquirer head office in Makati City two weeks before the controversy broke. Jasmine, sans makeup and dressed casually, seemed comfortable fielding questions from the staff for an hour.
Was love a factor in your decision to live in Manila for good?
Not at all. I decided to stay because I had contracted work here. Sam and I have known each other for a long time. I used to tag along with Ate (big sis Anne) on Sundays (for “ASAP”), back when I was 10 or 11. My sister’s former handler introduced me to him.
What makes the two of you click?
He’s so funny. He says my sense of humor is corny and baduy. I laugh at jokes that most people [find unfunny]. Mababaw ang kaligayahan ko. Sam’s jokes are like that. I’m the only one who laughs at them.
Sam is a Christian. He has great respect for his family and for his work. He’s very caring and passionate. He’s the type of person who wouldn’t let anyone down. I think that’s what makes us so similar.
What interests do you share with him?
Music—but of course he sings, and I don’t. We go out a lot. People see us in malls. We’re not hiding. Our last movie date was “The Book Thief.” We also watched the musical “Wicked,” twice. He’s from the musical-theater world. We both like watching musicals and movies.
Are there any plans for you to work together?
We can’t work together on television, but movie projects are possible.
Are you friends with Tippy Dos Santos (Sam’s screen partner) as well?
Not really, but we’re acquaintances. It’s funny that people ask her, “Do you approve of Jasmine for Sam?” There’s really no issue between us.
Was show business everything you thought it would be?
I had formed a pretty solid opinion of show biz even before I joined it because I would see it through my Ate’s eyes. I’m well aware of its bad side, but I also see what’s good about it. Some things overwhelm.
Like when you do something that is not extraordinary and people magnify it because you’re in this industry. When my Ate took the MRT, everybody made a big fuss. Back in Sydney and even when she was starting out here, we took the public transport. People were surprised; some even said negative things.
She is Anne Curtis. That was bound to happen.
That’s true, but she’s also a regular human being, [though with] an extraordinary job. I totally understand that. I’m just pointing out that… people find bad things to say about things. It’s totally unnecessary.
What do you think your Ate has done right?
She’s able to inspire so many people. She has been able to remain strong; she has stuck it out. When she was younger, people called her a party girl. She let them talk, and she did her own thing. Look where she is now. She’s on every corner of Edsa. You see her face every two minutes. It’s like I can’t escape her. Even when I go to malls I see her face. She’s very successful.
What else did she teach you to prepare you for show biz?
One thing that she said was to remain humble and keep my feet on the ground. She said, “If you don’t see how far you’ve gone and appreciate that, then you won’t see the value of the things that you’ve worked hard for.” That’s one thing she’s never forgotten—to thank people, and to keep her faith intact.
What has she done that she tells you not to do?
She’s nine years older than I am. That’s almost a decade apart. She doesn’t tell me what not to do and just lets me observe. I’m very observant. If I don’t want to be seen in a bad light, I make sure I don’t go down that path.
Has she asked you for any advice?
Only about simple stuff, not so much on life-changing decisions, like when she’s trying on an outfit and she can’t decide, or about the design of her condo. She [values] the opinion of important people around her.
How did your family handle her older controversies?
My mom, who is in Australia, tried to comfort Ate as much as she could through video calls or texting. I’m pretty sure it was how my Ate healed. Me, I kind of just sat there with her, had dinner with her, even if she was quiet. Sometimes you just need someone to be next to you.
Was she depressed?
I wouldn’t say she was. She was just affected to the point that I could see something was really bothering her.
Do you get offended when you’re introduced as Anne’s younger sister?
If I take it as an offense then it shows that I have no respect for the hard work that my sister has already accomplished in over a decade.
Is your sister anything like you?
We’re very similar, especially in how we speak. When we answer the phone, people sometimes mistake us for the other. Even my mom can’t tell our voices apart sometimes. Ate’s speaking voice is more matinis… I’m fluent in Filipino. I studied grade school here, then moved to Australia.
When you starred in “Transit,” how good, would you say, was your Hebrew? Did you get feedback on that?
I don’t want to sound like I’m bragging, but I was given the Best Supporting Actress award by Cinemalaya for that. Also, the Israelis who watched it didn’t know at first that I was not Israeli. I had three hour-long Skype sessions with an accent coach. I did learn more Hebrew words outside the script when I got to Israel, but now I’ve totally forgotten them.
Did you audition for “Transit?”
I went to a go-see session for Cinemalaya. Coming from a mainstream background, I was afraid they’d ask, “Why is she here?” Some people actually didn’t recognize me. The director, Hannah Espia, didn’t realize that I was Jasmine, if not for Direk Paul (Soriano, producer). They later called, “You’re the only one we called back for the role.” They said they were looking for someone who could pass as half-Israeli.
What made your shoot in Israel memorable?
We stayed in Tel Aviv for 10 days. I liked it there; it’s a whole different world.
I had to be independent. You couldn’t rely on a production assistant. You had to find things out on your own because the director was also busy. When you’re working with a tight budget, you really have to give your best without asking others too much for help. In mainstream, you can ask for an acting coach, or have someone do your hair and makeup.
What was your first impression of (“Dementia” costar) Nora Aunor?
We met earlier but very briefly in a TV5 event. I introduced myself. Nagbigay-galang ako. I found her quiet and very introspective. We’ve had only small talk. During the story conference for the film, she joked around with Sir Perci (Intalan, director) and Sir Jun (Lana, producer). With them, she was very kalog, open and carefree.
What do you know of Nora?
I know her as this legendary superstar. Of course I didn’t know much about her work, except through my mom, who lived through that phase of being either a Vilmanian or a Noranian. My mom is actually a Vilmanian, but she was very thankful that I’m able to work with the Nora Aunor. Since my sister hasn’t worked with Ms Nora yet, our mom said, “Buti ka pa. Naunahan mo si Ate mo.”
“Dementia” is set in Batanes. What did you know about the place before the shoot?
The production team showed us photos of our location and briefed us about the two islands. We were told to prepare flashlights because electricity would be cut off at midnight. I’m scared of the dark sometimes. It’s the perfect place for a horror movie. At least, it would not be too hard for the actors to internalize.
Batanes is known for huge ocean waves.
I don’t get seasick easily. Once, I joined a group that went whale-watching in Sydney. We couldn’t find the whales because the waves were too big and strong. Everyone in the boat threw up, except me. I got more nauseated by the sound of people throwing up than the waves.
Did you deliberately choose to be part of the indie scene since your sister is with the mainstream?
Mama Betchay (Vidanes, Jasmine’s manager) and I spoke about this. We don’t want to let go of mainstream because that’s where I first got recognized, but then I got cemented into this industry [because of my indie work]. We just want to balance things. You learn something from one industry and you bring it to the other.
Do you miss your life in Australia?
Of course I do. I love the liberated way of life there. We’re really from Melbourne and it’s so different. I miss the space, both literally and figuratively—from people and on the roads. I also miss the fresh air. I miss my family. My mom lives there with my brother Thomas. I have two aunts who have families there, too.
Are you ready to see your face on Edsa and to face the repercussions?
Bring it on! If you have billboards on every single corner, they will serve as your constant reminder to be a good example to everyone. You know that you have a responsibility to represent this brand or this product. Since they are paying you such a huge amount, you will not disrespect the business relationship. I hope one day… ako ang makikita ninyo sa bawat lingon.
How do you handle negative comments in social media sites?
Some say just ignore it, but I really can’t sometimes. I reply because I want to teach people to have an open mind. I want to share my knowledge. I know when not to take notice of a negative comment.
I remember one follower so distinctly. This person commented that “ambassadress” was not a word and even told me to look it up in the dictionary. I checked and it was there, so I posted the link and said “I think it is.” I’m just trying to point out that I’m not dumb, that I know what I’m posting.
What will compel you to respond?
If it had something to do with my family or if it boiled down to my grammar or punctuation. I’m very obsessed with that. I don’t want to be told, “Ang bobo mo!” People have that stereotype of artistas. I want to steer away from that. My dad and Ate would always correct my grammar when I was little, so I check on every single thing that I post.
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