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

Cosmopolitan (Philippines) - - Know -

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.

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