Kris grown-up & drama-ready

KAPUSO DAY - Butch S. Raquel - The Philippine Star

There is no fence-sitting for homegrown Kapuso drama sweetheart Kris Bernal this year. When GMA bosses handed her fresh material for a heavy drama show, she agreed in a heartbeat.

Known as a star with a girl-next-door personality who is perfect for the sweet, perky and teenybopper-ish roles, Kris slowly unleashes her mature side as she consistently proves that there is more to her than her delicate demeanor by putting aside her sweetheart persona. The Kapuso actress began to show her innate passion for acting when she joined the reality talent search, StarStruck, wherein she was hailed as the Ultimate Female Survivor, leading to the numerous drama series, endorsements and variety shows that made her shine in the Philippine entertainment industry.

Kris has truly captivated the viewers’ hearts and touched their lives through the years by brilliantly portraying her endearing roles on GMA 7’s Boys Nxt Door, Zaido: Pulis Pangkalawakan, Dyesebel, Luna Mystika, Time of My Life and Coffee Prince, which proved that she could handle more mature and challenging projects leading to her first starring role in the hit afternoon series, Dapat Ka Bang Mahalin.

It was an easy choice, Kris says. Despite her popularity in romantic comedy — she led the local remake of the Korean hit Coffee Prince and the top-rating rom-com Prinsesa ng Buhay Ko, the petite, soft-spoken actress dare not say no to the prospect of rekindling her first love — and breaking free from the “tweetums” genre.

“Heavy drama talaga yung pipiliin ko,” she says, hoping to be seen as more mature and womanly. After winning top plum in StarStruck in 2006, Kris jumpstarted her career with a succession of drama series before finally landing peppy roles as a rom-com sweetheart. “Dun sa mga romantic comedy na ginawa ko, kumbaga, na-test na ko dun eh. I’ve been through it. Now that I’m doing heavy drama again, I want to test myself whether I can still do it or not.”

She adds gleefully, “It’s a nice feeling because aside from going back to heavy drama, I am lucky to be paired with an excellent leading man.” 

Kris refers to Kapuso drama king Dennis Trillo, one of her romantic interests in the series. In Hiram Na Alaala, Kris seizes a more mature role as Andrea Dizon, a registered nurse battling conflicting emotions — of grief, from losing her boyfriend Joseph, a soldier whom she believes perished in war (played by Rocco Nacino), and of newfound romance in the arms of Ivan (Dennis), Joseph’s comrade and war survivor who claims to own Joseph’s memories — including his love for Andrea.

Ivan assumes Joseph’s identity following a mental collapse under grave physical torture. Conflict arises when Joseph, left in captivity, returns to claim ownership of his stolen memories. Also in the series is Lauren Young who plays Bethany, Ivan’s girlfriend.

As Andrea in Hiram Na Alaala, Kris sheds off her rom-com leanings in favor of the rigors of heavy drama. For her role, she had to learn Ilocano (as her character is based in Baguio) and also internalize the emotional weight of loving a solider deployed to war.

“Na-challenge ako kasi ang tagal kong hindi gumawa ng heavy drama,” she says, happy about her decision. From what I recall, the last time I did heavy drama was my first show, Dapat Ka Bang Mahalin? So now that I’m back, ang sarap na i-release lahat ng naipon na iyak ko. Ang sarap mag-release ng emotion.”

She muses, “I feel I will excel in heavy drama. I also feel I can also improve myself in this genre.” 

Is this the start of Kris becoming a drama actress? “I hope so,” she answers. “That’s what I’m wishing and  praying for every day. ‘Lord, sana itong show na ‘to, may magbago sa akin, di lang sa takbo ng career ko, but as a person.”

Kris, now 25, also has a message for her 17-year-old self, who chose to grow gracefully in the midst of a volatile industry: “Thank you because you’ve learned from your mistakes and you can differentiate right from wrong,” she pauses, mulling over her answer. “And thank you for always loving what you do. Kung gano mo siya kamahal nung nagsimula ka, hanggang ngayon ganon mo pa rin siya kamahal.”










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