In a world where every move ever made and every word ever said is immortalized by screenshots and web histories, no one – not even the brightest of stars and most untouchable of figures – can escape the culture which feeds on mistakes and imperfections. There’s more room for insecurities, more room to be built up only to be torn apart, and less room to forgive and forget.
From body shaming to attempts at character assassination, Andrea Brillantes has seen, cried, and risen through it all. “How” isn’t the question; it’s the “Why’s” of the existence of constant judgment and cruel criticisms of a 15-year-old girl who has yet to find her true self and accept her own flaws.
What the world doesn’t know is that the big blows come from the people hiding behind their keyboards, but the biggest ones come from her own mind.
In her world where she could easily look at hateful comments and unflattering photos of herself, Andrea is both her own bida and kontrabida.
Andrea, born as Anndrew Blythe Daguio Gorostiza, has succeeded in becoming one of the most recognizable actors in the local scene. Her breakout role as Annalisa in the hit series that carried her character’s name paved the way to a career path that could eventually catapult her into untouchable fame. She has been acting since she was seven years old, and she has been bagging the roles of the lead protagonist or the young version of the lead since then.
So it came as a pleasant surprise for her fans when they found out that she would be playing the role of Marga, the lead protagonist in the afternoon drama series Kadenang Ginto. There’s a glaring difference between the role that she plays now compared to the roles that she has taken on before, but nothing could be more different than Marga and Andrea’s respective personalities.
“Confident siya, mataas yung self-esteem. Tapos lahat inaaway niya, laging siya yung unang sumusugod ([Marga] is confident and has a high self-esteem. She fights with everyone and she’s always the first one to march into battle),” she said.
The comment on her character’s high self-esteem, which implied that hers was low, was a surprising one to hear. How could THE Andrea Brillantes, the bearer of one of the most beautiful, most memorable faces in the industry, not have the same sense of satisfaction when it comes to her looks?
It turns out that the actress’ biggest insecurity is her physical appearance.
“Feeling ko talaga ako yung pinaka-pangit na babae sa buong mundo (I honestly feel like I’m the ugliest girl in the world),” were her exact words.
One look at those strung up words would confuse and probably even anger some, but if one would look at it with sympathy, it’s easy to spot the struggle that all girls her age go through.
Andrea may have spent more than a hundred hours in hair and make-up since the day she started being in the spotlight, but the fact that her insecurities sometimes still get to her just shows that behind all the glitz and glam is a young girl who is still in the process of trying to love herself more.
She once had a male friend who told her that her butt was flat when he saw her wearing a pair of jeans. Shortly after, she threw all of her pants away and swore to never wear a pair ever again. Whenever she’d be required to wear pants during the taping of her show, she admitted to going to the bathroom and having panic attacks.
“Ito yung time na pina-uso ni Kylie Jenner yung hips, yung butt, so I found myself thinking na I needed to have those curves in order to be beautiful,” she explained.
And perhaps the saddest thing she had to say about the comparison between her and Marga is the one similarity that she sees.
“Lagi siyang natatalo. Lagi siyang second best kahit tina-try niya lahat (She’s always on the losing side. She’s always just second best no matter how much she tries to be the best).”
Her wounds and bruises caused by the constant beating of her insecurities run deeper than she lets on, but Andrea is so much stronger than she thinks. She’s self-aware and she knows the weight of both her words and that of her haters’. She just needs to listen to the right, more loving, and more accepting voice.
If she has the power to make people talk about her despite her lack of confidence, imagine how she would take the industry by storm with her undeniable beauty, a variety of talents (she sings and dances, too!), and a heart that knows its worth.
As young as she is, she has fully accepted the cost of choosing to live in the spotlight and under the scrutinizing eyes of the media. Although she wishes to have a trip to the beach without people trying to take photos of her in a bikini, experience having a regular job as a flight attendant or a pilot, and have a regular school schedule, she knows that there’s still a bunch of things she could do despite her celebrity status.
A 15-year-old girl with big dreams living a bigger dream only a select few can get to experience is a refreshing and humbling sight to behold.
Andrea’s story is more than just about the grass being greener on the other side and it’s more than just her struggles with self-perception. It’s about how our own selves are our biggest enemy, but also realizing that at the end of the day, we are our only ally.
Andrea Brillantes has been the bida and the kontrabida both on-screen and off-screen, and most importantly, to herself.
In a world where every role has already been played, there is one that most of us unconsciously shies away from because of fear of judgment, but this is the role that Andrea has proudly and fully embraced.
She is neither good nor bad – she’s simply human.
Photography by: Yukie Sarto (@yukiesarto)
Art Direction by: Suzanne Allbabidi (@mynameissea)
Sittings Editor: Elyse Ilagan (@elyseveronika)
Make up by: Pong Niu (@pongniu)
Hair by: Katchie Mejias (@katchmejias)
Styling by: Aldrin Ramos (@aldrin.ramos)
Words by: Samantha Valmonte (@samvalmonte)
Associate Publisher: Erika Austria (@erikavienna)
Publisher: Archie Carrasco (@archiecarrasco)
Special thanks to: Gem Sol, Tanya Mallilin, Kristine Magtibay, Secret Burger, and Coffee & Protein