Star Magic Conversations: Jake Cuenca

Those who’ve been avid followers of Jake Cuenca since he was a teen would remember him for his ‘bad boy’ aura – long hair, sexy smirk, and all. It turns out this rebellious persona was vital to the makings of his career as an actor. 

Join him as he looks back on his journey and shares his aspirations in this Tatak Star Magic: Celebrity Conversations episode hosted by Star Magic head, Lauren Dyogi.

If there’s someone who can vouch for Jake’s talent and attitude, it’s none other than Direk Lauren himself, who described him as “isa sa pinakawalang-arte na artista.” He meant Jake has no issues about timeslots, platforms, and especially roles to portray. Whatever the character is, he can seamlessly integrate himself into it.

“I love to perform. I love entertaining our audience. I love the feeling na ‘pag naniniwala na sila na wala na ‘yung Jake Cuenca,” said he, tracing the roots of his passion for the craft to his ‘bad boy’ season in high school.

“More than performing in front of people, it felt I was portraying a character at a very [young age].” He added, “’Pag nanonood ako ng pelikula, parang I’m always attracted to the anti-hero, parang, the guy who doesn’t exactly follow the rules. Medyo hindi matuwid ‘yung daan but he gets the job done.

Jake is one such talent who has managed to create depth in his body of work, playing both hero and anti-hero, whether on the big or small screen or theater stage. And at the very core of his every portrayal is realism.

“When I do a villain role, I look at the heart – saan nanggagaling ‘yung galit? And when I do a lead role, I look naman for the flaws. Kasi I don’t believe na someone is so perfect. There have to be flaws and insecurities.”  That’s why he considers acting as a never-ending study, “We’re in a job na we’re trying to create characters, people. So, I really believe na even if they offer you something similar, it has to be different ‘cause all people are different from one another.”

With that, he’s grateful to Star Magic for providing them with opportunities to learn and further hone their craft. He also studied Method Acting at The Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute in New York in 2014.

How he maneuvers his portrayal depends on many factors. Typically, though, he uses method acting and a lot of observation and repetition. He knows an actor’s job goes earlier than the actual filming. He asks for 2 weeks to 2 months to prepare for a role, as well as build a new work structure, then, it gets easier and fun on the set.

Jake is no stranger to collaboration but “I always make sure na my director knows, ‘It’s still up to you, Direk. The final say is with you and you’re still the captain of the ship.’” He trusts his directors’ vision, knowing they oversee the whole thing. “My priority is not to please “but to deliver what the director needs from me.”

When asked about his memorable projects, he mentioned Tayong Dalawa for a teleserye, “Kasi the impact of that show, hanggang ngayon nararamdaman ko pa rin,” and “In The Name of Love” for a movie, as it was directed by Olivia Lamasan, from whom he learned a lot.

He’s all about upgrades – recognizing the need to challenge himself all the time, to grow and improve with each project until he builds a legacy for himself. I want, one day, for people to study my work, for people to go back and revisit my career and say that I did amazing roles and characters.”

His goal is to create projects that will live a lifetime, ones that will impact his audiences’ emotions. He remembers feeling fascinated over his favorite movies as a kid, “I can only hope that I can give that same feeling to my audience, something na pagtanda nila naiisip pa rin nila ‘yung mga projects na nagawa ko.”

Game for upgrades, he’s now ready to play a full-on transgender role, somebody he’s opposite. “Give me two months,” he replied when asked how long his preparations would be for such a role.

Jake’s inarguable talent brought him glory as an actor, but his attitude comes close second. “Don’t step on anyone’s toes. Be organic with your choices,” he said of his virtues as a thespian and as a man. The third would be, “Love the people you’re working with. Until now nakakatrabaho ko pa rin ‘yung mga nakatrabaho ko 20 years ago. And they can tell if something has changed, if you’ve been better or you’ve been worse.”

Jake wrapped it up with his definition of “Tatak Star Magic,” which he equates to quality.  “Everything that Star Magic does is always good. As an artist, you want to emulate that. You want to deliver that promise that Star Magic makes”

“To really hold your own in Star Magic, you have to be good. The thing is with Star Magic, you have everything around you that will equip you to becoming good,” he mused, giving special credit to his co-actors, handlers, and road managers.

Catch Jake in The Iron Heart, weeknights, on Kapamilya Channel, Kapamilya Online Live, TV5, and A2Z.