I could’ve totally been a spoiled, narcissistic and bratty b*tch. Picture yourself growing up with a name that was slowly becoming familiar but surely famed, an advantage that could get you out of any situation if you just dropped these few words: “Kapatid ko po si Anne Curtis.”
A promise made to my batang-kalye self was that I would never, ever name-drop my sister. She doesn’t use a screen name so association by name was difficult to stray away from, and when you kinda resemble her, too, it gets just a tad bit more difficult.
She got me out of a pickle when I was in primary school. I didn’t ask to be saved nor did the use of her name come from me. It came from our class adviser. I had decided to take home these dolls (that were not mine) on display at school because I was so fascinated by them, got caught, and next thing you know, my sister was speaking at our family day as a way to get me out of that totally demerit-worthy act. That was the first and last time I was ever going to let someone use me, or a situation that I was in, to get to her.
I saw a flock of white birds fly across the sky at 4 a.m.; it reminded me that it was okay to soar and fly through the dark hours.
Of course, that wasn’t the last time someone did that. Even as I moved to Australia, the Filipino community would always ask about her first, and then it was my turn to be asked. They’d ask if she could do this and that, then when she wasn’t available, the little sister saves the day. They would always wonder about when she was coming to visit, like they had known her for a long time and there was a much-overdue catch-up that was supposed to happen. I had no right to complain or to wonder why they were looking for her rather than being genuinely interested in me… After all, she was a celebrity and I was a nobody. I had to learn and comprehend that. I couldn’t get annoyed by their fascination that someone related to the artista on TFC was finally going to the same church that they attended. I mean, if I were to casually and regularly be within the same community as the brother of Emma Watson… I would probably want to find a way to connect to her, too.
That’s another thing, I was always “the sister of…” I will be honest: that sh*t annoyed me. I had finally come into my own as a person, excelling in my academics, starting my own career, doing my own projects. Yet there they all were, still seeing me as just “the sister of.” It was mentally frustrating after a while. Sure, the only reason I got my first 100K followers on Twitter even before I started in the entertainment industry was because of her, and look, half of my followings now are probably her fans anyway, but I thought I was also worthy, just being called my own name. No added anything.
Eventually, I got used to it. I recognized the paved path that it provided me with. I was lucky to be introduced as “the sister of”; it gave people a sense of interest in what I could offer differently. What else was there other than me being “the younger Curtis”? I was getting comfortable with that tag, but of course there was still a need to be known as me. There was no point in leaching off of her fame.
Katherine Schwarzenegger said, “Your name may get you in the door, but your talent is what will keep you there.” Mismo. It doesn’t even have to boil down to talent alone; character, substance and passion will be what will keep me here. Not my name. Not my sister. But me. I have learned to make do with the shadow people keep casting me in, even if I’ve broken through that. It’s the most rewarding challenge.
I saw a flock of white birds fly across the sky at 4 a.m.; it reminded me that it was okay to soar and fly through the dark hours. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with being in a shadow or away from the spotlight. If you are doing you and no one else, then what else is there to consider? Create your own light in the dark. That’s what I’m doing. I may be the sister of Anne Curtis, but before anything, I am Jasmine Curtis-Smith.