MANILA — Jane de Leon will be the first to acknowledge she is relatively inexperienced compared to past Darna actresses, saying she understands the skepticism over her casting as the komiks icon.
De Leon, 22, spoke at length about her part in the ABS-CBN adaptation shortly after she signed a contract with the network, and the announcement of the 2021 release of “Mars Ravelo’s Darna: The TV Series.”
“Grabe ‘yung pasasalamat ko sa mga boss. Until now, nandoon pa rin ‘yung tiwala nila sa akin na ibigay ‘yung bato,” de Leon said of ABS-CBN executives, referencing the white stone that transforms Narda into Darna in the comics.
The development of the series came after ABS-CBN indefinitely postponed its original movie production, also starring de Leon, due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Akala ko, hindi na matutuloy,” de Leon recalled. “Ayoko mag-expect. Iyon ‘yung prinamis ko kay Lord, na ayoko mag-expect ng kahit na ano, kasi I know naman na may mga darating na blessings.”
The blessing, it now appears, is her long-awaited flight as Darna within months, after several roadblocks the project had encountered over the years.
ABS-CBN obtained the rights to Darna in 2013, when it signed a partnership with the Ravelo estate that included 12 more titles or characters created by the komiks master.
Development of the Darna movie started shortly, with the announcement of Angel Locsin as the lead actress in June 2014.
The film, however, was delayed numerous times with the exit of Locsin, and then Liza Soberano, due to respective medical reasons. Original director Erik Matti also left the project because of “creative differences” with ABS-CBN Films.
De Leon was introduced as the new Darna in July 2019, after an open audition that drew 300 aspirants, including established actresses and fresh talents.
At the time, de Leon’s casting as Darna, by her own admission, raised a few eyebrows, due to her being a relative newcomer compared to Locsin and Soberano.
De Leon expects that the same skepticism, questioning her capability to lend justice to the iconic character, will resurface as cameras start rolling for the new adaptation.
“I think it’s very normal to feel down if it’s a negative comment,” she said. “Kailangan lang talaga matuto ako kung paano mag-manage noon, kasi it’s normal sa showbiz.”
“I do understand. Kasi nga, wala pa naman,” de Leon pointed out, referring to zero footage of her in the role being released since her casting.
“Sino ba ako? Totoo naman. Baguhan ‘to. Saan nanggaling ‘to? Bakit siya? Iyon ‘yung mga tanong ng netizens. Even me. Huwag kayo mag-alala, kahit ako, tanong ko ‘yun sa sarili ko: Bakit ba ako ‘yung napili?”
The answers to those questions came as early as July 2019, after de Leon clinched the role. Director Jerrold Tarog, who was attached to helm the film version, said at the time that de Leon was a “unanimous choice,” as she displayed talent and presence that proved she could “carry the role.”
De Leon recognizes that while there are naysayers, there are many fans, too, who are looking forward to seeing her in action as Darna. Their support, she said, has been a source of motivation in the face of pressures and challenges that come with the coveted role.
“Maraming salamat po sa pagtitiwala niyo,” she said.
“Kahit na hindi pa po natin ipinapakita, pero ‘yung suporta na pinapakita niyo sa akin, hindi po kayo nag-gi-give up. You’re still pushing me to do it. Salamat din sa pagbibigay sa akin ng positivity. Maraming salamat po.”