I sent it to my friends with a joking “Oh, it’s time for you to shine!” and “Sino dito yung sunod na Liza??” I also sent it to the Young STAR team, thinking we could post a quick FYI on the announcement.
To my surprise, our (main, hehe) editor Maine replied “GABY CAN YOU DO IT.” “BUT I’M SHY,” I replied in matching all caps. They weren’t convinced. Editorial assistant Gian wouldn’t back down: “SHY IS LITERALLY WHAT THEY’RE LOOKING FOR.”
And that’s when I really started to consider it. I guess I did fit the requirements. Just a girl, not yet a woman? Check (I’m 22, but people mistake me for a high schooler). With little or without acting experience? Double check. (Being an extra in my Grade 6 production of Footloose doesn’t count, right?) Shy but passionate? Triple check. (I may be quiet, but you should see me when I get worked up about BTS.) Simple but may dating? Quadruple check. (I guess? At least that’s what my mom says.) Innocent but curious? Quintuple check. (Well, my introverted ass was considering this opportunity.)
Maybe this was my time to shine. As reserved as I am, I’d be lying if I said I’ve never dreamt of being an artista.
Before I knew it, I was typing “Game” on our group chat and texting the attached number for more information. Maybe this was my time to shine. As reserved as I am, I’d be lying if I said I’ve never dreamt of being an artista. I could already see the Wattpad stories based on my life story: an unknown writer of a youth publication getting her big break as the lead in a major film. A Young Star is Born.
Antoinette Jadaone’s films are characterized by heartbreak and male characters that serve as foils to strong female leads. I’ve been a fan of her work ever since On the Wings of Love, and I consider her to be one of the best contemporary mainstream filmmakers out there. But would this admiration be enough to get me through the auditions?
[READ: #YSGirlGang: Missy, Armi and Antoinette break barriers on stage]
The movie’s title “Fan Girl”, meant that it’d be about a topic that hits very close to my stan heart. It also helped that the ordinary person-meets-celebrity is my favorite romcom trope of all time.
And that’s how I found myself gathering all the confidence I’ve ever mustered in my 22 years of existence to make my way to Film Room B4 in UP Diliman on a Tuesday afternoon. The turnout wasn’t as large as I’d expected, so though I’d arrived only 30 minutes before the scheduled start, I was ninth in line.
While filling up my forms, I met Bea*, an IT major and die-hard LizQuen fan who’d travelled all the way from Batangas and Ina*, an employee at the sales department of a luxury car brand. They both also fit the character profile in the casting call, describing themselves as mahiyain but game. Our conversations had a lot of “Ha?” and “ano?” because we had soft voices. So this is what it must feel like talking to me.
[READ: ‘Never Not Love You’ explores what it means to love in the working world]
There is a sense of bonding that comes in the shared waiting experience. Here we were, three complete strangers trying to get over our newbie nerves by discovering ways in which we were similar and different. Bea made us watch the LizQuen cameo in the new season of PBB (she doubled down from kilig as soon as 214 began playing). Ina mentioned her insecurities, pointing out the few fully made-up girls in the crowd and asking us if we’d ever felt a blow to our self-esteem when seeing girls like them.
My cover was almost blown at one point, when I saw an orgmate from college who turned out to be part of the casting staff. “You’re auditioning?” She seemed puzzled to see me there. To salvage what I had left of my dignity, I told her “Yeah, I wanted to try something new, go out of my comfort zone” before slinking away lest Bea and Ina assume I had a backer on the inside.
We killed the rest of the time speculating. Who would be on the panel? Would they ask questions? Would we have to act on cue? When it was finally our turn, we filed into the small classroom one by one and lined up in front of the casting directors.
[READ: ‘Alone/Together’ is not a romance movie]
I didn’t think it’d be Direk Tonette herself overseeing the casting this early in the process, but there she was, seated to the left of the camera they’d positioned to film us. Low-key. Her power. She explained that the first round was to see who had the look of the character, and that it’d be quick. After two minutes of standing (and forced smiling), we were out the same way we came in.
The sense of relief I had from completing that first stage of the casting process was quickly replaced with jitters. A staff member handed me a three-page script and told me to “study” it, which meant I made it through to the next round?
The same staff member approached the other girls in my line “We have your contact details so kung may gagawin pa kayo after this, pwede na kayong umalis.” That’s showbiz for ya, I guess.
For a minute there, I thought I had a chance. And then I read the script and was brought crashing back to reality: Oh right, I suck at public speaking.
Bea and Ina lingered a bit before leaving — “Wag mo kaming kalimutan ha! Galingan mo!” Their words of support were so encouraging, that for a minute there, I thought I had a chance. And then I read the script and was brought crashing back to reality: Oh right, I suck at public speaking.
Even so, I entered the room again determined to give it my all, awkward smiling through the mugshot-style 360 turn. Then they took my script away and I realized that I probably should’ve studied it better. As the prompter started reading the male lead’s lines, I froze, stumbling through dialogue even though I’d semi-rehearsed everything with feeling.
I walked out of there deflated but not surprised. The staff member gave me the spiel I’d heard plenty of times earlier: “We have your contact details, so we’ll get in touch with you if ever.” Figures. There goes the Wattpad adaptation.
My showbiz career may have ended before it even started, but I’m filing it all to experience. It’s nice to know that casting was democratized in a sense. I mean, who else gets to say that they attended a casting for a film directed by THE Antoinette Jadaone? Acting definitely isn’t my thing, but it didn’t hurt to try living my artista dreams.
Final note: If anyone from Project 8 Corner San Joaquin Projects is reading this — if you’re still looking for extras, I’m game. You have my contact details and application form. *finger guns*
*names have been changed for privacy