Everybody knows Sheryl Cruz as one of the biggest, most wholesome teen star of the ‘80s and yet here you are at 45 years old doing your first sexy shoot. What made you decide to do this?

All I can say is why not? Probably it’s because I’m already of age to make my own decisions. Plus I have nobody to ask permission from. Well, the only person I’ve had to ask about this was my daughter, and she was very supportive of this. You know I’m celebrating being a woman. Being an independent woman. I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with flaunting what you have, especially if you still got it. I think we have to respect the beauty of women, no matter what age, and especially at my age. But this does not mean that my morals have downgraded, it’s just that I’m more confident. 

That’s the interesting part: some women question shoots like this,  but it’s also about women asserting their power, di ba?

Probably it’s because Filipinos have really been conservative. I mean I have nothing against out culture. Since I’ve studied long enough when I was in the States—I was a liberal arts major— I’ve come to accept my independence as a person and as a woman. There really is nothing wrong with doing things like this; I don’t think I’m crossing the line. 

We wonder what would have happened if you said things like this in 1988. Of course, you were only 14 then! You know how kids today can already say thing like this. 

Of course it wouldn’t have been acceptable. This is the thing kasi: When people see you as a child star, they don’t want you to grow old. But we do grow up! We get old. By doing this shoot I just want to say that I’ve gone full circle.   

We got the idea for this shoot from a recent photo of you that made the rounds on social media, where you were topless beneath a leather jacket. What was the story behind that?

I just wanted to do my portfolio for 2019. I wanted to go with the flow of our current times. What are the pictures that you see of celebrities now? In fact, I’ve seen a lot of celebrities my age who’ve gone past what I’d done.

Do you agree that a woman is at her prime in her 40s?

There was a time when they said a woman was at her prime in her 30s, ngayon 40s na. Before you know it, 50s na, di ba! But, yes, I guess I do feel I am at my prime now that I’m in my 40s. I feel more empowered. I don’t second-guess or hesitate about myself too much. 

Part of the charm of the shoot is the appeal of the older woman—you know, May-December affairs and all that. Has it ever happened to you in real life?

I’m aware that affairs like this happen. But it’s not like I’m saying to the young guys, ‘hey like me!’ I did not do this shoot to get a boyfriend! [Sheryl is divorced] Has any young guy ever approached me? Well, even before I did this shoot I’ve had admirers who were younger than me, messaging me or asking me out for coffee, but I just try to tell them off by saying I’m busy in the politest way possible.  

Part 2 of the Ms. Sheryl Cruz interview will be a grand ’80s throwback. Watch for it here on AO!