Here Comes Charice!
By: Lynn Barker
Charice Pempengco’s story is amazing. She came from a poor background in the Philippines where she learned English from listening to American music. Her mom walked in to find her 4-year-old belting Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” from Titanic while standing on the kitchen table.
After participating in countless talent contests in her country, this amazing young singer had almost given up her dream when Ellen Degeneres noticed her popular YouTube video and invited Charice to come to the U.S. for the show. After that, Oprah and on to success with more music and her recurring role on “Glee”.
Starting this week, you can catch Charice playing a talented music student in the funny, heart-warming new Kevin James’ film Here Comes the Boom. We were excited to get more info from this petite dynamo who called us from her home in L.A.
Charice as Malia with Kevin James as Scott
Kidzworld: Talk about the process of winning the role of Malia in Here Comes the Boom. How was that for you? Did you have to sing to get the part?
- Charice: I thought I was just going to read the script and act. All of a sudden they gave me lyrics of a song (“Holly Holy” originally by Neil Diamond) and I didn’t know the song. I was like “What am I gonna do now?”. So I downloaded the song on my phone and only had like five minutes before I had to sing it. I was so nervous! I really tried and I’m so blessed that they loved it.
Kidzworld: Wow, you are a quick study! Was making your first film what you thought it would be?
- Charice: A lot of people ask if I would stick with acting and actually I love acting but between singing and acting, singing would be number one but I’m having fun. But, after “Glee” and doing (a guest shot) in the Chipmunks movie then this movie, it made me more confident about doing more movies. Maybe I could be the serial killer in a horror film! I would love that!
Kidzworld: They would never guess you were the killer!
- Charice: Poor victims. I don’t wanna be a victim.
Kidzworld: So you are a big horror movie buff then. You must have plans for Halloween.
- Charice: I still don’t know what/who I’m gonna be for Halloween but I’m planning to go to Universal (Halloween Horror Nights) and lots of haunted houses and all that.
Kidzworld: Your character Malia in this movie says she learned English by listening to music. Is that true for you too?
- Charice: Yes. I think most Asian singers or singers from other countries, it’s very common. Usually, all of us listen to music all the time and that’s how we learn English or other languages. I learned some Italian. That’s one way.
Charice (left) with "Boom" cast
Kidzworld: Malia uses music to coach the Niko character in this film for his citizenship test. Do you think using music to teach other subjects is a cool idea?
- Charice: I think that would be great. As a singer, when I was in high school, there was a lot of stuff I had to remember but every time I tried to memorize it and used music, I actually do remember stuff. It actually works.
Kidzworld: How do you feel about your Malia character? She’s very sweet.
- Charice: The Malia character reminded me of Sunshine Corazon (her character on “Glee”). People ask “What’s the difference?” The characters are kind of the same but what really got me into this movie was the story. I love the story and all of Kevin James’ movies but this is the best. It’s funny and inspirational.
Kidzworld: “Never Give Up” is a big theme in the movie and has been a theme in your life. What was the lowest point for you? Was it when you were 12 and lost the “Little Big Star” contest on Filipino TV?
- Charice: I think that was it. That contest made me sort of give up. I thought “Maybe I’ll just go back to school and be a normal teenager going out with friends.” I was in my room for two months. I was depressed.
Charice as Malia
Kidzworld: I can understand that. Due to YouTube you became well-known. How did you react when you were invited by Ellen to be on her show, then Oprah? Did you just jump up and down or not believe it or what?
- Charice: It was Ellen first but I feel so bad. We didn’t have money so didn’t have cable TV and I didn’t know who she was! When they invited me, my mom said “Who is she?” Then my friend said “Oh she’s a huge American TV talk show host”. My mom was like “You’re going to America?!” That was a huge thing. Same with Oprah. It was like a Cinderella story.
Kidzworld: You are singing with Cheesa from “The Voice” on the single “I’m Not Perfect”. Are you guys buddies now?
- Charice: Oh, actually not a lot of people know that her brother is my musical director. He was even before Cheesa joined “The Voice” so we’ve been friends.
Kidzworld: Do you consider your sound more R&B now or what?
- Charice: I love singing different types of music but I think if I had to choose it would be R&B and Pop. I love creating new styles. Like I can turn a Frank Sinatra song into R&B. I love doing that kind of thing.
Charice in cute model pose
Kidzworld: That’s what you did with the “Holly Holy” song in the movie.
- Charice: Yeah.
Kidzworld: Whose music are you listening to most now?
- Charice: I love listening to Frank Ocean. His music is my jam right now.
Kidzworld: Why will kids and teens really enjoy seeing Here Comes the Boom?
- Charice: They will love it because it’s not just the kind of common comedy they would normally watch. Some of those get so cheesy but this one has comedy and action and it’s actually inspirational. Everybody can relate to this movie.
Kidzworld: What is next for you?
- Charice: Right now I’m going back to New York to sing with Cheesa at Carnegie Hall and November 3rd I’ll have my concert in Hawaii then after that I’ll probably get back here to L.A. and do more music for an album. I just released the Asian version of my other album called “Infinity”. We’re still looking for more music for the new album.