What heartbreak taught Janine Gutierrez about herself
How can an actress be as ballsy as she is sweet? Ask our Valentine girl Janine Gutierrez, who has elevated that unlikely mix of attributes to an art form. The 31-year-old “recently reinvented” star isn’t just another doll-like beauty who—to borrow pop star Daya’s signature song—is content to merely “sit still, look pretty.” Pretty fierce is more like it.
We should know. When we asked our friends at GMA CorpComm to facilitate an email interview with Janine last year, just as the lockdown in the metropolis was beginning to ease up, we were thrilled to find out from her no-frills, unexpurgated answers that Janine was more than just another pretty face.
We were so impressed by Janine’s ability to vividly articulate her “woke” musings in the face of troll-instigated bashing, intended to cut “dissenting impertinence” like hers down to size, that we hardly cut out any of her answers for our June 7 piece. (Revisit the article here: https://entertainment.inquirer.net/378250/janine-gutierrez-emerging-and-ascending)
Indeed, the woman is no damsel in distress. But it wouldn’t be a stretch to say she doesn’t need anybody, not even boyfriend Rayver Cruz, to fight her battles for her.
It was also Janine’s newfound assertiveness, along with her outspoken opinions about highly polarizing issues, that jumpstarted her path to self-discovery and reinvention. We told Janine how I liken her character’s “from-timid-to-take-charge” awakening in Rae Red’s “Babae at Baril,” for which she recently won the prized Urian best actress plum—a second coming of sorts for the once-shy actress.
“Now that you mentioned it, that’s an interesting observation,” she mused. “You see, it took me a long time to become confident enough to listen to my own voice and speak up. Akala ko, ‘pag artista ka, you should just be a follower. Try not to say too much, try not to say anything … or people might twist it into a bad headline.
“Sobrang alam ko ‘yan because I grew up with show biz parents who also had to deal with chismis na hindi totoo. So, I was always careful with what I would say. Then, I realized that honesty is more important than tiptoeing around a situation.”
Last week, we spoke to Janine in a one-on-one Zoom interview to talk about “Dito at Doon,” her eagerly anticipated foray into TBA Studios’ indie realm that requires the actress to sink her thespic teeth into the “love under a lockdown” genre, this time opposite JC Santos.
“‘Dito at Doon’ takes place during a lockdown,” Janine explained. “But how do you find connection at a time when everyone is isolated? It’s a rollercoaster of emotions, reflecting how our lives were last year. It was like, one day you’re happy, the next day you’re depressed, then the following day you’re angry.
“The film, directed by JP Habac (“I’m Drunk, I Love You”) and shot over a 20-day period, is like a time capsule of 2020 when it comes to love and everything in the Philippines. It’s always been a dream for me to do a movie for TBA, so I’m happy to be doing this interview in its Cinema ’76 office in San Juan.” (We’ll keep you posted about “Dito’s” final playdate in local theaters, temporarily blocked off for March.)
Since it’s Valentine’s Day, we asked Janine questions about matters of the heart and lessons she learned from heartbreak.
Of course, we know that she’s in a healthy, happy relationship with Rayver Cruz. But asked what she discovered about herself from her failed previous relationships, the actress quipped, “Oh, that’s a good question. I learned that I’m the type of person who will really try and try at pipigain ko hanggang masabi kong wala na talaga, so when I look back, I can say that I tried everything and have no regrets.
“That’s also how I approach my career now and, as with anything in my life, I’m giving it everything I got, para alam kong ginawa ko ang lahat. And that, in a nutshell, is also the best way to move on.
“So, once it’s over, I know I have nothing left to give. You need to learn how to love yourself. Kasi sometimes, when you’re in a relationship, you tend to prioritize the other person over yourself. And this leads you to bad decisions, so minsan naaapi-api ka na. To everyone seeking advice: Always put yourself first.”
Excerpts from our Q&A with Janine:
You’re now part now of “ASAP,” which is a weekly gathering of sorts for ABS-CBN artists. What do you remember about yourself the first time you appeared in a musical-variety show? For you, that was in “Party P” approximately 11 years ago. And how different was the experience when you were welcomed in “ASAP,” and sang a sassy, voice-appropriate cover of “No Hearts”?
My first time in “Party P” was my baptism by fire kasi wala naman akong experience singing live or performing in front of an audience—and that was the first thing that I did there. So I was really dying (laughs).
Now, in “ASAP,” Thursday pa lang kinabahan na ako. So, I kept telling myself, “It’s OK, it’s not so bad… Marami ka nang na-experience since then. Please, just stay calm!”
We notice a similarity between your voice and that of your brother Diego, who acquits himself well in his self-penned debut single “On A Dream.” Your thoughts?
Diego’s much better. I’m more comfortable acting or hosting. While I do enjoy singing, it’s easier for me to do that when I’m alone (laughs).
It took you a while to finally hit your stride as an actress. When did it occur to you that you were on the right track … that acting could be something you’d be very good at?
When I won best actress for “Babae at Baril,” at QCinema. That was my first best actress award, so it means so much to me. Since it’s an international film festival, members of the jury didn’t know who I was. It’s funny because some people from other countries were shocked to see me all dolled-up at the awards ceremony because I was deglamorized in “Babae at Baril.”
It’s refreshing for me because many people are used to seeing me as a cover girl or “‘yung anak ni Lotlot”—they’d say, “Oh she’s pretty!” And I hated that because it means ‘yan ‘yung reaction nila sa work ko—that I wasn’t convincing enough because that’s all they saw, and not the character I portrayed.
I’m happy that, now, hindi na ako nakakahon sa “maganda lang” (laughs).
It’s a feat for you to have reached this point in your career without having to piggyback on some very famous names in your family, some even have titles—Pilita Corrales, Eddie Gutierrez, Nora Aunor, Christopher de Leon, etc. Did you think your affiliation with them was a stumbling block to your growth? Were you afraid not to measure up to people’s expectations?
Yes, definitely. You mentioned Mamita (Pilita). I think she’s why I never tried to be a singer, even if I enjoy singing. Kasi paano pa ako magsi-singer n’yan, eh lola ko si Pilita Corrales (laughs)?
When it comes to acting naman, at first I couldn’t really put my whole heart into it for fear of failing or embarrassing my family. It wasn’t until sumugal ako that I got the roles that I wanted and people saw that I was serious about acting at hindi ‘yung subuk-subok lang.
Does your mom give you feedback about your acting?
Yes, especially when I was just starting out. I had this terrible scene in a teleserye where I would be shot—at ang sama ng pagkagawa ko sa eksena because I was so nervous! Like, how do you fall? What reaction do you show?
It was my first time to get shot in a TV show—and it was so bad that it was funny! My mom said, “Anak, bakit mo ginawa ‘yun? Huwag mo nang ulitin ‘yan, ha?” So now, when she praises me for something, I know that it’s real (laughs).
Rayver is one of the best dancers in the biz. Does he teach you to dance and show you how to execute the moves?
Oh my gosh, he always begs me to do TikToks with him! But I’m so intimidated kaya ayoko talaga s’yang kasabayan (laughs).