EXCLUSIVE: H.E.R. on Finding Success, Repping Pinoy Culture, and Her Love for Kare-Kare
Jan 5, 2023   •   Edgardo Toledo
8List.ph is published by ID8, Inc.
Jan 5, 2023   •   Edgardo Toledo
Born to a Filipina mom and African-American dad, 25-year-old Gabriella Sarmiento Wilson — also known as H.E.R. (an acronym for “Having Everything Revealed”) — has already made her mark in the music industry as one of the R&B scene’s most influential voices. In 2019, she won two out of her five Grammy nominations: Best R&B Performance and Best R&B Album. And since then, H.E.R. has swept up three more Grammys. At 23, she earned her first Oscar after winning an Academy Award for Best Original Song for “Fight for You” from Judas and the Black Messiah.What a feat!
And it looks like the singer-songwriter is destined for even more success as she played the role of Belle for ABC’s Beauty and the Beast: A 30th Celebration. Wilson’s not shy to showcase her Filipino roots, too, because the blue dress she wore in the musical featured some Baybayin on it.
“Everybody posted it on TikTok. And when people spread that photo, there are people who are not Filipino who are like “Oh, what does this mean?” “What does it mean to be Filipino?” So, I’m proud to represent it in that way and to introduce other cultures and other people to our culture — to see us. I’m really proud of that,” the singer said.
In a recent mixer event, 8List and VJ Samm of Myx had a chat with the Grammy-winning singer where she shared some advice on finding your breakthrough and her definition of success. Here’s what we learned.
“Oh my gosh, it’s been amazing,” Wilson told Myx. “I have my family over here, so we’re having a blast. We’re eating a lot of Filipino food, and brushing up on my Tagalog. I’m having a really great time.”
Her favorite dish? Kare-kare. “I can cook it, too,” she said. “I make it really good.” Is there anything she can’t do?
2022 was a big year for Wilson. She was on tour with Coldplay, performing in stadiums all over the world. And of course, there was Beauty and the Beast, which she described as her “number one highlight because I got to be a Disney princess.” She also shot the movie of the musical The Color Purple, playing Squeak, juke joint waitress-turned-aspiring singer. The film comes out this year, so keep your eyes peeled.
“I think I’m most proud of and happy about the growth that I’ve experienced this year,” she said. “I’m really proud of myself. And it takes a lot to say that, but you gotta remember to give yourself props, pat yourself on the back, and then take a vacation in the Philippines.”
What’s her advice for those people who are waiting for a breakthrough? Patience.
“Be patient because it’s [a] very hard journey,” she says. “Honestly, believe in yourself, and I know it sounds cliché, but it’s so easy to get taken away from your why — your purpose, and why you love what you do.”
Wilson is speaking from experience — she’s been performing since she was a child, singing in her dad’s cover band. Even as a child, her talent was apparent to anyone who heard her (she appeared on the Today show at age 10 covering “If I Ain’t Got You”) and she signed her first record deal at 14. But it wasn’t until 2018 — when she got her first Grammy noms — that her fame skyrocketed.
“And I think that’s what striving for something can do, it can discourage you,” she adds. “But don’t give up, and believe in yourself because you gotta be your number one fan. Always.”
What’s Wilson’s definition of success?
“It’s changed a lot. I’m still finding that, but my true definition of success is to do what I love and make great memories, and not have to necessarily worry too much. Of course, we’re gonna worry, but I think to be in my purpose and to be able to just be in that is success to me.”
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