MANILA, Philippines—This hot season, Backroom is out to make show business a little more interesting by introducing nine new artists who are out to make their own mark in the industry.
The nine—officially known as the Backroom 9 or the Not Your Ordinary Boys and Girls (NYOBG)—are Ian Batherson, Benj Bolivar, Carlo Sawit, Nikita McElroy, PJ Go, Avery Paraiso, Kayesha Chua, Maui Lumba and Bon Jovi Osorio.
Benj, a former aspiring varsity athlete for the University of the Philippines-Diliman Men’s Basketball Team, was first runner-up in the Mossimo Bikini Summit of 2010 and has appeared in television commercials for Lucky Me, Bingo and Smart, among others. He stopped playing basketball when he reached his second year in college. He’s eager to prove what he can do. “Actually, gusto ko i-try lahat. Pero right now, gusto kong umarte kasi ‘yung mom ko mahilig sa mga teleserye,” he says. “Parang masaya siya gawin at fulfilling (Right now, I just want to act because my mother is a fan of soap opera series. I guess it’s fun to do and fulfilling).”
Benj is co-managed by Backroom and Jonas Gaffud’s Mercator.
Carlo Sawit is 24, and a graduate of Marketing Management from De La Salle University. His most recent commercial appearance was for Kremil-S, in which he appeared with Boy Abunda. One thing led to another, and before Carlo knew it, he was being offered to be part of the Backroom 9/NYOBG. Of this new career challenge, he says: “I’m happy here, I’m happy acting, I’m happy feeling things, doing a role, feeling exactly what the character feels. For me, it’s like traveling, it’s like an adventure.”
Nikita McElroy, 18, stands 5’8” and hails from Davao. She was born to a father who is part French and part Black American, and to a Filipino mother. Nikita has modeled and a finalist in Star Factor. Her most recent TVC appearance was in Kris Aquino’s “Rubadango” commercial. She wants to do everything. “Hangga’t kaya ko, kung puwede lahat, pero kung isa lang siguro hosting kasi talkative ako eh (As long as I can do it. If possible all of them but now I’ll focus on hosting because I’m talkative),” she laughs. “I think hosting is a very fun job.”
The 22-year-old PJ Go did not come from a show-biz family but feels like he was born to be in the business. He set his studies aside (he was in his third year of a Marketing Management course at the University of the East) to actively pursue his modeling and acting career. He has walked the ramp during Fashion Week for brands like Bench and designers like Rusty Lopez. He has also been attending acting workshops and making himself available for go-sees. He is not from a well-off family and has had his fair share of challenges in life. But he is hopeful that this new career will turn things around. “Nasa iyo ‘yun kung magtatagumpay ka sa gusto mo (It’s up to you to succeed, if that’s what you want),” he says. “Kapag pinaghirapan mo ang isang bagay, makukuha mo naman, kahit na ano ang pinagdaanan mo sa buhay (If you work so hard to get what you want, you’ll get it in time, whatever you’ve gone through in life).”
The 18-year-old model-turned-actor Avery Paraiso won the Circle of 10 model search in 2009. He has been dreaming of being in show biz since he was in high school. He considers his hair an advantage because aside from the fact that it is “low maintenance”, it has won him roles in commercials before. “Sabi sa akin dati ng isang caster, kaya daw ako nakuha is dahil sa buhok ko, yun daw yung character na gusto nila (One talent coordinator toll me I was hired for project because of my hair, the character I’d be playing needs it).” But he is willing to cut it if necessary, or trim it at least, in pursuit of his goal of becoming a dramatic actor.
Kayesha Chua is the typical “beauty and brains” type of girl. A recent graduate (Class of 2013) of the University of Santo Tomas, with a degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management, she finished her degree cum laude. It was a friend of hers who got her into Backroom 9/NYOBG . Kayesha’s mom asked only that she finishes her studies first, which she did with flying colors. Kayesha continues to model while waiting for her acting break. The 5’7” tall model idolizes Bea Alonzo “kasi nag-evolve yung career path niya. Sobrang ganda ng flow ng path niya as an actress. Sobrang versatile niya, ang galing niya umarte, sobrang natural lang, tapos ang elegant niya pang tingnan (because her career path has evolved. Her career flow has been pretty smooth sailing. She’s versatile, she’s good in acting, very natural and she’s elegant to look at).”
Bon Jovi Osorio was named after a famous singer but the 22-year-old is looking to build a career as an actor. He came to Backroom a few years back but decided to return to the US where he finished his studies. Now that he’s done, he is ready to seek his fortune in show biz and is glad to be given a second chance to be part of this group. The Backroom 9/NYOBG he says, “is like my second family. ‘Yung pamilya ko nasa States so I really do feel that this [group] is my family. They were always there for me two years ago, and I’m glad they gave me another chance.”
Maui Lumba is a classmate and friend of Kayesha Chua from UST. He is also a basketball player and followed in the footsteps of his father, who also used to be a model and a contemporary of the likes of Edu Manzano and Christopher de Leon. As a model, Maui was frequently asked to grace events in UST, and one of those was the USTV awards, where he helped hand out trophies to the winners.
It was at that event that he was presented with the opportunity to join show biz and later, become part of the Backroom 9/NYOBG. Although he has no background in acting, he’s hopeful
that with Backroom’s help—and being surrounded by people who know the business—he and the others have a good chance of making it. “I’m really excited for what is about to happen,” says Maui. “I’m just grateful that I’m part of this group along with other great talents also. Having no background in acting, the workshops (with Laurice Guillen) were tough, and the business has a lot of complications, but I think we can handle it.”
Ian Batherson is the most experienced in the group, having appeared in the fifth season of “Starstruck” and “Survivor Philippines: Celebrity Showdown,” is now part of the Backroom 9/NYOBG. He has been going on a few go-sees and has been brushing up on his Tagalog—just basically doing what he can to improve his craft and make himself a better performer. “I’m getting better talaga,” he says. “I’m getting a little bit derecho kapag nagsasalita pero I still have a long way to go, and that’s the beauty of it. I want to grow, to be able to challenge myself as an actor.”
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