Not everyone in showbiz is in it to be famous
Hi-5 Philippines’ pambansang kuya dishes what it’s like to be in the entertainment biz
Feb 20, 2018
It’s three in the morning and Fred Lo is still at work. It’s been over 12 hours since he reported for duty and his day is just about to wrap up. Today, he plays a lawyer who’s out to solve the case of a mother who admitted to allegedly killing someone. Tomorrow though, he will dance to the tune of “Baby Shark” by Pinkfong before a crowd of children.
28-year-old Lo has been acting professionally since 2009, two years prior to graduating communication arts in college. The career of the then working student began by joining the school theater. He then proceeded into other forms of entertainment including live events, television, and radio. Performing is in his blood and so these stints were but a natural progression from joining singing contests when he was a kid.
“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. I have aunts who are music teachers, cousins who are in church choir. Music was a big influence. I’m the only one acting in the family, though.”
He has stuck to what he knows and does best. After university, he hasn’t pursued any other jobs but acting. “The farthest [from] acting was perhaps training people and teaching efficiency at work. Then again, they’re quite the same.”
Luckily, the stars (no pun intended) are on his side.
“When I joined theater [outside of school], it was that time when Hong Kong Disneyland was a thing. A good number of leading men just flew out to HK to work there. As a result, there was a big need for guys in the industry. There was a demand for good-looking guys who can sing, act and dance,” he says. “I auditioned for one show and got in as an ensemble character. Then there was an opening for a lead. I immediately got promoted. It just happened. Tuloy tuloy na.”
Lo may not be Piolo Pascual, but he’s not an unknown, wallpaper actor either. He is, in fact, the “pambansang kuya,” a title he earned from doing High Five Philippines, a children’s show that originated from Australia. It’s like our Batibot, only this time, Kuya Bodjie was younger and shorter.
“We are five individuals who teach kids through song and dance. We each had our own segments and I did that for, I think, a year. It was the biggest gig I’ve ever done because I got known as everyone’s kuya.” At the same time, it was under this role that he realized what exactly to do with his talent. “If you look at my profile on social media, I’m a big kid. I love toys, Disney, cosplay. And when I got in that show, I could relate to kids very well. That started my passion for educating and entertaining children. That’s why now I also do kid’s events because I like being with them.”
Though very noble in intention, this goal is not quite panning out the way he wanted it to. For one, there aren’t many opportunities to engage with this young market. Add to that, the pool of actors in the country is populated enough that it’s hard to stand out from the pack.
“The country is very showbiz-oriented,” he says. “Our industry is mainly focused on stars, not exactly good actors. In general. That’s a struggle among artists.”
Luckily, he’s been getting enough acting gigs to sustain his lifestyle. There’s no need to work in a restaurant just yet, as they do in the US. Besides, not everybody’s end goal is to be famous. “I do this for fun. I’m blessed that I have fun at work. I’m cruising through the industry.”
The country is very showbiz-oriented. Our industry is mainly focused on stars, not exactly good actors. In general. That’s a struggle among artists.
Roll with the punches
The entertainment industry is definitely cutthroat. And taking yourself seriously or not being able to laugh at yourself at times can be anyone’s downfall. “I had one show where I wasn’t feeling well and I had to sing a One Direction song. I knew it but I still messed up. It was super obvious and there was dead air. That made me realize what my strengths and weaknesses are. It was surely a learning experience.”
Apart from making a fool of yourself, there are also times when people will gladly do it for you. In a business where looks somehow matter, comparisons and consequently, shaming come easily. Lo has had his fair share of this, but he has learned how to just brush them off.
“There’s a maturity that comes with age so it’s easier to neglect. You get compared to other people, not just in terms of looks but talent too.” But like the more understanding older sibling, he just takes them in stride.
In a country where practically everybody can sing and dance, it can be tough and consequently, frustrating to be an A-list actor, B even. But Fred Lo is just fine where he is, he says with humility and sincerity.
“I think it has to do with your priorities in life. As you get older, you begin to realize what things really matter to you. Having experienced how the industry works first hand, I guess I’ve just realized that fame isn’t what drives me to work as an actor/performer. Passion to create new characters and learn new lessons with regards to performing do. I have nothing but admiration for the people who have the drive and the patience to do whatever it takes to become famous in the industry, but I guess I’m just in it to enjoy and have fun.”
It’s four in the morning and he’s just on his way home from the set, tired but feeling fortunate that he gets to do what he wants—something not many actors can proudly say.
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