Sunday, January 6, 2008

John Lloyd Cruz: “Find your niche, learn what you are good at, and develop it! ”

Philip Salvador, his co-star in Maging Sino Ka Man, called him “a brilliant actor; one of the best of his generation”. Intense and brooding, but immensely talented—that is John Lloyd Cruz. The 2007 Star Awards Best Actor in a Drama Series for his role as Gabriel ‘Eli’ Roxas in Maging Sino Ka Man has trod a long and difficult path to fame, and it’s only now that his sacrifices have finally started to pay off.

Getting his first break in ABS-CBN’s youth-oriented shows like Tabing Ilog, and graduating to more demanding dramatic parts like that of hotshot young lawyer Yuri Orbida in Kay Tagal Kang Hinintay (where his love team with Bea Alonzo was born), John Lloyd’s career is a lesson in patience and a living embodiment of the saying that “The best things come to those who wait.”

Here, John Lloyd shares the words he lives by and the secrets of his success.

You have been an actor for so long, playing many different roles. What is the most difficult thing about your job?

Ang pinakamahirap is that as an actor, you deal with emotions. Sometimes those emotions are very heavy, and it’s hard to let go even after you leave the set. Kaya siguro minsan napapagkamalan akong suplado ng mga tao. What they don’t realize is imposible talagang di ka maapektuhan ng role, lalo na kapag mabigat na drama.

Do you sometimes feel that you’re misunderstood by people because of your job?

I get that a lot. Di ba nga, meron silang tinatawag na ‘John Lloyd mood’? When I’m on the set and I’m internalizing a role, there are times na hindi ako makausap. I take my work seriously.

Is that really part of your work as an actor?

I guess. It comes with the territory. It might sound like nagsusuplado na naman ako, but I don’t expect everyone to like me, or to understand the way I do things.

Where does your motivation for your work come from?

One thing’s for sure: I don’t work for the awards. The acting awards are just a bonus. If people recognize your craft, that’s the main thing. Pero hindi awards ang dahilan kung bakit ka nagtra-trabaho. It should never be the case, otherwise you lose sight of the real reason for being here.

Your meteoric rise in the last few years has people calling you a big threat to the career of many of your fellow ABS-CBN talents, notably Piolo Pascual. How do you feel about that?

I’m just big; I’m not a threat. (Laughs). In all honesty, malayo pa ako sa naabot ni Piolo. He’s done a concert at Araneta Coliseum; I haven’t. I can’t even sing or dance. And seriously, mataas ang respeto ko kay Piolo, both as an actor and as a person. I don’t see myself as being in competition with him.

You have successfully established your own identity as an actor, apart from Piolo. How did you do that? What would you say is the secret of your success?

I think that what it boils down to is realizing and accepting what you can and can’t do. Piolo can sing; I can’t. But I can act. It’s important to find your niche, learn what you’re good at, and develop that.

Who are the people who have helped you succeed in your career?

A lot. Wala naman kasing perpektong artista. There is always something to learn from every person that you work with. Like in Maging Sino Ka Man, I’m privileged to work with really great actors like Tito Ipe (Philip Salvador) and Tito Boyet (Christopher de Leon). Ang dami kong nakukuha sa kanila bilang artista at bilang tao. And I always value what I learn from them. Sometimes, I even learn just by observing them at work.

What advice would you give to those wanting to follow your footsteps in this business?

You have to have a conscious desire to keep wanting to be better. That’s why I never see myself as being in competition with other actors; I’m in competition with myself. Each day, you have to want to better yourself. That’s the only way to succeed.