Making it in showbiz isn’t easy

Hiyasmin Neri and Carlo Sullano talk about life as aspiring stars. (Courtesy Hiyasmin Neri and Carlo Sullano)

They may look familiar but you probably don’t know their names. They occupy 1/8 of our television screens as background characters in commercials and they appear briefly in afternoon teleseryes like ghosts. They have been called “starlets,” “extras,” or as Hollywood would put it, “C-list celebrities.”


Of course, not a single aspiring celebrity wants to be on the sidelines. Everyone wants to be mentioned in the same breath as Anne Curtis, Marian Rivera, or John Lloyd Cruz… but is it all bad?


Hiyasmin Neri and John Carlo Sullano, aspiring celebrities, give you a sneak peek into their lives and how they are using their rising status to take the spotlight.


The discovery of a celebrity


Some get their “break” by joining reality TV shows or talent contests. Others, especially those from showbiz families like the Padillas and the Barrettos, are born with glittering silver screen prophecies on their tongues. Once in a while you get the odd story of a house boy discovered after buying vinegar from a sari-sari store. A few lucky ones are scouted at malls and other public places.


Sullano, a Tourism graduate, never considered a career in show business until he was spotted by an agent.


“I was approached twice, back in college. First when I was working in a fast food chain as a service crew and second at a super club partying,” Sullano remembered.


Sullano said he was handed a calling card and was asked to go to a VTR.


“I never showed up because I don’t know how this industry really works and I was doubting myself and wasn’t confident enough. Plus I was thinking maybe it’s a scam.”


He finally gave in when a friend, a commercial model, convinced him to join as an extra in shoots.


“Now I go to different agencies or networks and have my VTR profiling and sometimes they just update me through Facebook,” he said.

Carlo Sullano in Pinoy True Stories (Courtesy Carlo Sullano)


Neri, on the other hand, had always been fond of performing.


“My parents always got me into theater workshops every summer. When I was in college, I got cast in several commercials and independent films,” she said.


Her efforts paid off when she was discovered by Star Magic in 2008, after she attended their acting workshop. From there, she inched her way to getting acting jobs on mainstream television.


She recently started hosting O Shopping, the home TV shopping program of ABS-CBN. She has also finished an indie film Ligaw and started writing for Green Living, an environmental show on ANC.


Hiyasmin Neri in Maria Mercedes (Courtesy Hiyasmin Neri)

The price of sort-of-fame


At the moment, Sullano does not have a steady gig. He does re-enactments for various TV networks and he’s also a “bit player” or an extra in television series. In some of the films where he was involved, he was given the honor to say several lines.


“I also have a web series were I am the lead role. It’s about an alcoholic guy, comedy like Ramon Bautista and Bogart the explorer type of series on YouTube. We’re still working on it and there’s teaser video, but so far nothing major yet,” he said.


Sullano said that he doesn’t have a manager but he knows a lot of agents and people in the industry. These people are the ones who give him projects and details about go-sees, castings, VTRs, and auditions.


“I also prefer it to be just like that. At least I always have a choice,” he said.


While Neri is managed by ABS-CBN’s Star Magic, she claimed that she manages her official fan accounts in social media.


“I personally want to engage with the people,” she said.


But do hopeful celebrities get their fair share of unwanted attention from fans?


“Back in college, a fan waited for me outside my classroom and gave me a portrait. I appreciated the gesture but it was kind of creepy that he knew where I was that time of the day,” Neri said.


Sullano said he doesn’t have a fan base yet since he is a “no-namer.” He has, however, received indecent offers and even threats.


“One thing is for sure whether you’re an A-list or a no-namer like me, and that is indecent proposals and foul messages from anonymous people,” he said.


C is for commitment


Of course no one wants to stay on the C-list forever. Both Neri and Sullano still aspire to see their names in big bright lights.


“I want to be able to host a regular morning show, an entertainment program or something related to broadcast lifestyle in mainstream TV. Being a kontrabida for a teleserye would also be awesome. Bagging an acting award for a dramatic role is a plus,” Neri said.


For Sullano, his dream is to be a jack of all trades.


“Someone who can sing, dance, host and act. That’s why I’m trying out stage plays because it’s where you can really exhibit everything you’ve got. The training is intensive and most of the caliber actors and actress I know and like started out as stage actors,” he said.


Neri said that being part of a Star Magic Circle meant that she is constantly being pressured to make it big time.


“I pretty much felt, or rather, still feel how to be compared with other celebrities. It’s part of the culture of show business, and I just have to suck it up and get over it,” she said.


Is being stacked up against their better-lettered counterparts really an insult? To Neri and Sullano, it’s a compliment.


“I’m not the type of person who easily gets hurt, and it’s the kind of mentality you should have most especially if you’d like to be in this type of industry. People will call you every single name you’ll see on the dictionary,” Sullano said.


“There’s a lot of big stars that started out as starlets so there’s nothing to be ashamed of, and again, it means the potential is there so just work on things,” he added.


Neri also said that her Star Magic batch mates who had their breaks gave up a lot when their fan base exploded.


“While I get to enjoy my cup of coffee in a public café, these guys need to wear caps and really dark shades just to be able to get their peace and quiet,” she said.


Neri and Sullano agreed that no one is ever sure when they’ll get their break.


“This business is really unpredictable. However, knowing what you want and where your heart is leads you to be consistent with what you do. And with consistency, there is growth. And with growth, there is excellence,” Neri said.


“I cannot tell how long will it take for me to achieve it but as long as my passion for entertainment and arts is with me, then there’s no way I’ll quit easily,” Sullano said.


  • Xmarksthespot

    Hiyasmin pra sumikat ka try mo muna maging humble kasi ala nmn nakakapanuod sayo sa show mo e.. TV is dying …

  • Jessie Topacio

    Kamukha ni Anderson Silva yung lalaki. Pero mukhang nice naman siya. Unlike nung girl, di pa nga sikat ‘ang ere na agad ng peg.’ ang taas ng dreams di ko ma-reach!