MANILA, Philippines – Last April 4, fans of Encantadia excitedly anticipated the announcement of the new 4 sang'gres, the keepers of the brilyantes (gemstones).
The announcement was met with mixed reactions, while some questioned the casting of newcomer actress 19-year-old Sanya Lopez, who was introduced as the new Danaya. Many asked, "Why her? Why a newcomer? Who is she?"
Reporters got to spend time with Sanya Monday, April 25 at the Sky Ranch in Tagaytay to get to know her more. Here are some awesome things to know about the new Earth Jewel (Brilyante ng Lupa) keeper.
1. She was discovered by Kuya Germs. While waiting for her brother, Jak Roberto, on the set of Walang Tulugan with Master Showman, Sanya was accidentally discovered no less than by the late star maker, German "Kuya Germs" Moreno.
In an interview with GMA, Sanya shared how fans in the audience mistook her for another actress, Kim Rodriguez. She then caught the attention of Kuya Germs and was introduced by her brother to him, who then told her to come back for the next taping.
Looking back, Sanya told reporters she had wished Kuya Germs could have been around to witness her taking on the role of Danaya. She said, "Si Kuya Germs ang nakakilala sa akin. Sa kanya talaga ako nagsimula at siya nag-open ng door sa akin (Kuya Germs discovered me. It was through him that I started in this industry and he opened doors for me.)
Tatay, I will always remember that day when you made me part of your Walang Tulugan family. You told me something which I myself couldn't imagine will happen. Now, it's slowly happening. And I believe and feel that you're part of it. Thank you Tatay, thanks for this opportunity. Promise I'll take care of it. Happy Birthday!!! Miss you tatay... A photo posted by Sanya Lopez (@sanyalopez) on Oct 3, 2016 at 11:49pm PDT
"Masakit po na biglang nawala si Tatay kasi siya yung naniniwala na 'Alam kong itong batang ito meron.' May ganun, na kahit ako mismo, 'Totoo ba, tatay?' Oo meron, ibibigay niya yung tiwala niya."
(It really hurt that Tatay so suddenly passed away because he's the one who believed, 'This kid can make it;' even I would ask, 'Is that true, Tatay?' Yes, he'll give his full trust.)
Aside from Walang Tulugan, Sanya appeared in The Half Sisters where she played Lorna, the best friend of lead actress Barbie Forteza's character.
Thank You!!! A photo posted by Sanya Lopez (@sanyalopez) on Jan 17, 2016 at 11:17pm PST
2. She has a brother in the industry. Sanya is the sister of young actor Jak Roberto who was part of Walang Tulugan with the Master Showman. Jak has appeared in several other GMA 7 shows.
In an interview with reporters on the way to Sky Ranch, Sanya said her brother was so proud upon learning she got the role in Encatandia.
"Actually, mas proud na proud siya," Sanya said when her brother found about her role. "Supportive yung kapatid ko. Kaya nung time na iyon, nag-post siya agad. Sabi ko 'Naku, hindi pa pwede mag-post,' sabi kong ganun."
(Actually, he's really proud. My brother is supportive. At that time, he immediately posted about it, and I said 'No, you can't post about it!"
Happy National Siblings Day! @sanyalopez A photo posted by Jak Roberto (@jakroberto) on Apr 10, 2015 at 10:38pm PDT
3. She's very adventurous. During her time with the press, Sanya tried almost all the rides – even the zipline and the ferris wheel.
"Mahilig ako sa mga matataas na rides – yung mga buwis buhay na mga rides, and nung bata ako boyish ako (I love the tall rides – the ones that are really challenging, and when I was a kid, I was boyish)," she said.
4. She admires female action stars. One of Sanya's favorite international actresses is Michelle Rodriguez, who is known for the Fast and Furious movies. She also admires Jennylyn Mercado – who some say that she resembles – as well as the new Ynang Reyna, Marian Rivera.
Happy Thanksgiving hope you all enjoy time with your family I'll be working through this one A photo posted by Michelle Rodriguez (@mrodofficial) on Nov 25, 2015 at 8:04pm PST
Check out what Sanya has to say about preparing for the fight scenes in the show:
Meet #SanyaLopez who will take on the role of Danaya in Encantadia soon. pic.twitter.com/vswT35arxa — alexa villano (@alexavillano) April 27, 2016
5. On how she got the role of Danaya: Sanya shared that she went through 4 rounds of auditions before getting the role of the Earth Jewel keeper.
"During the auditions po binigyan lang kami ng script," she recounted. "And wala pa silang sinasabi sa amin na character na gagawin namin, kung anong character ang gagamitin namin. During that time, binigay na lang sa amin yung character."
(During the auditions, they gave us a script. They didn't tell which character we were going to do, which character we were going to portray. During that time, they just gave it to us."
"And then after noon, una kong ginanapan ay si Lira [Amihan's daughter]. Yung pangalawa ko pong audition ang ginanapan ko po ay si Alena. Yung pangatlo ko po ay si Danaya, and pang-apat ay si Danaya [ulit]. And then nung pang-lima, doon na sinabi na kami na po yung official."
(After that, my first role was Lira. During my second audition, I played Alena. The third time was Danaya and then, in the fourth one, I played Danaya [again]. And then on the fifth time, that's when they announced that we were the official cast members.)
@sanyalopez is #Danaya! #Encantadia2016 #EncantadiaReveal24Oras A photo posted by Encantadia 2016 (@gmaencantadia) on Apr 4, 2016 at 4:44am PDT
Kumpleto na ang mga sang'gre! Abangan sila sa #Encantadia2016! A photo posted by Encantadia 2016 (@gmaencantadia) on Apr 4, 2016 at 5:21am PDT
GMA Artist Center confirmed that Sanya was initially not aware which character she was going to audition for. To prepare, she studied all the characters.
Sanya shared that she has been taking acting workshops and arnis lessons with the cast. She has also been eating kamote (sweet potato) as a rice substitute to fit into their sang'gre costumes and battle gear.
According to a report from GMA News, the royal garments will be made by Francis Libiran. ([LOOK] The new 'Encantadia': Concept art, costumes unveiled)
6. She grew up in Laguna. When asked how she can relate to Danaya, the keeper of the Earth Jewel, Sanya shared that as someone who has grown up in Laguna, she loved being around nature.
"Laki po akong Laguna and sa Laguna marami po diyan mga ilog, mga bundok," she said. "So parang lumaki po ako na naliligo lang po ako sa ilog. Lumaki din ako na umaakyat ng bundok pag may mga pumupunta ng bundok. Naging mahalaga na din sila sa akin kasi minahal ko sila dahil doon na ako lumaki. Iyon yung pagkakapareho," Sanya said.
(I grew up in Laguna, and and in Laguna, there are so many rivers and mountains. So growing up, I used to bathe in the river. I also used to climb up the mountain, if there were people climbing them. It's very close to my heart, I loved them, because I grew up there. That's our similarity.)
"Kung kay Danaya naman, pareho kaming may lakas ng loob. Parang ang hilig ho namin yung mga buwis buhay [...] na hindi gusto ng iba pero gusto ko para i-conquer yung fear."
(With regards to Danaya, we both have the guts. We both like daredevil adventures – things that other people don't like – but I like to conquer my fears.)
7. On the Aquil/Danaya tandem. In Encantadia, Danaya and Aquil, the leader of Lireo's army, have a love-hate relationship. Through Lira, however, the two became close and fell in love.
With Rocco Nacino playing Aquil, Sanya said that they have been trying to establish a good rapport with each other.
"Hindi niya alam na tinititigan ko siya kapag nagte-training kami," Sanya joked. "Nagkaka-bonding naman kami during the training."
(He doesn't know that I stare at him during our trainings. We bond with each other during training.)
Punong AquilSang'gre Danaya #Encantadia2016 A photo posted by Encantadia Fan Page (@gma.encantadia) on Apr 27, 2016 at 5:37pm PDT
"Mabait naman at mabilis naman kami magkakakilalanan, and kapag may hindi ako alam tinatanong ko na sa kanya para iyon yung way namin na maging komportable. Siguro lalabas na rin iyon kasi minsan... guwapo kasi si Rocco. Kasi may times na hindi mo maalis na tumingin sa kanya"
(He's very nice and we got to know each other quickly, and when I don't know something, I ask him. This is our way of getting comfortable with each other. I guess it's just natural... Rocco is [also] good-looking. There are times that you cannot take your eyes off him.)
8. She has the blessing of the original Danaya. Following Sanya's announcement as the new Danaya, actress Diana Zubiri, who originally played the role, congratulated her on Twitter.
Congratulations Sanya Lopez #newdanaya #EncantadiaReveal24Oras — Diana Zubiri Smith (@DianaZubiri_) April 4, 2016
Sanya said she has yet to meet Diana but was flattered that she got her blessing.
"Kinonggratulate niya ako after nung sa 24 Oras," Sanya said of Diana. "And sobrang happy ako and thankful ako na tanggap ako ni Ms. Diana Zubiri na gumanap na bilang Danaya. "
(She congratulated me after 24 Oras. And I'm so happy and thankful that Ms. Diana Zubiri approves of me as the new Danaya.)
Throwback thursday #Encantadiaforprimetime pic.twitter.com/XRbK68ietN — Diana Zubiri Smith (@DianaZubiri_) October 15, 2015
As she gears up for the show to air some time this year, Sanya said that she hopes it will open a lot of doors for her in the industry. "Hopefully magkaroon ako ng maraming projects at magkaroon ng mga action movies (Hopefully, I'll get into more projects and action movies in the future)," she said.
Screengrab from Instagram/gmaencantadia
"Mahilig ako sa mga action scenes, and okay lang naman ako sa kahit anong ibigay sa akin. Open naman po ako sa kanila. Pag natanggap ako ng tao, minahal po ang Encantadia – kaming lahat – sana magkaroon kami lahat ng mga projects na mag-click at mamahalin ng tao," she said.
(I really love action scenes, and I'm okay with whatever they give me. I'm very open. When audiences accept me and love [the new] Encantadia – all of us in the show – I hope all of us will have projects that will click and be loved by people.) – Rappler.com