Kim Chiu is a pretty young thing

Whether she's locked in a house on a reality series, or playing a perky tour guide on a remake of a Korean telenovela, Kim Chiu stays true to herself.
Pretty young thing 
By Walter Ang
July-August 2008 issue (Maiden issue)
You Magazine

Kimberly Chiu sits curled up in her chair, slightly groggy from having just woken up from a nap. The poor girl is exhausted from a full day of traversing the city, going from one engagement to another. The life of an up-and-coming young star certainly requires more stamina than most people assume.

This 18 year old's claim to fame began when she joined a reality TV show where contestants are mandated to stay inside a house filled with surveillance cameras and microphones. After spending an entire summer inside that famed house with other teenagers and avoiding eviction from her housemates, Kim emerged the winner with more than 600,000 audience votes (more than 40% of the total votes).

Since then, Kim has decided to, as we say around here, "enter showbiz." An ensemble teenybopper movie was soon under her belt and this led to a solo starrer with her love team partner Gerald Anderson. A popular tandem with audiences, the pair was also tapped to do a telenovela that was also shown also in Taiwan.

Busy The craft and discipline of working in the field of acting promptly kicks in as Kim straightens her back, switches on some source of internal energy, and perks right up.

Her days are, as she explains, "Very busy with tapings and pictorials. There really is no time to rest." She talks about the long hours involved in working as a talent in the broadcast industry. "Sometimes we wrap early in the morning and I only have a few hours of sleep before I need to get to my next call time."

She says all of this with a big grin and quickly adds, "But it's fun!" For a teenager who auditioned for a TV show just for the heck of it, Kim points out, "I had no idea I would be thrust into this kind of world. I was just an ordinary girl who wanted to go to college after high school," she says.

Determined Despite her hectic and sometimes erratic schedule, education is still a priority. She makes sure to stay enrolled in a distance learning program and shares her dreams for the future. "I want to take up something related to business because," as she matter-of-factly puts it, "I don't know anything at all about running a business. I want to learn."

Given the chance, she wants to eventually put up a restaurant or a grocery store. "I like looking at nice food," she shares. Ultimately, it is a keen practicality that informs her choice, "I want a business that will be stable and we Filipinos love to eat."

In the meantime, her calendar is currently filled with taping for an upcoming Filipino television series adapted from a Koreanovela. Preparations included studying the original Korean show ("It was a must for us to watch it because some of the scenes we are going to do will be replicas of the original.") and refreshing herself in foreign languages for certain scenes that are crucial to the exposition of her role.

"I will be playing a character who is proficient in Cebuano, Chinese, and Tagalog," she explains. These are languages she's familiar with, having grown up in Cebu City. "But at home, my family speaks Fujian Chinese and I'm not so used to Mandarin Chinese."

Fun You can tell that beneath all her cheer and girly demeanor, Kim is one determined individual. "My character starts out as a tour guide and, of course, her spiels have to look natural," she says. Kim then recounts how she worked hard to memorize "all those lines," and gives out a congratulatory laugh for herself.

In fact, Kim punctuates most of her sentences with a smile or a laugh. She admits to gravitating towards humor and fun because, well, that's what she's like in real life, too. "That's why I like my role's personality. She's bubbly and fun."

This natural ebullience and laid back attitude permeates how she views life as well, "I like living in the moment. What will happen, will happen," she announces. No complicated living for this jeans-shirt-and-sandals girl, thank you. "Sure, I dress up and use make-up, but I don't really like going out. I prefer staying at home where it's quiet and I get to watch TV, eat and sleep."

Confidence When she does get a chance to go out, however, she is partial to wearing clothes that have "shocking colors, because I want to be seen. I don't like pale or dark colors for my outfits." This loud, outgoin bent ? this love of the limelight, even ? wasn't too apparent when she was growing up, "Even though I'd join all these school projects where we had to perform, I only really joined for the extra credit," she admits. "But when I finally went into showbiz, my family and friends were surprised!"

Having been able to surprise so many people and entertain so many Filipinos through national television and movies may have satiated her need to "shock." She is, after all, starting to become a lady. "I want to look elegant. I have a favorite pair of silver earrings that is for every day use," she says. "Just don't make me wear necklaces!" she laughs.

Kim wears a kooky mix of confidence and charm that seems to suit her very well in this very public life that she now leads. She appreciates the fact that she's become a role model to young girls and understands the need to "be wholesome, where you don't show or exhibit any behavior that is ugly." She's not too worried, though. "I don't control what I do, whatever personality I `project' to the public, that's really who I am."