Grooming young hopefuls for stardomBy Stephen Norries A. Padilla
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Learning does not stop for some young celebrities, even though their growing fame seems to assure them of a bright future in their chosen field.
GMA Artist Center (GMAAC) talents Mark Herras, Sarah Lahbati, Enzo Pineda, Alden Richards, Rocco Nacino, Louise delos Reyes, Kristoffer Martin and Derrick Monasterio are determined to further hone their acting skills under the tutelage of veteran director Maryo J. delos Reyes.
Delos Reyes uses an acting technique called the Being method, “a series of exercises that involves the discovery and use of one’s self in order to make one aware of his or her capacity, instrument and craft.”
It requires the analysis and internalization of the artists’ experiences, angst and truth in their lives to help them portray effectively a character or role in a television show or film.
The acting workshop, which normally lasts up to five hours per session, has been demanding for the young talents. Some broke down emotionally because of too much stress and the difficulty of the exercises. But Delos Reyes says this is all part of the training.
No star treatment
“There’s no special treatment even if you’re a star,” he says.
Aside from the acting workshop, Herras and Nacino also joined Aljur Abrenica, Steven Silva, Enzo Pineda, Sef Cadayona and Kris Bernal, survivors of the talent search reality show “Starstruck,” in a two-hour dance workshop.
Joining the stars on the dance floor were Max Collins and Kylie Padilla.
Choreographer Daniel Vinculado says most of the celebrities are already good dancers.
“They have the talent. What we want them to learn are the basics: proper warm-up, stretching, posture,” he says.
Vinculado guided the talents throughout the hourlong warm-up. Feeling pumped up, the stars then did modern jazz and hip-hop steps, which they easily picked up from the choreographer.
The GMA talents were able to use the dancing fundamentals they learned in projecting properly in front of the camera. Vinculado stresses that through the workshop, the young talents become more passionate about dance as an art form, more disciplined and tougher.
Apart from acting and dancing, the GMA stars also undergo training in language proficiency. In another room inside the GMA Network Center, they are taught to speak English confidently in public.
Monasterio and Martin joined Barbie Forteza, Ken Chan, Rita Iringan, Renz Valerio and Joyce Ching in the language class. Each had to stand in front of the classroom, face their mentor, and do an impromptu speech on a given topic.
Vin Magbuhos, English trainer from the American Institute for English Proficiency, says he coaches the talents to improve their pronunciation, grammar and critical thinking. After each speech, he gives feedback, doing it politely so as not to humiliate the youngsters.
“Don’t make it too obvious that you’ve forgotten something. If you forgot something, go on with the show,” he advises his students.
From time to time, Magbuhos corrects grammatical errors and reminds students to “stick to one voice or one tone,” “be a little bit more intricate with the content” and always apply the rule “less is more.”
The teen celebrities enjoyed the session so much that the two-hour training became almost four hours. Speeches were punctuated with laughter and projected youthful energy. The rising stars laughed at their own mistakes in grammar, pronunciation, content, etc.
“I like this batch because they always extend their hours … it means they are eager to learn. At the same time, it shows that they are enjoying the workshop,” says Lou Gopez, manager of GMAAC Talent Development Support Group.
According to Jenny Donato, manager for Talent Development, Events and Publicity, all GMAAC talents are required to undergo workshops in dancing, acting and language proficiency (both in English and Filipino). An initial three-day assessment is done to determine the artists’ needs and skill level before they are divided into groups.
“We want them to (have) not just one skill. We want them to be versatile,” Donato says.
The acting workshop has 10 sessions, dancing 8-12, and seven for language proficiency. Each session normally lasts for about two hours.
Evaluation is done after every two sessions. Results are then used by the GMAAC to recommend if talents need further development or should be given more shows or projects for showing professionalism, discipline and improvement.
Despite the obvious objective of the activities, which is to improve the skills of participants, absenteeism remains a major problem. GMAAC now writes to talents who are tardy or absent to demand an explanation. The offenses are also entered into evaluation reports done by GMAAC board members.
Donato says GMAAC has invested millions of pesos for the workshops. That is why they always remind their talents to take the training seriously and treat it as if it is a TV show or film.