Joreen Bautista on Balancing the Best of Both Worlds, on Stage and on Campus

Joreen Bautista on Balancing the Best of Both Worlds, on Stage and on Campus

Joreen Bautista on how to strike a balance when doubling as an international theater star



Hannah Montana has raised an entire generation to become big dreamers and even bigger life jugglers. Case in point, Joreen Bautista, the Philippines’ very own Hannah Montana—a college student by day and an international theater actress by night. If you don't already know, Joreen is a prodigy of Lea Salonga herself, as she performed the role of Kim for Miss Saigon UK 2017 and Copenhagen 2023. But in some ways, Joreen is like many of us—going to university, making a name for herself in school organizations and trying to find her way through campus. 


Experiencing the best of both worlds, Joreen is no stranger to both life in the spotlight and campus corridors. But how did she turn her dream into a reality and make the most out of both worlds? In this exclusive Wonder interview, Joreen shares her origin story and some heart-felt life lessons.


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Wonder: When did your dream of wanting to become an actress/performer begin? 

Joreen: I love singing and have been singing ever since I was two [years old] in church. But when I was an early teen, I watched The Sound of Music in Resorts World Manila, and I remember seeing the Von Trapp kids and going, “I wanna do theater and be on stage, too!” So after watching The Sound of Music, there was that desire to be on stage, to do theater and experience everything that came with it—memorizing scripts, the makeup, the velcro, the costume changes. It was all so grand to me!



W: What was your launching pad for your career in acting? 

J: I was 16 years old when I saw that the Miss Saigon Creative Team was holding auditions for the Miss Saigon UK Tour, and they were holding open auditions worldwide. When I knew they were going to Manila, I saw it as an opportunity to experience [an audition] as all I wanted to get out of that was to one day tell my kids, “You know what Lea Salonga went through when she got the role of Kim? I went through that, too! And you know Claude Michel Schoenberg, the writer of Miss Saigon and Les Misérables? He heard me sing!” That's all I wanted. So, in a room full of people who knew exactly what to do—how to dance, how to move, how to warm up their voices—I was there.


I had this quiet confidence, and I think that's how they found the Kim in me. Long story short, I got called back! It was a waiting game, and it was months after that when I finally heard that I was offered the role of Kim alternate in Miss Saigon UK 2017.



W: Were there any challenges you faced preparing for the role of Kim for Miss Saigon UK 2017?

J: When I started my career in London, it was a lot of having to learn something I never used to do. The experience didn't come with a manual, so at 17, when I was uprooted from home, I got to London and began learning many new things. I had to learn how to stretch my voice for Kim's role while homeschooling 12th grade and studying for the ACET. I was also trying to figure out how to do my laundry, how to cook for myself and how public transport works. And I know by now it sounds crazy, but when you're 17 and grew up in a country where everything was spoon-fed, suddenly doing laundry, cooking, balancing studies and rehearsals, and learning the show was a lot to take in. 


W: How did you balance the responsibility of being an actress and the responsibility of being a student?

J: What helps is not having my identity tied to a single idea of who I am. If I change the sentence construction, [there is a difference between] “I am an actress” and “I am one who acts.” So maybe if I say “I act” or “I study,” then it's easier to get back into the jive of things when one [overlaps]. Because then, my identity is not tied too tightly to one singular idea of who I am. I allow environments to change me and people to shape me. 


W: What is the biggest lesson you have learned so far in this journey of chasing your dreams?

J: The biggest lesson I've learned now is to stay open. An improvisation saying goes something like, “When something happens, an opportunity unfolds and shakes your whole map.” Sometimes it's just nice to say “yes” and carry on and go with it. It doesn't just apply to theater; it applies to anything. So be open and let God, or in some people's cases, let life surprise you with what else there is other than the plans you've already created for yourself.



W: With so much ahead of you, where do you hope to go next? 

Joreen: I do hope to explore both worlds, but I'm just letting life take its course and letting God guide me to where the next steps could be. Though, I would love to travel again and see where I can do storytelling in a way that I feel satisfied.  Storytelling can come in different forms, like as a marketer in the corporate world, in theater, or in a different job. And I think I'm most excited about not staying in a singular place, going out there, exploring, knowing more about myself and doing what I love best—storytelling.


In many ways, Joreen Bautista stands as a testament that balancing the best of both worlds is about allowing change to be a part of your routine. But also, don’t forget to chill out, take it slow and let life run its course!



Words Vanessa Tiong

Header Photo Det Ny Teater

Art Matthew Ian Fetalver

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