Double A victory on ‘Artista Academy’By Bayani San Diego Jr.
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Is it just coincidence that the big winners of TV5’s reality talent search, “Artista Academy,” or simply AA, have surnames that begin with the letter A?
AA best actor Vin Abrenica and best actress Sophie Albert noticed the curious factoid only on Sunday, a day after the grand finals.
Abrenica pointed out that he was a double A in real life. “My full name is Alvin Abrenica. When I first saw the AA logo, I took it as a sign. Maybe it was destiny that I share the same initials as the show,” he said.
Before conspiracy theorists and numerologists could hyperventilate, Albert said she had used a screen name for the contest: “My real name is Bianca Lyttle Reyes. But TV5 management changed my name because there are a lot of Biancas and Reyeses in show biz already.” Albert is her maternal grandmother’s maiden name. “My mom says we are related to (singer) Joey Albert,” she said.
If it’s not Albert, was it the Aquino connection that spelled the difference for the girl who bested finalists Shaira Mae and Chanel Morales?
(Her paternal grandmother is the sister of late President Corazon Aquino—making the female champ the niece of President Benigno Simeon Aquino III and TV host Kris Aquino.)
“I refuse to believe that my name had any bearing on the results,” she asserted. “I kept quiet about my background; it was only after I made it to the Top 6 that it was brought up.”
Albert said her relatives’ celebrity status puts added pressure on her. “I have to work hard so that I can live up to the family name,” she said.
Having a popular relative is something that she shares with cowinner Abrenica, younger brother of GMA 7 hunk Aljur Abrenica.
The AA male champ, however, clarified that he was not merely riding on Aljur’s coattails—though it clearly set him apart from fellow finalists Mark Neumann and Akihiro Blanco.
“Being Aljur’s brother helped a lot because it exposed me to show biz early on,” he conceded. “I became known right away because of him.”
He insisted, however, that he did his best to carve his own niche. He recalled that Aljur had taken time out from his busy schedule to watch the finale at Smart Araneta Coliseum on Saturday night with their parents and two other siblings.
“Aljur snuck up onstage to give me tissue paper because I was sweating and crying,” Abrenica recounted. “Later, backstage, he hugged me and cried. I became emotional, too.”
Now that he is joining show biz full time, Abrenica said he would make sure that no sibling rivalry would come between them.
“Comparisons cannot be avoided, but no amount of intrigues can tear us apart,” he vowed. “We grew up together. I respect and idolize my brother.”
Family is No. 1 for the AA duo.
Albert said that she would use part of her P1-million cash prize to fulfill a promise made to her mom. “I told my mom that I would take her to Europe.”
Since AA winners were also awarded a Presidio condo unit and new Innova, along with a P5-mllion (minimum guarantee) contract with TV5, Abrenica has decided to save his cash prize as part of the family’s nest egg.
Albert and Abrenica will also join the cast of the coming TV5 teen show, “FB: Forever Barkada”—along with other AA graduates.
Don’t they think that a youth show is too lightweight, considering the demanding roles they had to play on AA?
“It can be refreshing,” Albert said. “Our training on AA was tough. It would be a good move to try easier roles this time. In any case, I’m certain we will also have dramatic scenes on the new show.”
Abrenica agreed: “As for me, I look at everything as a challenge. Whether the roles are simple or hard, I promise to give my best every time.”
These are precisely the traits that helped them win, said the show’s acting mentor, filmmaker Joel Lamangan. “They are sincere and dedicated to their craft. They are both willing to learn and try new things,” he said.
Photos by Arnold Almacen
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