Ken continuesâwinning streakâ of edgy roles
Ken and perennial small-screen partner Rita Daniela play young husband and wife, whose marriage life is put to the test by a mental disorder, in the Afternoon Prime series, Ang Dalawang Ikaw.
STAR/ File

Ken continues‘winning streak’ of edgy roles

Jerry Donato (The Philippine Star) - June 24, 2021 - 12:00am

Ken Chan’s TV acting career is marked by doing advoca-seryes that present marginalized narratives that need mainstream attention and understanding. He has disappeared in such characters as the transgender Joey-Destiny Rose and young dad with mild intellectual disability Boyet in Destiny Rose and My Special Tatay, respectively.

Ken is on a “winning streak” in portraying meaty roles with Ang Dalawang Ikaw’s Nelson Sarmiento, who suffers from Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), and his “alter,” distinct personality named Tyler Franco. The Kapuso Afternoon Prime series airs weekdays at 2:30 p.m.

“I love what I’m doing,” said Ken in a media conference that was also attended by his perennial small-screen partner Rita Daniela. “Acting is my passion. I fully dedicate myself to every role that I get to play. Becoming an actor is not an easy task.”

The GMA Artist Center talent could still recall his humble beginnings which include the arduous process of patiently waiting for the right project or career break to come.

“I promised to myself and my mentor tatay, Kuya Germs (German Moreno) na sa bawat role na ibibigay sa akin, gagalingan ko, panghahawakan ko yun, kung anuman yung ibibigay sa akin (I will give my all and excel in every role that is given to me),” said he. “Alam ko kung gaano kahirap yung proseso para mabigyan ka nang isang magandang teleserye, mabigyan ka nang pagkakataon sa industriya natin (I know the challenging process of coming up with a good TV series and getting that acting chance). (That promise) is something I will hold on to (for my entire career) and (it means) that I won’t waste time and opportunity. It has become my inspiration.”

Ken feels grateful that he is in a place where “I’m happy that I’m able to do acting and at the same time, I’m able to help (educate) our viewers,” said he.

To present a close portrayal of the mental health disorder, the Ang Dalawang Ikaw creative and production team watched documentaries about DID and people who suffer from it, and consulted a psychiatrist. Some literature says DID, which affects one’s sense of reality, used to be called multiple personality disorder. The series, on the other hand, was inspired by Rhodora X, about a woman with multiple personalities, and Dalawang Mrs. Real. The concept creator came up with a man, who has a dual personality and is involved with two women.

Given his previous works, Ken is the perfect choice for the Nelson-Tyler character.

“Absolutely yes,” replied the actor when inquired that his and Rita’s acting progress has to do with the exciting projects assigned to them. “It’s true that we are blessed with opportunities to play roles like this one. (A meaty project) helps actors (to better themselves) and every actor’s dream of getting into this character and starring in a teleserye like this. (Challenging assignments) do help us progress in acting and explore (possibilities of what else we can showcase). It’s a big help that GMA has made us part of (the TV series) with extraordinary stories, mga storya na out-of-the-box, yung mga storya na very edgy yung roles.”

Witness to Ken’s improvement in acting is Rita, who has worked with him in My Special Tatay and One of the Baes. Rita is Nelson’s strong-willed and resilient wife Mia. By the way, One of the Baes was also an advoca-serye as it promoted the protection of the sea.

“Akala ko kasi nung nasa My Special Tatay (kami), magaling siya, (pero) nung ginagawa na namin yung Ang Dalawang Ikaw, ang sabi ko, ‘Mahusay talaga siya’ (I found him a very good actor in My Special Tatay, but he was brilliant in Ang Dalawang Ikaw),” said she, whom Ken describes as a giving and selfless onscreen partner. “Ang husay niya, kahit ako nagulat… dito meron pa pala siyang ibubuga.”

Their acting partnership has allowed Ken and Rita to grow and learn from each other, said she, who also attributed their success to the creative and production people they have worked with. “We won’t be able to (act well) and progress without them,” added Rita. “Since they are very good at their craft, they also inspire us to be better, may nahuhugot kami sa kanila.”

What also made Ken and Rita bring their A game was the collaborative atmosphere on the Ang Dalawang Ikaw set.

“It feels good that you are not just seen as actors,” shared Ken, “and your opinions are being considered by the director and the creative team. Masarap yung pakiramdam na kasali kami dun o sinasali kami (It’s nice that we are part of the creative conversations).”

Prior to taping every scene, director Jorron Lee Monroy and associate director Ralfh Malabunga, along with acting coaches, would discuss with Ken his character’s emotions and appearance (like wearing eyeglasses) and his take on them. The actor said he found the entire process meaningful. Through it, he also got a better grasp of what was going on in his character’s mind.

“She would give me guides on how a person with DID acted and explain to me that this is what I must do (based on her interactions and experiences with) patients,” said Ken about the psychiatrist-consultant’s role in approaching his Nelson and Tyler. “This is how they react and their emotions. These insights have helped me.”

According to Ken, factors that trigger DID in a person are many and varied. DID may start in an individual’s life somewhere from age one to seven. An experience of abuse, trauma, stress and depression may lead one to create an alter personality, which is created as a form of savior. It helps one to “escape” a traumatic experience.

“When my character hears a gunshot, sees people fighting or witnesses a child being harmed,” shared Ken of how Nelson, the meek-as-a-lamb, dutiful guy, becomes Tyler, the hot-headed, aggressive one. “Triggers for Tyler to become Nelson, however, are situations that remind him of love and make him feel loved like seeing a mom doting on her child. That’s where my character gains back his original (or usual) personality. These are triggers that happen in real life.”

Also in the cast are Jake Vargas, Dominic Roco, Anna Vicente, Lianne Valentin, Joana Marie Tan and Jeremy Sabido.

Witness how Ken goes back and forth from being Nelson, the core and usual identity, to becoming Tyler, the alter identity.

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