Jane De Leon

Here Comes Darna: How Jane De Leon “Flew” Her Way To Success

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Life really has a way of taking away many individuals’ self-confidence — putting people in circumstances that make them question their capabilities and worth as a person, hindering them from achieving success. However, it is also in those circumstances that people must realize how important it is to focus and not yield to whatever negativity their minds tell them no matter how hard it can get — because the truth is, the success that awaits every single person will surely be worth more than any hardship they can ever experience.

And that is exactly what Jane De Leon did. She never lost focus of her goal and now, she’s one of the most promising stars of this generation.

Who is Jane De Leon?

Photo from: Jane De Leon | Instagram

Jane Florence Benitez De Leon is a Filipina actress popularly known as Jane De Leon. She is currently the lead star for ABS-CBN’s TV adaptation of the story of the most famous Filipino superheroine, Darna, who was a product of Mars Ravelo’s creative imagination.

Jane De Leon was born on the 22nd day of November 1998 in Quezon City, but she grew up in San Pedro, Laguna. Growing up, she had her older brother Francis, her mother Hearty, and her father Rouel by her side; in a vlog, she published in 2018, she said that her parents were very strict, especially her dad. She even mentioned in her 2019 TWBA interview that she was really scared of her father because of how strict he was. 

Photo from: Marie De Leon | Instagram

But of course, it does not—at all—mean that they weren’t loving parents. In the same interview, Jane mentioned that her father Ruel was so protective of her and her brother that he was willing to do anything just so they were safe. In another interview she had with Ogie Diaz, she revealed that her father was a very selfless man. 

“‘Yon nga rin po ‘yung problema sa akin, e. Nakakalimutan ko na po ‘yung sarili ko, Mama Ogs. Napaka-selfless kong tao… Like father, like daughter talaga. (That’s really the problem with me. I tend to forget to think of myself, Mama Ogs. I’m an extremely selfless person… It’s really “Like father, like daughter”)Jane explained.

Her mother, on the other hand, was very supportive of her and her dreams. In her vlog and in several interviews, Jane De Leon would often mention her childhood dreams and one of those was to be in the limelight, which her father was extremely opposed to—but her mother was her number one fan. She would sign her up for pageants and modeling photo shoots and was always eager to accompany her in every modeling or acting gigs, even if it meant sneaking out of their house without her father knowing and sleeping in convenience stores, dressing rooms, and train stations. Her mother deeply believed in her potential, which is probably one of the main reasons Jane was able to achieve what she has now.

What was Jane De Leon’s life before the limelight?

 Photo from: Jane De Leon | Instagram

Before becoming the woman that she is right now, Jane was just a simple student and a loving daughter and sister. Her family was not rich, but they were able to buy anything apart from the basic necessities. They had a car, she and her older brother had nice toys to play with, and they were also enrolled in a private school. They were able to afford such a life because back when they were younger kids, they had a family business. 

Everything in their life was going well, and from the perspective of another individual or a happy family, the life Jane’s family had would seem like nothing could possibly go wrong. Unfortunately, something did go wrong. Her father’s best friend double-crossed and tricked him, and took almost all of the hard-earned money he got from his business. According to Jane, her father was so affected by the incident that he started to have extreme trust issues with anyone outside of his family. The trauma he got from his best friend’s betrayal led him to a state of depression and he completely lost all his motivation to start again.

“Ayaw na po niya… parang na-stuck po siya do’n. (He did not want to work anymore… it was as if he got stuck)Jane revealed

With that, everything started to go downhill for their family. Her mother was the only one working for the whole family while her father stayed at home and did all of the chores. Jane and her brother almost dropped out of school and they also had to sell their car just to make ends meet. The siblings were transferred to a public school, but they had no idea what was really happening since they were very young. They only got a grasp of their situation as they grew up because they saw that their parents would argue because of misunderstandings. 

“Alam ko po ‘yung pakiramdam ng walang makain sa hapagkainan. (I know the feeling of not having anything to eat.)Jane said in an interview she had with Karen Davila. 

Despite her mother’s hard work, the money she earned was not really enough to support the needs of their family. Their family struggled so badly that they sometimes did not have the financial capacity to cook and eat a decent meal.  According to her, there are days that they would only eat salt partnered with rice and days where they would settle for rice mixed with soy sauce and cooking oil just so their meal would taste like Adobo.

She also mentioned that there was a time when a chicken suddenly entered their house and her father was forced to butcher it because her family was yet to eat that day. They did not know where the chicken came from. It was possible that it was their neighbor’s, but her father did what he had to do just so they could put food inside their stomachs. Indeed, desperate times call for desperate measures. 

Apart from these, Jane De Leon’s family also had a lot of debt. They were so submerged by debt that their debtors started to get angry at their families, and this became Jane’s biggest motivation to succeed in life. She wanted to get her family away from that life, so she did everything she could just to help with her family’s finances. 

In spite of her father’s disagreement, she would frequently attend commercial modeling and acting gigs and her mother was consistently by her side in every single gig Jane did. It did not matter if they would have to sneak out of the house and come home to her angry father. It did not matter if they would have to sleep in the most uncomfortable places. A lot of struggles did not matter because Jane was focused on her goal. 

While Jane was busy reaching for her dreams, her family lost her dad to lung cancer in 2016. The unfortunate event left the family devastated. In her interview with Karen Davila, Jane said that they did not know how to start again when they lost her dad. But she had to be strong for the whole family because she knew that if all of them let their emotions get the better of them, the whole family would crumble. She wanted to give her family a good, comfortable life, so even with a heavy heart, she persevered.

How was Jane De Leon’s career before Darna?

Jane De Leon started chasing her dream at a young age. She was 14 when she became a part of a model search competition called Teen Supermodel Philippines. She was able to make it to the semi-finals. There had also been a report that Jane became a part of the GMA Artist Center. 

It was not until 2014 that Jane started to appear in TV commercials. Tyronne Escalante discovered her and he introduced her to Johnny Manahan (aka Mr. M) and other directors in ABS-CBN. Her first commercial job was for a Filipino snack brand. In the same year, Jane began her showbiz journey by joining Star Magic workshops with other hopeful young talents. 

The following year, she started to play a bit and minor roles in movies. In an interview, she revealed that she got to play a bit role in a LizQuen movie as a cheerleader, but she did not have any lines. 

She also became a part of Girltrends. The female equivalent of the boy group Hashtags from the noontime shows It’s Showtime. People also started to see her appear more often in several shows like Maalaala Mo Kaya, Ipaglaban Mo, and Wansapanataym. 

In 2017, she got to play the role of a moon chaser in the hit KathNiel series La Luna Sangre, and in the following year, she got to play a great role in another hit series from ABS-CBN called Halik. Jane’s character was one of the main characters’’ (Lino played by Jericho Rosales) younger sister. 

At that point, everything seems to be going well for Jane’s career. However, her rise did not stop there. In 2019, she received really great news: she was chosen as the new Darna.

Jane De Leon as Darna

Photo from: Jane De Leon | Instagram

In an interview with Boy Abunda, Jane revealed that when she was almost done working for Halik, her manager encouraged her to audition for the upcoming Darna movie as an antagonist. She went through a public audition and attended several callbacks for the project. On the last callback, it was when she received the big news.

When Jane learned that she got the role, she could not believe it. She sat frozen in her seat in front of the bosses of ABS-CBN. She was shaking and got weak to her knees, but all of the people around her at that time congratulated her and the bosses from the Kapamilya network told her that out of all the 200+ people who auditioned, she was the most deserving one. 

By the time the news got out, Jane became the subject of bashing almost immediately. One reason was that the role was supposedly for Liza Soberano after Angel Locsin had to drop the project because she was advised not to engage in extreme physical activities to avoid permanently damaging her spine. Unfortunately, Liza also had to back out due to a severe finger injury. People on social media started to make comparisons between actresses. Many had a lot to say about Jane De Leon, but those comments did not change the fact that her being chosen as the new Darna was a unanimous decision among the people involved in the said project. They all saw and believed in her overflowing potential.

In 2020, they decided to turn Darna into a TV series instead of a movie, but they had problems with filming due to the pandemic. Fast forward to the year 2021, they started filming the series and it finally aired in August this year. The show received great comments when the pilot episode aired due to its production value. A lot of people also commended Jane for her acting performance. She started to gain more fans as the show continued to air, but of course, bashers were also present.
She would often say in several interviews that when it was announced that she was chosen as the new Darna, she got really affected whenever she saw bad comments about her. One reason is that she was not really used to getting that kind of attention. Another reason is because “…nanghuhusga kaagad sila ng taong hindi pa nila kilala. (…they are quick to judge someone whom they know nothing about)Jane said in her interview with Karen Davila. But as time passed by, she learned to love her bashers. She understood where they were coming from and that actually motivated her to work harder because she wants them to know her better not just as an actress, but also as a person. She wants to showcase her talent and make people realize that she was able to achieve what she has right now because she did everything to the best of her abilities.

Similar to a lot of actors in the industry, Jane De Leon experienced countless rejections throughout the course of her career, especially when she was just starting. But she was able to overcome every single one of them not only because of the love and support from her family but also because she never gave up. Instead, Jane trusted her capabilities. She never lost focus and she always knew that a lot of opportunities would arrive. She strongly believed that there was a right time specifically just for her, so she continued to work hard for her improvement as she patiently waited for it to come. And she was right. Her “right time” came and she’s now one of the most prominent names in this generation.

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