Fun, quirky, and offbeat, Sue Ramirez personifies the Pinay who strives to keep it real; both with the roles she takes on and the persona that she shares with her social media followers who enjoy living vicariously through her adventures and funny outtakes.
"Thanks to social media, people can now distinguish our characters from who we really are. I think if you follow me on my accounts, then you might already have a glimpse of who I am. I'm actually a 'what you see is what you get' type of person."
"No B.S. I think you get what I mean," says Cosmopolitan Philippines' April 2023 cover girl.
Her real name is Sue Anna Garina Dodd, and the 26-year-old has been in front of the cameras ever since she made the decision to try her luck at showbiz in order to help her family. She recalls her childhood was fun but challenging. "My dad got sick when I was six years old and his whole right side got paralyzed. His speech was affected so we couldn’t talk to him as much. That continued for 11 years as his health deteriorated, and he passed away at the age of 78. We had a patient in the house who we’d have to take to the hospital from time to time because he had seizures. His room was basically a mini hospital with oxygen tanks, medical equipment, a reclining bed, etc."
Because of her childhood situation, she initially wanted to become a doctor. "But being the boyish tisay kid who sings in school, acts in front of the mirror, and watches America’s Next Top Model to practice my poses, I secretly wanted to be a supermodel," she laughs. "I don’t think I ever told anyone this. Maybe because I never thought it would be possible. But hey, I’m not a supermodel—but look at me on the cover of Cosmo. What a dream come true!" she beams.
Sue is wearing a pink swimsuit from NEKID SWIM
The youngest of four siblings, Sue was one of the many hopefuls who lined up to audition for ABS-CBN’s Star Magic when she turned 13 back in April 2010, where she was handed the number 697. Sue recalls, "I went to the audition on a hot summer day alone, with no phone, no cash—just my resumé, portfolio, curiosity, and a little bit of charm, along with my amateur talent in singing. I was there from six in the morning to 11 at night."
The plucky teen received several callbacks, feeling more nervous with each round of eliminations. "I actually cried while praying at the Baclaran Church. Every call back we got [became] fewer and fewer, and I actually thought that was going to be the end of it for me."
After that nerve-wracking experience came payback for her dedication. "One day at one of the callbacks, someone ran after me at the elevator and actually pulled me out to tell me that Mr. M (former Star Magic director Johnny Manahan) wanted me to do workshops with Star Magic." She fitted workshops and auditions into her school schedule and shortly landed a spot in the teen variety show Shoutout.
Sue reveals her dad did get to see her perform, and though he couldn’t talk she felt how proud he was of her. Her thoughts turned poignant at the memory. "His eyes would light up when he saw me on TV. I was 17 when my dad passed away. One of my motivations in entering showbiz was to help out with his medical bills. When I lost him, I thought about just going back to school like my mom wanted me to, but I did not want to waste the chance of a lifetime. A lot of people want to be an artista, I was very lucky to be given the opportunity most people only dream of."
At that point, Sue was working nonstop, and learning from each experience that came her way. "I make sure that there’s a part of me I give to the characters to make it feel real. I really am quirky and fun in real life and maybe that's also why I land the roles that I do. I'm grateful for the variety of influences I have around me, and I think my greatest strength is being an empath. It allows me to feel a wide range of emotions, just observing and absorbing from my surroundings, being sensitive and sensible."
According to her one of her most memorable roles was Cuddle Weather’s Adela Johnson. "From her, I learned that there is actually nothing stopping us from [being] anything but ourselves, because we always second-guess our choices to the point of being stuck in toxic patterns. This movie was never about just two prostitutes. It's about having a deadline on things that no longer serve you. It's loving yourself and not thinking that it's conceited or selfish. It's believing in yourself when no one else would, and not being scared to jump even if you're alone."
Her breakthrough role was that of Lexy Lucero from top-rated teleserye The Broken Marriage Vow, where Sue worked alongside industry veterans to give life and local flavor to the global British series hit Dr. Foster (seen through a K-drama lens via the adaptation A World of Married Couple). "Aside from the pressure of who I was working with, the character was very far from who I was. I always give a part of myself to the characters I portray, but Lexy was different. I learned more from her. She has taught me more than I have influenced the character. It was not about being the other woman, but way beyond that—how unapologetically idealistic she was and how the world was within her reach. She was always calm and collected, and was never vengeful," she describes.
To prepare for each role, Sue does research by watching movies and series that relate to the character. "It is not only for inspiration but also to avoid what has been done before. While reading the script, I am making a backstory, building a character by creating details like her favorite color, birthday, and star sign. I think about what music she listens to and even what she smells. For Lexy’s scent, I used Byredo's La Tulipe and Givenchy's Tartine et Chocolat."
As her star shines brighter, there are those who endeavor to dim it with shade. Sue has been on the receiving end of body-shaming, objectification, and even just downright bashing. She takes it in stride, however, and her clapbacks are legendary. "Whenever I give clapbacks, it's all just for fun. I usually find these comments funny, that's why I respond," she laughs.
But, of course, one can only take so much. "Sometimes people will get out of line and I just can't help but respond, but in the most kalog way that I can. We can put them in their place without being rude or bastos. The goal is to not be like them, guys!" Sue's source of inner strength is her family. "I was brought up to embrace and love my imperfections. I know that when I come home to my family I am loved, and that's the only validation I need."
As far as fixing the toxic nature of the internet, the actress says we have a long way to go. "In order to fix toxic habits, we have to break toxic cultures. Let's show our children kindness. Let us change the unreasonable standards of how we define beauty. Let's show them how to love and accept themselves, in order for them to do the same for others. The next generation is our only hope for a safer and more inclusive community."
To anyone going through this, she says, please be kind to yourselves. "We already know how cruel this world can be and sadly right now, the only thing we can do is walk away from uncomfortable environments. Please know that you are beautiful, you are not what other people say you are. Look in the mirror and tell yourself "I love you" — and please, always keep in mind that not everything we see on social media is real."
Sue opens up about the importance of self-care and how she uses creativity to achieve a balanced life, which she says is a work in progress just like everyone else. "I’m turning 27 in July and there was a huge chunk of my life that was completely blurry. I worked every day for years. I thought I had everything under control and then all of a sudden, I was lost. I didn't know who I was—and I still don't. I am still in the process of exploring and getting to know myself more."
To unload her pent-up emotions, the creative turns to journaling, drawing, or doodling. She also advocates practicing mindfulness through techniques such as meditation, stretching, or yoga. "I chill in my bathtub with candles, essential oils, some music, or a crime documentary. Playing with my pets is always an effective stress reliever and eating good food is my pick-me-up. I just recently got into reading and I discovered that it helps, too. The most effective and easiest way to feel better is to breathe long and deep breaths."
Her body is her canvas, and she is known for having some pretty cool tattoos. In typical Sue fashion, she jokes that her first tatts were her eyebrows. "Kidding aside, I had a small heart tattoo on my left wrist. It was, like, sulat ballpen para my mom wouldn't notice. There is no meaning to it. I just felt adventurous at that time. I had it covered up with a rose because I found out that a lot of people already had the same tattoo."
Her latest ink is a seahorse, her spirit animal, on her left thigh—but more meaningful is the evil eye on her right elbow, meant to ward off evil intentions coming her way. "I've always been teased for having big eyes, so I added another one! But the most special meaning of this tattoo is related to my Dad. He had the most beautiful blue eyes and this tattoo makes me feel that he is with me all the time protecting me." Her next tattoo, a banana split, is also family-related. "It is my mom and dad's favorite dessert. I remember always sharing a banana split with my parents when I was younger."
Music likewise plays a big part in her life, growing up in a family where the karaoke machine was a fixture at gatherings. "I would sing nonstop for hours, fighting with cousins and my siblings on whose turn it was to sing," she declares.
She shares the tunes that chronicle her life stages: Her audition song "Angels Brought Me Here" by Guy Sebastian; "Elesi" by the Eraserheads which was used as part of the soundtrack for her first starring movie Ang Babaeng Allergic sa Wifi; "Dance with My Father" by Luther Vandross for her 18th birthday the year after she lost her dad; "What’s Up" by Four Non Blondes for her 25th birthday; and for appearing on the cover of Cosmo? "Don't Stop Me Now" by Queen!
Sue is likewise making sweet music with her boyfriend, Victorias City Mayor Javi Benitez, albeit long distance. "Javi and I make time for each other [through] constant communication and making an effort to visit each other whenever we can. I fly to Negros to visit him, and he flies to Cebu or Manila to see me and be with me. Showing the other person that you're there for him or her despite the distance is very important. I never thought I could survive an LDR, but it's the love and willingness to be together that makes all the sacrifices worth it," she advises.
Sue, who says she is "the biggest sucker for love," admits to not being the best person to ask for relationship advice—but gamely shares what she has learned. "You have to accept that this person has plans for himself or herself before you even come into their lives. You have to maintain being two individuals who have dreams together, but also support each other's dreams. You have to understand each other's shortcomings, learn from each other's mistakes, and discover new things together and apart. I think the best relationship advice I've learned is "kampi tayo, babe." Yun lang. Simple."
Those really close to Sue call her "Anna" or even "Baby Anna," but with whatever name she is called, she is determined to thrive and to show the fascinating facets of being a woman through her work. "I am someone who will go after what I want because I am deserving, and because I can achieve it. These are reflected in my roles. The triumphs of characters we do as actors show that women are no longer how they molded and boxed us to be—while all the failures have shown how we make the word strong an understatement.”
Sue ends the interview by revealing something fun. "Something people don’t know about me is that I’m a proud manual transmission driver to this day! This is how I leave you with the impression that I’m cool and interesting."
CO-PRODUCED BY: Patricia Melliza
ASSISTED BY: Cass Lazaro
PHOTOGRAPHY: Joseph Bermudez
STYLING: Joanna Garcia
MAKEUP BY: Julius Cabanisas
HAIR BY: July Vito
NAILS BY: Extraordinail
MODEL'S GROOMING BY: Andrew Jardenil
Shot on location at Hilton Manila at Newport World Resorts. Special thanks to Joy Andrade and Angel Martinez of Newport World, Hilton Hotels.