Metro At 30: Julia Barretto On Finding Inner Peace And Strength, And Soldiering On
For her past, present, and future self, Julia has one thing to say: “It’s going to be fine
It takes a certain kind of person to come out on the other side of a controversy still smiling. It takes grit, perseverance, and a spine made out of steel. But most of all, it takes a heart still willing to forgive—forgive oneself, and forgive the people who have hurt her. It takes someone like Julia Barretto, who, despite the challenges and tribulations she’s faced throughout her young life, can still laugh just as brightly and as warmly as any person who has had it easy.
She was 16 when she was first photographed for a Metro cover, and since then, Julia has had almost everything thrown at her. She’s been through so much heartache that you might wonder how exactly she’s been able to get through it all. The truth is a quiet resilience emanates from her entire being, and it’s impossible to miss. During the shoot, she sits on her own in the sidelines, taking the time to answer questions thoughtfully. You can tell she’s tired, and yet, there she still is: a soul who’s been broken, but is healing—and is doing so on her own terms.
“With everything that I’ve been through,” she says softly, “I feel like it has molded me to become the person that I am today. I’ve become more aware of the things that I want and the things that I know I don’t want in my life because they’re not nurturing me, or they’re not helping me grow. I’ve learned to really protect my peace.” Since our conversation, Julia has attended the 2019 ABS-CBN Ball, a vision in blush as she donned a bespoke Rajo Laurel terno, moved into her new house, and launched her YouTube channel called Just Julia. In her new digital home, she talks about becoming just Julia—just the girl she’s always been. She addresses criticism and accusations that have been hurled at her, and she reclaims the narrative that the public has unfairly judged her for.
And she couldn’t have done it without an incredible support system behind her, led first and foremost by her mom, Marjorie Barretto, who Julia says is her source of pretty much everything—strength, life, home, wisdom, grace. “I really wouldn’t be the person that I am now if it weren’t for her,” Julia says, smiling, her lopsided grin bringing out her dimples. “I wouldn’t be the tough person that I am now if not for her. I wouldn’t know the things that I know about myself now if it weren’t for her.”
“She’s my hero,” Julia adds.
I’ve become more aware of the things that I want and the things that I know I don’t want in my life because they’re not nurturing me, or they’re not helping me grow. I’ve learned to really protect my peace
In her shoes
As an actress, among the challenges she’s had to face is portraying characters that are so opposite and so far from who she really is in real life. “That’s one of the hardest things you have to do as an actress: adjust and adapt to a certain type of person, give them life,” she says. “I think that’s the biggest challenge, molding that character and completely losing yourself for that whole entire day when you’re somebody else and then having to go back to who you are. Sometimes you forget who you really are, your habits, your nuances, everything. That’s the challenge, being in the shoes of the character you portray.”
She cites Ngayon at Kailanman’s Eva Mapendo as one of the hardest roles she’s ever had to take on. “The first two weeks, I remember just crying to myself every day at taping,” she shares. “I’d just be there crying. Embrace her, be her, love her. You get the chance to create somebody. You get the chance to give her personality and spunk. It’s nice because that character also becomes your outlet for emotions you can’t put out as your real self. She was the hardest but she was also my most loved.”
Fortunately for her, she knows what the audience wants: “Career-wise, I already know the roles that I want to take on; the roles that I know will suit how people have gotten to know me,” she says. Being a star of both film and television, she admits that making movies is closer to her heart. “Film gives me the luxury of time,” she says. “Being able to do a lot of films and being able to take on different roles in a year as opposed to when you’re doing a series, that’s for the whole year. You don’t get to play around with different personalities as much. But I love TV. It has its own charm.”
You get the chance to create somebody. You get the chance to give her personality and spunk. It’s nice because that character also becomes your outlet for emotions you can’t put out as your real self
Sometime soon, Julia will take a short break—time for herself, time to recharge, time to retreat. After all, she has just finished shooting Block Z, a Star Cinema film about a bunch of university students fighting a zombie outbreak; and she’s slated to film another movie with Joshua Garcia. But acting isn’t all that’s on Julia’s mind: “I’ve always wanted to have my own business,” she says. “I’ve always wanted to have my own daycare because I love kids. Maybe in the future when I’m settled in with myself, maybe during my quick break I’ll be able to find something that I really truly want to do aside from acting.”
She’s positively buzzing when she talks about moving into her new home. Aside from fixing up the place, she’s most excited to have her own personal space, and, most of all: “Time for myself, being alone, and learning to be okay with being alone.” These days, when she’s not working, she’s spending time with her family, the people who make her heart soar the highest.
In our conversation, which is part interview, part reflection for the 23-year-old actress, she doesn’t run out of affirming things to say, much of it to herself. “It’s so much easier to forgive other people,” she says. “It’s so much harder to forgive yourself. When certain things happen in your life, it’s easier to focus on those things that sometimes you tend to forget the good things that are happening in your life. I think in 2019 I would rather focus on the good things that have happened in my life. I’m thankful for the things I went through this year because I know that there’s perseverance at the end of the day. You’re only on the winning end if you choose to come out of anything better and more improved and wiser and stronger.”
“2019 is the most challenging yet but I’m most thankful for this year,” she says, finally. For her past, present, and future self, Julia has one thing to say: “It’s going to be fine”—and with her resolve and resilience, one thing is clear.
Julia Barretto will indeed be alright.
Produced by Kat Cruz-Villanueva, Ceia Ylagan, and Judy Arias
Photography by Seven Barretto
Video by Chapters by Mayad
Styling by Eldzs Mejia
Makeup by Robbie Piñera
Hairstyling by John Valle
Sittings editors: Geolette Esguerra, Grace Libero-Cruz, and Kate Paras-Santiago
Production design by Kathy Sy King of Event Styles
Styling assistants: Carl Alberto, Gabby Gamboa, Nix Bueno, Aubrey Cazzandra
Shot on location at City of Dreams Manila
Special thanks to Charisse Chuidian and Romina Gervacio of City of Dreams Manila; C&L Decor, Shop Rent Gala, 4th Wall, and 18th Floristry