Heartthrob with a big heart
Jerry Donato (The Philippine Star) - August 8, 2011 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Alden Richards has high hopes that GMA Films’ Tween Academy: Class of 2012 will be the start of more TV and movie projects for him. After all, youth-oriented movies have become a launching pad for showbiz neophytes. Alden can’t contain his happiness about his first foray into the movies.

“I’m overwhelmed,” replies Alden when asked about his latest assignment. “I’m only new in the business. I’ve been here for eight months. GMA has been opening a lot of doors for me. It feels good that the network (has tapped me) to be part of the movie. I’m hoping that it will help (boost) my career. I’m simply happy to be included in it. I look forward to a follow-up movie.”

That’s why the bedimpled Alakdana and Tween Hearts star was on his toes each shooting day. Alden recalls he would read the script twice, thrice and even more to better understand his character. “I’ve learned that being professional and getting along with everyone on the set matter. The experience was fun because the tweens (the younger actors) never discriminated me nor made me feel an outcast. You know some popular stars do not reach out to the new ones.”

In Tween Academy, Alden is the Campus Jock named Christian. He is friends with everyone. Alden’s love interest is Alakdana co-star Louise delos Reyes.

“It was my second time working with her,” he says. “We’re very good friends on and off cam. I enjoyed doing scenes with Louise. Our characters will encounter challenges along the way.”

How is Tween Academy different from other teen flicks of the past? According to Alden, the movie takes a look at the realities of high school life these days. The story revolves around two groups of students: The popular ones and the losers. Their socio-economic difference causes them to clash especially when the losers are being bullied. Tween Academy also presents trials tweens and teens face day in and day out. The young moviegoers will get an idea or two on how to handle their present plight. Since it is multi-character, the movie is relatable. There’s the sweetheart-turned-socialite (played by Louise) who climbs hard to be considered cool by the rich crowd. It has the cosplayer shy girl (Barbie Forteza) who uses her computer skills to help her family. The young male moviegoers can see themselves either in the toy collector geek (Joshua Dionisio) or the resident rocker (Jake Vargas), while the young female crowd can be that tough yet softie siga (Bea Binene) who falls for her best friend.      

Issues such as rivalry, betrayal between friends, student-teacher relationship and self-discovery, among others, are being explored. The tweens’ zest for life is also captured on camera.

Alden: I do everything for my family

“Of course, girls,” says Alden of his idea of fun. “I like cars and (watching) movies. I hang out with my friends and I like being with my family. These make me happy at my age.”

Family comes first for Alden offscreen. Three years ago, his mom died which left the family financially challenged. The then business administration student at the De La Salle University Canlubang decided to put his studies on hold for his younger sibling to go to school. He attended screen tests for commercials, joined reality and talent searches like StarStruck V and eventually made it to show business.

“I’m devoted to my family,” he says. “I do everything for them like they are the reason why I entered show business. I work hard because of them. I’m the second in the brood of three. My grandparents live with us. I save so I can go back to school if there’s a chance in the future. My mom was a fan of GMA 7. She would religiously watch the shows including Mexican soap operas. Since her death was tragic and unexpected where there was no final goodbye, I wanted to make her feel secure wherever I am. That’s why I wanted to pursue (a career in showbiz). (Becoming an actor) was my mom’s wish for me.”

So, heartthrobs do have big hearts.

Tween Academy: Class of 2012 opens Aug. 24 in theaters nationwide.

ALAKDANA ALDEN ALDEN RICHARDS BARBIE FORTEZA BEA BINENE TWEEN ACADEMY
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