Rejection was a huge part of Nikki Gil's teen years. She spent part of those years auditioning for countless video tape recordings (VTRs).
Unfortunately, she almost always was rejected. Ad agencies told her she did not have star quality or the "it" factor.
There were days when she thought she was lucky, only to find out later that she did not make the final cut. She says of one project: "Feel na feel ko 'yong nag-extra ako sa napkin commercial. Puwet ko lang nakita ko. Three days kami doon nag-work. Three days!"
Disappointed, she vowed that things would change. "Sabi ko talaga, balang araw, magko-commercial din ako nang bonggang-bongga!"
The vow was fulfilled. In 2005, she starred in a commercial for the soft drink company Coca-Cola. It showed Nikki walking down the street while singing a new Coke jingle. Deep inside her, she knew she was making an important commercial. But she never thought that the ad was the life-changing one she had been waiting for.
"No'ng nagco-Coke ako," she recalls, "sabi ng agency and my mom, 'After this your life will never be the same.' Sabi ko, 'In fairness sa inyo, ang OA ninyo!'"
MANANG AND BRAT. Since then, Nikki has become a showbiz personality. While other young stars contend with a negative press, she does not have to worry about that. In an industry where careers thrive on intrigues, hers has been fairly scandal-free.
The strangest intrigue she has encountered so far was her being identified as the daughter of a failed presidential candidate. "Tatay ko daw si Eddie Gil," she says.
Her make-up artist and this writer burst into laughter, but she's not amused. "Hindi ako natutuwa. Sabay kasi 'yon, e—'yong movie niyang Pelukang Itim and 'yong Coke commercial. It's true! But that was a long time ago."
It also bothers her that the industry has stuck the manang label on her. "They think I'm a manangacious. Parang na-label na ako because of my being wholesome noong umpisa. Super na-label na ako na anything exciting that I do, kinukuwestiyon. Kumanta ng ganyan—issue! Nagsuot ng ganyan sa Penshoppe billboard—issue!"
Yes, she is conservative, she admits, but she is not a total prude. "For me, pag sinabi mong conservative—in terms of principle. Hindi lang naman lagi sa damit 'yon. Hindi naman ako magpupunta sa Boracay nang naka-scuba-gear."