Hi Haven, welcome to VQS, tell us how you got started in music and acting?
I come from a very musically inclined family. My parents are from the Philippines and they were both professional singers. My mom was signed under a record label under the name “Lily Morena“. They both gave up their dreams to move to the US and eventually met each other in Sacramento, CA.
My parents decided to create a DJ business when I was about four years old. Growing up, my two older sisters and I performed at every wedding, birthday, and christening gig that my parents had over the weekends. Eventually, my sisters and I formed a singing group called The Three Angels. We sang Christian, R&B, and pop music that highlighted our harmonies.
Since the age of five, my sisters and I would rehearse together almost everyday. We decided to take our singing group seriously and began writing our own music. We made a demo CD with our producer and cousin Rogeniv and was discovered by numerous agents throughout my adolescence.
A few years later, we were given the opportunity to work with a management team in New York City . While we were there, we graced the stages of New Jersey’s Prudential Center Gospel Fest and received a standing ovation at NYC’s Apollo Theater. For two years, we were artist developed and shopped to different record labels.
We experienced adversity because it was difficult for labels to market three Asian sisters who sang R&B music. After two years of trying to make it in NYC, we decided to move back to Sacramento. I started taking acting classes at Studio 24 in Folsom, CA and discovered my love for acting and performing in front of a camera.
In 2016, I moved to LA to pursue acting/singing on my own. I also began developing my social media following online. Since then, I played Gigi in Netflix’s show, YOU, Tatiyana in Showtime’s The L Word, and I landed my first lead role as Christine in a feature film called “The Girl Who Left Home”.
What new projects are you working on now?
As for acting, “The Girl Who Left Home” is currently going through the festival circuit. It is available nationwide from March 4th – March 14th through the Seattle Asian Film Festival. You can purchase tickets here.
I also got the opportunity to play a lead role in a short film called “Omolara“; scheduled to release this later year.
As far as music goes, I’ve been rekindling my love for it and have been working with different producers to create my original sound. I aim to release some new music this year. Stay tuned!
What core values do you believe are necessary for success?
1. Hone Your Craft: I believe that you can always continue to learn and grow. Taking classes, especially in acting, is always helpful, and remembering that it’s the long game that you’re playing.
2. Find Your “Why“: Things are bound to get hard. Failure is a necessary part of success. When things get too tough, knowing WHY you’re pursuing whatever it is that you’re pursuing can help you continue to keep going when the going gets tough.
3. Fail Forward: It’s okay to make mistakes. Mistakes are the best teacher. It’s also inevitable to experience rejection. So, take it in stride and believe that things are working in your favor, even if it doesn’t seem like it at the time.
Sometimes, “pivoting” slightly away from the goal can be helpful to refresh your mental state. It can give you a new sense of perspective. So don’t be afraid to try new things!
Who have been some of your favorite people/projects to work with?
Shooting “The Girl Who Left Home” with the entire cast and crew felt like a dream. Emy Coligado (Malcom In The Middle, Fresh Off The Boat, Miss Saigon) played my mother and Paolo Montalban (Rogers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella, Mortal Combat: Conquest) played my Uncle.
I remember watching them on tv growing up. Getting to actually work alongside them and learn from them first-hand was such a dream come true. We also still communicate to this day and have built such a strong bond since shooting the film.
The film itself (written/directed/produced by Mallorie Ortega) is a musical feature film that showcases a Fil-Am story. There aren’t very many Fil-Am stories in media today, so getting to sing and act as the lead of this film was such an honor.
What future opportunities would you like to be involved with?
There are so many projects that I would love to be involved with! For film and television, my list ranges from animation, action, comedy, and musicals, just to name a few.
I would also like to continue to push Fil-Am stories on mainstream media and television here in the United States. For singing, I would like to continue to work on honing my own sound and I aim to release original music.
Send Haven a message here.