Atom Araullo on journalism, celebrity, and what he learned from 'Citizen Jake'

MANILA, Philippines – These days, Atom Araullo seems to be on a steady trajectory towards stardom. Just this year, the GMA presenter starred in a McDonald’s campaign set in Marawi, made his big-screen acting debut in Citizen Jake, and, most recently, is set to appear in a commercial for Cherifer Premium.

Yet even as the spotlight appears to be consistently trained on him, Atom cringes when called a celebrity, seeming to favor his journalist roots.

In an interview with Rappler on the set of the upcoming Cherifer TVC, Atom spoke about how he works out being a celebrity (or, at least, being considered one), and being a journalist at the same time.

“I definitely want to get better at journalism and that can be challenging in itself,” he said.

“It’s not just true of journalism. In any other field, sometimes you hit those plateaus in your career and you want to try and reach the next level of growth and the steps aren’t always clear, but for me it’s important to be courageous and take risks, even doing things that might not be conventional, or might raise the eyebrows of others.”

Atom said that being both a celebrity and a journalist “can be a slippery slope if you don’t make sure that you have a strong core that you have a clear idea of what you want to achieve and where you want all of this to go, like if you don’t set a clear trajectory for yourself, it can get confusing in that sense,” he said.

“At the same time, I feel very lucky to be in this position, to have a voice, for example, to take on challenges and opportunities that not a lot of people get. I think overall, it’s just important for me to see how it fits in to what is important to me, and how I define my success,” he added.

Atom said that when it comes to making sure his journalism remains uncompromised, he has “a clear idea of the ethics that come with this job and the purpose of doing the stories that we do.”

“As long as I maintain that balance and I’m transparent about all of these actvities that I engage in, I think there’s a lot of room to be flexible, to try and explore the intersections, to make my work sustainable as well,” he said, adding that he is happy that things have been working out so far.

“If nothing else, I’ve been having all of these priceless opportunities and stories that I can tell my grandchildren,” he said.

'Citizen Jake' takeaways

Even as his performance in Citizen Jake has impressed many moviegoers, Atom said that he is “probably not” returning to acting – this despite being called a “closet movie star” by director Mike de Leon in a since-deleted post on the Citizen Jake Facebook page.

That’s not to say that Atom’s involvement in Citizen Jake was all for nought. As he shared, there are things he took away from the experience that he can apply to his journalistic work.

“Some of it is technical: how to use the camera to tell a story, the importance of audio, the different ways that filmmakers use to hook an audience and to convey emotion through pictures,” he said. “While it’s not directly related to what I do as a journalist, there are some techniques that I think might be interesting to explore. My work as a TV journalist is visual as well.”

He also said that he learned the importance of creating stories that reach the audience emotionally, more than just being explainers or a rundown of events.

“What makes movies so powerful as a medium of instruction and as a way of conveying our thoughts, ideas, our shared history, is the fact that it leaves an imprint on the audience if it’s done well enough because it appeals to their emotions,” he said.

Citizen Jake is still showing in cinemas all over and outside the Metro. A full list of theaters where the film can be seen is on its Facebook page.

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Rappler.com