There are moments in life when defeat becomes just a stepping stone to a series of more victories. Such was the case of Tony Labrusca. Despite not winning in the talent show Pinoy Boyband Superstar in 2016, Tony still found his place in showbiz, thanks to his talent and good looks.
His first major break was via fantasy series La Luna Sangre. It was then followed by a slew of remarkable television roles and appearances in critically-acclaimed movies.
Now tagged as one of the entertainment industry’s heartthrobs, Tony said he is grateful for the positive comments not just about his acting abilities but on his physical attributes as well. Yet, Tony underscored that being a heartthrob isn’t just about sporting an undeniable appeal. “They’re like a role model. A heartthrob doesn’t necessarily have to have a perfect body or be a perfect guy.”
Tony is currently making waves in the online world for his role in the freshest Filipino BL (Boy Love) series “Hello Stranger.” The actor had second thoughts accepting the offer to portray as Xavier, saying he wasn’t sure if starring in an unconventional series would create a good impact on his ‘controversial’ career. Then, he was struck with how the BL genre suddenly took the online world by storm because of the Thai drama “2gether: The Series.” Tony added that he was also impressed with the production team Black Sheep’s collaborative effort and persistence.
Tony headlines “Hello Stranger” alongside JC Alcantara who is popularly known as Bogs in the hit primetime program Halik. Just like Tony, JC was also scared to accept the project at first, knowing that ‘gay’ stories are not yet widely accepted in the Philippines. Then, he thought of his lesbian aunt and friends from the LGBTQIA community who are hiding behind their fears and insecurities. JC thought they needed to be represented well in order to make them feel accepted. “Sana maging boses nila ako na sana maging okay na lahat at makatanggap sila ng pagmamahal mula sa atin.”
The story of “Hello Stranger” is told via online conversations among the characters. The scenes were shot by the actors themselves in their own homes. It was challenging for the most part. Typical shoot-from-home problems like noise and unstable signal connection were encountered. Tony added that it felt strange to be working in his own living space.
All the challenges were worth it as “Hello Stranger” becomes a record-breaking Pinoy BL series. Its pilot episode on June 24 garnered half a million views in just less than 24 hours. It also penetrated local and worldwide trending spots in social media. Tony and JC feel blessed to be part of a platform that represents the LGBTQIA community and promotes equality and acceptance.
Even foreign viewers are charmed by Xavier (Tony Labrusca) and Mico (JC Alacantara)’s chemistry. When asked about the possibility of falling in love with each other’s characters, Tony and JC shared the same opinion. They both agreed that falling for a fellow guy isn’t entirely impossible and it might be something that can happen without a warning. JC explained, “Si Mico dito, straight siya pero hindi niya inakala na mai-in love siya kay Xavier. Hindi rin natin alam ‘yung universe o ‘yung tadhana kasi hindi mo mapipigilan ‘yung feelings lalo na kapag napalapit ka sa kanya, so bahala na ‘yung tadhana.”
Thus it is important, as Tony said, to draw the line. “As an actor kapag sobrang invested ka sa role minsan you lose sense of yourself. Ang importante, if you don’t want to lose your sense of self, you need to go back to your core so that you can separate your character from your self kasi that’s very possible if you’re always immersed with this person.”
They admit that they’re still in the process of transitioning from mere colleagues to friends and the little awkwardness helps them portray Xavier and Mico’s characters effectively.