By Olivia Estrada
Photography by Regine David
Styling by Ryuji Shiomitsu
Actress Sofia Andres takes on her industry commitments with a unique drive to succeed. She knows that she has to deliver as long as the camera demands it. That’s rare for a 19-year-old feeling the weight of the tyranny of choice. When everything is a tap away on your phone, you kind of want to be everything at once. When you’re an actress with 2.6 million followers on Instagram watching your every move, the options can be dizzying.
But despite all of the other possibilities available to millennials, Sofia learned the importance of focus at an early age. She started out doing commercials as a kid and then progressed to fashion shows. Eventually, acting came. Unlike other showbiz fairytale stories, where the stars are discovered while doing mundane things in unlikely places, Sofia took control of her own destiny from the beginning. “When I wanted to audition, my mom didn’t want [me] to do it at first.” She was determined, even in her early teens. “I really wanted it, I wanted to be in front of the camera and I fell in love with it.”
Her early work life was full of fun memories, like catching That’s So Raven after school and using her first flip phone. Unlike the people around her, however, working in showbiz wasn’t a short stint but a still-rising career. “Maybe I was born to act,” she says, offering an explanation for why she’s so comfortable on set. From barely being able to say hi when she arrives at the studio for this shoot to exchanging jokes with everyone once she has her makeup and first outfit on, Sofia quickly gets in the zone−her zone.
Still, the road wasn’t always so smooth. When she entered showbiz and nabbed her first projects like She’s Dating the Gangster and Forevermore (she shared the screen with power love teams like Kathryn Bernardo and Daniel Padilla, as well as Liza Soberano and Enrique Gil), she still had a lot to learn. Stress, pressure, and fatigue caught up with her, and it showed. She says this threw off the people around her. Her manager would point out that in this line of work, showing signs of slowing down was a no-no. “Whenever anyone noticed that I looked tired and bored [of it all], I learned to keep on going. I needed to show that I really wanted it.”
This was perhaps why Sofia was bubbly and game throughout her long workday that began with a taping early in the morning and ended with us in the changing room at around 7 p.m. talking about her career. Instead of letting the tiredness get the best of her, she’s learned how to live off it. “I like this kind of tired. I enjoy working.”
She’s even mastered a delicate type of control over the chaos that comes her way. When things get a little too hectic, Sofia turns to meditation. She also reminds herself to be grateful. “Before, I really couldn’t handle it. When I was tired, I gave into it, but you have to think positive.”
It’s with this mindset that Sofia turns around the assumptions thrown at people her age. We all hustle hard, clock in the right hours, and avoid complaining. Yes, that’s how we have the time to still post on social media and keep up with the lives of other millennial idols like Kendall Jenner. (Sofia admires how she’s a little bit more quiet compared to others in her clan.) Often we are painted with split-second preferences and considered as flighty as a Snap or Instagram story. Sofia knows about this reality as well. “People will judge you for your feed. It’s easy to judge a photo without looking deeper.” It no longer bothers her because she had to learn how to deal with negativity early.
Her emboldened self-awareness is unexpected for someone as young as she is.
“Being in showbiz, you have to have an image. But that image is different from your personality. Since this is work, it’s no different to how you’d have a certain approach to your boss, how you have an image to your friends.”
This mindset echoes back to her past of dealing with bullies. “[My classmates] would assume certain things about me. I would be alone and wouldn’t have any friends.”
The scars of those experiences still remain. “It’s why up to now, I won’t be the first person to say hi or I don’t smile at once. I am afraid of getting rejected.” She powers through, however, and I can see it in her friendly demeanor with everyone at the shoot. She tells anecdotes in between takes and makes jokes. She is able to perfect every scene we need for the video in almost one take.
What others may mistake for vanity and self-centeredness is perhaps just an awareness of what she puts out there into the world. It’s similar to how we spend a lot of time getting the cropping right and choosing that filter for the ’gram.
But that doesn’t mean Sofia is doing things without being genuine. A new lesson is approaching in her trajectory. She acknowledges that bullies still exist, even in the professional world. “There are people out there who get competitive. You don’t know who will be honest with you, who will be true with you.” How does she cope with it? “I just ignore it.”
Sofia also knows how to look past people’s misgivings by learning from the best. She admires the way Piolo Pascual handles the pressures of the industry. “You’ll really see how he’s humble and that when you get higher, the more down-to-earth you have to be.”
Past all the assumptions, Sofia knows what she’s doing. The proof is how she’s hit her big break. She is currently part of Pusong Ligaw, an afternoon soap opera. “This is it. Before, I would just have a minor character or I would play the third wheel. Not this one,” she says. In the show, Sofia plays a wide-eyed young designer for a commercial clothing brand. It’s quite a contrast to see her cheerful persona against the feuding characters of Beauty Gonzalez and Bianca King. It’s easy to find her on the screen, and it’s not just because of her bright eyes and pretty face; she maintains a unique presence despite sharing the screen with industry veterans.
That only proves she’s effective. We can only wonder right now where this will lead. The future doesn’t necessarily shine bright only on the beautiful and the talented, but also the hardworking. Sofia hits the mark.
But that’s getting ahead of ourselves. Sofia is only 19 after all. But not just 19; Sofia is dead set on what she has at hand with a mission that’s set on overdrive.
Pusong Ligaw is one of the reasons she won’t be going to school until next year. The sacrifice is big, but she expects a huge payoff as well in the form of providing for her family with a house and a car. And don’t forget, an acting career. “Above all of that, I want to be a good actress. I admire so many of them.”
Fashion by Penshoppe
Shoes from So!Fab
Makeup by Effie Go Iñigo
Hair by MJ Rone for Revlon
Stylist’s Assistant Carlos Tomawis
Video by Jear Velasquez
This story was originally published in our September-October 2017 issue and has been edited for web.