I’ve got a con­fes­sion to make, one that could wipe out all of what­ever cred I may have: I saw that sea­son of Pi­noy Big Brother James Reid was in.

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It was the bor­ing sum­mer of 2010. For one rea­son or an­other, we didn’t have any­thing else to dis­tract our­selves with. We didn’t go any­where. My broth­ers, vo­ra­cious con­sumers of lo­cal me­dia that they are, thought it would be nice to fol­low Pi­noy Big Brother. PBB

Teen Clash, it was called, be­cause the Pow­ers That Be de­cided to mess with the house­mates by pit­ting them against each other more than the usual.

The show was oddly riv­et­ing. I mean, yeah, in the grander scheme of things, ev­ery­one in­volved were just teenagers cho­sen un­seen, om­nipo­tent hand. I have to ad­mit, though, that the re­sults

James was brought in—on a dare by his dad, only a few short months af­ter he set­tled in the Philip­pines with his fam­ily, he tells me—along­side a bunch of other for­eign­ers all with some ties to the coun­try, whether it was merely study­ing here or hav­ing a Filipino par­ent. The oth­ers were more bois­ter­ous, more scene-steal­ing, more prone to that PBB sig­na­ture style of drama than James was. He was sel­dom the cen­ter of dra­matic at­ten­tion. He was a bit shy, hardly stole the spot­light, and wasn’t one of those who had sob sto­ries to air out on the show. (If he did, he was never the type to half-Filipino, played the gui­tar, wrote his own songs, was named

Bret James won, no­body saw it com­ing. Ev­ery­one prob­a­bly ex­pected him to come in as a top win­ner, but never the big win­ner.

although he never said any­thing of the sort. Not on the show, and not in our con­ver­sa­tion. I felt that a bit from watch­ing him in­side the house, though. I’d be the same way if I were him.

So much has hap­pened since that night. If you turn on your TV of the world doubt their al­le­giance, maybe along­side his on­screen Bernardo that more of­ten than not, I can’t tell who’s who). You might hear him singing some of his orig­i­nal songs, which are chart­ing where they mat­ter now. You could drive down Edsa and how big he’s get­ting.

“They re­ally found some­one who would’ve never made his way to show­biz,” James says of his fame by way of PBB be­fore PBB

Big Brother in Australia. When you win, you get the money, but then man­agers about him. No body­guards hover over him, all the way eas­ier than we thought.

course it would be dif­fer­ent. It should be dif­fer­ent. He’s tired, but he’s still do­ing this, and he’d rather not celebrity his way into the build­ing. He is re­served, but not in a de­lib­er­ately snob­bish way, not as part of the trap­pings of be­ing a celebrity. It’s re­ally the same way he was in­side Big Brother’s house. For­tu­nately, he hasn’t out­grown that.

and women—any­one who wants to be a star—and turn them into com­plete en­ter­tain­ers who could act, sing, and dance, among other pos­si­ble tal­ents. That is the idea of a huge star around here.

be a singer. The prob­lem is, the strong­est form of me­dia is TV and movies, so you have to be an ac­tor if you want to be big. If you’re an ac­tor and you can sing, it helps. It helps a lot, be­cause it shows

Reid Alert, a pun which I ei­ther should be prais­ing for its clev­er­ness, or straight up ‘F.A.M.E.’ I just started singing along to it. That’s how I learned to

The mix­ture of ev­ery­thing he has to do and wants to do does seem to be pretty hard on him. “See, that’s why I said you should torn be­tween two and I can’t de­vote 100 per­cent full at­ten­tion to one. Be­cause now I’m fall­ing in love with act­ing, the idea of be­ing a

on­stage, and hav­ing a huge crowd, and they’re all singing along to my lyrics, that also ex­cites me. hav­ing to do both at the same time, it slows down the process.”

So you’d rather con­cen­trate on one process? the way it is in the Philip­pines, in Philip­pine show­biz. That’s what peo­ple want from me.”

All that pres­sure to be a cer­tain some­thing all the time could be tax­ing, es­pe­cially on strong-willed in­di­vid­u­als who have their that cre­ates rebels, and fos­ters an au­di­ence that gets sur­prised at th­ese re­bel­lions? The sys­tem that turned Hannah Mon­tana

But James doesn’t seem fazed. He feels his im­age is mud­dled is both men­tal and phys­i­cal; he’s got­ten used to the sleep­less and an or­di­nary hu­man be­ing, and he wouldn’t wish it on any­one un­less they re­ally wanted to do it. in­ter­na­tional artist. I’m in the Philip­pines. That’s how it has to be. I mean, my fans, they en­joy it, and even if I’m able to en­ter­tain them,

and more free­dom,” he says. He man­aged to im­press Viva boss Vic del Rosario, the man who made James what he is, enough dur­ing the record­ing of his al­bum to give him that par­tic­u­lar free­dom. or that you do have great ideas, you’re not gonna get the re­spect and free­dom to be cre­ative or ex­press your­self through your art.”

show­biz—and some peo­ple who are al­ready in show­biz—would sec­ond year.

it’s been two years, but it’s only been 10 months. So much has hap­pened that I can’t be­lieve it’s only been less than a year.” I agree with him. I saw the com­mer­cials for Di­ary ng Panget on TV last year and thought, hold up, James Reid is mak­ing movies

now? hold up, that was last year? This guy has two movies and al­bums and count­ing. Bill­boards and endorsements. He spent And he’s not done. In fact, he’s still hun­gry at the ta­ble. “What get bet­ter and bet­ter. I can feel it. I can feel this wave of mu­sic one hell of a dream. It’s not that I don’t be­lieve in him, but it might to be world-fa­mous. “What I learned from PBB is to dream big, James tells me the Philip­pines is the place he wants to die in. Prior to this, the coun­try was just a mag­i­cal di­ver­sion he saw ev­ery year sense of won­der at the world around him. “I plan to live here—it’s

about Wattpad, an on­line plat­form where am­a­teur Filipino writ­ers James’s (and Viva’s) bread and but­ter right now. They seem to be and out there (which might be an un­der­state­ment) and less tor­rid Some wolf down the stuff, and oth­ers ab­so­lutely de­test it.

“They all have the same theme of love. That’s one of the big­gest com­ing from the au­di­ence.” Un­prece­dented? Talk Back and You’re

Dead, one of the char­ac­ters had bright red hair. And yeah, some we run this gang­ster un­der­world. They’re nice ideas.”

That’s an in­ter­est­ing way to put it. I hy­poth­e­size that as a char­ac­ters he plays on­screen, which are all pro­jec­tions of the au­thors’ re­spec­tive imag­i­na­tions. For his part, he says he was in and most painful.

doesn’t mat­ter who else ap­proaches me, it doesn’t mat­ter be­cause I have the one al­ready. All the char­ac­ters I’ve played so far as­sume those be­liefs.”

idea of love is all a bit, well, naïve?

James Reid is le­git.

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