Maja Salvador enters another chapter of her career: She is now the president and chief executive officer of her own talent-management agency, Crown Artist Management.
Meaning, she sets the overall direction of the company and is on top of the major decisions the company will take.
Her career is also, of course, managed by the company.
The 32-year-old award-winning actress made the announcement on Tuesday, March 16, 2021, through a post on her official Instagram account.
In an exclusive interview with PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) the day before, Monday, March 15, she revealed that the idea to start her own talent agency came to her a few months into the COVID-19 pandemic.
Following that idea, Maja sought the help of boyfriend Rambo Nuñez and his mom Marilen Nuñez to start the corporation. At the time, Maja was in lockdown in Palawan with her boyfriend's family.
Maja recalled, "Nung mga panahon nga po na yun, around April or May, nung sinuspend nga po yung contract namin [ABS-CBN], dun nag-umpisa yung ang dami kong iniisip, ganyan-ganyan.
"'Tapos out of nowhere, sabi ko lang kay Rambo, 'Mag-self manage na lang kaya ako? Kasi parang okay naman na rin naman ako.'
"Kasi halos artista rin po kahit papaano yung nagde-decide. Parang nandiyan yung mga managers namin para i-guide kami, pero kung yung gusto or hindi, 'di po ba, parang nasa amin din po talaga minsan."
Maja said the pandemic really made her think about her future, which led her to building a company that is still in line with the industry she is in.
She said, "Kasi po, para sa akin, hindi naman forever na sasayaw ako lagi, hindi forever na magugustuhan ako ng tao sa pag-arte, alam niyo po iyon?
"So andun ako sa hinahanda ko yung future ko na, 'Anong puwede kong gawing business na nasa industry pa rin, na alam ko may maishe-share ako, na alam kong may matutulungan ako?'
"Sabi ko, ayun nga, 'Sige, magse-self manage na lang ako, magtayo na lang kami ng talent management.'"
SETTING THE TEAM
Maja says building a core team did not become an overwhelming challenge for her because Rambo and his mom helped her every step of the way.
Rambo is currently the president and CEO of an events, creatives, and public relations company called Forthinker Inc. He is also the man behind the digital marketing company PopUp Digital PH.
"Sabi ko, 'Since meron pong ganun na [events and digital company], puwede po ba akong makisama dun sa company na yun. Maglalagay ako, kung okay lang po, na samahan niyo ako dito sa bagong venture na gagawin ko.'
"Kasi, at least, may events company kina Bo [Rambo], meron nang digital company. Lagay tayo ng isa pa, talent management company. And then, nag-agree sila."
Getting back to Manila, Maja reached out to Mikki Gonzales, a former ABS-CBN Regional executive, to become part of her team.
Maja says, "Nung nandito na nga kami sa Manila, nung yung department ni Ms. Mikki Gonzales in ABS-CBN ay na-retrench lahat, as in nawala yung buong department niya.
"So mas dun ako parang, 'Te Miks, pag magtatayo ako ng talent management, okay ka? Sasama ka ba sa akin?' Siya ni-recruit ko kasi naalis naman yung department niya.
"Sabi ko, 'Gusto mo, Ate Miks, if ever?' Sabi niya, 'Tignan natin, e pag-usapan natin, pag-meetingan talaga natin kung ano yung gusto natin mangyari,' ganyan.
Asked what the inspiration is behind the company's name, Maja smiled, saying, "Kaya Crown because ang tawag nga po nung iba daw sa akin is Majesty. So ang majesty ay may crown at sinaktong dahil sa corona[virus]."
MR. M AND MARIOLE'S BLESSING
Maja told PEP.ph that she also sought the blessing of Johnny Manahan and Mariole Alberto, former heads of Star Magic, the Kapamilya agency that handled Maja's showbiz career for 17 years, from 2003 until 2020.
The Wildflower actress was very happy that both of her former talent managers gave their blessing for her to start her own talent-management company.
She said, "Nung nakakausap ko na si Mr. M, sila Tita Mariole, shinare ko sa kanila, and may blessing.
"Sabi ni Mr. M, 'Naku, kaya mo naman yan,' parang ganun. Tapos nalaman ko pa pa-retire na pala sila nung December ."
Maja adds, "'Tapos nung final na final na, kinausap ko ulit sina Mr. M, Tita Mariole, na 'Final na po, magtatayo talaga kami.'
"And yun, kasi nagso-sorry pa nga ako kay Mr. M na, ayun nga, baka hindi muna ako mag-sign with Star Magic.
"'Tapos sabi niya, 'Kung yan decision mo, kaya mo naman yan.' Parang, 'It's for your future,' parang ganyan.
"So, at least may blessing talaga nila. So nung may blessing talaga nila, sunud-sunod na yung meetings namin. Dire-direcho na at ito. Finally, this week, maglo-launch na po kami."
A playful Maja says that it was Mr. M and Mariole who are her inspirations for this new path.
"Kakadikit ko siguro kay Mr. M. Niloloko nila ako kung anong tawag nila [ng talents] sa akin. Si Tita Mariole, 'Anong tawag sa 'yo? Madam M, Ms. M?'
"Sabi ko, 'Tita, wag naman. Cool lang tayo, Maja, ganyan.'"
FUTURE STAR MAKER
Maja is equally grateful to have supportive team members, knowing she is starting a corporation in the middle of a pandemic.
As she puts it, "Walang madaling magtayo ng business sa kasagsagan ng pandemya, but through the help of Rambo, mom, Tita Marilen, and Ate Mikki, and si Khai [Liclican], yung aming handler, nagtulungan kami.
"Kahit lima pa lang kami parang ang bilis nabuo ng Crown."
Khai was also formerly with ABS-CBN as executive assistant to the Ad and Promo head.
For Maja, the biggest challenge at the start was getting creatives and talents to trust her and her team to handle their careers.
"Siyempre, ang challenge doon ay paano mo mapapa-yes yung mga kakausapin mo, mga prospect namin na mga talents, hindi ba?
"Paano, e, nag-uumpisa tayo? Anong masasabi nating strength natin? 'Di ba, yung mga ganyan."
In the end, Maja says, everything worked out well.
"Thank you, Lord. Sa pagiging chikadora ng taon ko, kung paano si Mikki, kung paano si Rambo and Tita Marilen—kasi ayun, yung mga nakausap namin, so far, so good."
More than anything, Maja says she is excited that she now has the opportunity to help young talents pursue their own dreams.
"Natutuwa ako na kapag sa mga group chat namin, parang per artist, per alaga, may mga kanya-kanya kaming group chat.
"And makikita mo na okay lahat, excited lahat... Yung ganun, yung umpisa magaan, masaya, so sobrang excited ako."
Maja looks back to her own journey, "Doon po ako excited na parang ang daming taong tumulong sa akin para matupad yung pangarap ko, 'di ba? Ang dami, sobrang dami nila.
"Excited ako ngayon na isa naman ako sa taong yun, yung tutupad ng pangarap, yung ganun."