Charice Pempengco is no ordinary teenager. Dubbed by Oprah Winfrey as “ the most talented girl in the world,” her voice has stunned audiences around the world and has taken her from talent shows in the Philippines to appearing on the Oprah Winfrey Show in the United States to having a part on the hit TV show, ‘Glee.’ In 2010 Charice also became the first Asian singer in history to rank in the Top 10 of the “Billboard 200” albums chart in 2010. This week Talk Asia sits down with the rising star to talk about her meteoric rise to success.
Below are the excerpts from the interview.
ON HER HUMBLE BEGINNINGS
ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You came from humble beginnings, growing up in the Philippines. Tell me what that was like?
CHARICE PEMPENGCO, SINGER: Well it was really a tough life, not really easy. My mom’s a single mom and she used to be my vocal coach and I really admire her. She’s definitely my inspiration and I look up to her a lot. I mean I decided to be a singer because of her. It was a tough life before but now this whole thing that happened to me really helped me a lot.
COREN: Your father left when you were 3 years old. What are your memories of that time and how did it affect your family?
PEMPENGCO: I told my mom to stop working because it was really hard. By the age of six I was cooking rice and some stuff for my little brother. I was giving him the milk and everything…Every time I did all the singing contests and it was horrible. You start from 10pm in the night and you finish at 7am in the morning and I had to go to school. She used to cry and she told me to stop and I said “no” because that was the only way we could get a lot of money from it. I really sacrificed everything but at the same time it felt great and it was worth it. Seeing my mom’s face every time I won made me feel great…
ON HER RELATIONSHIP WITH HER LATE FATHER
[filmed several weeks before her father’s death]
COREN: Do you miss [your father]?
PEMPENGCO: I actually don’t know. I don’t know. Maybe sometimes when I see some kids with their families. Sorry I keep crying. Maybe when I ask them sometimes, how does it feel to have a dad? (crying) And you know they tell me these great answers and sometimes I wish my dad is here. Maybe I do, sometimes. But at the same time, I don’t because of what happened. It’s hard. It’s really hard.
ON HER RISE TO FAME
ANNA COREN: Four years ago, you were a young singer in the Philippines whose performances were posted on YouTube, now you are this international star who has someone like Oprah as a mentor. Do you sometimes just wake up and think “wow this is my life”?
PEMPENGCO: Yes. Yes I still get overwhelmed. It happened so fast but at the same time, I worked hard for it and I’m still working hard for it.
COREN: How has this fame and this exclusive club that you have entered, how has this changed your life?
PEMPENGCO: For me, I’m still me. But of course my life has changed a lot. From the hard life, from a really tough life and now I actually gave stuff that I really wanted to give to my mom.
COREN: I have to ask you, there was a reported rivalry between you and [actress] Lea Michelle and that you had signed on to do five episodes [of ‘Glee’] but in actual fact you only appeared in three. Is this rivalry true?
PEMPENGCO: When I was there, she was nice to me so I don’t think there’s a rivalry but maybe people think that because I play her rival on Glee so there’s always going to be like that. So people will ask me if it’s like that in real life – I’m like no!
Catch Charice’s Talk Asia interview on CNN at the following airtimes:
Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Singapore and Taipei
Friday, December 2 at 1830
Saturday, December 3 at 2100
Sunday, December 4 at 0730, 1430
Monday, December 5 at 0930
Tuesday, December 6 at 1630
Thursday, December 8 at 1330
(Press Release and photo: CNN Asia)
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