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Bold, Brilliant, and Beautiful: Andrea Brillantes Is Living Life In Color

The iWantTFC Original Series “Drag You & Me” actress opens up about outgrowing her child-star image, her struggles with her character Betty in the series, and how ready she is to set out on more mature roles and responsibilities

Andrea Brillantes for Drag You & Me
On Andrea: Feather jacket by Michael Leyva | Photography by Rxandy Capinpin

It’s not that I didn’t notice her. How could I not? She is a head-turner. But I just didn’t immediately realize it was her. Because it was like she darted across the room, arriving silently and without a grand entrance. As I tirelessly stared at her, it suddenly dawned on me: young star Andrea Brillantes was right in front of me. Donning a stylish red and black outfit—a bicycle jacket, a pair of Jordan shoes, and short shorts—she wowed me without even having to exude anything but her aura.

Growing up in the public eye, Andrea gets it when people expect her to stay the same as they have once perceived her. Obviously, she is now a household name in Philippine showbiz and has since proven her value as an actress, her versatility crystallizing through a chain of primetime series and buzzworthy projects. Having assumed multiple acts—from the doe-eyed darling Annaliza in Annaliza to the eye-rolling elitist Marga in Kadenang Ginto—Andrea has become a fixture in the business.

Despite all this, though, to this day, the actress still struggles to substantiate the fact that she has finally outgrown her old make. “Tumatanda na din ako. Boses ko lang talaga ’yung hindi pa,” she quipped, making sense of why people are shunning the possibility of her evolving. “Ang dami pa rin namang nagsasabi na ang bata-bata ko pa. I’m 20 na, and pataas na lang ’yun nang pataas.”

Andrea Brillantes on Metro for Drag You & Me
EXCLUSIVE: Debutante Of The Year Andrea Brillantes Celebrates Her 18th Birthday With Metro


EXCLUSIVE: Debutante Of The Year Andrea Brillantes Celebrates Her 18th Birthday With Metro

Now taking on a new project that requires painstaking attention and precise acting, Andrea called on audiences to chaperone her transition from teenhood to adulthood. “Sana maiwan na nila ’yung image ko na ako lang ’yung 12-year old, 10-year old na ’yunna hindi ako puwedeng mag-explore sa mga ganitong roles, hindi ako puwedeng manamit ng mga ganitong klaseng damit,” she argued. “Ayaw ko kasing sabihin na ‘take me seriously’ pero parang ganu’n. Kasi siyempre, sanay sila sa’kin, ’yung Annaliza—’yung child star, ganu’n.”

Tumatanda na ’ko. Kailangan nilang matanggap ’yun,” Andrea reiterated. To her, the most freeing feeling that anyone can ever experience is being accepted and believed in. “Sa next show ko, I think hindi yun yung ine-expect ng mga fans ko pero siguro, expect nila na mas magiging serious na ’yung next role ko at hindi na lang ako ’yung pa-pretty-pretty na lang lagi.”

Andrea Brillantes on Metro for Drag You & Me
On Andrea: Gown with a corset bodice by Job Dacon

Caging up a freedom-seeking soul is a failed mission from the get-go, and Andrea is most likely to leave a space that stunts her growth. Good thing that her tireless will is proofed with self-awareness, self-acceptance, and the promise to work on herself no matter the negative comments, unsolicited criticism, or thoughtless words. “Very important ’yung maging free ka, ’yung ma-express mo ’yung sarili mo, magustuhan mo kung sino’ng gusto mo kasi everybody deserves freedom,” she told Metro.Style in a sit-down interview.

Between being her own brand’s boss, trying out random things like Muay Thai, and loving her craft and cute pets and super supportive sister, Andrea has immersed herself in the art and world of drag through her newest series Drag You & Me, an ABS-CBN, Dreamscape Entertainment, and iWantTFC Pride Month offering. 

It’s another form of freedom for the actress, and the show is truly shepherding her transformation from a little girl to a grown-up lady. “Mas gusto kong i-tackle ang mga serious topics and ito, kasi ni-re-represent natinyung LGBTQIA+,” she said.

Andrea Brillantes on Metro for Drag You & Me
On Andrea: Voluminous off-shoulder gown by Ehrran Montoya

Embodying drag

“Actually, hindi ko in-expect na magkakaroon ako ng ganitong klaseng project pero before kasi na-pitch sa’kin ’yung Drag You & Menakasama ko ’yung Divine Divas,” Andrea started off when asked how she alighted the series. Directed by JP Habac, the iWantTFC Original Series is based on the drag culture and its burgeoning community in the Philippines. “First time ko silang makita nu’n. First time ko ring makakita ng drag queen na mag-perform live,” Andrea recalled, refreshing her memories of her first meeting with “Divine Divas” Precious Paula NicoleViñas Deluxe, and Brigiding

Nu’ng nakita ko sila, sobrang saya ko, ta’s ako ’yung nakatayo lang na bagets doon sa harapan nila, ta’s nakikisayaw ako, nakikikanta ko, tapos nakikipag-interact sila sa’kin,” she backtracked, walking us through the birthday celebration of Dreamscape Entertainment head Deo Endrinal. “Nu’ng bandang ending na, nu’ng last performance nila, hinila ako ni Viñas ta’s dinala niya ako sa stage—sa gitna! Ta’s nakisayaw ako sa kanila, ta’s lahat nakatingin sa akin.

Without a clue on what in the world was transpiring, Andrea ran into a territory she has never charted before. Nonetheless, it’s charging her batteries and she’s loving it by the minute. “Ginagawa ko lahat. Nag-s-split ako, ganu’n! Ta’s after nu’n, bigla nilang na-pitch ’yung Drag You & MeSabi ko: ‘Dahil po ba nakita n’yo kong maging bakla nu’ng birthday ni Sir Deo?’” Andrea’s laugh burst midway through my next question. “Sabi nila, before pa raw nu’n, naiisip na nila ako para sa role na ito. Siyempre, natuwa naman ako du’n. Parang naging audition ko na pala ’yung birthday ni Sir Deo.”

Andrea Brillantes on Metro for Drag You & Me

Playing the fearless and fabulous Betty, otherwise known as Valentine Royale in drag, Andrea dabbles in a persona that is an ode to her kin. “Mabait siya. Masipag siya. Matalino siya. Mabuti siyang anak,” she dished out. “Parang parehas kami, e. Parehas kami na sumali sa contest para sa family. Sa kaniya, [sumali siya] para mabawi ’yung family business nila at tsaka mayru’ng matirhan.”

Andrea also recalled a time in her youth that she yearned and joined contests to jump-start a career in show business and be of help to her ailing brother. “’Yung inuuna namin [ni Betty], ’yung family namin parehas,” she added, hovering over Betty’s family-oriented nature. “Go-getter siya. Gagawin niya lahat para sa family niya and para sa pangarap niya.” Andrea felt the need to further our conversation, likening herself to the character. “Mapagmahal siya pero hindi siya marupok, at forgiving naman siya pero alam mo, mayru’n siyang limit. Mayru’n siyang standards.”

As to what her takeaway is from her role, Andrea responded with timely words of wisdom. “Kung may matututunan ako kay Betty, ’wag maging marupok. Magbigay din ng second chance sa mga tao na karapat-dapat, kasi may mga taong deserve ang second chance. May mga tao rin na hindi na. ’Yundapat ’yun ang matutunan ko sa kaniya,” she carved out from her experience.

Check out the gallery below for more photos of Andrea Brillantes in drag looks:

With her castmates Christian Bables, JC Alcantara, KaladKaren—and the special participation of the queens of Philippine drag which include the Divine Divas and Xilhouette, as well as special guests from Home for the Golden Gays Flor “Amparo” Bien, Jr. and Rico “Elizabeth” Reyes—Andrea is sliding into a super-fun yet drama-filled show. “Hindi lang din po kasi tungkol sa drag community. Very family-oriented din kasi ’yung show na ’to... Piliin mo ’yung family mo lagi. Family mo talaga ang nandiyan para sa’yo. Para din [ito] sa mga families na hindi matanggap ang kanilang anak sa sexuality nila or sa trabaho nila,” she continued. “Makaka-relate [din] ’yung iba na grabe naman ’yung pagmamahal na natatanggap nila sa family nila kaya handa silang gawin ang lahat para sa kanila.”

In time for Pride Month, Andrea clued in the audience as to what to anticipate, saying, “Sana makatulong ito na makapagbukas ng puso ng mga ibang magulang at ng mga ibang tao na hindi ’to kayang tanggapin.” 

The Drag You & Me cast also includes Romnick Sarmenta, Ice Seguerra, Jon Santos, Cris Villanueva, Albie Casiño, Noel Comia, Jr.Yves Flores, PJ Endrinal, Lance Carr, and Amy Nobleza

Andrea Brillantes on Metro for Drag You & Me

On working with the Divine Divas

Amidst all the drag queen dilemmas that Andrea has tried to troubleshoot, she always puts her game mask on and gives off an A-player vibe to validate the trust she earned from her peers and the production’s executives. She thought, “Pinili ako ni Sir Deo for this. Nagtiwala silang lahat sa akin. Tingin nila kaya ko, so kakayanin ko.” While she is initially intimidated by the drag beauties around her, Andrea attempted to take it up a notch and tackle a new skill.

She spelled it out for us. “Backstage o off-set, masaya. Naging parang friends ko po talaga sila and actually, [in]expect ko na ’yun, e. Sabi ko, ‘Ay magiging beshiwaps ko ’tong mga ’to. I’m so excited,’” Andrea revealed. “Bardagulan lang, ganiyan, pero kapag sa eksena na, na-pe-pressure ako. Kinakabahan ako lalo na kapag lip sync na competition na, [kapag] maglalaban na.”

It was a riveting one-for-the-books stint for Andrea. To her, her drag encounters beget opportunities after opportunities and activate parts of her that were once only personal. “Wala akong experience. Zero experience! Beybing-beybi pa talaga ko,” the Kapamilya actress exclaimed. “Ta’s nu’ng first-ever lip sync experience ko is with Precious so sabi ko, ‘My God! Kaya ko ba ’to?’ Kasi si Precious ta’s ako?! Siyempre, nakakakaba ’yun!”

There were times when Andrea was even anxious to act alongside the drag divas, and while she describes the project as “happy,” she dreaded having to perform with her fellow actors at first. “Nagkaroon ako ng panic attack nu’n—mini panic attack. ‘Kaya ko, kaya ko, kaya ko,’” she recited the words that relieved her. As to why the trio is intimidating, Andrea thought, “Nakakadala sila. Ang galing nilang performer. Sobrang nakakahanga sila. As in!”

Likening the three to the “level” of The Diamond Star Maricel Soriano but in the drag business, Andrea attests to the royalties’ ability to turn a bland talk into a spectacle of a show, talking about how awestruck she tends to get whenever she gets to see them on stage. She shared, “Kahit nu’ng concert nila, pumunta ako nu’ng concert nila. Naiyak ako sa mga performances nila. Para silang magician sa akin. I love them so much. I love drag queens!”

Andrea Brillantes on Metro for Drag You & Me
On Andrea: Top and pants by Thian Rodriguez

Bold costumes, brilliant culture, beautiful creations 

Besides the bright backdrops and the show-stopping fashion that drag features, at the core of it is creativity and art, and hopefully, more people can discover how purposeful and accepting this platform can be. The culture also serves as an avenue for queer identities, and the queens are no less than themselves in this artistic, gender-safe landscape. 

“Actually, gusto ko ang drag culture dito sa Philippines kasi lumilipad tayo, kung anu-anong ginagawa natin—as in talagang extremes!” Andrea noted. “Kahit sa probinsya, mayru’n pa rin, at hindi sila nag-gi-give up sa dreams nila. Mahal kasing maging drag queen, actually. Magastos siya, e, so kudos to them,” she continued. 

According to the Gen Z artist, the seven-inch stilettos, dense make-up, massive dresses and costume-y clothes, a wig and eyelashes that weigh like the weight of the world, long hours, and even heckling at times are all a tough component of drag. She shared, “Tiis-ganda siya. Legit! Tapos, kailangan mong maging matatag talaga kasi kahit ang hirap na nga niya physically, ang dami mo pa ring nakukuhang criticisms sa ibang tao.”

Andrea Brillantes on Metro for Drag You & Me

Andrea also expressed her thoughts on inclusivity, saying, “’Yung equal rights, deserve natin lahat ’yun, e, tsaka para sa’kin talaga, there’s nothing wrong with it. Sa’kin, ang mali is kung mananakit ka ng iba, kung aapak ka ng iba, maninira ka ng iba... Kung gusto mo lang maging ikaw at gusto mo lang magmahal kung sino’ng gusto mong mahalin, go! Kasi kailangan nating maging masaya, guys!” Andrea asserted, her words like wildfire. “Cliché talaga siya pero isang beses lang tayong mabubuhay, so mabuhay tayo sa gusto nating buhay—’yung hindi tayo nagtatago.”

Her chock-full of commitments and ability to live a life on her own terms is only proof that Andrea’s principles are stone-solid and that she walks the talk. Her life lends credence to her own opinions, and we all can attest to how far she has gone. She’s famous, she’s successful, and she sticks to her guns.

Kung mayru’ng magda-down sa’tin, at least buo tayo. Tanggap natin ang sarili natin at mahal natin ang sarili natin at masaya tayo sa sarili natin, kasi talagang hindi mo mako-control ang lahat ng tao,” Andrea added. “Alam mo, main character ka. Story mo ’to! So kahit ano’ng sabihin nila, ’wag kang magpa-apekto sa kanila. Mag-focus ka lang sa self mo.”

Andrea Brillantes on Metro for Drag You & Me

I asked Andrea what she loves about her drag looks and the drag culture, and the Lucky Beauty makeup brand CEO could not seem to fathom the sheer confidence it gives her. “Wala akong anggulo! ’Pag naka-drag makeup ako, nagiging symmetrical ’yung face ko, at ’tsaka ang ganda ko lang!” A few times while being photographed at the shoot’s premises, she would burst into several “ang ganda ko” and “oh my God” statements.

Ang flawless ko, poreless ako. Tapos nag-iiba akong anyo. Parang ganu’n. Confident ako nang sobra! Feel ko nga minsan, invincible ako talaga,” Andrea put it, reaching a pause. “Ako kasina-i-insecure pa rin ako sometimes—nako-conscious pa rin ako sometimes.” 

She showed me her jaw on one side. She said, “Nahihiya ako or naiilang pa rin ako minsan na kuhanan ako sa angle na ’to kasi hindi ako confident pero ’pag naka-drag ako, wala naman akong anggulo, e... Si Valentine, she’s gorgeous. Iba ’yung power na nabibigay niya sa akin. I love it, I love it!”

She’s the dream face of many. A force to be reckoned with. A young dreamer with a beautiful, bold soul. She is best at what she does and she does it with passion and purpose. She shimmers like a gem and lives up to her surname—Brillantes. “Love who you love. Go for it!” That’s how she concluded our talk. She may be Anndrew or Blythe to some, Andrea to many. But in that moment, to everyone at the shoot, she was Valentine Royale. She’s a queen, on- and off-cam, with or without makeup. 

Photography by Rxandy Capinpin

Creative direction by Eldzs Mejia

Sittings editor: Grace Libero-Cruz

Makeup by Marlyn Ocampo

Hair styling by Jace Abad

Styling by Eldzs Mejia  and Abby Paulino

Nails by Extraordinail Salon

Videography by CJ Reyes

Special thanks to iWantTFCDreamscape Entertainment, and Star Magic