MANILA — Nadine Lustre is "super aware" of a Twitter meme where she is referred to as the country's president, and while she does find humor in it, the actress sees it more as an opportunity to spread a message of self-empowerment among her followers.
"Even in person, 'President' ang tawag nila sa akin," an amused Lustre told reporters, when asked about the topic, during a recent press conference about her FAMAS best actress win.
The "President Nadine Lustre" meme has produced numerous viral posts on social media, such as a gallery of portraits of Philippine leaders — with her inclusion — and tongue-in-cheek comparisons of Lustre's advocacy to achievements of actual presidents.
It's not clear how the meme started, although fans of Lustre have been declaring, "Nadine Lustre is my president," as early as 2016 — which saw the last presidential election.
The running joke has snowballed over the years, and today the meme has become an expression of humor — and earnest praise for Lustre over her "progressive" and fearless stance as a celebrity.
"Honestly," Lustre began, "it's just really nice to be someone a lot of people look up to, na ako 'yung parang inspiration nila, na they look at me as someone who's strong, who is very empowered, someone who is inspiring also."
"Since the beginning naman, noong pumasok ako sa showbiz, iyon naman po talaga 'yung gusto kong gawin. I want every one to realize na... Just strive, reach for your dreams," she explained.
Lustre, 25, achieved her showbiz breakthrough via the 2014 film "Diary ng Panget," but her actual screen debut was in 2002. Years of struggling under the limelight took a toll on her confidence, and she continues to work on her self-esteem, she admitted.
Lustre has also been open about her battle with depression, and how she copes amid the expectations of being a public figure.
"I was very insecure when I was younger and I was looking for someone, a role model to look up to, to show me it's going to be okay, you're going to have better days. It's okay that you have this now; you're going to get over it. Wala po ako kasi akong naging role model when I was younger.
"Now, I'm just really happy na ako 'yung para sa karamihan ng mga bata para sa akin," she said.