While it’s clear that Jane De Leon diligently worked hard to bag the coveted “Darna” role, we can say destiny also played a part in her journey.
And, if anything, it was something she manifested for herself by fangirl-ing over Angel Locsin in grade school, “Meron kasi doon sa palengke sa amin sa Laguna na nagbebenta ng Darna logo, so bumibili ako doon tapos susuotin ko siya. Tapos, pupunta ako sa kaklase ko, sisigaw ako sa gitna ng ‘Darna!’”
Jane, also known as Maggie in the hit primetime series Halik, almost did not audition for Mars Ravelo’s Darna, thinking she will never stand a chance versus hundreds of aspirants that’s a mix of newcomers and known actresses. “Sino ba naman ako?” asked she, who thought a minor role in Halik wasn’t enough of an experience.
We have Jane’s manager to thank for convincing her to audition – at the last minute. She went to the venue and was told to audition for a villain character. Later on, she’d be told it was really for Darna/Narda’s character.
As in typical auditions, a series of callbacks came, with months of interval between. The waiting was getting painful she almost gave up. In one of the go-sees, the auditionees were told to wear sports outfit but she came in high heels. Then, they were given a three-page script on the spot. In the next invite, Jane was shocked to see the panel composed of her ABS-CBN bosses. She had no clue that she was getting so close to the role.
From there, things started to move fast, Jane was blown away. She was prompted to attend a formal showbiz gathering graced by big celebrities. Much to her surprise, she was assigned to a table shared with the ABS-CBN executives. She saw the sign that night, in a living form that is Iza Calzado, who expressed excitement to work with her soon. Jane had no clue what Iza meant, but she had inkling that something was going on. It turned out Iza already knew about her role as Leonor and she knew Jane was the chosen one for Darna.
A few days later, she was called for a meeting with the Kapamilya bosses. What Jane thought was another round of audition turned out to be the announcement of the new Darna, which is no other than her. Actual footage was uploaded on YouTube, and there, we see a dumbfounded 20-year-old who bested 200 plus other hopefuls.
Jane’s life immediately took a turn. She started training, and what better way there is to hone her action skills than work closely with Primetime King Coco Martin in the longest-running action-drama series FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano. On the set of the beloved teleserye, she met some of the country’s seasoned actors. She also got along well with Coco, whom she asked about veteran filmmaker Chito Roño, her director in “Darna”.
In Coco’s words, the master director is a “terror” and “ayaw niya sa tatanga-tanga.” Jane got nervous hearing Coco’s description, and she carried that fear on her first day on set. But, eventually, she grew more comfortable with Direk Chito. She’s not afraid to exchange punchlines and comments about their scenes.
Jane’s organic charm arguably played a part in breaking the ice between her and Direk Chito. And we’re no surprised she’s friends with her co-stars, too, including veteran star Rio Locsin, who also played Darna in 1979, and is now portraying her grandmother in their upcoming series. She said the actress gives her encouraging words and tells her to embrace the role she’s given because it’s a once-in-a lifetime opportunity.
Jane also found her second mom in Iza, portraying Leonor in the series. She described her as caring, very open, and generous, and she makes the best “laing.” Jane added that Iza would sometimes supervise in her solo scenes to show support.
Zaijian Jaranilla, playing her brother and sidekick Ding in the series, makes her feel how fun being an “ate” is. Jane, who’s also close with her ‘kuya’ in real life, has found the ‘bunso’ to care for and share “asaran” moments with.
She was asked next about her leading man Joshua Garcia, playing Brian, a cop and Narda’s childhood friend. Jane admitted there was awkwardness in the beginning, although Joshua is a real professional. They are both introverts and have probably assumed each other as snobs. How did they break the ice between them? Thanks to Eric Fructuoso’s ‘bulol’ moments in a scene that sent them into laughter.
Jane had a similar start with Janella Salvador, playing Valentina/Regina. From awkward strangers to sisters, the two loves to bond by watching movies and pigging out together.
Besides the characters in the series, fans also look forward to Jane’s costume as Darna, which she said would be a more modern version. Add to that the iconic Darna shout, done by Jane herself. She said her family helps her practice the shout at home. In terms of the story, the core of Mars Ravelo’s original piece will remain which is anchored on heroism, family values, and love. She said viewers would relate to the story as her character, Darna’s human alter-ego Narda’s selflessness and family background resonated with her.
This new version of Darna also pays tribute to the heroism of ordinary Filipinos such as medical frontliners. In that vein, the series launched a mural artwork themed “Ikaw, Ako, Tayong Lahat si Darna” showing Darna in her iconic costume, alongside everyday Filipinos such as policeman, soldier, teacher, and jeepney driver.
Catch the pilot episode of Mars Ravelo’s Darna, August 15, at 8PM, on Kapamilya Channel, Kapamilya Online Live, and A2Z.