Newbie actress Jane de Leon is new Darna

Jane de Leon. <i>Photo: ABS-CBN News</i>
Jane de Leon. Photo: ABS-CBN News

Jane de Leon, a young and relatively unknown actress, just got her big break as she has been cast as the superhero Darna in Star Cinema’s upcoming movie based on the Filipino comic book character.

This was announced today by ABS-CBN, the media company which owns Star Cinema. This comes two months after the company announced an open audition for the role.

Around 300 actresses auditioned for the role but de Leon, who starred in the soap opera Halik, outshone everyone else, according to Star Cinema Managing Director Olivia Lamasan.

“Jane was presented to us a couple of years ago … there was this one talent handler who remembered her and told me, ‘Did you notice her back then? This kid, she can join beauty pageants.’ And then I saw her again in Halik. I thought, ‘This girl, she has something,'” Lamasan told ABS-CBN News. 

De Leon, 20, was chosen unanimously by ABS-CBN honchos after she auditioned for the role. She was also the choice of the movie’s director, Jerold Tarog.

The Darna project has suffered multiple setbacks. It was first assigned to director Erik Matti six years ago and initially starred Angel Locsin, who previously played the titular character in a TV series on GMA network. However, the actress dropped out of the project in 2015 due to a spinal injury.

Actress Liza Soberano was chosen to replace Locsin and everything appeared to be smooth-sailing until Matti decided to quit the project last year due to creative differences. Matti was replaced by Tarog but the project faced a new obstacle when Soberano quit in April, also because of an injury.

Darna is one of the most iconic Filipino comic book characters. Introduced by Mars Ravelo in 1950, she’s the local version of Wonder Woman and playing her in a movie or TV series is considered a career milestone. Other than Locsin, the character has been played by veteran actress and politician Vilma Santos, former actor and now philanthropist Nanette Medved, and Anjanette Abayari.

So who is Jane de Leon?

In a video the actress posted on YouTube, she said that her family lives in Laguna but that she currently resides in Quezon City to make it easy for her to travel to ABS-CBN’s studio for work. While she is a dog and cat lover, de Leon confessed that she’s deathly afraid of lizards. If she weren’t working as an actress, she said she would probably be a soldier or a doctor.

Thanks to ABS-CBN’s announcement, the search terms “Jane de Leon” and “Darna” are currently trending on Philippine Twitter. Many netizens approve of the choice.

“I kinda see now what the producers/management saw in Jane de Leon as the new Darna. She has Narda’s innocent look but has that powerful and strong aura that’s suited for Darna,” wrote @_faithcredo.

Narda is Darna’s alter ego, a village girl who swallows a stone to turn into a superhero.

“Jane de Leon being the new Darna? I mean what to complain here. She’s beautiful and she passed the audition so yeah can’t wait,” wrote @Izeeeett.

@DuncanSsntos is ready to sing praises for de Leon.

“The new face of Darna, JANE DE Leon! Slow clap for this young lady,” he wrote.

Movie director Jose Javier Reyes (@DirekJoey) also congratulated de Leon, whom he directed in the movie Walwal. “Congratulations to the NEW DARNA: Jane de Leon! A hard working and talented young lady who deserves this biggest break. All the best to you,” he tweeted.

How do you feel about de Leon as Darna? Tell us by leaving a comment below or tweeting to @CoconutsManila.

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