These days, it's hard not to know who Andi Eigenmann is.
She may be new in the entertainment industry, but her surname reveals her showbiz lineage, which has produced such gifted thespians as her dad Mark Gil (real name: Raphael John Gil Eigenmann), aunt Cherie Gil (Cherie Eigenmann), uncle Michael de Mesa (Michael Edward Eigenmann), and cousins Sid Lucero (Timothy Mark Eigenmann) and Ryan and Geoff Eigenmann.
Andi's lineage is, in fact, a double whammy. Her mother is Jaclyn Jose, a mainstream multi-awarded actress who is also known as the first Queen of the Indies. In both genres, Jaclyn has worked with the best of them, from Lino Brocka, the first Filipino director to have his film entered in the Cannes Film Festival's competition category, to Brilliante Mendoza, the first Filipino director to win the Cannes best director award.
Early in her career, Andi felt the pressure to live up to the pedigree, but she says she has now learned not to pressure herself too much.
"Iniisip ko, iba ako sa mommy ko, sa parents ko," Andi explains. "Sila 'yong type na hindi mabubulok, kasi they're here in the industry because of their talents. Pero just because I'm their daughter, it doesn't mean I have to have as many awards.
Kasi, hindi naman po ako pumasok sa industriya na ito para sumikat. Gusto kong pumasok sa industriya kasi gusto kong umarte."
The young mestiza actress has come home a few hours after ASAP XV goes off the air, putting an end to her mom's waiting game. Now she and her mom are in the living room, talking to YES!
Jaclyn reveals that she prepped up her daughter when the latter joined her in show business: "Ang mga pinaka-importante kong 'binilin sa kanya, 'yong you have to be on time, you have to know your role—be the character, ilagay mo sa puso lahat 'yan. 'Tapos, no matter what, 'wag magrereklamo. Pag tinawag, tumayo. Pag natutulog, gumising."
Andi's first acting assignment was in 2007, for the ABS-CBN afternoon soap Prinsesa ng Banyera. Back then, she was still undecided about pursuing a career in showbiz and was excited about taking up fashion design in college. In late 2009, Deo Endrinal's unerring instincts zeroed in on her for the lead role in Agua Bendita.
Just a few months after the teleserye premiered, Andi has become one of the hottest stars of her home network. Audience response to her top-rating primetime soap opera has been overwhelming.
Playing a dual role has challenged Andi to prove that she has what it takes to be given such a big role. Quite naturally, her mom was the first to evaluate the young star's acting skills.
Says Jaclyn: "Pasado sa akin para sabihin ko na, 'Sige, continue.' Kasi, sa tagal ko sa industriya, pag may co-star ako na bagong pasok, 'tapos hindi marunong umarte, sasabihan ko talaga na, 'Alam mo, mag-aral ka na lang.' Tinatapat ko talaga. Dahil mahirap 'yong co-star mo, paulit-ulit. Nakakapikon 'yon. E, ayoko rin kung walang talent 'yong anak ko... So, sinabihan ko siya, e: 'Pag wala ka, babe, get out, ha?' E, meron. Hindi sa ano, pero nakita ko meron, e. Promise, meron. May mga eksena siya [sa Agua] na nadadala ako, e."
And it seems it is not only Jaclyn who is convinced that the young actress truly has thespian blood in her. "'Kinukuwento niya sa akin na, 'Mom, sinabihan akong anak nga daw ako ni Jaclyn Jose,'" the proud mom relates. "Natutuwa siya pag nagko-comment 'yong direktor ng gano'n, kasi feeling niya, ibig sabihin, she can act."
"Ay, nakikilig po ako," Andi elaborates. "Natutuwa po ako, kasi, feeling ko, kahit bago pa lang ako, e, naa-accomplish ko na agad 'yong gusto kong i-accomplish. Lagi kong sinasabi na okey na sa akin na sabihin lang nilang anak nga talaga 'ko ni Jaclyn Jose."
THE EXTREMIST. Andi admits that she is still getting used to the hectic life of an artista. With a packed schedule seven days a week-taping for the soap opera and shooting for a movie, besides doing TV commercials and various pictorials in between—the young actress can only look back to the time when she was still waiting for her break.
"Siyempre, hindi maiiwasan, nami-miss ko 'yong noon na walang magawa at puwedeng matulog ng kahit gaano ko katagal gusto," she laughs.
"Pero nami-miss ko lang siya. Hindi ko babalikan."
At times, when Andi feels overwhelmed, her mom sends her words of encouragement. Jaclyn recalls one instance: "I texted her, 'I've been doing this for 30 years, hindi mo 'ko naringgan na nagreklamo ako.' Hindi na siya nagreklamo after that."
The supportive mom observes: "Enjoy naman siya, pero parang feeling ko, pagod na siya... Kasi 'yong Agua, mahirap, e. Babasain, tutuyuin. Then, magkaharapan 'yong characters. Mahirap talaga 'yong dual role. Double job din, e. 'Tapos, out of town pa ang shoot."
Still, even the multi-awarded Jaclyn can't help but be amazed at her daughter's display of acting range so far.
"'Yong Bendita [anti-heroine character] na nagiging Agua [heroine], nakakalito 'yon, e. Kumbaga, dinala niya si Bendita kay Agua, same person na. Nagawa niya, e. Sa Mamarazzi, kambal na naman ang role niya. Dapat nga, triplet pa 'yon, e. Pero sabi ko, at least pag may dumating na lesser role than that, easing-easy na sa kanya."
Andi, a self-professed free spirit, clarifies what her mom meant:
"Sabi ko before akong mag-artista na gusto ko pa ring magkaroon ng life. Di ko naman kailangang maging over the top, the best, o number one. Gusto ko lang naman, makaarte. Nagkataon lang na dumoble-doble pa 'yong blessing na nabigay sa akin. More than what I bargained for. So, all the more, feeling ko dapat talaga akong mas maging thankful at saka mag-work-hard."
"Pero nakakapagod din, so kailangan, magpapahinga rin. Hindi 'yong tuloy-tuloy. Kasi ako po, tao na before akong mag-artista. Sobra akong carefree 'tsaka sobrang nonconformist. Whatever 'yong principles ko, I stand by them talaga."
Andi concedes that there are overworked stars who turn out cranky: "May mga tao na nagmamaldita sila. Ayoko naman na maging gano'n ako, so kailangan talaga magkaroon ng life. Kasi, life is not just about work. You deserve to have fun. Everybody deserves to have fun."
Lest people judge her as a happy-go-lucky person, Andi says she has serious goals in life, like going back to college to finish her fashion journalism and marketing course. She intends to study scriptwriting as well.
"Extremist kasi ako," she explains. "'Tsaka, live life to the fullest. Pero marami din akong nare-realize as I mature—that life is not just all about sleep, na wala akong mapapala pag magtamad-tamaran lang ako, na I don't have to have an ultimate goal as long as I feel like my life was well-lived and worthwhile."
Her greatest dream in life, she says, is "to be successful, period." She adds: "Kahit anuman 'yong mangyari, basta successful now, successful in the future."
But she also gives the reason why she is in showbiz: "Kaya ako nandito ngayon, kasi pinaghirapan ko makarating dito. Kasi dito 'yong gusto kong puntahan."
Now that she knows where she wants to be, Andi has indeed taken her first step to success.