MANILA -- "We have found a new Darna!"
This was the opening statement of ABS-CBN Films' managing director Olivia Lamasan when ABS-CBN News asked about the latest update on the Darna project.
"We have found a new Darna and she is none other than Jane de Leon!"
Lamasan shared that almost 300 celebrities auditioned -- from Star Magic and Starhunt to talent scouts and camps -- for the iconic role.
De Leon, 20 and an exclusive talent of Star Magic, has appeared in a number of TV projects, including "Halik" where she played Jericho Rosales's sister Maggie Bartolome.
She also appeared in 2017 fantasy drama series "La Luna Sangre" as one of the moonchasers.
She was also part of the girl group Girltrends of "It's Showtime."
Darna director Jerrold Tarog described De Leon as an instinctive actress.
"Pinresent na si Jane sa amin a couple of years ago, and among all the 13 noon na Mr. M (Johnny Manahan) presented from Star Magic, natatandaan ng isang talent handler na 'Inang. napansin mo na siya noon, itong batang ito pwedeng sumali ng beauty pageants. And then I saw her again in 'Halik.' Sabi ko, 'itong batang to, meron.' There's something about her," Lamasan said.
After a series of callbacks, Tarog finally presented the audition tapes to ABS-CBN management for deliberation. And when Tarog was asked for her choice, he chose De Leon.
Lamasan said it was "a unanimous decision."
"Natuwa nga ako na isa siya sa mga nag-audition. Sabi ko ay there's something about her. Pati si Direk Lauren (Dyogi) said there's something about her. Bilang filmmakers, may nakikita kami."
"Malakas ang instinct ng bata," she said.
Lamasan added: "'Yung Darna story natin ngayon is a genesis story, a coming of age. Ang requirement talaga is somebody na young and with an air of innocence but at the same time a strength of character."
Lamasan said that during the final deliberation, ABS-CBN management asked De Leon how committed she is in getting the role. She replied, "I will do everything and anything for the role because I believe in her, I believe in what Darna stands for."
Then Lamasan finally asked her, "Handa ka na ba? Handa ka na bang hawakan ang bato? Handa ka na bang Darna? Dahil binibigay na namin sa 'yo ang Darna."
De Leon was absolutely shocked to hear the news and now, she is set to embark on a new chapter on her career with her biggest break as Darna!