If you found Lauren Reid the way I did the morning of our cover shoot, you would’ve never figured that this was the girl everyone’s been putting on covers and shoots and ads lately. You’d expect a woman flanked by a small entourage the sister of the James Reid and possible future sister-in-law of the Nadine Lustre would need in this star-crazed country—but no, Lauren arrived first, all by herself. I found her peering at the wall of magazine covers in our office, clearly curious and interested, instead of sitting down and being engrossed in her phone while she waited.
I would later learn that even though she posts selfies and her photos and her gym and dancing videos on Instagram, she doesn’t really care about all the materialism prevalent in our lives today. The more I spoke with her, the more I learned that here, we have a millennial quite unlike the millennial most of us have become, and a celebrity that’s unlike most yet. Lauren Reid did not magically appear from some formless void because she is a Reid with a famous brother who blazed a trail she could take full advantage of; to her, this entire showbiz experience is just that: an experience.
And because she’s been shining under the spotlight for the past couple of months, no doubt by now you’ve read a lot of what there is to say about Lauren. It seems that we’re all in too much of a rush to document her and already prepare her spot in the annals of our showbiz history, long before any of us—including Lauren herself—even knows what she’s going to do, or how much she’s going to do. But she’s not an ant burning under a microscope on a sunny day. She sweats none of this.
One can say she stumbled into this crazy world and decided to take it all on. And I can confirm that she, at this point, is fully okay with the idea of having to leave it one day, finished or not finished, failure or success. If it ever has to come to that, she can walk away from it just like she left us after our shoot, walking into traffic, blending into the city crowd, unhesitant of who would spot her and gawk at James Reid’s sister. And she’ll still have left showbiz a better place than she found it.
This has to be the nth interview you’ve done in the span of… a couple of months? Yeah, about three!
How have they all been? Each one is very different. Completely different. More or less the same questions, but the approach to all the interviews are very different.
Does it get boring? No, it doesn’t… but when I get asked the same questions, it’s a tough one to think, “Do I give the same answer, because it’s the first thing that comes to the top of my head, or do I need to give you something else?
Glad you brought that up, because I feel pressured. I’ve been reading up on all your interviews and what you’ve been up to. I guess I’m gonna have to start with the obvious one—how does a girl working a corporate job in Australia end up— Ooh.
—in Philippine showbiz? Oh, right. How does that happen? That’s not even something that people think would ever happen.
Exactly. I know a lot of my friends in Australia are just like, “What… happened to you? How are you doing that right now?” How did it happen? It was obviously because my brother’s already in the industry. Two of my brothers were already in the industry. And there was an opportunity for me because his management, I suppose, allowed me to come in for an interview and whatnot. To be honest, I don’t know how it happened (laughs) but I’m happy that it did!
Can you give us a timeline—like, this time last year, what was happening? Okay, September last year. I think I was here, actually. I think I was here for about three months or so, kind of testing the waters if I wanted to be in the country. I was on a bit of a holiday, I was here, seeing if I liked it, went back to Australia for six months, had my final decision and then came here.
What led you to consider it? Showbiz or moving here?
Both. Moving here, really, was because of my dad. He is pushing 80, so he’s quite oooold—he doesn’t wanna hear that, but he’s getting older, he’s not getting younger. And I just wanted to spend some more time with him, because I moved out at 15. So I wasn’t with him for a lot of that. And so our relationship wasn’t as strong as it could have been.
But to go into showbiz, I don’t know how—who gets that opportunity, you know? Why would you pass that up? Because a corporate job’s a corporate job, I can always go back to it. It’s not like I’m gonna lose all my skills. I can apply for another job, and get another job.
Did you feel any sort of ennui, any sort of restlessness, I guess, in Australia or anything? In Australia? Kind of, with my job, I had kind of some moral issues with what I was doing. Not that it was bad, or anything, but I worked for a company that provided workforce to abattoirs, like slaughterhouses and whatnot.
Professionally, it’s a good job, but I was vegan at the time, and prior to that, vegetarian, so I had these morals of how can I not eat meat and all that. The reason I went vegan is because of climate change, and slaughterhouses and abattoirs don’t help that at all, but it’s the biggest industry in Australia. It’s really difficult.
How long did it take you to get up out of there because of your own feelings about the situation? When I first started, I thought, “Oh God, am I really doing this?” It was actually from the start. But I’ve gotta say that I was really good at my job, and I really enjoyed it and the people that I worked with. So I stuck on with it. And the company grew, and it was successful, and it’s still a thriving business. It’s like, there are so many more things! It’s not just because of that. It’s also because of family. It’s also because I wanted something new. It’s not anyone.
Okay. By my count, I think you’ve done like four photoshoots and covers for big publications around here. How does that feel? Does that overwhelm you? Yeah! It does! It’s awesome! Like I’m saving every single picture, like the Preview [feature], for example, I just got a stack of them that’s just in my room. You know, I’m really proud of it just because, as you said, this time last year I didn’t think I was gonna be in this position.
[pull_quote]”I had kind of some moral issues with what I was doing [in Australia]. Not that it was bad, or anything, but I worked for a company that provided workforce to abattoirs, like slaughterhouses and whatnot.”[/pull_quote]
Did you ever see yourself on a cover of a magazine? Nooo, God no. (laughs)
What does it feel like? It’s awesome! It’s awesome to, like once you can hold it, say I did this. I achieved this. That’s fantastic. But you know, it’s different—like in any business, any job that you do, you get a certification of attainment or something that you’ve done within that business, it’s the same thing. This is just like a picture. It’s still like a reward. It’s like an achievement, just in a different form, I suppose.
Are you getting used to it? I kind of… I know what to expect in a photoshoot now, which is… like not exactly getting used to it, because it’s different, every single time. It’s a different concept, different people. You can’t really get used to it when it’s not exactly the same thing.
I mean the fact that you’re living this life. People want you on the cover of magazines, people want you on billboards, commercials. Is this something you’re already used to? Yeah, I guess. I mean, I don’t expect it, but if someone says, “You wanna shoot?” I’m still like, “Oh my God, yes! That’s really nice!” I’m still kilig, if you wanna say that.
Kilig, okay! I’m still kilig!
Is that like the first major Filipino concept that you learned? (laughs) No, no! I bet it’s probably one of my favorites. It’s kilig and pak ganern! (laughs)
Yeah, I saw that video you did. The one at the gym?
The one at the gym, and the beki slang… Oh! (laughs)
Is it weird that people keep making you do this stuff? Um, no, I think it’s fun! The one in the gym, I decided to do that. But the beki slang one (chuckles) that was… that was interesting. But other people enjoyed it, too. I’m glad it got the people laughing.
Is that the weirdest thing about being foreign in the Philippines—someone who’s not originally from here, you grew up elsewhere—they’re trying to paint you as this outsider who’s cute and comes in, assimilating the culture and all that. What do you think of all that? Right! I never saw it that way until just now. Well, I guess it’s what I’m trying to do—I’m not trying to be cute and all that, but I am trying to assimilate in some form or way by trying to learn the language, and trying to immerse myself in what all the Filipinos do here. Because if I’m gonna live here permanently or for a while, I feel like it’s necessary to assimilate.
Do you feel weirded out that people, or of all the things they’ve been making you do on those videos and stuff, they’re portraying you as this funny foreigner? I never saw it like that! (laughs)
It’s funny, the things they’re making you do, and you’re obviously having a blast. Yeah, no, I’m having a lot of fun! But if they wanna paint that picture, it’s fine. If people see me that way, that’s fine. It’s fine with me. I don’t really mind.
Why is that? Have you never thought about what people think of you? Not too much, really. Everybody sees everyone in a different way, so not everyone’s gonna see me like that. Some people are gonna think it’s funny, some people are gonna think it’s a joke, some people don’t care, some people are gonna hate it. So I don’t, really.
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the Philippines is kind of a really judgmental society. Oh, yeeeah. So is Australia! I’m not gonna lie, everyone’s judgmental, they just do it in a different way. In Australia, it’s very sarcastic. It’s sarcastic to everybody. They judge everyone, but they’re very straight up about it.
People are straight up mean here, you know? They’re not sarcastic, they’re just mean. Like people online, and whatnot?
Yeah. In general, I guess. I just… I think that’s so sad, to be honest. That you need to take time out of your day to say something horrible to another person. You could do something much more positive with your time.
Have you already gotten a taste of that? Like a bit. Not as much as I thought I would, just right now. I’ve had some. At the start, it was mostly in Tagalog and I couldn’t understand that, so it’s kind of like, ugh! It’s fine! I don’t really mind that. But now that I can understand some things, yeah, I just push it to the side. To be honest, I will remove it from my page. If I see it, I will remove it, because I don’t need to go on my social media when I’m feeling great and I don’t need to see that comment there every single day. Or whenever I go into that.
What is the worst thing that you could understand? Um… I can’t even remember, to be honest. They all just sound the same to me.
That’s great, because I wish we could all forget. It sticks with you! Actually! I don’t have good memory, so it’s got something to do with it, but I really can’t remember. Like I think I posted a video the other day and someone said I don’t have an ass. That’s the last thing I heard. But yeah, that’s fine by me.
[pull_quote]”I see all my friends when I was younger, and they have their parents, and they have their siblings, and their parents are still together and they’re not divorced and they all live in this nice white picket-fence house. And to me, that was always the ideal family. But our family was never that.”[/pull_quote]
What’s the worst thing—the hardest thing, I guess, about being an Australian in the Philippines? For me, it’s the language barrier. And also, I’m not fully Filipino. Even if I embrace Filipino culture and all that, I’m not totally a Filipino, I’m still not one of them, even if I learn these things. Because it’s gonna be years before I can speak as fluently as the next Filipino.
James has been doing really well. James has been doing really well, but he’s been here seven years. He’s been here for a long time.
Sorry, does that annoy you? When people talk about and bring up James? No no no no no. Yeah, no, people can bring up James, that’s fine. I have no issues with discussing my brother.
All right. What’s the best thing about now—I read somewhere that you guys grew up not so well-off. No, we grew up really well-off, then it dropped off.
Oh yes, right. So we were like kings to peasants.
Then here now. Then here now. But yeah, but it took a while. Like my dad and James living in a little hotel for a few years.
Over here? Yeah. Because we didn’t have enough money. But then now, because of James…
What was that like? I mean, like, I guess I wanna know… I didn’t live with them.
Oh! No, I didn’t live with them. So I don’t know.
What was it like? I guess the family’s all scattered a bit, so what is that like? What is it like… it’s normal for us. It was just the most normal thing. Like I see all my friends when I was younger, and they have their parents, and they have their siblings, and their parents are still together and they’re not divorced and they all live in this nice white picket-fence house. And to me, that was always the ideal family. But our family was never that.
A TV family. It’s like, well, kind of, you would make a good story. But five mothers, and then a bajillion children that all live separately at one point, all together at one point, yeah, it’s just normal.
What was it like to meet your half-siblings and not communicate with them? Well, they’re 18, 17, 16, and another one is 13. So it’s been years. I knew them when they were born, and they can speak English, but they’re just shy. So I’m gonna be the one that can communicate with them. Because these half-siblings of mine, they’re all younger than me. So I’m their ate, I should take initiative and do that for them.
Going back to all the haters and stuff. Have you ever given failure in showbiz any thought? Yeah. That it like might not lead to anywhere? Is that what you’re saying?
Yeah. Yeah, yeah! Of course. If that happens, then I’ll go back to what I was doing before, or get back to a corporate job. It doesn’t faze me at all. It’s like if I failed really big in the public eye, that if I did something that just ruined me in a really negative light, the only thing that would bother me, really, would be how it would reflect on my family. So how it would reflect my on my dad, my brothers, my brothers’ careers. But I can’t imagine what I’d do.
How would it reflect on their careers? Well, it depends on what I did, or what happened to me. So if I did something really really bad that, I don’t know, I can’t even think about it.
Because my idea of failure would be flopping. I guess how I understand your idea of failure is scandal. No, not exactly scandal. Okay, yeah, but scandal, that wasn’t in my head. Flopping, as in I can’t deliver?
I guess. Mmm, that would be a shame. (laughs)
Not saying that you can’t, because it’s just saying that— But like, I mean I haven’t put any expectations for anybody yet, other than what people are expecting of me. Because I haven’t claimed, exactly, to wanna be an actor, a singer, or a dancer, anything. So everyone’s expectations are their own right now.
[pull_quote]If I failed really big in the public eye, that if I did something that just ruined me in a really negative light, the only thing that would bother me, really, would be how it would reflect on my family. So how it would reflect my on my dad, my brothers, my brothers’ careers.[/pull_quote]
What’s the highest expectation, or the most absurd, I guess, that you’ve gotten? If any? Um, I haven’t heard anything. But people ask me to go on ASAP.
Yeah! That’s like really the only thing I’ve gotten from people. Which is… that’s cool. That sounds like fun. I can use my dancing. (laughs) But yeah, flopping because I couldn’t deliver, how would I feel about that? I’d feel pretty shitty about it. No one enjoys failure, but then from failure, you can build yourself up, look at what you did, and do better. But for me, I’m not putting all my eggs in one basket and going, “Showbiz is it.” I am giving it my all, but I do have a Plan B. Which is the corporate world. Not necessarily going back to Australia, I can do it here.
You got any leads? Here?
Yeah. Actually, before I went into showbiz, I had a few applications here with a few different corporations.
So that was the plan before— Yeah, yeah, showbiz wasn’t my [plan]. I didn’t come here like, “Ooh, I’m gonna go in showbiz!” No, I had applications in and been in interviews and things like that.
I think that might have been the story people had in mind with you. That I came in for showbiz?
Yeah. No, I came in, I had a few months, I was applying for jobs, did my interviews and stuff, had some time, went over to America with James and Nadine for their tour. They did the whole “You should join showbiz,” and I thought, hey, you know what? I haven’t got a job yet. I’ve still got my applications in. They’re still coming in, so I can try this out, see how it goes, then here I am!
You said you don’t have any expectations of you or anything, so I guess what I was asking earlier about whether these shoots and covers were overwhelming is because, I guess, you can say that you haven’t been established yet. And then here you are, people are setting up all these expectations of you by putting you everywhere. Does that really not faze you at all? Like in a positive or a negative way?
I guess in a pressure way. In a pressure way. No, I don’t feel the pressure.
Really? No, I really don’t feel the pressure.
That’s amazing. I don’t feel anybody’s expectations, like baggage, on me. To me it’s all really exciting. The way—my mindset right now is so positive, and I’m just so happy with my life right now that everything is brilliant. Like that might sound like a showbiz answer to you, but in Australia, I was not a very positive person. So now I’m just taking everything with a grain of salt.
Where does this positivity come from? I don’t know. But it was after the tour. I’ve just been a really happy person. Which is amazing, because as I said, I was not always a happy person.
Can I ask why? Why? Just a lot, a lot of things. From a very young age.
Okay. I’m not gonna go into that since you didn’t wanna go into that. Nope.
So what did you always wanna be growing up? I wanted to be a businesswoman. I wanted to be a lawyer, actually. ‘Cause I looked up to my brother, my eldest brother, Andrew. He’s a successful businessman, lawyer, beautiful family, beautiful children, lives in America, got that life going on. That’s what I wanted.
The reason why my eyes are wide is because I got kicked out of law school. Oh, really? (laughs)
I think that’s pretty noble. Would you wanna practice law here or in Australia? I would say in Australia, but that’s what I initially wanted. I kind of went down the path of human resources and business management. So human resources within a law firm, that was my goal. Until I had sights on investments and things like that. Like I wouldn’t want just one job. I’d want other paths.
All the other corporate stuff. Yeah.
Okay. Do you still want to be a lawyer? No, I don’t wanna be a lawyer. I would like to be in the legal sector.
Okay. But not necessarily practicing law. Not necessarily practicing law.
[pull_quote]”I wanted to be a businesswoman. I wanted to be a lawyer, actually. ‘Cause I looked up to my brother, my eldest brother, Andrew. He’s a successful businessman, lawyer, beautiful family, beautiful children, lives in America, got that life going on. That’s what I wanted.[/pull_quote]
Okay, I noticed that you post a lot of selfies in the gym and stuff. (laughs)
Part of being a celebrity, I guess, is staying fit. Yeah, it’s really part of the job. If you don’t—I think if someone doesn’t see it as part of their job, they’re not all that. You should be healthy and fit. I think, actually for anybody, not just in showbiz, going to the gym should be part of your job. It should be something you do every single day.
Interesting. You have one body to take you from start to the finish. And if you don’t look after that body, you’re not gonna get there. Or you’re gonna get there a lot quicker, you know what I mean?
To the finish. (laughs) Yeah, to the finish! We all wanna take our time, and enjoy it!
I was gonna ask you what you were training for, but I guess that answers it. Training for life! Yeah!
But okay, so I was also gonna ask you if you thought it was a requirement to join showbiz, so I guess you do. Yeah. Yeah, I do.
Did somebody tell you, “You have to stay fit?” No. Actually, I had to put a clause into my contract saying we have to maintain my fitness together.
Did you put a clause in your contract saying, “You have to pay for my gym?” No, no, God no! No no no.
Because that would be great! I just said I need to maintain my fitness, basically, and you have to help me get there. Like I can’t be too busy, so I can go to the gym, things like that.
That’s a good point. I think one of the main issues in showbiz right now is not being talked about that much, but people want better hours. Yeah. The hours are meant to go ‘til midnight, but they still go further than midnight.
Yeah, yeah, right? Have you been asked to do any tapings yet or anything? No, no.
Does that worry you? Kinda.
It’s part of the job, isn’t it? It’s part of the job, but adequate resting hours are also necessary. I would be very firm with that. Firm with finishing times and all that.
Is there a stigma of people, I guess, in showbiz, the higher-ups looking down on people such as yourself making demands that you feel are reasonable? Like am I being demanding? Over other people?
No, no, it’s not necessarily you being demanding, but are you afraid of people thinking you’re demanding? No. Not at all. I think I do come across as very strong to people, I don’t know if you think that.
Not so far. Just between the two of us, I think I’m stronger right now. Most people, yeah, would say that to me. But no, I think it’s reasonable. On that one comment, saying that finish time should be a finish time, but any actor that goes into taping has a handler, and that handler would be the one to say they’re finished at the correct finish time. So… I suppose it wouldn’t be me.
You wouldn’t be the one to say it. Does going into showbiz worry you at all? About what?
Like, I don’t know, I guess in a matter of well-being, both physical and mental. I’d be worried about my well-being, about getting tired, getting exhausted, not having adequate time to rest. Because then if you’re not healthy, if you’re not mentally, emotionally all there, how can you perform to your best ability?
Have you heard any horror stories about how showbiz works, at least in the work hours? Or, you know, what is expected of you? I’ve heard James, for example, because he is my closest door into the industry. When he was first starting out, he had a call time of, say, 9 a.m. He didn’t go on until I think it was 11 a.m. the next day. So he was there for like 26 hours. Just waiting.
Well, I mean, these things can happen, right? So— But, yeah, that can’t happen anymore. Because there are call times and finish times. So that’s a horror story to me. Just waiting there, not being told. I think that would mess up your mind a little bit.
But none of this really scares you. No. It doesn’t really scare me. I mean like, I might get agitated if I was in that position or I might get frustrated, but it doesn’t scare me. Or worry me.
I think most people want the fame and the money, I guess, and don’t really realize that this business changes people. Are you afraid that it might change you? If anything, it might make me more outspoken and, I don’t know, confident? But I’m not exactly doing it for the money or anything. I’m really just doing it for an experience, and for my family. Any money I get goes towards the family. So yeah, that’s it.
[pull_quote]I kind of reprogrammed my whole thought process, because I planned everything out. I had my life planned out in a diary. And if things didn’t go to plan in my diary, I would flip out. Flip out! So now, I’m really just taking things day by day. And I’m so much more calm and relaxed.[/pull_quote]
What do you get up for? I get up for… myself? My family? The gym? Because if I don’t, I get a headache. If I sleep in.
Really? Yeah, I get a really bad headache. I don’t know, just to have a better day than yesterday, I suppose.
Okay. None of this has gotten you down? Showbiz?
Showbiz, life. Life here. People. No, the worst thing is probably the traffic. Or the food. I mean I love Filipino food, but I miss the food in Australia. We have just really good produce and stuff there. Because no one really eats vegetables here, which really kills me, so I go to this one place and eat the same thing every single day, basically. I’m not a very adventurous eater.
What do you have to say to young people trying to chase their dreams, or trying to live life for the experience, not knowing what they have in store for them? Just the experience of life? The experience of going to showbiz?
I guess advice for people who are lost. People who are lost…
…but have a lot of energy. Restless energy. A lot of energy. Plan it out. Sit down, really make a goal. Take baby steps. This is kinda the same thing I tell people when they wanna have a goal losing weight. It’s the same kinda thing for your life, well, this is what I did. I really took my time to sit down and think about what I wanted. I could relate this to moving countries. Sit down, think about what I wanted; I literally did a pros and cons list to see what would be better for me.
So those things really work? I guess they kinda did, and I kinda thought about what’s important—is it me, is it my friends, is it my family? Where do I see myself in the next five, 10 years? Do I want this relationship? Do I want kids? Do I want this job? Really just think about everything that you have. I kind of reprogrammed my whole thought process also, because I planned everything out. I had a diary, my life planned out in a diary. And if things didn’t go to plan in my diary, I would flip out. Flip out! So now, I’m really just taking things day by day. And I’m so much more calm and relaxed.
Do you take more risks? Take more risks… risks as in not planning it out? Like that?
Yeah. Just making stuff work. Well, I haven’t done anything extreme, really. I did trapezing.
I saw that on your Instagram. Yeah, that’s like the riskiest thing I’ve done.
I did that too, it was really freaky going up. Yeah, it’s fun though! That’s what you should do. Even though I’m not a big planner anymore, like I still write down my schedule and everything like that, but just for people to take it one day at a time, because I’m a much more carefree person for it. But to reach a goal, know your goal and think about how you wanna get there. Surround yourself with like-minded people, maybe? People that know the industry. Network. That’s all I can say.
For my last last question, what’s the best thing you’ve ever gotten from doing something unplanned? Being happy, really. Like I’m not big on… artificial (holds up phone) what do you call it? Objects.
Materialism. Yeah, materialism. I’m not big on materialism. You can scrap everything I have and I’ll still be happy.
This article first appeared on the November-December 2016 issue.
Photos by Paolo Crodua, styling by Ryuji Shiomitsu, makeup by Mac Igarta for NARS, hair by Rhod Rubia