Alden Richards: A Star is Born

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Alden Richards doesn’t like wasting time—his or anyone’s. Although he arrived late for his cover shoot, he was quick to apologize about it. He then said his pleasantries to everyone, before walking straight to the makeup chair to be groomed. Once the shoot began, he was in work mode. The reason for him being a bit behind schedule was because he had to attend a flag ceremony in his hometown and at the same time be given an award. “It was a recognition as one of the icons for arts in Sta. Rosa, Laguna,” explains Alden when asked what the award was all about. This has been Alden’s life for the past few months—hectic but it has its rewards.

It wasn’t always happy and sunny for Alden, though. A native of Sta. Rosa, Laguna, he worked his way up to where he is right now. He had been rejected from one audition to another and was close to giving up his dream of becoming an actor. What drove him to keep moving forward was the promise to his late mother that someday he will be on TV. Clearly, he kept his word. Having been in several soaps on GMA like Alakdana, Tween Hearts, My Beloved, One True Love, Indio, and Carmela, Alden steadily kept his stride toward what is now a phenomenon on Philippine TV.

“No one thought that it will be this big. This wasn’t planned. No one knew na ganito ang mangyayari sa KalyeSerye, which is a good thing because sometimes the unexpected things are the ones that work.”

It started when Alden joined the Philippines’ longest running noon time show, Eat Bulaga! “I didn’t have a regular thing going on, so before I left for the US for a concert around May of this year, GMA Artist Center asked if they could get me as one of Eat Bulaga!’s guest hosts for a month before I left the country. Natuwa sila siguro sa performance ko because pagbalik ko from the States, they got me again to co-host, until they finally made me a regular Dabarkads,” explains Alden. But things changed drastically with Alden’s career when an amusing and funny girl by the name of Maine Mendoza a.k.a. Yaya Dub joined the show, that’s when KalyeSerye was born. Coined by Eat Bulaga! host Joey de Leon, KalyeSerye is a 30-minute improvisational piece within the show’s segment called “Juan For All, All For Juan.” AlDub—the portmanteau of Alden and Yaya Dub’s names—lead it, as well as Yaya Dub’s superior Lola Nidora, portrayed by comedian Wally Bayola. “No one thought that it will be this big. This wasn’t planned. No one knew na ganito ang mangyayari sa KalyeSerye, which is a good thing because sometimes the unexpected things are the ones that work,” says Alden.

KalyeSerye is very relatable, especially Maine’s character, Yaya Dub because she’s a free-spirited and happy person. She loves to make faces; she really does it naturally, hindi trying hard.”

Alden and Maine have an inexplicable chemistry on screen—it’s raw and it’s genuine. According to Alden, KalyeSerye has a plot but no script, so they work around what is given to them each day. “The kilig is very authentic. Maine and I don’t see each other, we don’t text, and we don’t communicate in real life to retain the mystery of the tandem. The only way that we communicate is through the split screen, through the Dubsmashes that we do, as well as the fan signs,” explains Alden.  “KalyeSerye is very relatable, especially Maine’s character, Yaya Dub because she’s a free-spirited and happy person. She loves to make faces; she really does it naturally, hindi trying hard,” Alden adds that KalyeSerye is the viewer’s break from all the stress of bad traffic, confusing politics, and daily mundane life, and that people find it amusing and relaxing when they watch the segment. “It’s their time to laugh and let go of the problems that they have, just for that moment.” Acting has always been a huge part of Alden’s life, but he admits that he still has a lot to learn. A bit of a perfectionist, he acknowledges getting disappointed with himself whenever he thinks that he didn’t give his all in a particular scene, but he has learned that once he’s relaxed and he doesn’t over think things, he just surprises himself on the what he can do. His motto: Never stop learning because you’re only in competition with yourself. “I do the things that I do, not to be better than someone else; I do things for myself and for the people who matter because they give me such inspiration and motivation. I really don’t like competing with anyone, that’s what I don’t encourage in my daily life because that will get you nowhere. It’s better to just constantly work on improving yourself,” admits Alden. Since he now reports to GMA for Eat Bulaga! from Mondays to Saturday and for Sunday Pinasaya, his routine starts at the break of dawn. Alden wakes up at 5am, says a quick prayer, and then heads straight to the bathroom to take a shower. “I avoid checking my social media accounts. Wala munang phone,” admits Alden. He proceeds to the gym at around 7:30am and works out for two hours—just enough time for him to get ready for the noontime show. “If I don’t have any commitments after, I go straight home. I spend time with my family and my dogs. I love my dogs,” he shares.

“I do the things that I do, not to be better than someone else; I do things for myself and for the people who matter because they give me such inspiration and motivation.”

With his hectic schedule, Alden makes sure he spends time with his family. “Our favorite activity is to go to Christian worship every Sunday. Sometimes we go on trips to Quezon or Baguio or wherever they haven’t been,” he says. He owes his overwhelming success to his late mom, who dreamt of this for him until she passed, as well as his supporters. “Ang artista, ang buhay niyan mga fans. Naniniwala ako na kung walang fans, walang artista. No words can really express how grateful I am to the supporters who believe in me and what I can offer. I love to inspiring them and giving them joy. They’re the ones who keep me going whenever I feel tired. It’s a really big deal for me whenever they tweet or post good things on social media, or when they make certain hashtags trend.” Speaking of hashtags, the #AldubMostAwaitedDate on Twitter gathered over 12 million tweets, making it the most number of tweets in the Philippines within 24hours. Meanwhile the new McDonald’s TV commercial featuring AlDub reached more than 1.6 million tweets on the day it premiered.

“I’m looking forward to more blessings to come my way, but at the moment, I am very content. This is more than I asked and prayed for.”

No one knows how long people will keep supporting KalyeSerye and the AlDub tandem, but one thing is for sure, they’ve launched great things for Alden. Aside from getting one endorsement after another, he’ll be dropping an album next month under GMA Records. “I’m a very family-oriented guy; I just want to see my family healthy, and my grandparents to live longer. I would also like to see my supporters continuously be as engaged as they are now. I hope they will never change,” says Alden of his present situation. “I’m looking forward to more blessings to come my way, but at the moment, I am very content. This is more than I asked and prayed for.”

Photographed by Advan Ramirez
Styled by Leo Marvin Balante
Grooming by Juan Sarte III
Published in Style Weekend, September 2015

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