Local show biz’s ‘XYZ Factor’By Nestor U. Torre
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Quite by coincidence, the top three child stars on the local TV scene this season are Xyriel Manabat, Yogo Singh and Zaijian Jaranilla.
So, what’s so unusual about that bit of tantalizing trivia? Well, the initial letters of their first names spell “XYZ”—which goes “The X Factor” two better—which is why we call the three child sensations the unprecedented “XYZ Factor” in Philippine show business!
Of course, some people will point out that Jillian Ward should also be part of the equation, because she’s similarly popular—but that would nix our unique mix, so allow us our bit of fun and games for now.
The fact is that child performers are a huge selling factor on TV these days, and our “XYZ” stars are at the top of their respective games—so, if we “factor” in their extraordinary success, it can teach us a thing—or three—about the why’s and wherefore’s of how the local entertainment scene is coming along today.
First, take note of the unique fact that both Xyriel and Zaijian have made their mark in TV production that have required them to act and talk like pint-sized adults.
Xyriel started the trend with her drama series last year with Coney Reyes—in which she played Reyes’ “mini-me” persona.
And, this season, Zaijian is following suit with his ongoing series, “Lorenzo’s Time,” in which he portrays a 40-year-old man “trapped” in the eternally young body of a boy stricken with the rare disease, progeria.
Comparisons may be odious but they can also be instructive, so let’s compare the two “mini-me” portrayals: Xyriel is clearly the better “adult” performer of the lot, since her portrayal was apparently “wise” beyond her tender years.
For his part, Zaijian is also a precociously fine actor, but his performance is compromised by occasionally poor diction and pronunciation, which limits his ability to portray a boy-man in his 40s.
Indeed, after Xyriel’s series was concluded she had done so spectacularly well in it that we hoped that her next show would make it a point for her to avoid all sophistication and intellection, and just play a simple, playful, cheerful child, period!
As for Yogo, he too is mature beyond his years, but as his “Ina” movie directed by Marilou Diaz-Abaya so convincingly proved his ability to vivify the wonder of childhood is unmatched on the local screen.
Unlike many relentlessly cute and porma screen moppets, he opts for the natural, felt and un-“pushed” approach, which is why he stands out in a field full of juvenile con artists.
With young stars like Xyriel, Yogo and Zaijian in charge, the local TV-film scene is in good hands for the next few seasons. Trouble is, Zaijian is about to hit adolescence, and Xyriel is growing up fast, as well. So, we treat that, this early, producers and talent scouts are already prepping up their even younger replacements.
They need to do this to make sure that the “quality” factor in local child performances remains vital and strong—even when “XYZ” shall have made their adolescent exit from the TV-film performing scene.
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