It is 2003,
and an 18-year-old Anne Curtis has just landed her very first Cosmo cover. In it she wears her hair long and stick-straight, her eyebrows arched and thin, her lips a matte nude. A powder blue halter dress clings to the young actress’s body, showing off am
And grow up was exactly what she did from that point on, with as much determination and enthusiasm as a teenager could muster, having moved out of her parents’ house and into a condo she wasn’t even sure she could afford to rent on her own. “That’s when everything got real for me,” she reminisces. “I struggled with small things like doing the groceries, comparing prices of toilet paper, paying my utility bills, not forgetting deadlines. I really did all of that by myself. But it’s okay because I wanted to do it. I wanted to prove that I could. I wanted to do my own thing without having to wait for anyone’s approval.”
Now, 14 years and 9 Cosmo covers later, Anne is wiser and more sure of herself, validated by the constant outpouring of love from her fans and grounded by the two eventful decades she’s spent working in the industry. “I’m still young at heart,” she assures us, as if we needed any convincing—the ever-present playful gleam in her eyes, no matter how exhausted she is from her graveyard shoot shifts for the upcoming action movie Buy Bust, is more than enough proof. “I don’t let my age define me or take over my spirit, which has always been childlike and free.”
What’s your definition of independence?
Being strong-willed, having faith, and standing up for what you believe in. Independence to me is having the freedom to pursue your passions.
When do you feel the most free?
When I’m not in the limelight. I feel the most like myself when I’m not under scrutiny or judgment, and when I’m with the people I trust and love.
Is it hard to find time to feel like yourself, given that you’re such a big star?
I never let my celebrity rule over me. And sometimes that’s gotten me into trouble, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I want that kind of freedom. I want to be able to make mistakes and learn from them.
Do you believe independence and romantic happiness can coexist?
I feel they should. You should never be dependent on anyone—that’s how relationships fail. Because what
“[A happy relationship] starts with having faith in yourself.”
happens when you’re too dependent on someone and they leave you? You become a wreck. But if you’re two independent people who have your own lives, it makes you more compatible because you both have something to bring to the table. You have something to share when you come home. And you just get better together.
Any advice on having both independence and a happy relationship?
I think it really starts with having faith in yourself. If you’re an independent woman, you won’t let your insecurities get the best of you, which is the number one source of destruction in a relationship.
When it comes to decision making, how independent are you?
I usually have to ask people what they think. It takes me forever to decide because I tend to second-guess myself. Then I’ll make a last-minute decision and stick to it.
Do you rely more on your intuition or on logic?
I’m more of a gut feel person than a rational one. That’s why it’s hard—it’s always a guessing game. I’ve always been intuitive. It got me to where I am now, which means both good and bad decisions have worked in my favor. Even mistakes can eventually help you make smart decisions, because then you’ll know better.
What’s your biggest adulting milestone to date?
Buying my own house was a major turning point. I was 22 and I wanted it so badly. I told myself I was going to work hard to make it happen. I just worked and worked. I learned to take my career seriously, because there was so much at stake. When I finally did it, it felt so good. Achievement unlocked!
Have you ever traveled on your own?
Yes, twice: in Thailand and Spain. It was so soothing because I had so much me time. Imagine going a week without talking to anyone, except to check into a hotel. It was so liberating. It’s your time just for yourself, and you take away so much from that experience. I discovered that I can enjoy my own company. You’ll doubt at first if you’re going to survive, but you get there and realize how much you can trust yourself. Heading out with your map and travel book teaches you to be responsible and mindful of your surroundings. It was such a challenging, exciting experience. I’d do it again, but of course my constant travel partner now is Erwan (Heussaff).
Congratulations on your engagement! How do you think your career will change once you’re married?
Thank you! I don’t really know, but I’m so against the mentality that just because you’re married, all you’re supposed to do are mom roles. I don’t think that’s true.
Do you feel that women and men should approach independence differently?
Yes, but only because we’re working
“People say feminism is a trend, but it’s not.”
toward equality. In some countries, people still feel like women shouldn’t be at par with men. But if you’re a strong, driven, independent woman, you don’t have to rely on anyone but yourself. You can have your own career and provide for your family. Times have changed for women. The marrying age has been pushed back, and women don’t need men to take care of them or to define who they are, which is a great thing.
Do you identify as a feminist?
I believe in the rights of women and that we should be at par with men. I think women’s voices are being heard increasingly, no matter the industry. People say it’s a trend, but it’s not. Women can speak up now. I believe the gender equality landscape has changed in showbiz, too. Before, when you’re part of a love team, it’s the leading man who stays on. But that’s not the case now. Even if the love team doesn’t last, you can both have separate careers and a bright future.
You’ve been working for 20 years. What’s your most memorable fan encounter so far?
My fans have grown up with me through the years. The most memorable experience was in Cebu in 2014. I was there for a concert, and my dad met Bernadette, one of my fans, at the hotel lobby. She’d traveled all the way from another province, broken shoes and all, but she didn’t have a ticket—all she had was a scrapbook she’d made for me. She just wanted to see me; it was so heartwarming and touching. We got her a ticket, and I surprised her with a new pair of shoes and sang for her at the concert. Now she’s working in the Middle East and we follow each other on Twitter. It’s incredible how you can inspire someone and make them have faith in themselves. It’s amazing to be able to instill that in people, that they can follow their dreams and make anything happen.
You became independent at such an early age. Do you regret that?
No. I’m glad I learned to be independent early on. I was able to enjoy my independence more as I got older because I’d gotten the hard stuff out of the way. The thing is, I experienced all those struggles when I was at an age that I was so eager and I wanted to prove that I can survive and be a responsible adult. So when I was 24, I was like, I got this! I was able to relax. It’s good to start being independent at a young age because that’s the point where mistakes are still okay. I think you reach a certain age where, when you make a mistake, people will say, Uy, ang tanda mo na, ha! But when you’re younger, it’s more forgivable and people are more open to guiding you. You’re also more driven to make up for your mistakes.
This is your 9th Cosmo cover! What would you tell the Anne who appeared on her first Cosmo cover?
“Don’t be such a risk taker, you little daredevil!” Haha! I’d tell myself to be a little more careful. I guess that’s another thing that comes with age. You can’t keep on going through life as if there were no consequences and no other people to think about.
How much has changed since then?
Not a lot, really. How I was back then is still how I am now—except with lessons learned and a lot more experience in life. A lot of transitioning from different aspects, a lot of turning points. Being in this industry keeps me youthful and fuels my zest for life. At the end of the day, no matter what, I’m still a pursuer of dreams.