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Nadine Lustre Is Never Not True to Herself

by Owen Maddela | Mar 28, 2018
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The outspoken actress and all-around creative can teach us a thing or two about owning it and keeping it real—status quo, stereotypes, and stigmas be damned.

Don’t mistake her for the gentle Leah Olivar from On the Wings of Love or think that she is as longsuffering as Eya from Diary ng Panget. Nadine Lustre is neither her acting resumé nor the template of virtue that sits right with the conservatives. She has made that pretty clear last year when she addressed questions about living in with reel- and real-life partner James Reid with an answer worth its weight in meme gold.

C’mon, guys. It’s 2018, and Nadine is not here for what you want her to be or what you deem to be right for her. She is only here to be herself and to stay true to her character.

“What happened along the way was that I learned to start being myself and stopped worrying about what people would think,” she says, contemplating on her evolution since headlining Preview’s Best Dressed issue in 2015. At that time when her career had finally gained momentum, we were led to her Instagram feed that showcased the origins of her simple yet trend-driven personal style. 


Nadine Lustre for April 2018

The Beginnings of a Brand

It turns out that both her burgeoning career and style of dress were only the tip of the proverbial iceberg: “During Diary ng Panget, I already knew that I had character. I knew who I was but because I was new in the industry, [I was mostly taking on an] image or persona that they wanted me to portray.” She adds, “Whenever I had to appear in public, I would ask myself, ‘How should I dress up? Is this okay for a mall show? Is this outfit right for a premier?’ They might think it is too revealing.”

Nadine worried too much about what people thought and struggled to stay true to herself. She shares how her work on TV and movies—reporting to a studio or working for a network, for that matter—is different, in which one is required to portray a character, take orders from a director, and follow a script. Furthermore, she points out that the public tends to have difficulties separating actresses from their roles—and that detaching herself from her aforementioned alter egos became a conscious effort on her part. “I learned that I should express myself through how I dress up, stick to who I am, and not worry [about] what people would say.”

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Today, the effort to remain in character—her own, that is—has paid off tenfold. Nadine has extended her range to include passion projects that involve a lot of self-expression and creative control, including concept work for the JaDine Revolution concert, a foray to recording, the bestselling book Team Real, and an eponymous fragrance. That Instagram granted her a single-name handle last year (@nadine) is an anointing of sorts for a body of work rife with personal branding.    

“It’s nice to put out things that came from you and bear your creative input,” Nadine enthuses. “The last JaDine concert is a good example. James and I put our heart into that show.” Their joint creative control in Revolution—performed before a jam-packed Araneta Coliseum crowd—was felt the most in the visuals, styling, and use of their original music. “People saw us for who we are and not someone else. And it’s our concept and our combined personalities. It’s who we really are.”


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Confident, Independent, Transparent, Headstrong

Nadine agrees today that her modern point of view, work portfolio, and creative pursuits all built the foundation of a personal brand. But she opines that aforementioned brand only came into fruition after establishing her identity on social media. “I feel like my branding was born on Instagram, and was followed up with the development of my personal style. Before that, wala pa, but it just built up through the years.”

She describes that personal brand as confident, independent, transparent, and headstrong. “I am not afraid to speak up and I don’t let anything pull me down.”

“Didn’t we want women to be confident, independent, and strong? But why do a lot of people get mad at me for speaking my truth? For being honest?"

They’re all venerable adjectives but Nadine knows that her branding—coupled with her seemingly immovable POVs—is a tad too advanced for some. “I was thinking about it the other day when I was driving: It’s Women’s Month and, on Instagram, I would see posts that are supposed to empower women—that women should be confident and that women should be independent. But when I think about it, why is that when people see a woman who is strong, assertive, and true to herself, why is she brought down? I don’t get it,” she ponders.

Culling from personal run-ins with the press and interactions on social media, she adds, “Didn’t we want women to be confident, independent, and strong? But why do a lot of people get mad at me for speaking my truth? For being honest? Baka nga they’re not used to it—but isn’t that the point?”

Similarly, Nadine had to put up with issues surrounding her relative inactivity on TV and in the movies: the last JaDine teleserye ended early last year, her last movie was in 2016, and her hosting duties for It’s Showtime are occasional. She recalls a member of the entertainment press offering unsolicited advice to her and James during the press conference for JaDine Revolution: “O kayong dalawa, wala kayong show. Piece of advice ha: ‘Out of sight, out of mind.’” Nadine admits to almost losing her cool. But James, admittedly the chill one between the two of them, responded, “We’ll keep that in mind. Thank you.”

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She posits that needing to be always on television or churning movies on the regular to prove one’s relevance is an old way of thinking. “Wala naman kaming show, wala naman kaming movie, but the concert proved that you can still be successful. We only had a few promotions and most of them were on social media—but the reception was good.” Furthermore, she explains that their audience—the loyal JaDine fans—are young and have habits aside from TV viewing. “On the Wings of Love performed very well on IWantTV. Everything is already on the internet,” the star with 4.8 million fans on Instagram justifies.

From Darkness to Light

The most recent among Nadine’s creative collaborations, Lustrous is a cosmetic line that she worked on with BYS in time for the summer. Inspired by her recent trips to Zambales, Siargao, Bohol, and La Union, she put together makeup essentials with a beach-ready palette. “My number one issue when I go to the beach is: I need kilay!” she laughs. “Even if I am on vacation, I still need to look presentable, so what Lustrous is all about is highlighting your features: the eyeshadow is shimmery and the eyeliners are colored. It’s nice to play a little!”

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She wants those grabbing their own Lustrous kits to wear a bare face with a few highlights, which explains why there are no powders and foundation in the collection. “It’s shimmery and goes with dewy skin! There is a mascara, a lip and cheek tint, and eyebrow products, too!”

Lustrous—literally another word for luminous—was a result of a dark moment that revealed her true character and her true friends.

But ultimately, how Nadine wants people to see Lustrous is a cosmetic form of a pick-me-up. Acknowledging that makeup is but a tool, her wish for those who eventually wear Lustrous would be to get a boost of confidence. She explains, “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do—to do my share to lift people up—especially after that unfortunate event with my brother last year.” Nadine put up a very brave face after the depression-caused death of her 16-year-old brother Isaiah last year and has been receiving messages from fans and strangers alike throughout their family’s ordeal. The eldest in their brood, she admits that it wasn’t easy but “you can go through a bad storm and still be okay.”


Lustrous—literally another word for luminous—was a result of a dark moment that revealed her true character and her true friends. “I’ve learned that at your lowest point lahat madi-discover mo: I found out how strong I am. I was able to identify the right company to surround myself with.”

Taking the cause further, she has plans of spearheading a campaign that advocates mental health this year. Admitting to have struggled with depression herself, she wants to be of help to others who share the same experience but do not know how to address it. “My brother was young and did not know what to do or have the right people around to show [him] the way. I want to be that for others because I know how it feels to be down there.” 

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Brighter, Better Days

Things can only get better for Nadine—and her work itinerary is a clear enough sign of brighter, better days ahead.

On top of the list is the Antonette Jadaone-helmed JaDine reunion movie Never Not Love You, which will premiere on March 31. “It’s a very millennial movie that narrates young, reckless love,” Nadine shares. Having only a backbone for a script, James and Nadine were asked to improvise their lines and speak in the way they think their characters would.

“When we were shooting, sabi ko kay direk, ‘Alam ko itong feeling na ito!’” laughing at how sometimes art imitates life. She claims that this reunion movie—highly relatable for a lot of people—is different from those she’s done alongside James.


There are also talks of a new teleserye on ABS-CBN—Nadine says that concept is really good—but she is unsure how that will fit the rest of their 2018 schedule. “We have a US tour coming up but I am also shooting a movie apart from James. He is also shooting a couple of movies himself.”

Nadine is set to star in her solo horror movie entitled The Nurse, which will be shot in Japan while James is slated to star in a new Pedro Penduko movie and a comedy film with Sarah Geronimo called Miss Granny. James is also bent on making more music while Nadine wants to begin directing short films and online series.

“We need to have time apart to grow professionally. James and I are aligned, but we have our individual goals, too,” she explains.

“I want girls to have fun playing with color,” Nadine tells Preview as she pries open the Luna Eyeshadow Palette (P799, BYS Lustrous, available at leading department stores). The azure shade was diffused over her lids and her lips were glazed with a warm terracotta that’s both retro and very now.

Nadine hints on more collaborations with BYS for this year and the next. There are plans for a birthday collection slated for release in October and a Valentine’s collection—but not before this flurry of activity that will excite her fans and prove her detractors and naysayers wrong.

Ultimately, she chooses to dwell on the positive: “I am extremely lucky,” Nadine concludes, immensely grateful for her loyal following and the trust unselfishly extended to her by her studio and network bosses and brand partners. “They know my personality and accept who I am as a person. They do not stop me from being me.” 

Photographed by Shaira Luna

Styled and Produced by Marj Ramos

Art Directed by Mark Buenaobra

Assisted by Steph Sison

Makeup by Jelly Eugenio

Hair by Paul Nebres

Nails by Rosemarie Cornelio and Carmen Tayamen of Nails.Glow

Shot on location at Okada Manila Hotel

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