Eleven years ago, Kim Chiu was a clueless, innocent, and shy “Chinese cutie from Cebu,” who captured hearts on her way to become the Pinoy Big Brother Teen Edition Big Winner.
But before she entered the Big Brother House, Kim had never dreamed, much less expected to shine in the limelight. Actually, it was she who actually adorned stars and watched all their shows as a daily habit.
Normal school girl
“(I was a) normal school girl na mahilig manood ng teleserye, mga TV shows. Wala ako masyadong toys, mahilig lang ako manood ng TV,” she said in an exclusive interview with ABS-CBN.com.
It was no secret that Kim led a difficult life growing up but despite this she had this inner strength and inspirational outlook that made her adapt and overcome. As she studied in Cebu, Kim also worked part-time as a bagger at a store owned by her aunt.
“Every Saturday, taga-lagay (ako) ng mga binibili (ng mga customer) sa supot, ganoon, sa RTW store ng tita ko,” Kim revealed.
But as she toiled juggling school work with her part-time job, a star-crossed classmate invited her and other friends to join an audition for the PBB Teen Edition at SM City Cebu.
“Katuwaan lang yon. Yayaan lang. Huy, magdala kayo ng full body at close up, ha? At saka birth certificate sa Monday, ganyan. Wala kaming pasok noon. Parang magsama tayo sa SM tapos PBB ganyan. Ah sige, meron ako, sakto, kasi may pa-Alfa pa noon, Fuji Film, Kodak. Mahilig ako magpa-picture, di ba? Alam ko may full body ako at saka close up. Ah sige, sige, dalhin ko. Sama, sama ako. So nagka-yayaan lang. Hanggang sa nag-audition,” she recalled.
And, little did she realize that fun dare turned out to be the turning point in her life.
“Nagka-yayaan lang kasi di ko gustong mag-showbiz. Wala sa kalingkinan sa mga pinangarap ko sa buhay na mag-sho-showbiz ako. Yung isa kong classmate, siya gusto, so niyaya kami mag-audition sa PBB,” Kim said.
The rest was history. And of course, after passing the auditions, her first steps into the limelight were very sensational as she amassed millions of followers worldwide during the PBB telecast, especially due to her closeness with housemate Gerald Anderson that eventually blossomed into a love team called Kimerald.
And after being declared the Big Winner, she was astonished with how a mere face in the crowd only a few months back has become the most popular teenager on Philippine television.
“Nung lumabas ako ng PBB, nakita ko ang daming placards, “Kim Chiu,” “Kimerald,” “We Love You, Kim!” sa Aliw Theater. Parang konting tingin mo, sisigaw waaah, bakit? Anong nangyari?,” she said.
But more than just the instant fame, Kim’s march to show business was all about helping her family.
“Kasi gusto kong tumulong sa family ko. Yun talaga. Wala kaming maraming pera noon. Di naman kami nakakapag-aral yearly kung wala mga sponsor. So gusto kong maka-aral ang mga kapatid ko, ako. So nung pumasok ako sa showbiz, nung nakita ko yung kikitain ko, okay sige!,” Kim declared.
But when she got her very first showbiz project after PBB, Kim immediately got a reality check.
“Yung una kong TV guest acting stint, Love Spell. Kasi siyempre matatawag kang actress pag humarap ka sa camera and umarte ka, actress ka na doon. Yun, di ako marunong umarte. Pinapagalitan pa ako (noon). (Sabi nila), ano ba, artista, gusto mong mag-artista…ganyan ganyan. Sinsigawan ka pag hindi ka makaiyak, pinapahiya ka sa harap ng maraming tao,” she recalled.
But, instead of getting discouraged with this “shock of her life,” Kim took it in stride and worked harder to become a better actress.
“Nakakahiya pero it’s part of being an actor. Yung i-embrace mo yung mga learnings na natutunan mo through the years,” Kim stressed.
Since then, Kim became a celebrated actress, maturing from light romances to elaborate dramas. She achieved TV ratings and film blockbuster success with Gerald in her first years in the business with their teleseryes Sana Maulit Muli her first leading role in My Girl, and their acclaimed dramatic stint in Tayong Dalawa. Add to that those high grossing movies First Day High, I’ve Fallen For You, I Love You Goodbye, and Paano Na Kaya?, truly the Kimerald has become one of the most successful love teams in showbiz.
But there came a point that such incredible, lovely, and spectacular things come to an end. With their estrangement as a love team after their last projects together in 2010, the film Till My Heartaches End and the teleserye Kung Tayo’y Magkakalayo, Kim was now all alone in pursuing her acting career. But just like those trying times for most of us, it was eventful, and truly a blessing in disguise.
Kim got her milestone lead role in My Binondo Girl (now with her succeeding love team partner Xian Lim) after the Kimerald split and this led her to focus on her monumental drama performance in Ina, Kapatid, Anak.
“As in ano talaga yun (Ina, Kapatid, Anak), sobrang memorable yon. Kasi ang daming pinagdaanan ang character na yon. Doon, na-challenge talaga ako sa pag-arte. Ang haba kasi ng show na yon eh,” Kim said.
A breakthrough role in film came when she landed a role in the horror flick The Healing with Vilma Santos, which earned her multitudes of Best Supporting Actress nominations from local award giving bodies.
But the most heralded accomplishment for Kim came in 2014, when the PMPC Star Awards for TV named her Best Actress for her unforgettable performance in multiple roles in Ikaw Lamang, and achieving her top grossing film to date, Bride for Rent, with Xian Lim that raked in over P320 million.
Despite these, however, Kim remains grounded on her fortunes in showbiz.
“Hindi namin kontrolado kung gusto pa kami ng management. O gusto pa kami ng tao every day of our lives. So kung meron, kung gusto nila kami, why not, kasi gusto talaga namin ang ginagawa namin. Pero mag-e-expire din itong mga nangyayari sa amin. Di naman ito after isang project, gusto ka ulit. Di natin alam. Di ko alam. So parang dapat meron kang fallback,” Kim emphasized.
Kim had since taken distance education courses in Business Management at the UP Open University.
With her succeeding ensemble roles and an impressive stint as co-host of The Voice Kids, Kim is again back in the much awaited teleserye Ikaw Lang ang Iibigin, which reunites her with a familiar lad, with whom she shared her first, unforgettable steps in her showbiz journey—Gerald Anderson. Kimerald is back!
“Dapat abangan ang muli naming pagsasama unang-una after seven years na hindi nila kami napanood sa TV. Kasi last project namin 2010. Sana i-embrace nila ang pagbalik tambalan namin and sana suportahan nila ang show namin,” she said.
And after a roller-coaster yet fulfilled 11 years in the business, Kim can only look forward to one thing: her continuing transformation and growth as an artist.
“Eleventh year ko na this year so I need to embrace change. Every time naman may project ka, you grow as an actor mentally at kung paano mo i-ha-handle yung mga people around you. Yung mga nakaka-trabaho mo, nag-go-grow ka, natututo ka. Every day, natuto ka sa mga kasama mo. Wala namang constant na ito lang ang alam ko. Marami kaming natututunan. And kung meron ka i-she-share, mas maganda,” Kim said.
And as a person, how far has she grown as an actress and as a person from the time PBB host Toni Gonzaga announced she was the “Chinese Cutie from Cebu”?
“Sobra na. You grow every day. You learn every day. I’m more mindful ngayon sa lahat ng mga nangyayari sa buhay,“ she noted.
Ikaw Lang ang Iibigin premieres on Monday, May 1 on Prime Tanghali before It’s Showtime