21 Under 21: Charice

Charice Pempengco has a long-term plan that involves a different stage than the ones she has occupied since Oprah Winfrey dubbed her the "most talented girl in the world."

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"I want to be a lawyer," the Filipina singing prodigy said in an interview with Reuters Television. "Being a famous singer or an international singer -- that's my dream, too, but my main goal is to be a real student and be able to graduate and be a lawyer and have my own business."

Video: Charice Q&A


Photos: Charice at the Billboard studios

Since Oprah featured Pempengco, known simply as Charice, on her talk show in 2008, the pop singer's profile has grown steadily. Although she is just 18, her striking, powerful voice has already shared stages with the likes of tenor Andrea Bocelli and Celine Dion. Now her single "Pyramid," which she recorded with singer Iyaz and was released in the United States in March from her self-titled debut album, has received U.S. radio airplay, and a remixed version has soared to the top of the U.S. Billboard dance charts.

Video: Charice Performs "Pyramid" Acoustic

The young singer, whose career was in part propelled by initial popularity on video sharing website YouTube, said she is not getting caught up in all the attention and has a different career path she eventually wants to pursue. Although her schedule over this month has her flying throughout Asia on her first big tour in South Korea, Philippines, Japan, Thailand and Malaysia, Charice said she uses her school books to come down from the rush of playing in concert.

"Some of my friends are giving me law books," she said. "I love reading those. It's like my relaxation." The singer credits her upbringing growing up in San Pedro in the Philippines and singing in amateur singing contests as the daughter of a struggling single mother for her drive and ambition.


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"I'm mature because of my past," she said, admitting she could be a little bossy. "At [my] age of six years, my mom was getting advice from me."

She already has movie credits to her name, including a brief cameo in the U.S. animated children's movie "Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel". And in late July, she will start working with the cast and producers of U.S. television series "Glee" in Los Angeles.

"I haven't gotten the script yet but I think I'm going to play a foreign student," she said. "I'm really nervous. But I'm trying to be normal and act like myself on the set."

(Reporting by Gemma Haines, writing by Chelsea Emery, editing by Christine Kearney and Bob Tourtellotte. Additional editing by Monica Herrera, Billboard.com)

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