Rising Global Star Lovi Poe Takes Her Rightful Place
The newest ABS-CBN artist and the star of the Philippine adaptation of K-drama “Flower of Evil” talks about her foray into the international scene and the next adventures in her book
“It’s going to sound so cheesy,” Lovi Poe tells a journalist at her global press conference as the newest ABS-CBN artist. “But this is what actually happened. I was in LA. I was standing outside, having my cup of coffee in the morning and watching the sunrise. And I just felt that, sunrise, when we see a beautiful sunrise, it’s like a time to celebrate, and it reminds me of a new beginning… The symbol of that sunrise that very day meant a lot to me.”
Lovi was talking about the moment she decided it was time to flip to the next chapter of her life, the next scene being her big move to the Kapamilya network. This plot twist is so riveting it deserves a book sequel. It won’t be an entirely different story一Lovi will still be as passionate as she was一only she’s found herself in a new setting, a new home. And that very moment in LA一raw and peaceful, as we can imagine一is the first scene in the new narrative she has begun to write.
That was an intimate moment that helped make her realize the next step she was to take. Only Lovi knows how special that morning was. But the scenes that follow her move to ABS-CBN, the world is witnessing unfold. And this world doesn’t pertain to her local showbiz bubble alone anymore; it has come to include the global (read: Hollywood) scene, a dream playing field for many aspiring artists.
Since a 16-year-old Lovi was thrust into the limelight back in 2006, she’s been unstoppable, nary a single year spent on break. For her TV debut, she played the daughter of Sunshine Dizon’s character. She considers Sunshine (who currently stars in the Kapamilya series Marry Me, Marry You) as one of her mentors in the industry, that’s why she’s so thrilled to be in the same network with her again.
“I didn’t know how to act [at that time],” Lovi recalls. “Oh my god, she would actually sit down even if it wasn’t her scene. She would sit down in front of the monitor to help me and teach me how to act… I always failed in workshops ‘getting angry.’ I would ace being happy, being sad一all these emotions. There was one thing I could never unlock during workshop, and that is anger. And I’ll never forget my first breakthrough scene, I was with Ms. Sunshine Dizon. And I did open up to her about my life and then we talked about it and, oh my god, she was probably my first and the best acting coach I’ve ever had because she unlocked that gate for me, and that was the first scene that I ever got angry on TV or in real life actually, all my life.”
With her foray into the entertainment industry marked by this notable project, she consequently made her life an open book, too. Spread out in a corner of her consciousness, this book’s pages bear witness to how much she belongs in this industry一as Lovi and not just the daughter of “The King.”
But this go-getter had been too focused on work to revisit these pages and possibly reassess the direction of her life’s story. When the pandemic hit and forced everyone all across the globe to hit pause, the relentless Lovi一an artist in motion, as she describes herself一found a chance to pick up her book once more and reflect on the contents of her heart.
What Lovi has done so far as an artist is great, but “c’est lovi,” life comes with unexpected twists and you just have to roll with them. The “Candy” singer did take the idiom quite literally, roller-skating her way into the hearts of old and new fans alike with catchy beats coupled with her sultry, soulful voice and beautifully executed M/Vs. Just this year, she launched an international music career, releasing one single after another: “Under” in February, “Lost” in June, and finally, “Candy” last August. All are under Los Angeles-based independent record label VIM Entertainment. Lovi didn’t put on her songwriter hat for these tracks, but she did so for an upcoming single that she co-wrote with a friend.
The three songs touch on different themes. She’s neither “lost” or “under” at this point in her life. But, having gone through experiences that somehow made her fit into those descriptions made her want to create relatable tracks whose flavors you’d want to “savor like candy.” Lovi tells us, “There’s ‘Under,’ a song about, you know, you’re going through all these highs in life but yet you feel incomplete because you’re not sharing it with the person you love. And there’s ‘Lost,’ we somehow go through this or we’ve been through this. I’m not going through it now but we’ve been through this in the past. There are certain relationships that we suddenly realize, ‘Where did we lose that love? [In which] part did we lose that love for each other?’ And ‘Candy’ is more like just you having fun, and it’s the kind of song you wanna dance to.”
With her soothing music complemented by emotional lyrics, to her listeners, Lovi could very well be on the right track to what American singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles is to her: a woman whose voice and rhythm bring about a sense of comfort and familiarity and, as an artist, an inspiration. “Sometimes, [I think] ‘Why is she [Sara Bareilles] writing about my life?’ Sometimes you think about songwriters and I’m like, ‘Are you sure I didn’t tell you my story?’ So that’s what’s nice about music, you get to share your certain experience and find out that someone else is going through the same thing that you are,” Lovi reflects.
Music is an integral part of her life. Lovi is not the same without this love for music. In fact, she started out as a singer under Sony BMG in 2006, the same debut year that paved a collaboration between her and international pop duo Same Same (consisting of identical twins Bob and Clint Moffatt also of the Canadian boy band The Moffatts). “I was 16 and then suddenly, I recorded a song with Same Same,” an elated Lovi laughs at the memory. “Can you imagine?!” She worked with them on the track “Without You” for the album The Meaning of Happy.
Perhaps she’s always meant to go global, and it was only a matter of right timing when she’d land an international gig again. 15 years may have passed since her first collaboration with this foreign act, but they’re precious years that broadened her horizons and carved deep canyons of emotions to hone her artistry. “I guess it was more of, like, the right place at the right time,” she ponders on the opportunity to be seen and heard by a global audience. “It wasn’t something that was done on purpose.” Fate at work could also be one way of putting it.
For her debut US single, Lovi collaborated with Grammy award-winning producer Omen, who also worked with the likes of Beyoncé and Drake. She also had the chance to record with American producers Bob Robinson and Kris KeyZ in Los Angeles.
How this all came about was accidental. “I actually did spend half a year in LA to take acting classes… [to] just see what happens… I didn’t really have this plan or anything, it just happened,” Lovi tells Metro.Style. “I just feel really blessed that I was led to the right path, like all of a sudden, I met up with the owner of a recording company who was also there, and then all of a sudden, I’m recording in New York with Omen who’s this amazing producer, Grammy award-winning producer. And I remember sitting there inside the booth, thinking, ‘Wow.’ I was so grateful and I was just… ‘I can’t believe I’m sitting here.’”
Music is her first love, and throughout her time in the industry, she did occasionally release a couple of albums and several singles, and held mini concerts. But acting inevitably found her. Inevitable, because she is showbiz royalty after all, with the late Fernando Poe, Jr. (aka the “King of Philippine Movies”) as her father and former actress/beauty queen Rowena Moran as her mother. Their princess is now a queen in her own right, and she has found her rightful place in the field that catapulted her father into legendary status.
It hasn’t been easy carving her own niche, especially with the pressure that comes with her surname. But for Lovi, how one deals with challenges boils down to having the right mindset. “I’ve always used my hardships and struggles as a tool instead of an excuse,” she enthuses. “It’s like I’ve gone through a lot of crazy things in the past but I used them as a weapon instead of something that weighs me down, so it’s just all about mindset. All these things… all these doors open for you to lead to a certain path that you actually dream to have.” On the other side of a new door of opportunity is a brighter place that comes with a feeling of stepping into the light. Setting foot on this new place signals a new beginning, a new adventure and, to a certain extent, a rebirth.
Born on February 11, 1989, Lovi has been associated with royalty, power and ambition since birth一the very things that her birthstone amethyst symbolizes. For a photoshoot to mark her entry into the Kapamilya network, she wore a fringed ensemble by Martin Bautista, a strapless dress by Rosenthal Tee, as well as a silk dress by Mikee Andrei and, for her first-ever ASAP Natin ’To guesting, a sparkly number by Thian Rodriguez一all in the decadent, luxurious purple/lavender color. “I don’t really use violet,” Lovi reveals. “It’s something that I didn’t really use in the past. I’m more of black, classic color type of girl. But yeah, things worked out pretty well because, you know, I guess it’s something that’s new.”
When it comes to fashion, Lovi has always been flexible and game to try different styles. “I feel like fashion has something to do with expressing yourself, but it’s more of, kind of, like a mood for me.”
For her fourth Metro cover, Lovi rocked different powerful and strikingly contemporary pieces from Louis Vuitton’s Fall/Winter 2021-2022 women’s ready-to-wear collection that was done in collaboration with renowned Italian artistic design atelier Fornasetti. An all-black ensemble anchored by a classic black double-breasted jacket made her feel like a “girl boss.” A black monogram hooded wrap coat had her channeling her inner fighter. A pair of white wide-legged pants, styled with a bra top and a headscarf, transported her to the French Riviera. All of these timelessly luxurious looks are finished off with Lovi’s signature sultriness.
“I have my moments when I wanna be rugged. I have my moments when I wanna dress in a very classic ballerina kind of way. I have my moments when I wanna dress sexier with a little bit more skin,” Lovi shares. Like with music, she says she tends to be moody with fashion, too.
Lovi is a singer, songwriter, actress, brand ambassador, and social media celebrity with more than 6 million followers on Instagram alone. But she’s been proving that she deserves the style star title, too. In February 2018, alongside Anne Curtis-Smith, Metro named her Most Stylish. Three years later and she remains this fun-loving fashionista known for what people have come to identify as “hubadera” style, defined by her tastefully sexy outfits.
And it seems her personal sense of style is merged with the signature sensual, rocker look of the latest character she’s taking on: English actress, singer, songwriter, and rock star Dana Gillespie in the Hollywood film The Chelsea Cowboy. Lovi will also be a part of its soundtrack. “Probably one of the reasons why I was given this opportunity is because I also sing,” Lovi points out.
A biopic based on the life of actor, gangster and lothario John Bindon, the movie stars Alex Pettyfer as John Bindon and Poppy Delevingne as Victoria Hodge. Lovi shares, “Alex Pettyfer’s character has been guarding me in my shows there, that’s the kind of story that we have together.”
The day after this pictorial was when Lovi left to shoot for The Chelsea Cowboy. Like her debut in the US music scene, this project was also a result of her being “at the right place at the right time.” Lovi recalls how this role landed on her lap, “I casually met the writer and one of the producers a few years back, and then all of a sudden, they reached out to my manager and asked me to read for the part. And then I forgot about it and then all of a sudden, it happened.”
Lovi may have soared as one of the brightest stars in local showbiz, but she always kept her feet on the ground. With these opportunities to break into the international scene, Lovi humbly acknowledges that she still has so much to learn and so many people to learn from. And the mere fact that she was given a chance to do what she loves is a blessing itself. “There’s always a start to everything or anything. And it’s such a good start… It’s not something that’s crazy-huge in the beginning,” Lovi says humbly. “But just to be able to set foot on set with these actors and, you know, work in a movie that’s produced by Idris Elba is such an amazing thing for me already.”
Lovi has been traveling from Manila to Los Angeles and vice versa. Currently, she’s in London, where she’s shooting The Chelsea Cowboy. Before she started filming, she was back home in Manila where her global launch as the newest ABS-CBN artist was held.
Lovi looks back on that experience, “It was kind of a rollercoaster ride for me, like different kinds of emotions, leading up to the day I was gonna sign with ABS-CBN. It’s just, you know, you feel nervous and excited at the same time. You’re about to set foot in this whole different world. And when I finally had my first foot in the studio, I don’t know, there was this weird feeling that from someone who was extremely nervous and had sleepless nights, I suddenly felt at home. I think it makes such a huge difference when you finally see the people who actually believe in you and who are rooting for you, and you see them up close… The welcome was just amazing that it felt like such a dream.”
Lovi never gets tired of saying that this milestone in her career was a dream come true, because it is. There’s no better way to put it. She grew up watching ABS-CBN’s teleseryes and fangirling over its actors, like Jericho Rosales, John Prats, KC Concepcion, Kristine Hermosa, and Claudine Barretto. To join the same family that launched the careers of these stars is nothing short of amazing for her.
Her move to the Kapamilya network has been smooth and well received. And it may have also been partly because she has nothing but good words for her previous network. No burning bridges, just building new ones to extend them.
“You find so much beauty in taking up new challenges, exploring new territories and taking up new adventures, you know? You push yourself to the limit and see what it is that you can do, what it is that you can give,” Lovi muses. “It’s like I’ve reached the point in my career where I feel like there’s something that I could probably, possibly do that’s out of my comfort zone… I feel like it’s time to work with the best of the best of ABS-CBN.”
A significant factor that convinced Lovi she was making the right decision was the way the network has been honoring the legacy of her father, especially through the series FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano which has been on air for six years and is now the longest-running drama series on Philippine television. “People have been there, like since day one, supporting FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano, and I’m just glad that Mr. Coco Martin is giving it so much justice, you know, just to continue my dad’s legacy. So that’s something that I will be grateful for, that’s why I’m looking forward to working with him.”
Her father has an extremely long list of films, and these are quality creations that could be reinterpreted into modern times, like in the case of Ang Probinsyano. And if Lovi would be given the chance to reintroduce a classic FPJ work, it would be Ang Panday. Lovi dreams of breathing life into the character of Panday herself. She tells us, “I’ve always had this certain feeling about, you know, superheroes, including Panday, who’s always been played by a man, which is not bad at all because that’s how it started anyway. And everyone’s done a great job一from Mr. Bong Revilla, Coco Martin, Jericho Rosales, all these amazing actors. But I always thought, why not play Panday as a woman? You know, it’s time to show the strength of a woman as well. Yes, of course, there are amazing superheroes who are played by women generally, but I think it’d be nice to see a woman play Panday.”
While that remains a dream role, Lovi is about to portray a character who’s remarkably strong and empowered. From Hollywood to Hallyu一the self-confessed K-drama fan is having another dream-come-true moment with her first major project with ABS-CBN, the Philippine adaptation of Korean suspense series Flower of Evil that starred Lee Joon-gi and Moon Chae-won. Opposite the “Ultimate Heartthrob” Piolo Pascual, Lovi will play the role of a feisty detective whose husband hides a twisted past under a different identity. How the character balances out her integrity at work and her love for her family is one of the things that excite Lovi. That and her favorite scene in the series: the intense pool scene where Piolo’s character is close to drowning.
“I remember Sir Deo [Endrinal] was like ‘We want you to play the girl in Flower of Evil. I remember just thinking, ‘This is one of my favorite shows.’ It wasn’t sinking in for a while and then it even got better. They were like, ‘And you’re gonna be playing it with Mr. Piolo Pascual.’ And I was just like, ‘Yeah, I thought Flower of Evil was the best news about it but then all of a sudden, there was Piolo Pascual tandem. I was speechless for a while. And I remember talking to my manager [Leo Dominguez], and I was like, ‘You have to watch this Korean drama because it’s one of my favorites.’ I keep saying it, but it is a dream come true. The fact that they’re trusting me with such an amazing show, an amazing storyline. It is also my first Korean adaptation.”
This project is also aligned with Lovi’s rising global career, as it could potentially shine the spotlight on Filipino artistry further. “I’m sure, if we’re given the opportunity to actually share our TV shows like now, hopefully, with Flower of Evil then we’ll actually be able to showcase what Filipinos can do,” Lovi says.
Filipinos are known for having such strong family values, and these are often highlighted in local showbiz’s movies and TV series. They’re part of the formula that gives Filipino creations a distinctive edge on the global stage. They’re at the core of the Kapamilya network, too, and it’s this kind of warmth that Lovi cherishes the most.
She may be miles away in Los Angeles or London, but a part of her will always be in Manila, in her new home with her new industry family. “Feeling at home wherever you are, it’s the essence of feeling you’re not alone, knowing that you have someone to lean on,” Lovi says. “ABS-CBN is my new home.”
Lovi may be in a different time zone, ending her hectic day and winding down in bed by flipping through the pages of a new novel一her favorite form of relaxation. Tomorrow, when the sun rises again, with a cup of coffee on hand, she will be fueled to take on another event-filled day. And who knows, one morning could lead her to another big milestone, of which we’re sure there will be more to come. Now that deserves a new sequel to her journey as a Kapamilya!
Clothing and accessories by Louis Vuitton
Photography by Dookie Ducay
Creative direction by Chookie Cruz
Sittings editor: Geolette Esguerra
Makeup by Lala Flores
Hairstyling by Mark Anthony Rosales
Styling by Adrianne Concepcion
Production design by Gideon Hermosa
Videography by Pat Buenaobra
Shoot coordination: Grace Libero-Cruz and Ceia Ylagan
Props from C&L Decor (sofa, urns and pillars)
Special thanks to Dreamscape, Deo Endrinal, Leo Dominguez, Billet Sangalang, and Louis Vuitton’s Deon Ira Flores and Portia Trinidad