'Forevermore' star Liza Soberano. Kashieca
'I am not the next Kathryn,' says actress
MANILA - Here's a little-known fact: Liza Soberano, star of the hit primetime series "Forevermore" and broadcast giant ABS-CBN's "leading lady to watch for," was a Kapuso at one point.
However, only a week after she signed up with ABS-CBN rival GMA-7, Soberano, then known by her real name Hope, asked to be released from her contract.
According to the 16-year-old actress, she auditioned to join ABS-CBN's Star Magic and counterpart GMA Artist Center at around the same time, but it was the latter that first offered her a contract.
"And then after ko mag-sign sa GMA, tumawag ang Star Magic," she told ABS-CBNnews.com and other reporters during a break from the filming of "Forevermore" in Tuba, Benguet.
Although projects, including an appearance in a movie, were already lined up for her as a GMA talent, Soberano said she didn't think twice to prematurely end her contract and take up ABS-CBN's offer.
"Noong pumunta ako doon (GMA), alam mo 'yung... I didn't feel at home," she explained. "Siyempre gusto ko kung magtatrabaho ako, masaya ako sa [environment ko]."
Clarifying that she had no bad relations with anyone at GMA, Soberano added: "Hindi ko lang na-feel. Kasi dati palang, ABS na po ang pinapanood ko, so gusto ko talaga ABS."
'Bakit nga ba ako?'
In March 2013, Soberano was launched as one of the 12 new "discoveries" of Star Magic, alongside Julia Barretto, Janella Salvador, Jerome Ponce, Jane Oineza, and fellow "Forevermore" cast member Kit Thompson.
Liza Soberano (leftmost) with her fellow Star Magic Batch 2013 members. ABS-CBN
At the time, Soberano had already appeared as the younger sister of Jake Cuenca in the defunct afternoon series "Kung Ako'y Iiwan Mo." What followed was a string of roles in high-profile projects that prepared her for the big time.
Three times in a row, Soberano was assigned to play the third wheel to romantic leads. She was Angel in "Must Be Love," Daniel Padilla and Kathryn Bernardo's launching movie. A year later in 2014, she joined the onscreen couple in the primetime series "Got to Believe," once again as Padilla's other love interest.
Soberano's last big-screen outing, "She's the One" in 2013, saw her as Gillian, Enrique Gil's best friend who can only love him from a distance as he pours his affection on someone else.
Partnered with Gil in "Forevermore," which debuted to strong ratings last October 27, Soberano is finally the leading lady. The two are also set to top-bill in 2015 Star Cinema's adaptation of the Wattpad novel "The Bet."
Asked how she is taking the succession of big projects, the soft-spoken Soberano said, "Nabibilisan nga po ako, eh, but I guess I'm just blessed."
"Happy ako pero medyo pressured din, kasi, bakit nga ba ako ang binigyan nila ng malaking project, eh one year palang ako? Siguro may ginagawa akong tama, siguro nagugustuhan nila 'yung pag-arte ko. Kaya natutuwa ako na napapansin nila, naa-appreciate ng management 'yung efforts ko."
A half-American who grew up in the United States, Soberano said she is made to regularly attend workshops, a number of which are dedicated to improving her Tagalog and modulating her otherwise high-pitched voice.
Her efforts, at least to her vocal fans online, have paid off.
'I'm just Liza'
Already, Soberano has drawn comparisons to Bernardo, who is dubbed local showbiz's "Teen Queen" and is arguably the most popular actress among her contemporaries. The 18-year-old has proven to be an audience favorite following the consecutive success of her projects, including this year's "She's Dating the Gangster" with Padilla.
The film was directed by Cathy-Garcia Molina, who was also behind Bernardo's "Got to Believe" and now, Soberano's "Forevermore." Time and again, Bernardo has credited the director for bringing her tandem with Padilla to greater heights.
"Masaya ako [na nakukumpara ako sa kanya], kasi 'di ba big artist na si Kathryn? Pero magkaiba po kami," Soberano said, when asked to react to being referred to as "the next Kathryn" in reports.
"Siyempre, lahat naman po tayo gusto maging successful sa trabaho, pero ayoko po kasi na kino-compare ako kay Kathryn, kasi she's very different from me. So parang it's unfair for me to be compared to her. She's Kathryn. I'm just Liza now."
Soberano, as she is now, is well on her way to becoming a bankable leading lady. However, as she leads the cast of "Forevermore," now the most watched scripted series in the country according to Kantar Media, Soberano recognizes that the big opportunity is also a double-edged sword.
"Pag hindi ko nagawa nang maayos ito, gugustuhin pa ba nila akong panoorin ulit? Siyempre, hindi. So kailangan talagang maging maayos ang pag-arte ko. Para sa akin, make it or break it ito," she said.