Over the years, there have been a lot of strong and stunning women who transformed into the heroic Darna. And now, it's 23-year-old Jane de Leon's turn to save the world and inspire young and old viewers to be courageous in face of adversaries.
As the much-awaited Mars Ravelo's Darna television series is finally flying to screens today, Aug. 15, let's have a throwback moment and see how exactly de Leon landed the much coveted role.
Getting the role
ABS-CBN first revealed in 2019 that they have found the face for the iconic superheroine in de Leon. The network released the video of the announcement in July of that year, which showed de Leon shocked as she received the biggest news in her career.
In the video, de Leon was questioned by network executives on just how committed she was in taking on the role, to which she replied without a moment of doubt: "100 percent po talaga. I can surrender all for her, for that character. 'Yung desire pati 'yung heart ko po talaga nandoon po talaga kay Darna."
The young actress was told that out of more than 200 candidates who auditioned, she was among the seven women who were shortlisted to become the next Darna. When ABS-CBN managing director Olivia Lamasan finally asked her if she was ready to accept the role, she was at a loss for words.
"Today is the beginning of the rest of your life," ABS-CBN chief content officer Charo Santos-Concio said to her.
De Leon took to Instagram to share how thankful she is for the opportinity give to her, "MARAMING MARAMING SALAMAT PO SA TIWALA! Pangako po na pagtratrabahuhan ko po ito at ibibigay ko ang lahat."
Once de Leon was finally unveiled as the new Darna, former Star Magic chairman and director Johnny Manahan shared that he made the young actress go to the auditions because he believed in her talent.
"When I found out about the auditions, I made sure she went. And now, we couldn't be any prouder that the next actress to breathe life into this iconic heroine is coming from our fold," said Manahan, who is known for boosting the careers of some of the country's biggest stars.
He continued, "Her quiet confidence and mastery in her performances have always led me to believe that she will go a long way. I'm happy that she will now be able to showcase her skills through a wider audience through Darna."
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While landing the role in a tense competition is indeed a huge achievement for de Leon, it was only the tip of the iceberg as the young actress still had to prepare for the role through vigorous training and exhausting workout sessions.
In one of her workout videos, she could be seen building up her muscles through weighlifting and barbell squats.
"I know it’s not perfect but I’m so excited with the progress," she captioned.
Another video showed her doing a hyperextention exercise, which would help build strength, enhance mobility, and improve muscles at the back of the body.
Of course, the rising actress will not be able to reach the path to success without mentors to guide her.
Luckily, de Leon has received some tips on how to become Darna from none other than her predecessor, Angel Locsin, who also played the Filipino superheroine in 2005.
In an interview with the media in May this year, de Leon shared that Locsin's version as Darna was the one that stood out for her and said that the 37-year-old actress even gave her advice on how to prepare for the role.
"May mga binigay naman siya sa ’king mga tips, siyempre kailangan ko talagang maging handa physically and ready dapat ako anytime. Sabi niya sa ’kin kapag pagod ako, sabihin ko lang daw talaga na I need to take a rest," she said.
Aside from de Leon, the 2022 Darna series also stars Joshua Garcia as her love interest Brian, Zaijian Jaranilla as her brother and loyal sidekick Ding, Janella Salvador as the villainous serpentine nemesis Valentina, and Iza Calzado as her mother and the original Darna.