Although comediennes are fairly abundant in the business, younger comediennes come very rare and it’s a field where Johanna Ismael Celis or simply Kiray Celis has been steadily reigning on for years. But before the Unexpected Comedy Princess reached her spot, Kiray has started small—literally at that. She was only 3-years-old when she first set foot inside the ABS-CBN compound to join Munting Miss U at the then popular Kapamilya noontime show Magandang Tanghali Bayan (MTB). While other contenders belted love songs and age-appropriate songs, Kiray surprised the audience by performing Engelbert Humperdinck’s Love Me With All of Your Heart. According to Kiray, at that time, she was really into old songs like Quando, Quando, The Way It Used To Be, Be My Lady and even My Way because those were the songs that she grew up listening to. Although she did not bag the top plum in the said contest, Kiray nevertheless became part of the show as its youngest member.
Being part of MTB paved the way for Kiray to become a full-fledged part of showbiz as she eventually got projects after projects. Her first movie appearance was actually inspired by the noontime show titled Pera o Bayong (not da TV). Not too long, one of MTB’s directors, Direk Bobot Mortiz tapped Kiray to be part of the child sketch comedy show Goin’ Bulilit where she spent many years. But the biggest blessing that came her way at that time was the one given by nuns who noticed her talent.
Since she started very young in the business, some presume that Kiray “lost” her childhood in that she was not able to enjoy it by being a “normal child.” But according to Kiray, having other kids as her friends and colleagues like did good in making her feel like an “ordinary child” even if she is working. Among the friends she grew up with are Eliza Pineda, Miles Ocampo, John Manalo, Kristel Fulgar, and CJ Navato. For years, Kiray and her friends made the Star Magic hallways as their own playground. Meanwhile, as she played offcam, Kiray’s career flourished oncam. She landed TV show roles like that of Desiree in Mara Clara, Britney in Growing Up where she worked with Kathryn Bernardo and Daniel Padilla and eventually, as Whitney in the youth-oriented show LuvU. Even though her roles were mostly supporting, Kiray nevertheless made sure that the character would have the signature comedic aspect that only she can do among her peers. 1 | 2 | 3