‘Papa Chen’ still not used to fame
Before entering show biz, Richard Yap was just a simple, T-shirt and jeans kind of guy. But with his newfound fame—thanks to his memorable characters in “My Binondo Girl” (Papa Chen) and “Be Careful with My Heart” (Sir Chief)—the businessman-turned-actor said he’s now compelled to dress up more often, especially when in public where he’s bound to be hounded by swooning fan girls, young and old.
“I’m flattered that some people see me as a heartthrob. But it also puts more pressure on my shoulder to look presentable. When I go out, fans would want to take photos with me, and it would be a disservice to them if I don’t look my best,” he said at a recent press con.
As an introvert, dealing with all the attention is something the 45-year-old Kapamilya talent will never get fully used to. That’s because Richard still feels, and will always be, “just any other guy.”
How does he cope with being in the spotlight? “Well, I’m already here, so I just deal with it—I have no choice,” he said. “I try my best to interact with fans as much as possible, but it still feels awkward at times.”
Though he used to do some print and commercial modeling on top of his job in a marketing firm, pursuing a career in show biz was never on his radar. Attaining fame, Richard said, was never his goal. So call him Richard, Papa Chen or Sir Chief—he doesn’t really mind.
“I never make it a point to introduce myself by my real name. If people want to associate me with the characters I play, it’s okay with me,” said Richard, adding that he’s not afraid of being boxed in the type of roles he’s been playing.
“As long as it’s a good role, and I could give it my best, I think people will follow,” he said.
Despite the success of “My Binondo,” Richard, admittedly, still had misgivings on whether or not to continue acting, and even considered going back to his day job. But after much convincing from ABS-CBN, he agreed to do “Be Careful” in July 2012, eventually signing a two-year exclusive contract in October.
More than fame and fortune, Richard stressed that it’s the self-fulfillment he gets from acting that made him stay put. “As long as I’m happy with what I’m doing, and could give fans good performances, then I’ll continue,” he said.
“I don’t want to be a hypocrite and fool people into believing that I’m enjoying something I’m not,” he added. “It’s never good to stay in something because of the money.”
Asked what he thinks is his quality that endeared him to his fans, Richard could only surmise that it was his honesty and sincerity. “I believe they appreciated that I was very honest from the start; that I’m already married and have two kids,” he said. “Viewers are more mature now, and can differentiate real from reel.”
He continued: “Despite the fact that Jodi (Sta. Maria) and I are not really a couple, they know that we can give them a good show.”
This year, Richard and the rest of the “Be Careful” cast will go on a world tour—the Middle East in March; United States and Canada in May; Europe in August; and Japan in November.