At 29 years old, Alex Medina is unrelenting in his goal. He is determined to conquer the world of acting one challenging project at a time.
Fast becoming one of Philippine show business’ most in demand actors, Medina proved to
The Sunday Times Magazine that his priority is neither fame nor fortune, but essentially the art of acting itself. To become the best he can be, and to honestly deserve to be called an actor.
As such, he is more than willing to take roles that other artistas his age may find too risky. Case in point is his latest movie, Echorsis: Sabunutan Between Good and Evil, where he plays a gigolo opposite veteran comedian John Lapuz.
The role marks Medina’s first official gay performance in a movie, which, based on the highly successful online trailer released by Insight 360 Production, shows him tackling the character of Carlo with both a natural and well-calculated approach. He veers away from “over acting” being gay as most other male actors normally do.
Perhaps many would say that acting is simply in the genes of the young Medina. After all, he has no less than the highly respected thespian Pen Medina for a father.
But looking back, while grateful and in awe of his father’s influence, it is both fair and accurate to attribute a large part of Medina’s skills as having been sharpened by a credible environment: that of independent filmmaking.
Medina in fact has already scored a Best Actor Award in the now-thriving industry, specifically for Cinema One Originals, which is one of two leading independent film festivals for competition in the country next to Cinemalaya.
In this exclusive interview with The Sunday Times Magazine, find out how Alex Vincent Medina strives to be his own actor.
The year was 2008 and Cinemalaya—now the country’s biggest indie film festival—was barely three years old. In this edition, then 21-year-old Alex Medina made his big screen debut via a small role in Concerto, a dramatic full-length entry by Paul Alexander Morales.
Asked why he decided to follow his father’s footsteps at that point, Medina recalled, “I was doing odd jobs [for film]. I was film editor, assistant director; I did storyboards. [Until] finally I told myself, ‘Why don’t I give acting a try after doing almost anything [in filmmaking].’ So I did and thankfully, nagtuloy-tuloy siya [projects continued to come my way].”
After Concerto, he appeared in two more indie films in 2009 (Fidel and Iliw), but it was in 2011 when the industry took notice of the newest Medina on the showbiz block, thanks to Sari Luch Dalena’s Ka Oryang.
Before him, his older brother Ping Medina was a favorite of indie filmmakers, particu¬-larly after the latter appeared in the award-winning and internationally acclaimed film, Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros.
But, sans the usual attitude of going to town with wanting to break free from his father or brother’s shadow, this Medina just did it. In 2012, Alex proved he was someone to reckon with by winning Cinema One Originals’ Best Actor award for his portrayal of a beleaguered husband in Palitan, a film by director Ato Bautista.
Shortly after that triumph, Medina got his very first offer from ABS-CBN to audition for a TV series. And, the rest as they say is history, as doors to mainstream cinema and TV became wide open.
Asked if he intentionally planned to use indie films as his stepping stone toward a full fledged showbiz career, Medina replied, “Maybe subconsciously, but I was not expecting that all this would actually happen.”
Looking back at his career progression, Medina pondered, “Actually it doesn’t matter what medium you choose—be it theater, film, or TV. If you do your best in whatever medium, eventually you will shine and you will get noticed. What is important is to keep your feet on the ground. You should keep on learning and never be complacent.”
All on the family
Besides patriarch Pen and his brother Ping, Medina’s eldest brother Karl and younger brother Vincent also act. But when asked to comment on an article that named him his father’s “heir apparent,” he quickly dismissed the idea.
He said firmly, “Walang nagke-claim sa amin. Bawal ‘yon dahil nag-iisa lang si Pen Medina [No one claims to be heir apparent; we’re not allowed to do that because there can only be one Pen Medina].
“Hindi mo dapat isipin na anak ka ni Pen [I don’t put it in my head that I’m Pen’s son]. I think that I am someone else who needs to do his job, and needs to be successful,” the grounded son added.
Medina also credited his father for instilling in the family the importance of honing their talents in whatever form of art they wanted to pursue.
“My mother encouraged us on the academic side, and my father on the artistic side,” Medina further shared. “We also have a younger sister and brother who haven’t shown an inclination to acting yet, and it’s all OK.”
And because acting runs in the blood of Medina family, The Sunday Times Magazine asked Medina if he believes in the saying that a particular talent “runs in the blood”—in their case, acting.
“To quote my dad,” he said, “Anyone can learn acting but acting is not for everyone. He said it’s only for those with the heart and dedication for the craft.”
The Medina patriarch also gave his son the following advice: “He said to keep it in mind that I am first and foremost an actor who should focus on acting. And that in whatever effort I give, whether people say something good or bad about it, I will still reap something out of it.”
Medina went on to reveal that he considers his father as his toughest critic. That is why even if he had long dreamed of acting across the great Pen Medina, he feels it is not yet time.
He mused, “When that time comes, I want to be ready and relaxed. I want to be able to tell myself that I was able to [portray the part]in my dad’s eyes.”
In the ‘now’
Alex Medina’s career is definitely on high gear these days. His latest TV series Pangako Sa’Yo with Daniel Padilla and Kathrine Bernado just ended in February, and further helped to make him a household name.
Come March, Medina will begin filming Dukot with director Paul Soriano. “It’s an action film with Christopher de Leon, Shaina Magdayao and Nikki Gil,” he shared.
And then in April, Echorsis will begin its commercial run, which both excites and worries Medina, as well as the rest of production team.
“It’s a good movie but we’re worried about marketing it since the film is not associated with a big production company or even part of a festival,” he explained.
Nevertheless, the film’s trailer continues to reap positive feedback from social media netizens. Since its trailer went live on the Internet on February 6 on Facebook, Echorsis has gathered over 2 million views, and 15,000 shares by viewers who are looking forward to watching the movie.
“That is something to hold on to for now,” Medina gratefully said. “But we still have to keep working until we encourage everyone to watch it. Sana tumagal sa sinehan [I hope it stays long in the cinemas].”
Asked for his views on the power of social media nowadays, Medina told The Sunday Times Magazine that if it were not for his fans, he would chose not to be on social media altogether.
“It’s so different now the way people are hungry for information. Social media lets people know that you are still alive. It makes you relevant,” he began.
On how he handles popularity, he replied, “Hindi naman ako sikat. Kung may magpa-picture, OK [I am not popular. If someone asks for a photo, I’m OK with it], but it’s best not to let that get to your head.
“If anything, you have to focus on your craft. What was the last project you did? Did you do good inn that project? Did you feel that you cheated yourself of others in your effort for that project? If you ask yourself all those questions and you can reply, ‘Yeah, I did my best,’ then I can have a good night’s sleep.”
In time for sure, Alex Medina can come to call himself a true actor.
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Echorsis also stars rock band vocalist Kean Cipriano. It is directed by Lemuel Lorca and produced by Chris Cahilig. The movie opens on April 13.