09/04/2015

The new girl in town

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Claudia Barretto is a force to be reckoned with. At 15 years old, this tenth grader is poised to be the next big thing. Say hello to the new girl.

My whole day really consists of school,” Claudia Barretto declares. It’s been hours after the final bell has rung, and storm clouds outside are looming. Unlike her classmates who are probably at home praying for classes to get suspended, Claudia is in a studio, wrapping up a two-hour shoot. This is her life, mostly: a commitment to school, with some work when her schedule allows. But only, she emphasizes, if work doesn’t get too much in the way of her studies.

It would be easy for 15-year-old Claudia to become a foregone conclusion. Young, pretty, with a rich celebrity heritage — what else is there to know? She could rest on these laurels all her life and scoot by with ease. Despite her young age, Claudia seems like a natural at this, a veteran even before her prime. She could allow herself to weep over her amnesiac boyfriend in a primetime teleserye or host a noontime show with her celebrity girl gang. Claudia could, but she won’t. Because she may be young, pretty, and born into fame, but it seems that that is hardly what makes her so special.

Claudia Barretto is full of spirit.

When you speak to her, she’s sweet and friendly, but careful to put thought into her answers. But this doesn’t seem to betray a lack of conviction — if anything, she seems well-stocked with convictions. Maybe she just doesn’t have time for B.S. Maybe it’s because she knows how easy it is to fall prey to having one’s words and thoughts misconstrued, something that gets easier and easier with hashtags and screenshots. “This generation is so tough on itself,” Claudia admits, as she sits cross-legged on the couch. “I think it’s one of the main reasons why many of us are insecure.”

And like anyone with a smartphone and common sense, Claudia’s social media presence seems to speak volumes about her, more so than meeting her in person. A few months ago, Claudia retweeted an Ariana Grande tweet in which the singer wrote a long post about the importance of gender equality. Ariana started it off by saying that “having something to say is not the same as having a bad attitude.” When asked about it, Claudia chose her words carefully, pausing after every other beat. “I feel like when people look at girls, everything is more magnified. Like, everything. From your shoes, to your hair, to your makeup. That’s what I feel. But guys have their fair share of the same thing,” Claudia says diplomatically. “But girls have it harder? I feel like I have to educate myself more about feminism, because right now I wouldn’t have a perfect answer.”

Claudia’s tenacity is also evident in the willful way she has commandeered her professional life. Just a few weeks ago, it was said that she’d decided not to pursue showbiz — a claim that’s not quite accurate. “The thing is, I’m always asked this question… but now I feel like I have a better answer,” Claudia explains. “The thing is that if I were to enter showbiz, it wouldn’t be in the acting side of it. I think I’d get into music. I’m really passionate about music. I love to sing.”

This is where Claudia’s calm and collected facade chips off bit by bit, when she talks about the kind of professional singer she wants to become someday. It will have a lot of pop, she predicts. Nothing that requires a big voice, because she says that her musical style is a bit more mellow. When Taylor Swift crops up as a suggested peg, Claudia’s face lights up like a heart eyes emoji. “Taylor Swift,” she says with reverence, “is my life idol. She’s so influential, it’s insane.”

With Taylor Swift serving as her blueprint of sorts, it’s not hard to imagine that once Claudia is done with her academic duties, she’ll be ready to get down to work. And when one says that about Claudia, it’s not limited to her own celebrity: Claudia Barretto might just be in the business of building an empire. In the meantime, she’ll be more than happy to get next week’s homework done.


Photos by JL Javier

Styling by MJ Benitez

Makeup by Owen Sarmiento of MAC Cosmetics

Hair by Mark Familara

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