Unapologetically real: Kathryn Bernardo

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Being in show business for nearly two decades has aptly made Kathryn Bernardo the ultimate icon of the young generation. At 25, Kathryn has starred in blockbuster films and teleseryes, earned several acting awards, and touted as one of the most beautiful Filipinas both by local and international media outlets.

Pushing her boundaries even further, Kathryn launched her own business, KathNails salon, in 2017 and her first business venture with reel-to-real partner Daniel Padilla called Barbero Blues in 2019. The following year, the actress-entrepreneur began taking the cyber world by storm with her new YouTube channel, Everyday Kath, which now has over three million subscribers.

Today, Kathryn is still out to do much more. Recently, she joined the realme family as its first celebrity endorser. It is a promising partnership, as throughout her career, Kathryn has thoroughly embodied the qualities of a realme squad member: fun, determined, and most importantly, unapologetically real. 

In this interview with Speed, Kathryn delves into her experience as a realme endorser. Despite facing the uncertainties of the pandemic, she remains unstoppable in pursuing her life’s passions.

How does it feel that realme got you as its first celebrity endorser? 

I’m very, very grateful for their trust. It’s also nice because realme is such a young company—three years pa lang siya, but then grabe yung growth nila as a company and I’m really excited for this collaboration because they’re very open with my ideas. And then ang dami ring supporters and fans ng realme na ka-age ko—the young adults and the young ones—so that’s a plus factor for me because I can relate to [them].  

A realme squad member is fun, determined, and unapologetically real. How, would you say, are you like that? 

The brand is fun and authentic, and they empower the young ones to go out of the box. ‘Yung personality ng realme is very close to mine. And as you all know, growth has been a very big part of my journey as an actor, especially the past year. Nakaka-relate ako sa gustong makitang image ng company. I hope that with [this partnership with] realme, we can empower more people to be unapologetically real.

What realme phone are you using now?

I’m using the realme 8 now and I like that it can keep up with my lifestyle. Everything kasi that we do now is digital so I need something na nakakaya ‘yung schedule ko, hindi siya nagla-lag. Second, I like the battery life—sobrang tagal. I love it also because its camera is very nice, [the photos come out] very clear. I’ve been posting a lot of photos recently and I’m just impressed with the quality of the photos. Plus of course, the phone is very chic and classy. That’s a plus factor for me aside from the performance of the phone. 

Aside from those that you mentioned, what else do you like about the phone?

I think ‘yung pinakagusto ko sa kanya is that I can multitask with it. You want a phone that can keep up with your needs—and I appreciate the realme 8 because its [performance is] very smooth, kahit mag-switch ka sa iba-ibang apps. It can keep up with my hectic lifestyle, and that’s the most important.

Oh, I also like the display! For someone who loves to watch YouTube and movies sa phone when I have free time or when I’m in the car, I really like the clear and sharp visuals of the realme 8 series. Right now I’m watching What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim? Matagal na pala ‘yon, but oh my God, na-o-obsess ako! 

Kapag sa shoots din, while they’re doing my makeup, I like watching series or movies [to pass the time]. Sa Netflix I recently watched Hell’s Kitchen. It’s nice to watch on the phone because the display is very sharp.

“Just go for it. Sabi nga nung tagline na nandun sa realme 8 phone: ‘Dare to leap.’ Don’t be afraid of failure because failure is your life teacher. Kung may gusto kang gawin… just go for it.” 

realme’s tagline “Capture your infinity”—what does that mean for you?

For me, it’s embracing and accepting the different sides of yourself. It means you’re open to all possibilities and you’re not afraid to stand out.

What would you say are the instances in your career that you were not afraid to stand out?

Siguro every time I do something out of the box. It’s scary, diba? Kasi hindi ka sigurado kung anong mangyayari, but then it’s so fulfilling kapag nagawa mo siya for yourself—whether you succeeded or you failed. The fact that you tried, for me that’s already something. 

We can’t agree with you more. By the way, congratulations on getting a spot in Forbes Asia’s 100 Digital Stars list! How does that feel like—being recognized for taking the digital world by storm?

Actually I didn’t expect that kasi hindi naman ako sobrang active sa social media. Hindi ko alam na ganun pala ‘yung naging contribution ko sa digital world, so it feels great. And I’m glad that I’m doing my part, na through my posts, na-i-inspire ko yung mga tao, especially the young ones.

I didn’t expect it because I just post everything na gusto ko, random photos, my thoughts… So now, I’m just really mindful about everything that I post. I try my best to contribute to the good side of the  digital world by inspiring others, by sharing my life through photos. 

I think [I also made an] impact when I started vlogging and creating my YouTube channel. I hope mas marami pa akong magawa especially this year. Ang importante, nakikita pa rin ng mga tao—through everything that you post—is the real you.

The real me! Now, let’s talk about how your businesses are doing.

Of course, just like other businesses, we are really affected by the pandemic, but wala naman tayong magagawa. We’re still here, although very challenging talaga. We try to support the staff, na wala munang alisin hangga’t kaya pa. [On rotation muna] just to balance everything especially now na kailangan ng lahat ng trabaho. Hopefully, in the coming months mas maka-adjust [and mag improve] na [yung situation].

What would you say are the lessons that the pandemic has taught you in terms of your showbiz career and your business ventures? 

In showbiz, meron kang deeper appreciation pa sa craft after everything—not just with what happened because of the pandemic but also with the franchise of ABS-CBN. I think 2020 made us realize a lot of things, and isa na sa pinaka-importante dun is to be grateful and to stand up for your company especially kapag kailangan ka nila. 

Sa business naman, the pandemic taught us to adapt to the situation and just move forward. Wala namang mangyayari kung ma-shock lang tayo—you need to come with the next plan. And I’m very happy to say that’s what we’re doing with Barbero Blues and Kathnails. 

How hands-on are you with your businesses?

My mom and my sisters, very hands-on sila on the business side. Nandyan ako para tumulong sa mga kaya kong gawin, pero dun sa mga hindi ako kagaling na side, nandyan yung mom ko to guide me. Tinuturuan nya ako how to handle challenges that we encounter along the way. 

Para akong intern, actually, ng Barbero and Kathnails. I actually like this because I’m learning a lot. Bago lang ako dito e, and ayoko naman mag-pretend to know all the stuff. So I really need guidance and I’m very open to learning and hopefully, soon, in the coming years, makapag-open ako ng business on my own na magiging hands-on talaga ako. So lahat ng natututunan ko ngayon, gina-gather ko so that I can apply them in the future.

Now that you mentioned it, what business do you dream of venturing into?

Sooo many ideas in my mind, but I want to take things slowly. I don’t wanna say specifically what, basta marami… Ang ginagawa ko na lang ngayon, pinag-aaralan ko, nakikinig ako sa mga tinuturo nila so that when the time comes and everything gets better, I can start my own business, whether it’s food, whether it’s clothing… Ang dami kong gustong gawin e, pero isa-isa lang muna. 

You’re a very busy person. How do you spend your “me time”?

“Me time” for me is simple—matulog nang mahaba. I love sleeping. And then after that, magwo-workout ako, or sometimes I play badminton if there’s still free time. Magluluto dito sa bahay, makipaglaro sa niece ko and sa mga dogs ko. It’s very simple but those things keep me sane.

I still like to keep myself busy by doing the things that keep me happy—pampering myself, watching. It really depends on my mood, kung ano lang ang feel kong gawin that day. Kapag artista ka kasi, buong month mo o year mo planado na. So on my days off, I like to keep it flexible by adjusting my schedule depending on my mood. 

With all your experiences and achievements, what advice can you give to people your age who would like to achieve more in life?

Just go for it. Sabi nga nung tagline na nandun sa realme 8 phone: “Dare to leap.” 

Don’t be afraid of failure because failure is your life teacher. Kung may gusto kang gawin—whether it’s opening a new business, trying this new school, or kung gusto mong mag-enroll in a class—just go for it. Kasi kung hindi mo gagawin, kailan pa, diba? You just need to go out of your box and do you. For me it’s important to do the things that make you happy.

Interview by Justine Punzalan
Photos courtesy of realme Philippines
This story was originally published in Speed Magazine’s May-June 2021 issue.

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