Set Phasers To Stun
Set Phasers To Stun With Janine Gutierrez
From an early age, we learn that no one is born equal. From the days of kindergarten and status-defining Crayola sets to the days of university-preferred job searching and building a career, we are reminded so often that not everything is fair, that not everyone begins their adventure at the same starting line.
But the empowered woman we look up to is never sorry for her privileges. She isn’t apologetic about the opportunities given to her just because she knows her story is unique. Instead, she takes every advantage available and makes good with them, for herself and for those around her.
World, get ready for Janine Gutierrez. She’s helping lead this time of reckoning.
It’s no secret that Janine comes from a line of showbiz royalty. Her parents are Ramon Christopher Gutierrez and Lotlot de Leon, her paternal grandparents are Pilita Corrales and Eddie Gutierrez, and her adoptive maternal grandparents are Nora Aunor and Christopher de Leon. Her family tree is a mouthful of the who’s who in Philippine entertainment, but this is exactly why Janine was initially hesitant to follow in their footsteps.
“I didn’t really want to be an actress when I was younger,” she tells us. “I just wanted to be pasaway (rebellious), in a way; I didn’t want to do what all of them were doing.” But in that same breath, she tells us that she came to the realization that her family’s careers opened an opportunity for her that she did not want to walk away from. “I just grabbed it,” she says.
And grab it she did. Since that decision, we have seen Janine in a number of films and even more television series. Last year, she even won the Gawad Urian Award for Best Actress for her role in Babae At Baril. And right now, we’re waiting to see her star alongside JC Santos in Dito At Doon, under the direction of JP Habac.
Janine is the first to admit that having connections gets you a foot in the door—but she warns that it’s not that simple either. “There’s a lot of pressure that comes with it,” she says matter-of-factly. “You are associated with these established actors and actresses.”
But on top of that internal struggle and inevitable public comparison, Janine has had to deal with naysayers every step of the way. She recalls a moment someone gave his unsolicited opinion about her then-budding career: “I can’t forget; there was this one famous talent manager who said to me that, ‘You’ll always be a starlet.’ Umupo lang ako dun (I was just sitting there), and he was like, ‘You’ll always be a starlet,’” she shares, her voice rising, still in disbelief of the memory. “Parang mga anak daw ng artista, that’s their curse na they can’t break through. Na, hanggang dyan ka lang. (He said that children of actors are like that, that it’s their curse that they can’t break through. That we can only get so far.)”
We can’t speak for everyone, but calling Janine Gutierrez a starlet is clearly a mistake.
When we ask if Janine ever finds herself in her characters, she’s quick to say yes. “That’s really important to me, to have that sort of connection. It’s the first thing that draws me to a character,” she explains. “I feel like I know this person who I’m about to portray. “
In Dito At Doon, which will be available through TBA Studios on March 31, Janine plays Len, a teaching assistant who got stuck at home due to the lockdown—a story we’re all too familiar with. But when Len turns to social media to air out her frustrations, she gets into trouble and then meets Caloy, played by JC Santos. And when we ask whom among her characters she admires most, it only takes her a while to think it over before she finally lands on Babae At Baril.
Janine explains that despite never being named in the film (she is known, simply, as babae), that “her traits were all encompassing and her experiences were something that all women go through, and she took that into her own hands.”
It sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Someone taking her experiences and making them her own. A woman carving out her own space and making something of herself.
Janine. Babae. Woman. Human.
“At the end of the day, having the family doesn’t really help you stay there…you’re still going to have to prove yourself to have the kind of career that you actually want,” Janine tells us later on. From our brief conversation, it’s clear that one of her strengths as an actress—in addition to her obvious talent in the craft—is that she’s inquisitive. Because despite her upbringing and those that brought her up, Janine is free of an ego.
She’s unafraid to ask for stories and for advice from the co-actors and directors she works with, she is not shy to ask questions that will give her a better understanding of her character, of a scene, of the message that her team is trying to portray and deliver. Janine is not pretending behind the scenes, and her willingness to learn and be better has paid off.
“[I’m] just trying to do good work,” she finishes. “You can’t cheat that.”
No matter where you start or come from, there is a reason to get better and there is a space to explore the means necessary because, as another wise woman once said, the limit does not exist.
So why not be the kind of person who is unafraid to take what’s given and doing good with it? Why be apologetic, why hide and dim yourself for the sake of making others feel comfortable? And if there are any doubts or questions, so be it. Deflect them.
“I never really believed in answering with words,” says Janine, following this statement with a challenge: “It’s always a response through your actions and letting that speak for itself.”
So go, and stun them.