For her performances on multiple platforms, Cherie has been heaped with many awards and recognitions in her career as an actor, singer, and mentor spanning more than four decades. She has appeared in more than 100 films since she started at the tender age of nine in Manila, where she was raised in a family of film luminaries, particularly her parents Eddie Mesa and Rosemarie Gil and her brothers, exceptional actors Mark Gil and Michael de Mesa.
As a recording artist, she began under the Black Gold label at age thirteen. Her first single, “Boy, I Love You,” was a certified hit, still remembered by many from the generation that heard it dominating the airwaves in the late Seventies.
It was also around this time, as she turned fifteen, that Cherie was launched, opposite her mother, in the title role of Regal Films’ Problem Child, an art-imitates-life movie, by which, as it garnered both commercial and critical success, she caught the attention of powerhouse Filipino filmmakers like the National Artist for Film Ishmael Bernal and Peque Gallaga. On the strength of her sensitive portrayal, Cherie had become the darling of directors no sooner than her cinematic debut wrapped up its theater run. Shortly thereafter, as a slew of iconic films followed, she was given the distinction “Box Office Star of the Eighties.”
Ishmael Bernal, who took Cherie under his wing, cast her in the controversial Manila by Night (City after Dark). Released at the height of the Marcos dictatorship, it was a painful, if incendiary, exploration of life in Manila in the cover of darkness, all the drugs and the crime and the grime and the city’s lost youth, as represented by the character Cherie played to mesmerizing depths
She was equally brilliant in Peque Gallaga’s epic masterpiece Oro, Plata, Mata, an official entry to the very first Manila International Film Festival in 1982, a world affair attended by the likes of George Hamilton, Peter Ustinov, Priscilla Presley, Robert Duvall, Franco Nero, Ben Kingsley, Jeremy Irons, Michael York, and more and described in a New York Times headline as “all-out spectacular.”
Since 1985, upon the release of the film Bituing Walang Ningning, a certified box-office phenomenon, Cherie has carved her niche in the very fabric of Philippine pop culture with the line “You’re nothing but a second-rate, trying-hard copycat” and the unforgettable way she delivered it in her role as Lavinia Arguelles, a concert diva confronted by a fan-turned-archrival.
Cherie also dabbled in comedy. Along with stalwarts Noel Trinidad, Subas Herrero, Gary Lising, Mitch Valdes, and Tessie Tomas, she was part of Champoy, the Philippines’ first and longest-running comic variety show.
Before she took an eleven-year hiatus from show business in 1994 to raise a family first in New York and then in Italy, she was a performer through and through, even on the live concert circuit and at dinner theaters not only in the Philippines, but also elsewhere, such as in the United States, Australia, and many countries in Asia.
In 2001, Cherie made a comeback with the drama Sugatang Puso, which welcomed her with the Best Supporting Actress award at the Metro Manila Film Festival. Her return to the Philippines also marked her foray into primetime drama series on television as well as her discovery of her love of the stage.
In between TV and film projects, she heeded the call of live theater, taking on such challenging roles as Maria Callas in Masterclass.
At age 50, she produced the one-woman play Full Gallop, playing the fashion legend Diana Vreeland, a role that earned her the Best Actress plum from Philstage Gawad Buhay Awards.
In 2018, under Atlantis Productions, Cherie appeared in multiple roles in Tony Kushners "Angels in America". For playing four different characters in the play, she had been tagged the "Meryl Streep of the Philippines." Who played the very same roles in the film adaptation of the said production on HBO. Prior to that, as part of the cast of Lav Diaz's Hele sa Hiwagang Hapis, which won the silver Alfred Bauer Award at the Berlin Film Festival in 2016, she and Streep finally met.
In the Atlantic Productions’ staging of the musical Nine, helmed by Bobby Garcia based on Federico Fellini’s semi-autobiographical film 8 ½, critics called Cherie a scenestealer, if only for her stage presence and the French accent with which she delivered her lines. She also performed in Arbol de Fuego, her first Filipino play, a translation of Anton Chekov’s Cherry Orchard.
In 2014, Cherie put on the hat of a producer, establishing her own company My Own Mann Productions. Its initial venture, Sonata, a collaboration with the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP), in which she starred as an operatic diva in her declining years taking refuge in her hometown in Bacolod, won her the best actress award at the ASEAN Film Festival.
In the same year, for her performance in the horror and drama film Mana, produced by De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde, Cherie won best actress in a foreign language feature film at the Madrid Film Festival, where Mana was named best film.
She received her first Gawad Urian award for her one-scene participation in Mike de Leon’s noir crime drama Citizen Jake. The following year, for Mac Alejandre’s indie drama Kaputol, she and the other members of the ensemble cast bagged the best performance award at the 4th Innuendo International Film Festival in Milan, Italy. In recognition of this award, Cherie was named ambassador for films by the FDCP.
At the height of the pandemic, while making heads or tails out of the prolonged lockdowns and isolation, Cherie spearheaded a month-long online event named Yakap Sining (translation: Embrace the Arts), bringing together artists, both established and emerging, of various persuasions, although the movement was designed to champion the healing powers of music, painting, film, and poetry as well as to raise funds for artists and other charities.
During the pandemic, as a new feather on her cap as a mentor, Cherie had also held two major acting masterclasses online, in which actors, both professional and aspiring, participated, taking away not only lessons in acting but also lessons in life.
Through her involvement with the Bukidnon-based Hineleban Foundation established by John and Renee Perrine, Cherie also has a platform for her advocacies for the environment, particularly in fighting climate change and promoting reforestation and food sustainability.
In her spare time, Cherie is a contributing writer to the news streaming site Rappler.
She is currently in the TV drama series on GMA Network, Legal Wives, which premiered in July 2021.