Nadine Lustre is known for her distinct level of creativity, her political tone, and ingenuity. This actress and RnB songstress has made herself accountable to speak about some of the world’s most pressing social issues. She joined The Rainbow Warrior’s Ship it Back tour to support environmental activist group Greenpeace. She’s also a non-conformist of the Filipino-Mestiza standard, and has been vocal about the major social issues of what is called ‘morena shaming,’ where women are shamed for their natural Filipino brown skin.
In her new album, Wildest Dreams, Lustre undoubtably transports us into another cosmos with her majestic combination of personal imagination and otherworldly RnB blows. She was inspired by her most memorable vivid dreams. Her team then tried to translate these dreams into an immersive thirty-three-minute visual experience. She mentions her music is like giving advice to her listeners in a way. Lustre’s melodies, lyrics, imagery and monologues lead a road for open conversations about taboo themes. So, listen, read or watch how Nadine Lustre perceives the world we live on today.
Congratulations on the release of your Wildest Dreams album in 2020! The thirty-three- minute visual album is even more impressive. The futuristic fantasy elements combined with majestic nature scenes and RnB beats is a gift to the eyes and ears. What inspired the narration to the visual album, and did you write it?
Thank you so much! The visual album is a collaborative work between me and my label. Wildest Dreams was inspired by my most memorable vivid dreams and from there me and my team tried our best to translate it in and immersive visual experience.
You have mentioned that the main themes for your album Wildest Dreams were self-love and empowerment. Could you tell us what these themes mean to you?
I’ve struggled with a lot of different things growing up even until now but understanding self-love and keeping myself empowered helps me stay on my toes no matter how difficult the situation is.
You’ve been vocal about the major social issues of ‘morena shaming’ where women are shamed for their natural Filipino brown skin. Could you explain the difference between 'morena' versus 'mestiza' and their supposed labels for the people who don’t know?
History plays a huge mark in this issue. The Philippines was colonised by different countries for long periods of time and that led to us having Western standards of beauty. Morena is the natural brown skin color of the early native Filipinos. When we got colonised by other countries, the result of intermarriages were mestizas or fair-skinned Filipinos. We are heavily influenced by Western culture. A lot of the people that I see on local television are either mestizo (mixed) or fair-skinned.
This next question kind of coincides with the previous one but in the Philippines, the notion of an ‘old’ euro-centric beauty standard is still heavily enforced. Could you talk more about how has this influenced you when you grew up as a young girl?
I’m not going to lie… I grew up knowing that having fair skin is better. I’m still being bullied for my morena skin colour, believe it or not. Although it doesn’t bother me, I could only imagine how everyone else would feel about it. I remember being obsessed with whitening products and being afraid to go under the sun, because that would make my skin dark and uneven. I was young, I didn’t know better but as I grow older I realised that pretty much, it’s just a silly argument about what colour is more beautiful because beauty knows no colour.
Do you think the media representation is diverse and inclusive nowadays?
Definitely, I am happy that people are more accepting of diversity.
You talk openly about your experiences with depression and anxiety, and you state that three songs in the album are about your struggle with mental health. I think it is inspirational that you keep this conversation going. Could you tell us a little more about your music is a catalyst for such vulnerable conversations?
White Rabbit, Grey Skies and Save a Place are the songs that have a hint of those topics. Talking about me being in that state, I wanted to write about solutions instead. Much like giving advice to my listeners and letting them know that they’re not alone through my music.
How does your social and political views influence your artistic work?
Wildest Dreams was about finding and empowering myself and, in a way, I want the theme and the message to be used as inspiration for women's empowerment as well.
There is nothing you can’t do. Music video director, actress, fashion influencer, and also advocating for pressing social issues within the Philippines as well as internationally. When did your motivation for your creative career start?
Both my parents are very artistic. I loved art and music even at a very-young age. I’m not really sure when or how it started but all I know is that I want to create endlessly.
Do you like being in front of the camera or behind the lens?
I like both, but I would have to say behind the lens. Being in front of the camera can be very limiting sometimes and I’m curious to see what the world looks like behind it.
Could you elaborate a little more about your role in environmental activism, for example, your anti-plastic advocacies, and your experiences with Greenpeace?
We only have one planet and we can’t afford to lose it. Our planet has taken care of us and I think it’s time for us to take care of it. With the reach that I have, I try to keep everyone updated with whatever is happening around us, and try to urge my followers to make a difference. I’m really hoping that I get to do more onsite projects this year.
What are some of your favourite scenes in the visual album?
I’d have to say, the scenes where I’m standing on the moon. I’ve always wanted to go to outer space and explore.
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
Up in the mountains or near the ocean. I wanna be in nature.