Nicco Manalo: Modern Day Thespian

I’m really a shy person,” Nicco jokingly says when asked what people might not know about him. Nicco Manalo is one of those actors that can deceive audiences into thinking he’s playing himself instead of a character. “If there’s something that people should understand, it’s not the real me who they see in movies and theaters. I make sure that I create that character that I portray. I make sure that I make him alive in me,” he further explains.

It’s inevitable to mention that he is the son of Jose Manalo, a famous comedian who’s already a household name, especially during midday, but given the case, don’t expect Nicco to provide you with punch lines. Finding out that he can act was an unexpected realization on his part. In second year high school, he had a role in a play wherein he portrayed a kid that would take everyone back to the Martial Law era. “I remember coming up on stage and just hearing the whole gymnasium cheer—that’s when I realized that I could be good at this. I didn’t expect that feeling of wanting something so bad. I know that I tend to be shy, but I find my voice when I’m acting,” admits Nicco. He finished Technical Theater at College of Saint Benilde, but during his stay at the university, he didn’t do much of the technical side. When asked what it is about theater that he really loves, he reveals that it starts with the people and the inherent in the production. “I like the structure and discipline that they have in theater. There’s this thing called the “Theater Bug”—once bitten, you’ll get addicted to the entire thing. You would want to be part of a theater production again and again,” admits Nicco.

“If there’s something that people should understand, it’s not the real me who they see in movies and theaters. I make sure that I create that character that I portray. I make sure that I make him alive in me.”

For someone who already has a good grasp of acting, compared to the luxury of long hours in theater, Nicco finds shooting a movie more challenging because there’s more at stake. But still, he makes sure that he prepares for every role given to him. “I’ll read the entire script first, then I’ll make my diligent research on what I need to do in order to portray a certain character effectively. I also ask the director what his objective is on doing the movie and how he would like to see my character,” shares Nicco. Having done a number of independent movies, it was portraying a tortured tricycle driver in last year’s Cinemalaya entry, The Janitor, that bagged him two Best Supporting Actor awards—one from Cinemalaya and another from Star Awards. “One important thing that I learned when I received an award is that it doesn’t mean that you’re all that, it just so happens that you were doing something right with the character you were portraying and you got noticed—you stood out within the story. When I won those awards, I was just so grateful that people finally knew that I exist in the industry.”

“I want to star in a full-on romance movie, playing the lead and in a story that will revolve around me and my love interest. I wonder who will ever risk producing that?”

He believes that an actor should be a good storyteller and when it stops being about telling the audience a story, the character that you’re playing won’t be as effective. When asked regarding his dream role, he laughed and said that he just wants to be handsome in a movie. “I want to star in a full-on romance movie, playing the lead and in a story that will revolve around me and my love interest. I wonder who will ever risk producing that?” wonders Nicco. Whether that dream happens soon or in the coming years, we will surely see a lot of Nicco, be it on the theater stage or on the big screen.

Photographed by Potchie Lazaro
Styled RJ Gorospe
Hair and Makeup Chiqui Dingcong
Published in STATUS Magazine, May 2015

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