SPOTLIGHT: An inside look at actor-singer Mikoy Morales

For the past few years of trying out different forms of acting, every part is added to my perspective. It’s one big craft, and it adjusts to its medium. For me, acting should be expressed in all forms you can. — Mikoy Morales

He might be one of those new faces we’re just starting to recognize in the industry today, but actor and singer Mikoy Morales already has several pivotal experiences under his belt, including a Golden Screen TV Award nomination for Outstanding Breakthrough Actor in Teen Gen; a mentorship from pop icon Jolina Magdangal in Protégé back in 2012; and, the opportunity to be with the Superstar herself, Ms. Nora Aunor for Joel Lamangan’s Hustisya in 2014.

Mikoy Morales, also known as Marco to his friends, started gracing the stage way back in 2011 in his first role for a minor stage production in the University of Santo Tomas called Kleptospirosis. Months later, he once again starred in a major musical school production of Miss Saigon where he played the lead role of Chris, the American G.I. who fell in love with Vietnamese maiden Kim (a role originated by Lea Salonga on the West End Production). His sensitive acting chops and promising vocals showed everyone an artist whose versatility in the performing arts is something that is simply hard to set aside.

“Miss Saigon is my very first acting stint”, he says. “Since music is my forte, it added to my confidence kahit paano dahil musical siya.”

Getting the exposure of acting on stage was the driving force he needed to pursue this path professionally. “Acting in UST was just the tip of the iceberg” he says, “but it was also the bridge para magkaroon ako ng chance to pursue it professionally and to enter the industry talaga.”

In 2012, he tried his luck in auditioning for GMA’s Protégé: The Battle for the Big Artista Break where he was able to secure a place under Jolina Magdangal’s team. He soared high to the top, and was able to finish as the season’s runner-up. That was the beginning of everything for Mikoy. After his Protégé days, numerous acting opportunities came aboard, including his television roles in Teen Gen, Pepito Manaloto, Bubble Gang, D’Originals to name a few, and stage roles in Kung Paano Ako Naging Leading Lady the Musical and Virgin Labfest 2016. In 2014, he landed his first film role in Hustisya opposite Nora Aunor, which premiered in the 10th Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival, and was selected as one of the Contemporary World Cinema features in the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival. Despite being a neophyte in his craft, rarely do actors, both seasoned and newcomers, would ever have the privilege to say that they have been with the Philippine cinema’s Superstar. When asked about how was it being with Nora Aunor on film, he says “Totoong tao siya! Kaya siguro ganun siya ka-galing, dahil ganun siya ka-totoo.”

Mikoy has continuously paved his way through project after project, proving to everyone that he is a star to look out for. It is in 2017 when he perhaps landed his most challenging role yet as he plays Mark in Adolf Alix Jr.’s 4 Days opposite Sebastian Castro. This may not be Mikoy’s first gay role, but the level of intimacy, sincerity and rawness that the film requires of him is something that is definitely a milestone in his career. “I got carried away easily sa scenes dahil walang script” he says, “kung anong lumabas, yun lang ginagawa namin, and because of that, it was more honest.”

“I’ve said this over and over again: I love playing gay roles”, Mikoy reiterates. “It’s my way of challenging the society to not label people. Gender equality is one of my biggest advocacies. ”

He also mentioned that he aligned a lot of his own personal characteristics to Mark, as he wanted his performance to be as true as possible. “Kailangan mo lang talaga buksan isip mo eh. Binuksan ko lang isip ko. I acknowledged my tendencies. I wanted everything to come from a place of truth. It felt real for me, and ‘yun ang proof na love is universal.”

“Puro slices of life ‘to”, Mikoy says when asked what to expect in 4 Days. “Yun yung gustong mangyari ni direk Adolf dito, for you to experience the perspectives of the characters. It’s a very, very patient movie. You’ll find out later kung bakit. It’s very real. It’s to show the human side of a relationship. I hope you guys enjoy it, kasi sobrang nag-enjoy kaming gawin ‘to. Love wins.”

Both critics and fans alike have yet to see what’s in store for Mikoy in the next couple of years, but what we have witnessed in the last 5 years is a promising artist who exudes passion and potential to be a seasoned performer of his generation in the showbiz industry. “Most of my epic moments in acting hasn’t really happened on screen. They are all backstage. Doon nangyayari ang discovery and explorations, which goes to show na parang kulang pa ang opportunities na nakukuha ko. Kaya gutom na gutom parin ako dahil alam kong hindi ko pa naipapakita lahat. Ilang percent palang ‘yun ng kaya kong gawin talaga.”

An Ayala Malls Cinemas’ exclusive, ‘4 Days’ will open on October 18, 2017 in Greenbelt 1 and Trinoma Cinemas.

College girl dies every day in slasher film ‘Happy Death Day’

She made waves despite a brief but memorable supporting role opposite Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling in the Oscar-winning La La Land. Now, star-on-the-rise Jessica Rothe lands the lead role in Universal Pictures’ new suspense-thriller Happy Death Day (in Philippine cinemas Oct. 18).

In the film, Rothe plays a college student named Tree Gelbman who relives the day of her murder with both its unexceptional details and terrifying end until she discovers her killer’s identity.

When Tree is woken up by her cell phone ringing at the beginning of the story, the audience quickly discovers that it is her birthday. She is not thrilled about it being her special day, and is dodging her father’s phone calls…for reasons that will soon allow for character sympathy. It quickly becomes clear that she is not a nice person—and one that has many enemies that might be interested in her vanishing.

Director Christopher Landon sets up her personality: “Tree is initially your stereotypical sorority girl. The world that she exists in is all about appearances: She is focused on her looks, her body and her Instagram.” He pauses. “Still, you get a sense that deep down that is not who she truly is.”

For Landon, it was a no brainer to turn to Rothe for the role of Tree, a character who is in virtually every scene of the film. The director explains: “Jessica is unbelievable because she had to run the gamut. She had to be the uptight bitch, but then she had to be this vulnerable girl trying to figure out her life. On top of that, she needed to be terrified while being hunted down by an unknown killer…and then she had to be empowered and fight back. Her range is incredible.”

Rothe was immediately hooked with the story’s ability to capture her imagination and allow her to experience and present such a range of emotions. “I love when I read scripts that truly pop off the page, capture your emotions and allow you to invest in the lives of the characters. This was one of those scripts for me. The amazing balance of humor, horror, action and heart is something you just do not find often.”

The performer reflects on the exact moment she was positive she had to play Tree: “I knew I had to do this film was when I read the ‘Tree dies six ways while looking for her killer and living her life like a badass set to upbeat pop music’ montage,” she laughs. “This montage is everything that is brilliant about the film. We watch Tree become an active participant in her life instead of a victim, but it is fun—at moments scary—and doesn’t take itself too seriously. Tree is a true modern-day scream queen, and her transformation from bitchy victim to badass heroine is one you do not get to see often. I knew that I had to play her, get in her skin, move around and take her out for a spin.”

“Our film is unique in the sense that the moments of heart-pounding suspense are sandwiched with humor, everything from biting wit to fart jokes,” concludes Rothe. “I have always found that the most effective films are those that utilize the juxtaposition of contrasting emotions to heighten each other.”

Happy Death Day is distributed in the Philippines by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures.