MANILA, Philippines – 2013 has been a blessed year for Joey Paras.
The stage and screen actor who came from Tanghalang Pilipino – and who first caught the attention of acting connoisseurs with his performance in the musical version of “Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah” (2006) – has been prolific in cinema this year.
Paras won the Best Supporting Actor in the New Breed category of the 2013 Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival, for his portrayal of a cyber-scammer in Jason Paul Laxamana’s “Babagwa” (Spider’s Web), one of the more popular entries in the indie filmfest.
Joey said he never expected to win an award, but he was more than happy to bag it for “Babagwa.”
Here’s the trailer of ‘Babagwa’:
After theater, Independent cinema has become another familiar field for Joey. It was through “Zsa Zsa” that indie filmmaker Veronica B. Velasco (The “Maaalala Mo Kaya” TV series, “Tuhog”) discovered the actor and cast him in “Last Supper Number 3,” which also starred JM de Guzman.
That performance led to several acting nominations, including one from the Golden Screen Awards.
The mass-communications alumnus from the University of Santo Tomas was now on a roll. But theater still has a special place in Joey’s heart.
“Hindi madali ang pinagdaanan ko,” he said. [It wasn’t easy, what I’ve been through.]
“Imagine, the likes of Irma Adlawan and Nonie Buencamino ang mga naging kasabayan ko.” (I worked with the likes of Irma Adlawan and Nonie Buencamino.)
“Eh ang gagaling na nila.” (They’re great actors.)
Wenn Deramas touch
Since winning an award for his role in “Babagwa,” Joey said he is emboldened to pursue further his acting career.
“I am all the more inspired to work and to do better in my craft as an actor. If a good role comes my way, I’d definitely accept it,” he said.
“I consider winning an award as an added blessing. I am happy that I won but I don’t want it to affect my outlook toward my career.
“All I want is more work so I could earn my keep,” said the actor who’s also in the comedy film “Momzillas,” with Maricel Soriano and Eugene Domingo as lead stars.
“I feel fortunate because Direk Wenn Deramas was brave enough to gamble by giving me a launching movie [“Bekikang”] although I must admit I’m nervous [about this] movie.”
Joey said a plus factor in his career would be the Wenn Deramas magic at the box office.
Everyone in showbiz knows that Wenn Deramas is a top box-office director – behind such hits as “Sisterakas,” “This Guy’s in Love with U Mare!,” “The Unkaboggable Praybeyt Benjamin,” – and that phenomenon all by himself, Vice Ganda.
It’s a foregone conclusion or presumption that “Bekikang” – wherein Joey stars opposite Tom Rodriguez – will draw in the crowds.
“Ganda ko naman masyado, ‘di ba?” he laughs. (I’m so pretty, yes?)
But Joey himself would be the first to emphasize that Direk Wenn is, indeed, making a gamble with “Bekikang.”
He admits feeling the pressure now, on the heels of his Cinemalaya award and his launching film.
“Let’s admit it, I am not yet accepted as a mainstream actor.
“The usual reaction I get is, ‘Artista ka ba? Di ba artista ka?’'” (Are you an actor? You’re an actor, aren’t you?)
“I never dreamt of being a big star. I’m already 36 years old and I am happy doing what I do – playing support for the big stars.
“Now it is all happening so fast. Hindi ako makapaniwala” (I can’t believe it.)
“But stardom will never get into my head. I keep my feet on the ground dahil ‘yan ang tama [that’s the right thing to do].
“As Tito Tirso [Cruz III] said, I’m like a politician who needs to introduce myself to the public so they would accept my platform.”
The platform in this case being the movie.
Joey said he can accept whatever comes out of “Bekikang,” because he gave his all in this film.
“If you are gay, you will love this movie. It’s not just a comedy but a light drama as well. It’s a remake, somewhat, of ‘Ang Tatay Kong Nanay'” – the Lino Brocka film from 1978 starring Dolphy in his now-classic role as a transgender (check 9:02 of this video).
“Please also watch ‘Babagwa’ because it’s an important movie for me as well, same with ‘Momzillas,'” – Joey said.