Given her history of performing since childhood, Heather Makalani Manley does not know the meaning of stage fright. In her talent profile, the 20-year-old singer slash dancer slash model slash actress boldly states that the stage is one place where she is most happy. Dubbed as Guam’s Princess Of Pop, her very competitive showing as a finalist in the Miss Universe Guam 2010 pageant is also proof that she is a lot more than just a lovely voice. Very much at home with a swimsuit as she is with a microphone, the naturally-talented Heather gives new meaning to the term “sight and sound.” Hear, hear!
Photography by Genald Tungol | Styling by Patrick Galang
Makeup by Anton Padu | Hair by Renz Pangilinan
You are best known for your singing. Who were your musical idols growing up and the ones you look up to now?
I began singing at the age of 8, and the genres that initially appealed to me were country and pop. My very first performance was at Chamorro Village singing “Blue” by Patsy Cline and “Sometimes” by Britney Spears. As I got older, my taste in music expanded and I began listening to other genres. Beyonce inspires me today because she commands the stage and has one of the best voices. Ingrid Michaelson and Adele are also amazing singers and songwriters. As far as musical theatre goes, I absolutely love Heather Headley as well as Kristen Chenoweth.
We suppose you’re also a big fan of the TV series Glee. If you were to audition as a new cast member, how would you describe the kind of character you’d like to play?
Good question. I am a huge fan of Glee! If I were to be a new character on the series, I would like to play the character of a new exchange student from Guam trying to audition to get into the glee club. It would be fun to act as a nerd that later gets a makeover, makes all the guys drool in the glee club and then becomes Rachel’s rival or something.
Do you ever see yourself having a career outside of performing?
Of course. I always knew I loved to sing and dance, but back in middle school, I wanted to be a marine biologist. It wasn’t until my sophomore year in high school when I joined my first musical, Footloose, that I realized, this is what I want to do for the rest of my life. Naturally, people are afraid to take risks and want something that’s stable. I’m not one of those people.
You mentioned that you have a unique ethnic background that combines English, Dutch, Irish, Scottish, Native American, Filipino and Spanish. Which among these ethnic backgrounds are you most partial to? The one that best describes who or what you really are?
I wouldn’t say I am partial to any one particular ethnicity because I love the fact that I am a mix of different races. It’s something I embrace.
So what’s it like to sing a duet with Filipino superstar balladeer Martin Nievera?
I felt honored to be able to perform with such a talented and charismatic star as him. When he asked if I wanted to sing “When I Fall in Love” as a duet with him, I gladly said yes! I was pretty nervous since I only learned the song the night before the show. But when I was on stage with him, he made me feel extremely comfortable and all my nerves went away. It is without a doubt one of the greatest highlights of my singing career.
We understand you’re dating someone right now. So what exactly is your ideal type of guy? Does he have to be involved in the performing arts as well?
He must believe in God and have a relationship with Him. I am a firm believer of chivalry. He has to be an old-fashioned gentleman, of course. It’s nice when a guy isn’t afraid to show his feelings and goes out of his way to do little romantic things. He has to be intelligent as well, and he has to make me laugh. I like it when a guy is kinda quirky like me, so it doesn’t make me feel so weird. Being able to sing, dance or play an instrument is a plus, but isn’t a must.
What other aspects of the performing arts do you see yourself getting involved with? Do you see yourself as a director, choreographer or vocal coach someday?
I would like to get more involved with choreography. Dancing has always been a big part of my life and choreography is a way to expand my craft. I have choreographed a few things, but there is always room for improvement.
Tell us something about your soft spot for stray animals. How did it start and what is the extent of your commitment to your pets, given your very busy schedule?
It started when I was three-years-old and got my first puppy. Since then, I have always loved animals. I guess I got it from my parents because they both grew up with animals as well. I have a big soft spot for stray animals. That explains why I have five rescued dogs as pets. Within the last two months, I also saved five animals: four kittens and one yellow bittern bird. What can I say? I’m a sucker for animals.
The performing arts requires a great deal of energy. How do you keep yourself in shape and in the best condition to perform? Any regimen you’d like to share with us?
For singing, I think the best way to be in shape is to learn how to sing with your diaphragm. That way, you’ll have better breath support so you won’t get tired as quickly. I prefer not to eat at least an hour before I sing. This may cause belching. Drink warm water prior to your performance. As for dancing, make sure you do a lot of cardio so your body is prepared to dance for at least three minutes nonstop. Also, I prefer not to eat before dancing as well, because I often get cramps if I do. And most importantly, stay well-hydrated!
How would you describe your photo shoot in Manila? How does it compare so far to the ones you’ve done in Guam or other places?
It was glamorous! When I model on Guam, I usually do my own hair and makeup, but it was nice to sit in a chair and just have the specialists do them for me. I also learned a great deal about my body and found that some of the most uncomfortable poses result in great pictures. It was a wonderful opportunity that Uno has given me.
Would you consider coming back to the Philippines and staying here for a while?
Since I have family in the Philippines, it’s always great to come and visit them. Right now, I have no plans to live here, but it’s a place where I’d love to retire in the distant future.
Do you consider yourself a techie? Are you big on gadgets and gizmos as well as going online?
I don’t think I’m a techie. I have the basics: phone, iPod, camera and laptop. If a new phone model comes out, I don’t go crazy over it. My gadgets don’t have to be the fanciest of them all. As long as they work, I’m happy. I do like going online though. In my spare time, you’ll see me on Facebook, Hulu and YouTube since I have my own channel with some singing and dancing videos.
What about sports? Do you consider yourself as the competitive type?
I have been involved in sports for a little bit. In high school, I was on the cross country team for three years and on the volleyball team for one year. Despite coming across as a girly girl, I love to go fishing and hiking. As for being competitive, I would say I am. Most of my relatives are boys, so growing up I’ve always tried to keep up with them and be just as good. Being in singing and dance competitions with SKIP has also fueled my competitive side. There’s nothing wrong with a little competition, as long as you don’t step on anyone to get what you want.
What would you most likely take with you if you ever find yourself marooned on a desert island?
I would take a knife, a tarp for shelter and to catch water, a fishing pole and hooks to catch food, and some flares to send off signals so someone could find me.
What’s the most inspiring thing anyone has ever said to you? Something you would say to our readers yourself?
I would tell the readers what my parents always tell me: Chase your passion, and not your paycheck. That’s the key to happiness and success.