Filipina Sophia Laforteza among finalists for HYBE, Geffen Records’ global girl group
Sophia Laforteza, a 20-year-old trainee from the Philippines, is one of the finalists for “The Debut: Dream Academy” audition program, a show created by South Korean entertainment company HYBE and Geffen Records, where trainees from different parts of the world will compete to be part of a project girl group.
Laforteza was revealed to be among the 20 candidates from South Korea, Thailand, US, Japan, Brazil, Switzerland, Australia, Belarus, Argentina, Sweden, and Slovakia on Tuesday, Aug. 29, per Billboard columnist Jeff Benjamin.
HYBE and Geffen Records unveil the 20 global contestants as part of ‘The Debut: @DreamAcademyHQ.’ Ages range 14-21 with more than a dozen countries and nationalities represented
A Netflix docu-series about the project will debut 2024FEATURED STORIESENTERTAINMENT
Expert + fan votes will determine group pic.twitter.com/mW9q84HKJq
— Jeff Benjamin (@Jeff__Benjamin) August 29, 2023
The finalists were selected from a pool of 120,000 auditionees where they will compete for a spot in the global girl group. Details about the unit’s name, concept, and number of members are yet to be disclosed, as of this writing.
According to a Billboard report, the candidates will take part in the K-pop training system and development, in order to secure a spot in the group.
“I have wanted to form an international group based on K-pop methodology for a while,” HYBE chairman Bang Si-hyuk was quoted as saying, per report. “I am very proud of the rich history we have made and the tremendous talent we have found. I am proud of the opportunities we have created within the K-pop universe.”
Meanwhile, Geffen A&M Records CEO John Janick said the competition will feature a “first-of-its kind experience in music.” “Each candidate is incredibly talented, dedicated, and driven, making this an exciting moment for music fans around the world,” he added.
The program will be aired on YouTube and Japanese streaming platform Abema on Sept. 1, while the finale will be released on Nov. 18. Fans can vote for their favorite candidate through Tiktok and community platform Weverse.
A docu-series which revolves around the development of the group will be released on streaming platform Netflix sometime in 2024.
HYBE also released a trailer of the program on their official YouTube channel on the same day, which showed snippets of Laforteza interacting with her fellow finalists.
Since rebranding in 2021, HYBE has become the home of several K-pop groups under its umbrella agencies including BTS, NewJeans, Seventeen, LE SSERAFIM, Tomorrow X Together, and ENHYPEN, among many others.
Who is Sophia Laforteza?
Laforteza is the daughter of actress Carla Guevara and chef Godfrey Laforteza, and both have been vocal in showing support for Sophia on their respective social media platforms.
“Pangarap (Our dream) LETS GO PHILIPPINES!!!! @sophia_laforteza To GOD be the glory,” Guevarra wrote in the caption of her Facebook post.
Meanwhile, Laforteza described herself as “hysterical, caring, and diligent,” on Instagram, while disclosing that her nicknames include “Sophie, Fifi, [and] Sopheezy.”
View this post on Instagram
The trainee was also seen greeting the audience in Filipino at what appeared to be a press conference for the show.
“Hello, my name is Sophia. I’m 20 years old and I’m from the Philippines. Magandang araw, ako po ay si Sophia, mula sa Pilipinas. Mabuhay sa inyong lahat (Good day, I’m Sophia from the Philippines. Good day to all of you),” she said, which was captured by fan account @DreamAcademy_UP on Twitter.
Sophia introduce herself at The Debut : Dream Academy Press conference today! pic.twitter.com/27zzJa8GJs
— Dream Academy Updates (@DreamAcademy_UP) August 29, 2023
Laforteza seems to be active on social media, where she shares glimpses of her everyday life on Instagram, as well as song and dance covers on Tiktok.
View this post on Instagram
@sophialaforteza singing on here again after months 🏼 vanessa’s trick for ya #thelittlemermaid #vanessastrick #singing @halle ♬ original sound – sophia laforteza
This is not the first time Filipinos have been making waves in the K-pop scene.
In July, Gehlee Dangca, Aya Natsumi, and Elisia were announced as contestants in the survival show “Universe Ticket.”
On the other hand, Chantal Videla of Lapillus, Dok2, and Belle of Cignature are currently active in the industry. Kriesha Chu also debuted as a singer in South Korea in May 2018, although she has yet to release new music, as of this writing. EDV
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