Growing pains as adulthood beckons to Lexi, Elijah and Hailey
Much like the characters they play in the coming-of-age afternoon drama “Underage,” Hailey Mendes, Elijah Alejo and Lexi Gonzales have had their share of challenges in their journeys toward young adulthood, both as actresses and individuals.
Now that she’s 18, Elijah is starting to feel the weight of her broadening responsibilities.
“As I get older, the more I feel that I have more responsibilities. Mas bumibagat … Back then, you feel like, ‘Eto ka lang.’ But now, it’s, ‘Eto ka na,’” she told the Inquirer in a recent virtual conference for the said GMA 7 soap, which premiered on Jan. 18. “Now, you’re not responsible only for yourself, but your family, too,” She also had to learn to be more conscious of her own actions, she pointed out, because she could no longer chalk up her missteps to her age. “I must admit that, when I was younger, I could be too straightforward and not realize that I may have already hurt other people,” related Elijah, who was one of the stars of the hit series “Prima Donnas.”
“So now, when I say something wrong, I apologize and promise not to do it again. These are the small things you don’t realize when you’re a kid because people around you would just say, ‘Pagpasensyahan niyo na, bata pa ‘yan.’ But that’s not the case anymore.”
Hailey, meanwhile, learned that she had to set aside her childhood ego if she wanted to pursue her dream of being a respected actress. “I used to think I was always right. I was only ever concerned about what I wanted. That was my attitude when I was young. Now looking back, I can’t help but feel embarrassed!” the 18-year-old newbie said. It was only when she started to become more receptive to other people’s ideas that Hailey started to see an improvement in her show biz career. “When I was younger, I used to get annoyed when people would tell me I still had a lot to learn. Now, I know that it’s true,” she said.
“I realized that my pride was the reason I wasn’t improving … I thought I didn’t have to change anything,” Hailey said. “Now I know better. It’s important to observe and listen to other people’s experiences.”
A lot to prove
Lexi, on the other hand, spent most of her teenage years figuring out who she really is. “That stage was all about finding my character, or who I really am as a person. I reflected on how I interacted with people around me,” said the “StarStruck” Season 7 first runner-up. In her younger years, Lexi, now 22, felt like she had a lot to prove—so much so, she said, that she came across as off-putting. “I wanted to be part of conversations to the point na mema na lang ako. And people felt offended or were put off,” she related. She would, however, learn the value of patience and restraint as she matured. “I wanted to do a lot of things with my limited time and resources. I was always in a rush, thinking that my life should be this or that way when I reach a certain age,” Lexi said. “But you have to be patient and wait until you’re ready.”
Perils of social media
Directed by Rechie del Carmen, “Underage” is a reimagining of Joey Gosiengfiao’s classic 1980 film of the same title. In this made-for-TV version, the story follows the lives of three sisters, Celine (Lexi), Chynna (Elijah) and Carrie (Hailey), who go through a series of unfortunate events, after an opportunist films them in a compromising situation. The malicious videos then become viral on social media. More than its coming-of-age elements, the adaptation is also a cautionary tale about the perils of social media. “Think before you click. There is a lot of fake news and gossip out there, and it’s so easy to make them up. Let’s be more discerning about the things we share and post. Let’s be responsible internet users,” Lexi said.
“Sometimes, people air their opinions based on headlines—they don’t actually open the link and read the content. But they will bash you and judge you just because of an article, a video or a photo,” said Elijah, who opted to unfollow her nonshow biz friends on social media, because random people have started stalking them.
“They search for my friends and find out where they study. Some of them even go to their schools. That’s what I’m fearful about, because it’s not only me who might be put in danger,” she added.
“Not everything we see online is true,” Hailey stressed.
“We have to scrutinize what we see. Protect yourself, always be mindful of what you post. People will always have something to say no matter what. Try not to mind them. Some people will believe you, some won’t. Don’t feel the need to over-explain yourself,” she said.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.