Remember the girl with the golden voice handing out Coke bottles to strangers on the street? That iconic commercial changed Nikki Gil’s life, and nine years later, her career is now at an all-time high—from hosting jobs in ASAP and MYX, to a role in a Chito Roño film entitled Badil, plus a soon-to-air prime time TV series, Maria Mercedes, where she’s playing a villain. A self-confessed reluctant actress, Nikki continues to spread her wings with new projects that she successfully juggles from left to right. Who would've thought that a one-minute commercial could turn things around this much?
Luckily, we were able to spend a few minutes with the young actress to talk about how she deals with life in the limelight. Read on as the 26-year old star dishes on her career highs, her personal style, and her biggest obsession of all time: makeup.
Have you always wanted to enter showbiz?
Looking back, I’d have the usual “I wanna be a lawyer, I wanna be a doctor” phase but I never really pictured myself here. But the thing is, when I look at our family albums or whenever I would hear stories when I was a kid, I was always towards the performing arts. But I didn’t see myself doing it full-time. I didn’t see it as a profession. It was just something that I knew how to do so all of this was kind of a surprise.
Is there a particular field that you’d like to explore further?
Right now I really feel that I’m getting into acting. I used to be such a reluctant actress. I would maybe do little parts and then stop for years. It’s just now that I’m finally putting both feet in the water.
What’s the most unforgettable moment in your career, when you felt that you finally made it?
I actually posted this on Instagram. I recently did a Maalaala Mo Kaya episode where I had to wash clothes by the river. And I was like “My god, this is a dream come true! I’ve always wanted to do this ‘laba-laba sa ilog (doing the laundry by the river)’ scene! Artista na talaga ako (I'm really an actress already)!” (laughs)
But the biggest would be three years ago when I did my first curtain call for my first musical, Legally Blonde. It was like goose bumps galore. I did not see it coming. I did not know it was possible. It was such an exhilarating feeling. I couldn’t describe it. I felt like crying.
The feeling was so weird, like an overwhelming thing that probably comes with doing theater because it’s such hard work. Since I was new and I had a lot of eyes watching if I would pull it through, when it did work out, the feeling was beyond amazing.
What’s the greatest lesson you’ve learned in the business?
You can’t please everyone. You really can’t. Someone will always have something to say about you, no matter how professional you are, no matter how accommodating you are, and no matter how talented you are. So it’s best to just keep a pool of people around you that you really trust and listen to their opinion. You don’t have to listen to everyone’s opinion about you because it would vary and it would drive you nuts.
How do you unwind?
I’m a home buddy. I like staying home. I like reading. They would say I’m boring, but whatever, I don’t care because it’s what I like doing. If I have to choose between going out or staying home, I’d pick the latter and just bake and play with my dog, Charlie. But if I have to go out, I’d probably visit a friend, watch a movie, have dinner, drink tea and talk all night.
What are you reading now?
Pride and Prejudice. I’m a literary major in Ateneo and the thing is, because I was a working student, I feel like I really didn’t get the chance to absorb everything. Like I’d always just read through them or browse it, or ask my seatmate about it. (laughs) So now I’m alternating between my old syllabus, the New York Times Best Seller List and the Oprah Book Club List.
What are your top five favorite movies?
Why did I get a feeling that you’d ask me that question and I didn’t prepare? Okay wait, give me a second. Well, I like Shawshank Redemption and Changeling. I also like chick flicks, I like Pretty Woman, Titanic (please don’t judge me), and Mean Girls.
Name three songs on your playlist that are currently on loop.
Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke, Again and Again by The Girl and The Bee, and Mrs. Cold by Kings of Convenience.
Do you like to travel? How often do you go on vacation?
I make it a point to get out of the country once a year. I went to San Francisco recently for a mini heart-mending, soul-searching break. But my big vacay for this year was in Europe with my friend from college. We went around Sweden, Western Europe, Prague, and Budapest.
What’s on your shopping list whenever you travel?
I always look for magnets for my mom. It’s the easiest thing to collect! I used to look for music boxes, but it became too much work to find, so I gave that up. (laughs) But I would collect tickets, hotel brochures, and all that coz I like scrap booking. And of course, pictures! I would actually print them out. I wouldn’t just keep them on my computer.
Describe your personal style.
My personal style is very basic. I like to keep it clean, crisp, and classy. If I were to pick between prints and bold colors, I’d pick the bold colors. If I were a color, I would be brown and white. I like to stick with the classics so I don’t have to keep on updating my wardrobe.
How can you differentiate your personal style from your early days in showbiz compared to today?
When I got into the biz, I was still a student in Ateneo. So my uniform would be a tank top, a pair of cutoffs, Havaianas (because it’s super hot in Ateneo), and a Jansport knapsack. That was it. And then I’d go to the mall or go to MYX looking like that.
Of course now I’m not a student anymore so if I have to dress up, I’d wear a cocktail dress. I like girly dresses. But when I’m just going to the mall, I’d go out in jeans and maybe a pair of nice heels and a white shirt or a nice bag.
Who are your fashion icons?
I like Jennifer Aniston because she’s not trendy, she’s very classy, and she always looks well put together. For casual dressing, I like the Olsen twins. I’ve always liked their style.
Is there a specific fashion item that you collect?
It started out with cheap accessories and then I eventually graduated to collecting more expensive items like bags and now I’m seeing the importance of having nice shoes because it really puts an outfit together.
What’s the first big ticket item you bought from your paycheck?
My first designer bag, a white Bedford Louis Vuitton bag. That was the first expensive thing that I ever bought. I got it in Hong Kong.
Is there anything you’re saving up for now?
The thing is, now I’m seeing that [designer stuff] are not exactly the smartest way to spend your money...(laughs) I don’t know, I might entertain the thought of purchasing watches next. But we’ll see.
Is there a particular trend that you’d never wear?
Harem pants. I tried but it just wasn’t working for me. And dirty sneakers.
How long does it take you to prep for a show, like ASAP?
It depends because I can go for an hour to ten minutes. I have a makeup and hair team so sometimes we’d be rehearsing and they let us off late, so we’d be given 15 minutes to do full-on hair and makeup. But a normal pace would be an hour, and that includes costume change and everything. I’m not very high-maintenance when it comes to that.
Speaking of high maintenance, what’s your beauty routine? Is there a beauty product that you swear by?
I’m very anal when it comes to skin because I have a history of acne. I actually blogged about it, I even posted photos of when I had a major flare up. So if I were to swear by something, I guess it would be Cetaphil. It’s so mild, it’s so basic. It’s what I’ve been using since forever.
Do you also undergo beauty treatments?
I endorse Bioessence, so yes I get to try a lot of treatments whenever my schedule permits. But I keep it to the basics like the body scrub and oxygen facial. I don’t like being pricked because I find that it aggravates the pimples so I just leave it alone and put medicine on top, as prescribed by my derma.
We also heard that you love putting on your own makeup! Did you attend makeup classes or is this something you learned on your own?
I’m a makeup junkie. I love watching makeup tutorials on Youtube and even before Youtube, I would buy books. My friends know that I really like makeup so they would buy me books as well. I also look at magazines and I would watch how makeup artists do it and ask [them to teach me].
Do you also work out? What’s your fitness routine?
I work out four times a week. If I can do it everyday, I would. I like lifting weights and being on the bike. I like joining cycling classes. I go to Gold’s Gym and I also like Bikram Yoga.
Do you follow a specific diet?
I don’t eat right. I eat whatever I want. I try to avoid the things that people say I should avoid like rice but if I’m really hungry, I’ll eat a lot. I also have the occasional junk food drive-thru every once in a while. I don’t exactly follow a certain diet, because I really have a mean sweet tooth. If I were to have dinner and it was a choice between cake and pasta, I’ll skip the pasta and eat the cake. That’s how I am.
What’s your number one beauty rule?
Sleep is very important. Like, no matter what you say, no matter how many creams you put on your face or even if you eat your concealer, it's sleep that really makes all the difference. Also, I find that being genuinely nice is the best beauty rule ever because no matter how beautiful you think you are, if you’re not a nice person, it cancels everything out.
Are you a makeup junkie like Nikki? Click on the gallery to see which products she's currently obsessed with!
Photography by Yayay de Castro