Stronger Than Ever

MANILA, Philippines – It is a natural human instinct to typecast people we often see, whether they are celebrities or social media personalities. We tend to put them in buckets in terms of perception and expectation, and it is very rare that they break this stereotype and surprise us with their depth and facets.

One such celebrity is Jane de Leon, the most recent in a long line of actresses who played the iconic Filipino super heroine Darna — but rightly so when the country was engulfed in the COVID-19 pandemic, and everybody needed a hero. We caught up with Jane at the turn of the year to talk about the year that was and what lies ahead.

Crossing Over From 2023 to 2024

Jane says that 2023 was very good to her although — like you and me — there were ups and downs along the way. “The highlights last year that I can consider are that I’ve traveled and visited many different places. I had like 8 travels in 2023,” she shares happily. “Career-wise, I was thankful that people were trusting me with projects after Darna.”

While not all potential projects pushed through due to conflicts in schedules, Jane feels blessed to have been part of a select few that did well, such as “Shake, Rattle, and Roll Extreme” which did well. Her next project is about to begin filming: a movie with Janella Salvador to be directed by Jun Lana.

When asked what her goals are in 2024 in terms of her career, Jane has a quick and simple answer: “My goal is to get more offers from outside and work with foreign artists. I look forward to having more projects and opportunities this 2024.”

 

Darna: More Than a Role

In 2023, Jane appeared in other high-rating soaps like “Ang Probinsiyano” and “Ipaglaban Mo,” (among others) but is best remembered as Darna. In the Philippine showbiz landscape, this is almost always a big deal. How has playing Darna in today’s time, for today’s generation, and post-pandemic helped Jane as a woman?

“Playing Darna is a blessing to me as it opened doors for more opportunities despite the fact that It was aired when the network was not at its best,” she says. “I’m forever grateful to the management for trusting me to play the iconic role.”

“Darna made me more empowered as a woman. I get to embrace the real essence of compassion and empathy,” she continues. “It helped me develop and strengthened my values and self confidence as a person especially at this time where social media is one big underlying factor of one’s weakness and vulnerability.”

 

A Good Influencer

Speaking of social media, Jane has more than 10 million followers collectively across your social media accounts. This makes her a heroine in the eyes of young girls. What would she tell them about standing up for themselves and others? To fight for what is right?

“We live in a world where social media greatly influences our lives; with people who are mostly prejudiced with one another,” Jane says, her face serious. “Standing up for yourself and others for what is right is a bold and courageous move, especially for those who would opt to silently fight for themselves.”

“If that would liberate you from the burden, then go for it. Your words could impact one’s life positively.”

 

What sets Jane apart from other “influencers” we often see is that she doesn’t show too much skin in order to amass engagement. What does she think is the importance and effect of what she posts in shaping the perception of beauty among younger girls joining and using social media?

“What’s important when you post something on social media is to show your motivation and confidence,” Jane says thoughtfully. “You can be simple and plain in your posts but when people see that confidence in you, your beauty will naturally radiate and inspire others.”

A question that begs to be asked: How does Jane think girls can protect themselves from predators, abuse, and the lifting of their publicly posted content for malicious use by strangers who follow them?

Jane’s advice: “It is important for girls, especially the young ones, to be observant on social media. Be mindful and wise in exposing yourselves to the public’s eyes. Also, do not post everything on social media like daily activities, location, and the person you’re with — that will make you a target of the predators lurking on your profile.”

Relatable and Real

Jane is one of the few relatable celebrities who are not ashamed that she had to fight and work hard to get where she is right now. It was not smooth sailing for her family and her finances, and she persevered to make it in show business in order to support her family. She has had her share of rejection and missed opportunities. Looking back and knowing what she knows now, would she do things differently?

“I was in fashion and commercial modelling before I started my showbiz career with ABS-CBN under Star Magic and my manager, Tyronne Escalante in 2016,” Jane recalls. “It was typical of an introverted young girl like me at that time to be naive and shy and have insecurities, especially when around other artists and people in the industry.”

She continues: “If I knew then what I know now, things would definitely be a lot different. Since I am motivated, I can prepare well and present  myself better; be more confident and a bit aggressive in my goals and plans.”

Jane’s Deepest Wish

Since this interview happened during the holiday season, we asked Jane what she would have asked Santa Claus for her Christmas wish if she had one. “My one wish is for my Dad to be with us for he is my deepest longing,” she says. “I miss my Dad so much and I always wish for him to also experience the life we have now because he deserved it. I love you, Papa Rouel +”

To her fans, Jane has this to say: “Happy New Year to all of you! I am so thankful and grateful for the love and support I am getting from you all these years. I so much appreciate all the efforts you have shown just to support me in all my engagements and activities the past years.”

“To Team Jane, Janedelions, Janeshua, and JaneNella, I know some of you who stayed and never left me. I say, THANK YOU and I LOVE YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART! ❤️”

“Stay united and iwasan ang misunderstanding among yourselves. Marami pa tayong pagsasamahan and I hope to see you all again sa mga future nating ganaps. Be safe and take care of yourselves always 😘”

Photography: Von Oneil Buenconsejo
Styling and Creative Direction: Janno Styles
Art Direction: John Patrick
Makeup: Owen Sarmiento
Hair: Jay Wee
Fashion: Breastplate by Nash August  ; pants by Ron Ramiro
Styling Associate: Bev Orlanes
Studio and Set Design: Joseph Coo and Carlo Moulic
Story by Katherine Magsanoc
Shot at: The I am Abi Studio

Special thanks to: Tyronne Escalante Artist Management Tyronne Escalante @tyronneescalante, Roj Miguel @rojmiguel, Abi Miguel, Lisa Marie Carandang @lisa_mariec