These Gen Z Stars Got Real About Their Personal Struggles

Young women who fought their own demons.

Belle Mariano, Kaori Oinuma, Vivoree, Dalia Varde, Ashley Del Mundo, and Criza Taa all dealt with personal battles that molded their character.

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Not only has He’s Into Her been a fun watch that puts a magnifying glass on what the young’uns go through in school, it also has introduced us to a new generation of stars to fawn over. In particular, the main female cast of the series are slowly becoming stars in their own right. Most started as relative unknowns in the industry. But, they are now seen as the next generation of actresses ready to take center stage.

Behind all the glitz, glamuor, beauty, and confidence are young woman who have dealt with issues and struggles many can relate to. They didn’t get to where they were without going through some cracks in the road, challenges that helped mold them into becoming the strong people that they are. Belle Mariano, Kaori Oinuma, Vivoree, Dalia Varde, Ashley Del Mundo, and Criza Taa recently guested on Magandang Buhay with the theme of what makes them strong. And tears were shed as the girls got honest about their struggles in life.  


In a span of a few years, Kaori Oinuma has established herself as one of Gen Z’s brightest female stars. But growing up, life wasn’t easy, especially when she used to live in Japan. For three years, she and her mom lived in Japan and she even attended school there. But despite the fact that Kaori has Japanese blood, her classmates saw her as not one of them. “Parang pinaparamdam sa akin ng mga classmates ko na left out ako, parang foreigner ako.” Because she initially didn’t know how to speak Japanese and wasn’t that fully immersed in the culture, she felt like an outsider. “Hindo ako parte. Hindi ako belong sa classroom.” It reached a point where she was crying to her mom that she wanted to go back home. But it was through her mom that Kaori found the strength to persevere.


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Vivoree is an actress, singer, dancer, and not to mention a gorgeous morena beauty. But when she was young, some people didn’t see it that way. During the interview, she revealed that growing up, she dealt with heavy cases of bullying because of her looks. “I went through traumatic experience sa bullying and ‘yung low self-esteem po talaga, because I looked different way before.” When she was in PBB, Vivoree memorably had a makeover that did more than just bring out her beauty. She expressed that her time in PBB was a way to help herself and face her fears. Clearly it worked as Vivoree has grown into a strong and confident young woman.


Like many of her peers, Ashely Del Mundo’s initial claim to fame was being on PBB. But despite emerging as a fan favorite from her season, Ashley’s time on the show was anything but a walk in the park. In case you didn’t know, Ashley is originally from Australia and had no plans of joining PBB. She was eventually convinced to do so, but she struggled to connect with the other housemates in the beginning. “I had a hard time adjusting to the culture in the Philippines, language barrier, and I wanted to go home,” she shared. Being unable to speak Tagalog and having a strong Australian accent caused some to judge Ashley. It was so bad that she thought of doing a voluntary exit so that she could go back to her family. But she thankfully stayed, crediting her mom as a major source of inspiration, and continues her young showbiz career that she enjoys.   


Living alone away from your family is never easy, more so when you do it at a young age. That is something Dalia Varde can relate to. “I moved her dito sa Pinas. Lumipat po ako dito sa Pinas from Kuwait.” What initially started out as a family vacation to the Philippines turned into a permanent stay for her. And this was all at the age of 15. What hurt most for her was that her parents did not want her to leave and how she’s separate from them. Despite all this though, Dalia pushed herself and her parents eventually came around to her decision.


While some may see Criza Taa as this outgoing and extroverted personality, she also is a person who turns sentimental for those near and dear her heart. And at the top of that list is her lola. Criza considered her lola to be her rock as she became her mom, dad, and grandmother rolled into one. Her lola was everything to Criza. But sadly, her lola passed away on November 2021 after seven months of battling an illness. Despite the struggle that it was for Criza, she had to remain strong for her lola, serving as her guardian during those dark months.

As Criza tearfully recounted,Nung huli na, hindi niya kinaya so parang I have to let her go, set her free, kasi nahihirapan na siya dito. And I know naman nasa maayos na siya ngayon, nasa better place na siya.” Like with any loving parent, Criza’s lola held on because she knew that Criza wasn’t ready yet. So, when Criza decided to let her go, she left peacefully one morning. While talking about her lola is not easy for Criza, she remains strong for her to this day.


These days, Belle Mariano has been receiving positive reviews for her portrayal as Max in He’s Into Her. But back then, she was still a relative unknown, which is why when it was announced in 2019 that she will be playing Max, many didn’t approve of the decision. Belle admitted that she began to believe all the criticism that was thrown at her. “That time parang napanghinaan ako ng loob kasi medyo naniniwala na rin ako sa sinasabi nila. Naniniwala na rin ako sa mga sinasabi nila na hindi ko kaya.”

The pushback from netizens was overwhelming at times for Belle. “Medyo na-carry away na rin ako sa mga sinasabi nila na, ‘You can’t do Max.’ Hindi ko kaya.” But as she shared, Belle reached a point where she saw those hate comments as just points for improvement. “But then that time, I came to a realization na more of thinking na negative ‘yung sinasabi nila. Oo negative, but I’ll take it as something that could really help me do better in what I do.” She didn’t need to see herself as how others saw her and instead only took what mattered to her close to her heart.

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