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More showbiz scions sign up with Star Magic
Jake Ejercito and Kaila Estrada
STAR/ File

More showbiz scions sign up with Star Magic

Nathalie Tomada (The Philippine Star) - June 25, 2021 - 12:00am

ABS-CBN’s talent management arm Star Magic welcomed over 40 new artists during its biggest contract-signing event yet — dubbed Black Pen Day — held over the weekend.

It wasn’t hard to notice that among the fresh talents introduced were showbiz scions. In a presscon early this week, these newly-signed artists talked more about their foray into the industry of their parents and relatives. Some are already familiar if not famous even before they officially joined the business. But all are looking to prove that they’re more than just their surnames.

Luis Vera Perez and Migo Manikan
STAR/ File

Leading the pack is Jake Ejercito, son of former President Erap Estrada and actress Laarni Enriquez.

He said that his interest in the acting craft began in grade school as he joined drama clubs and the repertory. “Obviously, like most kids, I want to follow in (my parents’) footsteps. And then, they didn’t allow me because I needed to finish my studies first,” said the overseas-educated Jake who has a college degree in Politics and masters in Marketing. “So, I sort of shifted my sights on politics and up until recently, I sort of got disillusioned with it, so here we go.”

Jake has already made onscreen appearances in the past, but this time around, he’s fully committed to showbiz. The STAR asked if he’s now shutting the door on politics. “You know what I learned? Because I used to say that I don’t want to enter showbiz and that politics is what I wanted, so I learned not to close any doors. But if you ask me right now, I have no plans whatsoever to enter politics anymore. Who knows what the future could bring? But as of now, I have no intention,” said Jake, who’s been cast as one of the leads in the upcoming series Marry Me, Marry You.

Arabella Davao and Vitto Neri

Arabella Davao, the daughter of veteran actors Jackielou Blanco and Ricky Davao, has also inherited her parents’ showbiz genes. When she was still in school, she would join plays and dance clubs, as well as host events.

“(The interest) has always been there, but it’s just that I chose to focus on my studies. And when the time was right, here we are now. (I’m) thankful that it has finally happened,” she said.

Arabella admitted that her family name comes with the added pressure to top her parents’ careers, but she wouldn’t see it as “I have to be better than my parents or that I have to be more famous than them because their achievements are different and what I can do is also different. That’s what I tell myself whenever I feel pressured.”

Paolo Gumabao

Vitto Neri is the son of Victor Neri, who entered showbiz as part of the first batch of then ABS-CBN Talent Center. He’s a big movie fan and aspiring to be a director, but he also wants to act so he took an acting workshop in 2018.

“No, my parents weren’t supportive of my decision at first. I had to tell (my dad), I’m not bored ha. Because he said, are you bored, you don’t have anything to do at home? I said, hindi, hindi! I wanna do this. I was able to work with him in my first film (A Short History of a Few Bad Things in 2018) and that was when he realized, okay, he’s not bored, he’s serious.”

The elder Neri has since encouraged Vitto with such advice as, “Just be yourself, whatever you can achieve, it’s yours. Don’t try to beat me. I mean, I can’t because he’s the one and only Victor Neri and I’m the one and only Vitto Neri. We’re all unique here. I don’t think I’ll ever get to him...I’ll get to something na para sa akin. But sa dad ko, that’s his. He never pressured me to live up to him.”

Meanwhile, Luis Vera Perez hails from one of showbiz’s “illustrious” families. His father is Jose Vera Perez and half-brother is Lander Vera Perez.

“Of course, my family is supportive,” said Luis, who’s open to having a love team and doing rom-coms.

“What my mother (Josephine Roman) always tells me is to be myself, no need to please other people to be successful in life. Feeling ko, magkaiba kami ng achievements ng mga ancestors ko and my family. Hopefully, people will remember me for who I am and not because of my family name,” he said.

Migo Manikan is the son of acting veterans — Susan Africa and the late Spanky Manikan.

He got attracted to the industry after being brought around movie sets when he was a kid. He did try to pursue a different path in college, taking up a pre-law course, but when his father got sick of cancer, he told him to continue the work for him and “I picked it up from there.”

His mom has been advising him to always come prepared because “you don’t know what’s going to happen on set” and that even when he’s not taping, he has to practice and sharpen his skills.

Migo added, “Now that I’m part of the industry, based on the stories I hear, I don’t think it’s an easy job. But it is certainly doable, you just have to set your mind into it. I remember what (the late) direk Wenn Deramas said, that in this industry, you have to wear blinders — you really have to just focus on your work and the rest will follow.”

Paolo Gumabao, on the other hand, is the son of former actor Dennis Roldan and half-brother of actor Marco Gumabao and beauty queen/volleyball star Michelle Gumabao.

According to Paolo, becoming an actor is a childhood dream. “I remember when I was seven years old, that’s what I already wanted to do. Right after I saw the movie Forest Gump, I was like, I have to do that. So, I never had any other goal since then.”

Paolo, who’s starring in the Joel Lamangan film titled Lockdown, shared his father’s best advice. “My dad always tells me, always be an empty cup. When you go to a taping, when you’re working, always be willing to learn. Because if your cup is full, then you’ll never gonna learn anymore.”

Kaila Estrada is the daughter of veteran stars Janice de Belen and John Estrada. After making a name for herself as a model and influencer, Kaila has now ventured into her parents’ world of acting.

“To be honest, I only decided to get into acting two years ago, in 2019, and I feel like I’ve reached a point in my life that I’m willing to get out of my comfort zone and explore. This has been at the back of my mind for a while, but I never really thought that I had what it took and I wasn’t confident enough yet and I’m still working on it now,” Kaila, who’s starring in the upcoming teleserye Viral, said.

“I’m really in love with the craft now so I feel like maybe this is really meant for me and my mom would usually say, just be true to who you are, don’t change a thing and do your best in everything that you do. And my dad is also telling me to do my best and continue to stay humble.”

This new set of showbiz heirs joins the likes of Sen. Manny Pacquiao’s son Jimuel Pacquiao, Cherry Pie Picache’s son Nio Tria, Angel Locsin’s niece Alyanna Angeles, and Daniel Padilla’s cousins Analain and Ashton Salvador, who were signed up by Star Magic earlier this year.

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