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JC Alcantara is now reaping what he’s sowed when it comes to his craft. Starting as a commercial model who landed bit roles in teleseryes and movies, JC now continues to get lead roles since the success of his Boys Love series, “Hello, Stranger,” which aired in 2020.

Now, he is one of the lead characters in iWant TFC’s queer-themed series, “Drag You And Me,” where he plays a drag queen alongside Andrea Brillantes and Christian Bables.

JC is living the dream, especially for someone who always wanted to become an artista and already loved acting from a young age.

He even recalls watching the ABS-CBN program “Goin’ Bulilit” and looking up to Kapamilya actor Nash Aguas.

JC shares to FreebieMNL, “Ginagaya ko siya umarte, tapos yung mga pick-up lines nila, yung mga iyakan, ginagawa ko sa harap ng salamin.

“And then, sabi ko, parang gusto ko mag-artista, bata pa lang ako [nun]. Hindi ko rin naman in-expect na matutupad yun ngayon.”

JC then first went into doing commercials until he was discovered by ABS-CBN. His first foray into acting was the weekend series “Ipaglaban Mo,” and later, he landed an important role in the 2018 primetime series “Halik,” starring Jericho Rosales.

His experience in “Halik,” especially working with the likes of Jericho and Christian Bables, inspired him to do better in his craft.

JC narrates, “Na-realize ko na kailangan kong pag-igihan, galingan ko, kasi yung mga nasapaligid ko rin, nag-a-advise sa akin—Jericho Rosales, Christian Bables—parang na-inspire ako na hindi puro mukha na lang yung labanan ngayon, e. Yung galing mo umarte, yun na talaga yung puhunan ngayon.

“So, mas na-enjoy ko ngayon, mas deep na yung pagmamahal ko sa craft ko, sa pag-acting kaya kahit anong character na ibigay, gusto kong gawin.”

Currently, JC is under the management of Star Magic and Rise Artists Studio, the talent management arm of ABS-CBN Films for Star Cinema and Black Sheep projects.

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Doing and loving different roles

Coinciding “Halik” was a short stint in the movie “Kasal” with Bea Alonzo, Paulo Avelino, and Derek Ramsay. While it was his first movie, JC did not have a line back then.

In 2020, during the pandemic, JC was given his first lead role. He played the role of Mico in Black Sheep’s digital BL series, “Hello, Stranger,” where he was paired with Tony Labrusca. The digital series was such a success that Black Sheep produced a movie sequel.

The achievements of the series-turned-movie allow JC to proudly say that it is the project he loves the most out of all the shows he has done so far.

He says, “First time kong magka-movie ‘tapos first lead ko rin yun na talagang nabuo yung character sa akin, e. Kung saan siya nag-start hanggang sa matapos na yung story niya, parang napamahal ako kay Mico.

Hindi lang kay Mico, siyempre sa mga cast din—sila Tony, sila Gillian [Vicencio], sila Vivoree [Esclito]—na sobra ko ring naging ka-close noon kasi yung first shoot namin, lock in. So, first time ko mag-taping na nakalabas na [from the pandemic]. Na-enjoy ko siya ‘tapos sa beach at nag-bonding kaming lahat.”

After “Hello, Stranger,” JC was able to dabble into different roles in his projects, such as “He’s Into Her,” “Click, Like, Share,” “Tara, G,” “The Iron Heart,” and in the movies “I Will: The Willie Ong Story” and “An Inconvenient Love.”

But arguably, the most challenging role he has now is playing a closeted gay-turned-drag queen who falls in love with a woman in “Drag You And Me.”

How has JC Alcantara become so comfortable in playing different types of characters? He answers, “Sa pag-arte, kailangang makawala ka sa sarili mo, yung ikaw mismo. So, kailangan mong maging always in the moment, be in the character na ginagampanan mo. Nilalaro ko na lang siya, ine-enjoy ko siya.”

In this case for “Drag You And Me,” he is actually playing a character with three different personas. Admittedly, the process is not easy.

He explains, “Kasi ako mismo kapag nasa tatay ko, kasi puro maton yung character doon sa family side ko. So, as JC ako doon. And then, babali siya kapag kaming dalawa ni PJ Endrinal and then ni Andrea Brillantes. Mag-iibang character siya pero as soft boy pa rin.

“And then, as [my drag character] Shania Lacroix, mas confident akong gumalaw kasi kapag nag-drag ka kasi, para kang si Darna gumalaw, na superhero ka, tingin mo sa sarili mo kasilahat ng tao, mapapatingin sa ‘yo kasi ang ganda mo, perfect ka. So, nakaka-boost siya ng confidence.

Parang hindi ako si JC kapag naka-in character na ako as Shania. Sabi ko, bahala na, sige. Parang enjoyin ko na lang para comfortable din lahat ng tao sa paligid, wala akong pakialamkasi hindi ako kilala as JC Alcantara, as Shania Lacroix na. So, parang mas ine-enjoy ko na rinyung character ko na yunkapag naka-drag na ako.”

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An ally of the LGBTQIA+ community

More recently, JC has been given characters that are part of the LGBTQIA+ community.

For the Rise artist, it is a great opportunity for him to represent the community as he is an ally himself, who is always surrounded by the members of the community. One is his late manager, Arnee Pangilinan, who died in January 2023.

JC narrates, “Sobrang happy ko and kasi, lahat ng nasa paligid ko, part ng LGBTQIA+ community, so, sobrang napamahal ako sa kanila, like yung manager ko, part din siya. So, noong namatay siya this January, sobrang hirap, sobrang sakit sa akin.

Siya yung nakilala kong baklang susuportahan ka kasi ang daming mga bakla na gusto,may kapalit, gusto ganyan. Siya, pamilya talaga yung turing sa akin, so, napamahal ako.

Wala kasi akong parents dito sa Manila, siya yung tumayong nanay at tatay ko. So, siya yung manager ko and then nawala siya; sobrang nasaktan ako pero kailangan kong magpatuloy pa rin.”

In fact, he mentioned in one press conference that he is dedicating his role in “Drag You And Me” to his late manager.

Aside from the late Arnee Pangilinan, JC also has a lesbian aunt who was bullied in the past.

He says, “Sobrang supportive ko rin sa LGBT [community] kasi yung tita ko rin, lesbian. Mga friends ko, bi (bisexual). So, kung may naaapi, nagpo-post ako, as in vocal din ako sa Facebook ko, sa Instagram, Twitter, talagang sobrang ally ako ng LGBT.

“Actually, kahit hindi pa ako gumagawa ng BL, sobrang support ako kasi yung tita ko, nabu-bully siya before. So, ako yung nagtatanggol sa kanya. So, ang sarap din pala sa pakiramdam na ganun, sinusuportahan mo sila.

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Loving oneself

JC is sure to say that he is “mapagmahal” towards other people: his friends, family, and workmates. But it was not an easy process for him because he had to learn how to love himself first.

JC admits that there was a time when he struggled with loving himself, especially when all he could think about was work.

He admits, “Napagod din siguro [ako] dahil breadwinner ako, so ang dami kong trabaho, kailangan kong kumuha ng trabaho, kailangan kong kumita, kailangan kong mag-provide, kailangan kong magbayad—ang dami kong bayarin.

“So, parang ang manhid-manhid ko na, parang nag-focus na ako sa trabaho, nawala na ako, napapansin ko nang parang hindi ko na pinahalagahan yung sarili ko, trabaho na lang ako ng trabaho.

“And then, na-realize ko na hindi, kailangan kong i-improve yung inner self ko, mentally [and] physically.”

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JC can now safely say that “mas napamahal ako sa sarili ko ngayon.”

He continues, “Ngayon, parang mas in-improve ko yung sarili ko, yung katawan ko, kasi hindi lang yung acting. Siyempre, kailangan mo rin yung buong katawan.

“So, nag-e-exercise na ako may disiplina na ako sa workout unlike before na puro promise na lang pero hindi ko nagagawa. Pero ngayon, nagagawa ko na kasi mahal ko na yung sarili ko. Na-enjoy ko na rin mag-travel.”

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As for those who are struggling with self-love, JC has a piece of advice that comes from his own experience.

Kung paano mo mahalin yung [taong] gustung-gusto mo, dapat mas over pa doon yung para sa ‘yo, like, sa [taong] gusto mo, huwag mong ibigay ng sobra, magtira ka ng para sa ‘yo.

Kasi once na minahal mo yung sarili mo, mas maraming mag-i-improve sa ‘yo, mas marami kang madi-discover na hindi mo kaya pero magagawa mo.”

JC also shares a realization when it comes to dealing with other people. “Napagtanto ko rin na siguro, huwag kang mag-overshare sa mga kaibigan mo kasi once na nalaman nila yun, yun yung gagamitin nila para gumawa ng [pang-put down].

“So, mas maganda na i-keep mo na lang yun sa sarili mo para mag-improve ka, like, yung mga blessings, para sa ‘yo lang din yun‘tapos at saka mo na lang i-showcase yun kapag nakita na nila.”

JC explains that he has experienced betrayal from someone he trusted, but he has since moved on and grown from that experience.

JC’s future goals

Going back to his love for acting, JC is looking forward to upping the ante, but this time, on the international arena.

JC says with fervor, “Gusto ko, international naman, at saka magka-award ulit and siyempre, mas pag-iigihan ko pa lalo sa trabaho ko. Kumbaga, lahat ng projects na ibibigay sa akin, talagang mas aaralin ko na lalo.”

Knowing how the competition is stiff in showbiz, JC wants to make sure that he achieves his goal: to be like his idol, Jericho Rosales.

Kasi ilan na lang din yung mga artista, so, siguro mas mamahalin mo yung pag-arte lalo kasi yun na yung puhunan ko and someday, maging Jericho Rosales ako. Pangarap ko rin yun, makabili ng bahay, lupa. Someday sana.”

But what’s next for JC after “Drag You And Me?”

He says with a smile, “Siguro abangan na lang nila kasi ako, nasu-surprise din, e, na may mga projects akong biglaan. So, abangan na lang nila!”

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Photography Wilmark Jolindon
Art and Art Direction Alexandra Lara and Sofia Joco
Interview and Cover Story Jimpy Anarcon
Grooming Aron Guevarra
Hair Chino Maniquiz
Styling Bryan Laroza and Rylee Cia of Broza Studios
Production FreebieMNL
Special Thanks Mico del Rosario and Pat Rigodon of Rise Artists Studio

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