Would you believe that Zaijian Jaranilla has been an actor for more than a decade already?
20-year old actor Zaijian has been in the industry since he was five years old. He began his journey as a child actor in commercial stints and minor roles on TV. In no time, his budding skills got the attention it deserved.
One of his early projects on TV was as a young Tony in the 2008 installment of Komiks Presents: Tiny Tony. He was an adorable little version of John Prats, who played the adult Tony.
2009 was a big year for young Zaijian, as he was part of May Bukas Pa. The teleserye aired and eventually became a top-rated show. It featured a warm inspiring story and a powerhouse cast, but Zaijian’s iconic portrayal of the main character Santino definitely played a part in its success. To this day, Zaijian is recognized as Santino, the prayerful boy that would always call on to ‘Bro’ (Jesus) for help.
After the series ran for a year, Zaijian began exploring the acting industry. In the fantasy drama Agua Bendita, he voiced young Agua’s (Xyriel Manabat) fish friend, Otep. While in the adventure series Noah, he played the monkey-like little boy, Jacob/Eli.
Zaijian got into more serious acting the following years. In Ikaw ay Pag-ibig, he played one of the kindhearted kids alongside fellow child actors Mutya Orquia, Louise Abuel, and Xyriel Manabat. He also took on the titular role in the touching drama Lorenzo’s Time, where he played an interesting character who had not aged after 30 years.
The young actor also took on minor but notable roles on Coco Martin’s series Juan dela Cruz and Ikaw Lamang as well as the KimXi (Kim Chiu and Xian Lim) romantic series The Story of Us. He later got a main cast role in the family drama Hawak Kamay starring Piolo Pascual.
Zaijian experienced being a part of the historic action series FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano too when he was offered the guest role of Cocoy Amaba.
Aside from playing parts on the ABS-CBN anthology series Ipaglaban Mo and Wansapanataym, a huge part of his television career can be attributed to bringing characters to life in Maalaala Mo Kaya. Zaijian’s numerous roles in these dramatized true stories definitely trained him in his craft; some even led to major recognition and awards.
In the MMK episode entitled “Orasan,” he portrayed Ja, a students who would work as a kasambahay in order to support his studies. The way he carried such an inspiring character got him the “Pinaka-magiting na Personalidad ng Drama Anthology” award in the “7th BPSU Kagitingan Awards.”
His MMK episode “Wheelchair,” where he starred with Enchong Dee, also allowed his talent to shine. Playing the brother with cerebral palsy, Zaijian played it with sensitivity towards the character, the disease, and the challenges their families experience. FOr this, Zaijian was hailed as “Best Actor in a Single Drama Performance” in the 9th EdukCircle Awards.
As Zaijian matured as a teen, his roles became more complex. In 2018, he was cast in Bagani ,which featured the prominent pairing of Liza Soberano and Enrique Gil. Here, he played Liksi, a slave who wants to become one of the Bagani warriors.
In 2020, he was offered to play actress Jodi Sta. Maria’s son Jacob on the heated drama Ang Sa Iyo Ay Akin. While his time on the project wasn’t long, his performance astounded viewers, making them want to see more of Zaijian on screen.
Come 2021, the prime role of Gio Ilustre on The Broken Marriage Vow, the Philippine adaptation of BBC’s “Doctor Foster,” was given to Zaijian. Again, he was playing as Jodi’s son, but his character had to exude more gripping emotions. In this story, Gio mother Jill (Jodi) confirms her husband David (Zanjoe Marudo) is cheating. Because of this, Gio is caught between his parents’ marital problems.
If you can’t wait to see more of Zaijian’s acting prowess, you’re in luck. This August15, the ABS-CBN adaptation of Mars Ravelo’s Darna will premiere featuring Jane de Leon as Narda/Darna and Zaijian as her brother and sidekick, Ding.
Get to know a new version of Ding from Zaijian by catching the much-awaited episodes of Mars Ravelo’s Darna, airing on August 15 on Kapamilya Channel, Kapamilya Online Live, A2Z, TV5, and iWantTFC!