Chai Fonacier speaks fast. Really fast. The words tumble out of her mouth like a waterfall. It’s disarming and intimidating because she’s so smart, so articulate. It’s jarring when the image of her that is strong in your mind is her precise portrayal of a young teen who finds herself way in over her head in the ghetto of Manila in Respeto, or her sensitive and dynamic portrayal of a transman struggling with a breakup on a road trip with his dysfunctional family in Patay na si Hesus. Anyone who has the range to pull off those two roles one after another has to be intelligent. But Chai Fonacier — a Cebuana actress, writer, singer and songwriter — is definitely nothing like Betchay of Respeto or Jude of Patay na si Hesus.
It’s her intelligence that you pick up on immediately. She’s self-aware and unafraid to ask questions, and this allows her to dig deep into her characters before she slips into their skins. It’s what Patay na si Hesus director Victor Villanueva loves about her. “What I noticed about Chai is ang dami niyang questions about the character,” he shares. “Parang binubuo niya yung character from what she thinks and what I think about Jude. Sometimes, she’d ask these questions na napaisip ko, ‘oo nga noh, ba’t hindi ko naisip yun?’”