[EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW] Shaina Magdayao is a Tokyo International Film Festival Darling

TOKYO – Shaina Magdayao dazzled in her red Michael Leyva gown when she walked the red carpet at the opening of the 31st Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF) in Roponggi Hills recently. The 28-year-old Kapamilya star was the sole representative of Lav Diaz’s four-hour monochrome rock opera “Ang Panahon ng Halimaw (Season of the Devil).” She became an instant darling of the Japanese and foreign press when she warmly accommodated their photo and interview requests.

Diaz’s masterpiece was one of the Southeast Asian music-themed films featured at the Crosscut Asia section of the A-list festival. Shaina portrays the role of Lorena Haniway, a fearless young doctor who opens a clinic for the poor but later disappears without a trace during the time of Martial Law.

A Tribute to OFWs

After a well-attended screening of the film at Toho Cinemas on Oct. 30, the beautiful and talented actress participated in a Q&A session where she said she’s dedicating her role in the film to the unsung Filipino women and unsung heroes of the Philippines.

“I especially dedicate this to the Overseas Filipino Workers who have contributed a lot to the economy through their sacrifices and their love for their families,” she stated.

She told Filipino-Japanese Journal in an exclusive interview that it was a challenge for a non-singer like her to be a part of the film.

“Isang malaking challenge, but it was such a beautiful challenge. Kahit ako hindi ko alam kung paano ako pinagkatiwalaan ni Direk Lav, so it was a very overwhelming experience for me,” she began.

“I just trusted my director, and it was all worth it. I’m a fan of his works and the genius that he is,” she went on.

She added that representing the work of Diaz in TIFF was such a humbling experience.

“Napakalaking karangalan para sa akin ang dumalo sa TIFF dahil ako ang naging representative ng aming pelikula. Ako lang yung naglakad, ako lang yung in-interview, ako lang yung nasa Q&A. Medyo mabigat na responsibilidad but at the same, it’s a very humbling experience that they all trusted me to go here to represent the film. Nakakataba ng puso. Hopefully this won’t be my last.”

For Shaina, the whole TIFF experience is one of the most remarkable highlights of her career. She started her acting career at age six when she became the lead star of the TV drama series “Lyra.”

“It was unforgettable dahil pangalawang international film festival ko pa lang ito but at the same time, I also felt kind of overwhelmed dahil ako lang mag-isa,” she said.

“Sobrang maayos ang mga Hapon – organized, friendly and warm. I also met some foreign press na masaya to hear someone speak fluent English. Siguro kasi nagkakaroon ng language barrier kaya they were very happy to interview me,” she narrated.

She also thanked the Filipinos who came to see the film and showed support.

“It was also nice to see the Pinoys na pumunta rito to cover the film festival although nanghihingayang ako na hindi ko malapitan yung mga nasa malayo na area dahil pa-square lang yung red carpet. Pinaparating ko yung pasasalamat ko sa kanila dahil kahit nasa malayong pwesto sila, pumunta sila rito para magbigay ng suporta.”

Things to Come

Shaina’s showbiz journey is not devoid of issues and controversies. But being in the business for years, the beguiling actress has managed to shrug off negativity. Maybe it comes with maturity, or the ability to decipher the ropes of the showbiz game. In the Q&A session, she was a picture of pure talent and intelligence – masterfully conveying her thoughts about the film.

In showbiz, luck, hard work and talent must mix together in order to stay longer and Shaina is one of those blessed with all three.

“Projects are getting bigger and better and I’m always looking forward to exciting surprises. But I’m also thankful that even if I started young, work has been non-stop and that I’m still here, doing what I love,” she enthused.

After “Halimaw,” Shaina is set to do another film with Diaz and other exciting projects that are still under wraps.

Her other notable TV projects include “Kambal sa Uma,” “Alyna,” “Kung Ako’y Iiwan Mo,” “Juan Dela Cruz,” “Nathaniel,” “The Story of Us” and “The Better Half.” She also did quality films such as “Dukot,” “My CandiDate,” “Pagpag: Siyam na Buhay,” “Four Sisters and a Wedding,” “On The Job,” “Ang Tanging Ina Mo (Last na ‘To!),” “Shake, Rattle & Roll 12,” “Sa’yo Lamang” and “Tanging Yaman.” - (Florenda Corpuz, Nel Salvador)

(Photographs by Din Eugenio)