A couple months ago, I posted a review of a book that opened me up to a new culture, a list of foreign talent and a breadth of knowledge of entertainers and creative individuals in the Philippines. The book is titled ‘Unscripted’, and the amazing authors behind aforementioned book are Sarah Meier and Vicky Herrera.
A while back, I was lucky enough for the chance to interview the two and now, I can finally reveal what went on during that interview.
1. Who are you and what do you do?
Hi. My name is Sarah. In a nutshell, I’m a half Swiss half Filipina chick that was born and raised in Hong Kong, spent my teenage years in Manila, and the rest of my life traversing the globe, getting paid to ask creative and famous people questions. I write articles for magazines I’m sometimes on the cover of, write scripts for TV shows I’m occasionally the host of, wear pretty clothes made by Filipino designers, run my mouth about how much I love the Philippines, and once in awhile I have the incredible opportunity to fall in love in and with Hip Hop all over again.
For work, I am a model, host and writer. But for life, I like to help people out with words I write, explore the world, have rich conversations with interesting people, and always experience new adventures. Who knows what I’ll evolve to become. This year, I’ve made “doing what I love” my first goal and I’ll let the career labels come later. 😉
2. What’s the story behind ‘Unscripted’ and how did it first make its way onto the airwaves in the Philippines?
In 2009, when I was still working for Status Magazine, I received a call out of nowhere from my booker to co-host a radio show with Sarah. (Sarah and I are in the same modeling agency in Manila so he represents us both.) He told me that the same company behind MTV Philippines was starting a radio station called U92. They got Sarah to host a show and she needed a co-host – so they called me! I had no prior experience in radio, but I knew it was something I wanted to try. So within 15 minutes all I said was “When do we start?” Actually, I’m lucky to have been given that opportunity.
From there we had a solid one year of radio work in our morning show “The Dollhouse”, interviewing awesome guests from different industries in the Philippines. I feel like we really brought a fresh approach to a traditional medium. We really learned the ropes of how being a radio DJ was. In terms of lining up songs, creating great content, interviews as well as the being exposed to business side of marketing. I learned a lot from that new environment and I feel like I really grew up in a lot of ways.
After the show ended, we received a lot of messages/tweets from our Dollhouse fans wishing we were still on air. So we decided to come out with a book last December that documented the entire journey. From putting together the best interviews from the show, photos, plus adding great photography, art, and graphic design from our talented friends in Manila.
3. What did you want to express with ‘Unscripted’?
Completely honest answer? I’ve said a great number of things about this book being our gift to the next generation, and our “salute” to the one that came before us, but the most fundamental thing about getting ‘Unscripted’ done and out on shelves, was precisely that; getting it done and out on shelves. If Vicky and I got paid for creating concepts, we’d have matching minimalist beach houses on a private island, brownstone walk ups in Brooklyn, and a villa in the Italian countryside. Good ideas are EASY for us. But choosing which ones to invest passion, cash, and time into – and then doing all the grunt work to see it through? All I’m saying is that the process was the progress, and what that expresses is that a) to begin, you must dream without boundaries, and b) to make them real, you must create boundaries. Ah, the irony.
We wanted to express time-tested lessons that the youth could learn from but in a fresh way. The guests we interviewed have really lived interesting lives and we wanted to bridge that gap between the people who came before, and today’s generation. Bringing these “OGs” back in a way that was relevant for the youth to understand. ‘Cause at the end of the way, we can learn a lot from different people from their life stories.
Our guests are so diverse. We have everyone from the former first lady Imelda Marcos to the Philippine pioneers of hip-hop, Mastaplann. But what’s so great is that even if you never experienced the show, you never lived in the Philippines, or you never heard of us, you can pick it up and basically get the whole story right away.
4. What was the book that influenced your life – and why?
Hemingway’s “The Old Man and the Sea”. Not because of anything literary either. I read it when I was twelve and it taught me how to pray the Hail Mary and Our Father, which was important to me, having just moved to a predominantly Catholic country and not knowing the first thing about religion of any sort. Over time, I’ve managed to look back and muse about how much I decidedly am like, and am fond of, Santiago – that dear old man.
A lot! I love Robin Sharma. He’s my guru. Also Paolo Coelho’s books are pretty awesome.
5. You’re both renowned models. How would you define your personal style?
My mom was a supermodel in the 70’s, and I don’t think I ever grew out of the phase where my entire concept of beauty revolved around her. Dark skinned, distinctively Asian eyes, insane haircuts, unconventional manners of dress. Issey Miyake meets a tattered white cotton shirt and espadrilles. Side shaved head, booty shorts, and an ostentatious black jacket with a neon flamingo and palm tree all-over print. Off the shoulder striped woven sweater, floor length skirt, Cloche hat. She was unpredictable and impossible to label, and she’s still my style icon, so there. That’s my definition.
It’s always changing. I’m trying to become more practical now. Right now, I don’t really have a closet and half my things are in a suitcase, so I’m learning how to recycle the colour black in 101 different ways. Trying to travel light and stick to my budget is making me more resourceful and creative. A dress that can be worn in 5 different ways and it’s half off? I’ll take it!
6. Who, where, or what keeps you inspired to wake up every day and do what you do?
Who knows. I feel like in my haphazard sort of life, I’ve somehow managed to sit still long enough to have meaningful conversations with people, and feel like it’s these individuals that I’ve been kind to along the way that are propelling me forward with their good energy, prayers, and well wishes. My daughter though…she redefined my concept of what I felt I needed to achieve in my lifetime. I always thought my own years on this planet were the end all be all, but when Kaya came along, I realized that the entire premise of creating another generation was so that the proverbial torch could be passed. Which means I’m just trying to live the most deliberate life possible, so that when it’s time for my kids to take over what I’ve accumulated, they have a treasure trove full of substance, quality, and positivity to sort through.
Talking to people who inspire me because they want to accomplish something. My family plays a huge part in all of that, as well as my closest friends. I think I make a conscious effort to surround myself with motivated people who want to do something great with their lives. I feel like that energy rubs off on me, and we get to influence each other in a great way.
7. What is the soundtrack to your 5 to 9 life?
I can’t speak for Sarah, but lately I’ve been listening to a lot of Lana Del Rey, ASAP Rocky, Azealia Banks and of course I always have some Jay-Z playing on my iPod.
8. What were some of the most important things you learnt from those that were interviewed in ‘Unscripted’?
You’re the first I’m telling this to, but really, my answer is ‘Unscripted’ co-author – Victoria Herrera. There’s a certain level of callousness that develops after being around veteran “question answerers” for such a significant chunk of my life, that honestly, the most refreshing and meaningful lessons came from watching V’s reactions to our on air conversations with these varied industry pioneers. Her growth throughout the course of the radio show, and the creation of the book, were and will always be priceless to me.
That’s quite hard to pick mainly because I learned from all of them over and over again. I learned during the show, I learned during the book-making process, and I learned again after the book came out.
9. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
“Put God first, and everything else will fall into place.” – my husband, Banjo
My top 5 include:
- Put God first and everything else will fall into place.
- Check yo self before you wreck yo self.
- Don’t date a guy who wears tighter pants than you.
- Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming.
- Be kinder than your smile. Smarter than your books. Braver than your fears.
10. What’s next on your to-do list?
Continuing to build thebridgefiles.com, by breeding quality journalists to properly represent Philippine verge culture globally, as well as cultivating the scene so that we have quality content to feature. There’s a clothing line in the works somewhere; maybe a capsule collection for Fashion Week. Grad school. Have another kid. Write another book. Learn enough Portugese to be able to write a song without help from Google. I’d like to host Miss Universe one day. Produce a Grammy nominated album. Substantially improve the Philippines’ economic stability by advocating tourism efforts, and propelling government to support creative industries. Help my husband out with the next phase of Platform.
Recently got interviewed for the infamous Steve Stoute “Tanning Effect” series, and would very much like to role reverse that and ask him some questions. I also want to do a really provocative streetwear shoot, and pray to God nobody ever sees it. Oh, and come to the Manila Music Festival on May 1st! We’ve got Afrika Bambaataa coming over. I’ve always wanted to meet him!
I’m learning a lot by traveling right now. Interacting with people from different cultures really changes your perspective. I realize how small I am in this big big world and I am humbled by that. I just want to create whatever inspires me at the moment. So right now… Learning more… experiencing more… then coming out with an expressive way to share that with others. I’m very much open to whatever life throws at me.