Actress and model Kira Balinger is a doe-eyed beauty that’s impossibly hard to overlook. An immaculate face, a modelesque physique, and a youthful charisma—she’s got all the boxes checked to look the part of a true-blue star. But moving past outward impressions, this seventeen-year-old is here to prove that it takes more than just a pretty face to thrive in the industry.
Kira’s catapult into stardom kicked off when she was first discovered at a mall, but her launch into the limelight is not all thanks to fate. She had to put in two years’ worth of workshops before ultimately finding her niche in show business. “This is really my dream. This industry is where I see myself growing,” Kira shares. Hard work and determination aside, Kira’s genuine enthusiasm for her craft is why she’s become one of the industry’s brightest up-and-comers.
The half-Filipino half-British received her big break when she was casted in the 2016 primetime series The Story of Us as Caitlyn, the younger sister of the show’s female lead played by Kim Chiu. Now, Kira is set to make her first cinematic appearance in Rechie Del Carmen’s indie film A Lasting Love to Remember where she stars as a loving daughter named Ivy. Acting aside, it’s evident that Kira was born to bask under the spotlight. She’s been showcasing her singing and dancing chops on the weekly variety show ASAP as part of the girl squad BFF5 alongside Ylona Garcia, Andrea Brillantes, Maris Racal, and Loisa Andalio. Things are looking up for the young stunner, and there’s certainly no stopping her from reaching for her dreams.
On set, Kira strikes a commendable balance between work and play, from throwing funny expressions at the camera to instantly putting her game face on. As we dress her up in laidback romantic couture, Kira shares with us the best decision she’s made so far, the actor she looks up to in the industry, and her personal advice to girls her age when it comes to beauty.
What was it like for you growing up in the UK and how is it different from living here now?
It was okay, I really enjoyed winter over there. When it’s winter time, that would be my happiest. But I’d have to say the people in the Philippines are more approachable. They’re just friendlier. But UK people are friendly too. (Laughs)
You were pretty young when you moved. How did you cope with the changes in language and culture after moving to the Philippines?
Actually, that’s the thing about being young, it’s easy for you to adapt to the culture. When I first got here, I really didn’t know how to speak any Tagalog. I only really learned nung 2014, nung pumasok ako sa Star Magic. They gave me workshops. And my mom taught me at home as well. Hindi niya ako kinakausap sa English. As in Tagalog lahat to the point where I have to ask her, “Ma, stop! I don’t understand!” (Laughs) Pero at the same time, that’s how I really learned.
Can you tell us about how you first started in the industry?
I was discovered in a mall and that’s how it all started. Then I did the workshops for two years. That included Tagalog lessons, acting workshops, and dance workshops as well. And ayun, my first break was The Story of Us. I was Kim Chiu’s sister and Ms. Zsa Zsa [Padilla]’s daughter dun sa show. I was really happy kasi ang role ko dun is sister na agad. So it’s part of the main [cast] and di ko talaga inexpect na makukuha ko yun on my first try. That’s why I’m really really proud and thankful. Before, it was just pure modeling. But that was pretty enjoyable too. It kind of helped me to gain confidence as well.
What’s the most challenging part about entering the industry?
Siguro having all eyes and all opinions on you. Because you know, everyone has the right to say something to the point where it’s not nice anymore. So ayun po, people’s judgment siguro when they don’t really know you yet. Pero at the same time, it’s part of the job so you just have to learn to accept it and keep going.
“This is really my dream. This industry is where I see myself growing.”
Did you ever feel like giving up on acting at one point?
At one point, yes, I did get tired. But then I asked myself, what was the reason why I started in the first place? This is my dream. Yun yung pinaka karga ko to keep myself going.
Aside from the workshops, what do you do to get better at your craft?
Ako, I observe people talaga. Like how they act if they’re happy or sad, how they talk, and even how they look when they’re not saying anything.
What’s it like being part of BFF5?
It’s really fun and enjoyable. I like how we always have singing and dancing prods ‘cause we really get to showcase our talents every weekend.
Have you always been into performing?
Yes, anything in the arts—whether it’s acting or performing or modeling. I really enjoy it.
What advice has stuck with you the most since you started in the industry?
Keep your feet on the ground.
What’s the best decision you’ve made in your life as a 17-year-old?
The best decision in my life so far? Maybe just to really keep going in show business and not to stop at all.
Can you talk about A Lasting Love to Remember?
It’s a romantic indie film and it’s a love story like no other. There are lots of scenes where mapapaiyak ka, so abangers. (Laughs) It’s my very first movie appearance, that’s why I’m giving it my 150 percent with my acting.
“Everyone has the right to say something to the point where it’s not nice anymore. Pero at the same time, it’s part of the job so you just have to learn to accept it and keep going.”
How was it working on the movie?
It was really fun. Everyone was so professional. They know what they’re doing talaga pagdating nila sa set. I’m with Justin Lee, siya po yung leading man ko. It’s directed by Rechie Del Carmen. And it’s really fun to work with direk kasi sobrang hands-on siya. Si Justin naman, ganon din. He knows what he’s doing in every scene.
Who are the actors that inspire you in the industry?
Ate Liza [Soberano], of course. She’s my #1 inspiration. I just love how sobrang grounded siya even with all the success she has and all the blessings na dumarating sa kanya. Sobrang humble niya pa rin and down to earth.
What’s your dream project?
My dream project would have to be a person who’s pipe or a spy. Pipe, because I want to try acting with my eyes. Like, no lines at all. I want to challenge myself there. And a spy because it’s cool. (Laughs) You get to do flips and all. You have to make it sabay with the acting as well and make sure na di ka mawawala so that’s something I would like to try.
Who would you like to work with in the future?
LizQuen, syempre. (Laughs) So I can learn from them. Paulo Avelino as well, he’s a great actor. Marami eh, I can’t name them all sa dami. (Laughs)
What have you learned so far from being in the industry?
No matter how hard things get, no matter how down you feel, it’s not as bad as it seems. You can always stand up and keep trying.
What are you looking forward to in the near future?
I’m looking forward to working with new people and learning new things. And I want to venture into music as well. I’d like to give it a try. But my main focus right now is acting po talaga.
How did you dress up when you were younger?
Kikay. (Laughs) Hindi, simple lang, like jeans or a t-shirt or shorts. I don’t really wear skirts to be honest. Yeah, pretty simple.
Did your style change as you grew up?
Yeah, definitely. I had to try wearing dresses and skirts as well. It’s nice too. It’s nice to look at and all, but if I were given the choice I wouldn’t wear them. (Laughs) Because there are times when you sit down and then it’s, you know, kita. (Laughs) So I don’t want to have to worry about that.
“I asked myself, what was the reason why I started in the first place? This is my dream. Yun yung pinaka karga ko to keep myself going.”
Who are your style pegs?
Gigi Hadid and Kendall Jenner. Because they always wear different things and they make it look good no matter how simple it is.
Are you more of a skincare or a makeup kind of girl?
Both. Because makeup comes with skincare, you have to take care of your skin when you put and after you put on makeup.
What are your top 3 makeup must-haves?
Number one would have to be highlights. I love highlight, I do not know why. I’m kinda obsessed with it. Number two, pang-kilay because kilay is life. (Laughs) And three, lipstick, because what is your face without lipstick? My favorite comes from Avon.
“No matter how hard things get, no matter how down you feel, it’s not as bad as it seems. You can always stand up and keep trying.”
What’s your philosophy when it comes to beauty?
Everyone is beautiful in their own way so you don’t have to overdo it.
What’s your advice to your fellow teens when it comes to taking care of your skin?
Guys, taking care of your skin is very, very, very important because if you don’t, you will get pimples, and pimples lead to pimple marks, and they do not go away quickly. And it’s not pretty. (Laughs)