!holaMJ Marfori – The Philippine Star

October 23, 2021 | 12:00am

Fortune favors the bold and hardworking! That is clearly the case of our kababayan Leo Consul, who is a lead star in Indonesia’s No. 1 soap opera, Terpaksa Menikahi (Forced Marriage).

His latest series comes after the huge success of his previous TV primetime drama project Love Story that aired in mid-2020. His series right now has bested 20 other soaps.

Leo is now a household name in Indonesia. We spoke with the actor during his dinner break in between the filming of his soap, which airs for two and a half hours every day. Yes, that’s Monday to Sunday primetime.

“It’s very hard. What we shoot in the morning is what comes out at night! Iba-iba pa eksena minsan kaya very challenging, galing ka sa iba’t-ibang emotions,” said he.

If you’re wondering where Leo gets his motivation, well, he opened up about how tough life was for him. “Basurero po ako sa Bolinao back in the day,” shared he. “Nag-start ako as taga-linis ng bus. Mind you, my first burger hindi galing sa restaurant, galing yon sa basura.”

Leo mustered through college as the breadwinner of the family. He then flew to Jakarta to be an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW). “I was initially a Math and English teacher but it wasn’t for me,” said he.

It was in 2013 when he had his lucky break as a segment host in Eat, Bulaga Indonesia, where he practiced his Bahasa skills. He is now fluent in speaking the language.

“Lagi ako magiging segmented kapag hindi ako marunong mag-Bahasa,” said Leo. “Yung mga role na ibibigay sakin, ito lang so I forced myself in everyday conversations. I didn’t take lessons. Kakausapin ko lang mga co-hosts ko.”

Leo plans to come home to the Philippines after his ongoing teleserye to try his luck in our local showbiz.

Meanwhile, another Filipino is making waves as he says: “Keep pushing our stories.” That is what Fil-Am Hollywood actor, voice actor, producer and now director Dante Basco is telling the Philippine entertainment industry as we got to chat with him earlier this week.

It was late at night where he was in the East Coast of the United States, but Dante was as enthusiastic as ever in chatting with us about his projects that would benefit the Philippine scene as well.

With Dante’s 35-year career in Hollywood having memorable roles such as Prince Zuko in Nickelodeon’s Aang: The Last Airbender; Jake Long in American Dragon; and Rufio in Hook, he surely knows what he’s talking about.

“In the long time that I’ve been here, it’s just now that I can really see and feel the demand,” said he.

Dante paved the way for some of our amazing actors such as Jericho Rosales, Rhian Ramos and Solenn Heussaff to have a bite of the international scene, casting them in his international projects such as Subject: I Love You, Empty By Design and now The Fabulous Filipino Brothers.  “I continuously want to bridge the gap from Hollywood to Manila and expose the local talents we have,” said Dante.

In fact, prior to the pandemic, he started working with Cignal Entertainment by partnering for the production and release of Empty By Design and The Fabulous Filipino Brothers, which is a fresh take on the romantic-comedy genre. It is told in four unique vignettes: Four Fil-Am brothers deal with love won and lost in the weeks leading up to a Filipino wedding and showcase an intimate side of our culture.

“I didn’t make a film to try to set the ultimate Filipino American story. I just wanted to tell this beautiful family story which just happens to be (about) Filipinos,” he said.

For Dante, that is what we have to continue doing. He believes that if Shang-Chi and the Legend of the 10 Rings, Squid Games and Crazy Rich Asians could make it, so can we.

It is ironic that when the world closed down, the influx of stories from outside of the world became more in-demand than ever.

“Totally, we are definitely living in a crazy time MJ, in a new world. It’s weird that when we’re stuck at home, it’s now that we reach out to connect to others,” said he.

The Fabulous Filipino Brothers has been doing the rounds in film festivals in the US. It is also finally showing on Cignal pay-per-view and KTX.ph until Nov. 15.

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