‘I was branded differently, like a saint, which I’m not’: Nadine speaks on pros and cons of leaving Viva

Actress and performer Nadine Lustre. Instagram: @nadine

MANILA — Self-managed since controversially leaving Viva Artists Agency last year, Nadine Lustre admitted that “the job is five times harder.” But for the actress, her newfound freedom to express herself is “worth it.”

In an interview with Nylon Manila, Lustre, 27, spoke extensively for the first time about her decision to “terminate” her contract with Viva, which she had been a part of since 2009.

According to Viva, which filed a lawsuit against Lustre in December 2020 over her “utter disregard” for their contract, she is their exclusive talent until June 2029.

Lustre’s camp previously referred to the deal as “oppressive and illegal,” and alleged that the agency has long “taken advantage of young artists” through its contracts.

“When you say independence, it really is freedom,” Lustre said of what she has gained since departing Viva. “Freedom to do what you want, say what you want without anyone really stopping you.”

“Before, there were so many things that I couldn’t do. I was branded differently, you know, the usual artista where everyone has to look up to you like you’re a saint, which I’m not,” she said.

During her decade with Viva, Lustre was initially a pop performer with a teen group, before she transitioned as a rom-com star, and then an acclaimed actress. She continued her music career under Viva’s record label, and also dabbled in hosting. At one point, Viva dubbed her local showbiz’s “Multimedia Princess.”

“As soon as I left the agency, I was able to say no to things that I didn't want to do,” Lustre said. “I was able to say yes to things that they probably wouldn't take me do, but I really wanted to do. I was able to dress the way that I want, I was able to put out things that are up to the quality that I want. Before, there were so many limitations.”

After parting with Viva, Lustre launched a full-length album, “Wildest Dreams,” and continued to be a visible brand endorser. She was also due to star in an ABS-CBN action series, “Burado,” but that project was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“I’m not going to say it’s easier. It’s definitely harder,” she said. “The job is five times harder than before because you don’t have an agency to back you up. Now, it’s like, you want do this? You have to do it by yourself. You have to fund it or find someone to partner with you… no one else is going to back you up financially this time. Mas mahirap siya.”

“But it is worth it.”

Referring to being creatively in charge of her album, for instance, Lustre said, “I don’t look back anymore because I feel like I'm free, just expressing myself and showing everyone who I really am.”

“And I believe it should have been like that from the very beginning.”

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