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Fascinating Women: Box Office Queen Kathryn Bernardo

Kathryn's 2019 movie, "Hello, Love, Goodbye," is currently the highest-grossing Filipino film of all time. Her other movie, 2018's "The Hows of Us," holds the second spot. These and more just prove what a one-of-a-kind actress she truly is

"It was fascination

I know

And it might have ended

Right then, at the start..."


It's easy to imagine the dreamy Nat King Cole classic permeating the airwaves as Kathryn Bernardo enters a room, floating ever so gracefully, almost, as she makes her way to her destination. Like the song, she is timeless, with an aura so mesmerizing that you make no protests as it puts you under its spell.


That's the Kathryn effect—she is magnetic in every way, possessing qualities that captivate more and more the longer you look. 


"Just a passing glance

Just a brief romance

And I might have gone

On my way

Empty-hearted..."


The waltz goes on to sing of the might have beens and could have beens should once in a lifetime chances be wasted, and this too speaks volumes of how Kathryn has taken control of the reins of life; at 23 years old, she's learned to become the master of her destiny, refusing to let golden tickets to fortune go unclaimed.


In fact, one might say that she creates her opportunities, rather than waits for them. A woman like her doesn't make records and raise the bar of success by staying on standby; she looks for the action and ensures she's at the center of it. 


There's no doubt that Kathryn is made of everything a fascinating woman is: multi-faceted, constantly metamorphosing to become her best self, embracing the unknown, leaving zero room for fear, all the while looking poised and pretty as ever. 



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"I’m very happy kung ano lahat nangyayari ngayon,” Kathryn shared in a previous interview for Metro's 30th anniversary last year. 


“I think best year ko itong 2019 career-wise and personal kasi ang daming learnings and parang year siya for growth. Very important ang year na 'to sa akin," she continued as she looked back with pride at that year's biggest pay-offs—and there were many. 


Her Metro 30 shoot was in itself a milestone; it marked her 10th cover collaboration with the magazine that she describes as having stunning visual appeal and depth. She was 17 when she first appeared on Metro magazine, and through the years, returned for six more print covers, two with Metro.Style, and her first Metro digital cover, each accompanied by a story of her continued rise to the top. 


But by no means was that 2019's only gift for her.



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The numbers couldn't lie; her drama film, Hello, Love, Goodbye became the highest grossing Philippine film of all time as of March 2020, raking in an eye-watering P881 million, or roughly $17 million.  (The fact that the country's second top grossing film, 2018's The Hows of Us, which earned P805 million, is yet another Kathryn movie, is telling of her success as a box office heavyweight. She literally beat her own record. 


The film that puts the struggles of overseas Filipino workers at front and center and illustrates in vivid detail the sacrifices they make day in and day out was a nationwide success. Not only was it well-loved for its story, rich character development (there's a love story, too, but certainly not one that ends predictably), exploration of the complexity of good timing and relationships, as well as relevant social and cultural themes, but also because of the fresh, albeit unusual, pairing between Kathryn and Alden Richards. 


At the peak of her career with loveteam partner Daniel Padilla (who is also her real life boyfriend), Kathryn took the plunge and "split" with him for the meantime so to speak, at least for the sake of the film's vision and creative integrity. And as it seems, it was a decision she made for the sake of her growth, too. 


"Grabe 'yung pinagdaanan na process bago nangyari 'yung lahat ng ito, bago ako nag-yes sa project, but I’m glad I took the risk kasi kung hindi, I think pagsisisihan ko siya ngayon," she said. 



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Deviating from the formula that made her a household name was one of the most difficult things she's had to do since she joined show business at the tender age of seven. 


Would the new tandem click? What would the AlDub and KathNiel fandoms have to say (the ship names for couples Alden Richards-Maine Mendoza and Kathryn Bernardo-Daniel Padilla)? Would people like the movie to begin with? 


There a million and one questions racing through her mind faster than her heart was beating as it  grappled with the uncertainty ahead.


But without risk comes no reward. 


And when the risk proves to be the key to unlocking the next stage of an already stellar career, you can be sure that only better things are coming your way. 


For sure, Kathryn has answered all those questions and more. 



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In the same year, Kathryn was also recognized in one of the best ways possible: a Best Movie Actress award win and a Loveteam of the Year award for her consistently successful projects with Daniel, both given by the Philippine Movie Press Club at the 35th PMPC Star Awards. 


Hello, Love, Goodbye was also recognized at the 2019 Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts with a nomination in the Best Asian film category (a nomination that 2020 Oscar Best Picture winner Parasite also received) and earned a special feature on The Hollywood Reporter that spoke of the many targets it hit. 


"Hindi ko in-expect 'yung naging reaction ng mga tao and I’m very blessed—'yun 'yung perfect word. 'Yung 'thank you,' kulang na 'yun to express how thankful I am sa mga nangyayari sa akin this year," she said.



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What's next for Kathryn, now that she's proven her mettle in the acting arena? 


Well, between big projects, she rewards herself with a vacation or two—with Italy, France, Morocco, Japan, and Iceland as some of the most notable places she's been to as of late—to recharge, and to wash away residue from a character whose fictional life she so deeply immersed herself into.


It's one of the tried and tested processes that allow her heart and mind to become malleable vessels of compelling storytelling once again.


But rest is almost up for Kathryn who is already in the midst of promoting her new film that reunites her with Hello, Love, Goodbye director Cathy Garcia-Molina and yes, Daniel, too. 


The film is titled After Forever and is set amidst the backdrop of many of San Francisco, California's most recognizable landmarks. If it's anything like the director's previous projects, audiences can expect it to tell a Filipino-centric story that tugs at heartstrings and feels exceptionally real. 


teleserye starring KathNiel is also in the works for 2020 and is the first time the loveteam returns to primetime after the conclusion of their fantasy show La Luna Sangre in 2017.



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She also started year 2020 by launching her own YouTube channel, which now has 1.4 million subscribers. On top of all these, she also has businesses and several collaborations in the works.  


Yet amidst the accolades, the offers, and the blazing trail of victories behind her, Kathryn remains firmly planted underneath her and is ready to anchor her when she needs to come back down for a breather.


It's why she's so fascinating—she's a lovely mixture of fame and humility, laser sharp focus and laid back charm, big dreams and solid foundations.


She's a rare actress, she is, and the Filipino audiences are truly lucky to have someone like her. 


Lead photos from Metro.Style archive