Kimberly Covert
Photo by Yasunari Ramon Taguchi
Bb. Cebu Tourism 2018 Kimberly Covert auditions for Darna
Vanessa Balbuena (The Freeman) - May 13, 2019 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — The moment ABS-CBN announced towards end of last month that it was opening auditions for Darna, Binibining Cebu Tourism 2018 Kimberly Covert booked a one-way ticket and left the very next day for Manila.

It was not her first time to read for a superheroine’s part. When she was still living in Hollywood, Kim went for a walk down the Boulevard where she saw that there was an open audition for the role of Wonder Woman in a theater production.

“I walked in and acted on the spot with the script that was handed to me. I’ve always wanted to play a superhero. I feel like my look and experience would be great for the role,” Kim told The FREEMAN.

Last May 4 and 5, Star Cinema, Star Magic, and Star Hunt joined forces to screen aspirants for the iconic Pinoy character at the ABS-CBN headquarters in Quezon City. The chosen actress will replace Liza Soberano who backed out from playing Darna due to a finger injury.

Qualifications listed in the announcement were 20-26 years old, at least 5’5” in height, with acting experience, fluent in Tagalog and physically fit.

Star Cinema head Olivia Lamasan had told ABS-CBN News that prior auditions have already been conducted – with talent scouts, modeling agencies, talent agencies, beauty pageant finalists, and even athletes answering the call.

Kim shared that for the first level of the audition, she was made to introduce herself, where she told them about her experience in acting and combat sports. While in the United States, the 24-year-old became part of a few TV series such as “American Crime Story: Versace,” “The Mick,” “The Mindy Project,” and “The Goldbergs.”

Thanks to the prodding of her parents, she also practiced Taekwondo all throughout elementary and high school. The Olongapo City-born Fil-American also did kickboxing during college.

“I had to showcase a few martial art routines. I was also given the chance to sing, so I sang the chorus of ‘Narda’,” she laughingly recounted. “All of this took me to level two.”

For the next round, Kim said they had to memorize a script and act in front of a camera. There were almost 60 women who auditioned with her and eight were left at the end of the day.

“I speak fluent Tagalog but I’ve been away from Manila long enough to lose the accent. They asked me why I pronounced some words differently. I said ‘Bisaya man gud ko Kuya’,” said Kim, who spent a few years in Dumaguete City. “We laughed about it and they told me to practice my Tagalog more.”

Kim said she remembers being in fifth grade and seeing Angel Locsin as Darna, but admitted to not really following her TV series. She also admired Marian Rivera’s acting when she played the role in another GMA-7 incarnation.

“Even if the role isn’t for me, I was proud of myself. It was one of the best auditions I’ve had. I felt great, I’m physically fit, mentally ready and emotionally stable. So no matter what the outcome is it was definitely worth it. Just making it to the second level made my day!”

If she were indeed to portray Darna, who does Kim fancy playing her love interest?

“I would say Echo would be a great leading man. I’ve worked with him a few times and he’s such a sweetheart. Also he’s taller than me,” she said of “Halik” star Jericho Rosales. “If not, I admire Piolo Pascual’s acting. He would make an amazing leading man.”

The mother of one said she’d love to land action roles and is open to antagonist parts, although she thinks her personality is too funny to be a kontrabida.

Actresses who have so far revealed auditioning for Darna are Star Magic talents Julia Barretto and Anna Luna. The latter is incidentally close family friends with Nadine Lustre, the star favored by the film’s original director to take over Liza.

“I really feel that Liza would have been a fresh and exciting Darna. She’s young and embodies a lot of potential to create a modern take for this classic superhero character,” Erik Matti, who dropped out of the project reportedly due to creative differences, had told The Philippine Star after Liza’s departure.

“After her, I only see Nadine Lustre so far as someone who can be Darna. Very sultry. She has a lot of female sensuality and at the same time still looks tough and very Filipina. The key to casting Darna has always been someone who can look plain and ordinary in her Narda alter ego but can be tough, spunky and can be very sexy as well when she transforms to Darna. Nadine can look all of that.”

Jerrold Tarog, who took over directorial duties from Matti, said the material is a coming-of-age story, thus their preference for actresses in their early 20s. More than looks and image, the “Heneral Luna” director said he favors acting ability, aside from charm and screen presence.

As for Liza and her manager Ogie Diaz, they share the opinion that Darna should be given to a new face. “Bagong mukha para fresh at mas exciting. Kasi kung dati nang mukha ang magiging Darna, nakita na ng mga tao kung paano umarte. Kung new face, kaya namang i-train sa akting at fight scenes, pero yung mukha niya, doon pa lang sa Darna makikita. Malakas sana ang dating. Yung pag tiningnan mo siya ng five seconds, pagpikit mo, kaya mo pa rin i-drawing sa isip mo ang itsura niya,” the talent manager and comedian wrote in Facebook post.

If a new face will indeed be tapped as Darna, Ogie said that Liza cautions whoever the lucky girl will be to not let the enormous break get to her head.

KIMBERLY COVERT
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