Catching Up With Jane de Leon, This Generation's Darna
As she turns a year older and as cameras finally start rolling on the set of "Darna: The TV Series," Jane de Leon basks in this new, exciting chapter that’s unfolding in her life
“For me, 2021 feels like a stepping stone to new beginnings,” Darna: The TV Series actress Jane de Leon thoughtfully says. The young actress, who celebrates her 23rd birthday today, November 22, is on the cusp of womanhood and also well on her way to stardom.
With her birthday and the upcoming Christmas season, Jane is brimming with hope and excitement, especially with what’s to come for her in 2022. “I’m feeling happy and blessed not just with Darna: The TV Series but also with the good health for me and my family,” she says, reflecting on the challenging times we are in due to the pandemic.
The birthday glow is evident in Jane’s face, as she shared that her birthday plans might just remain low-key but memorable and happy just the same. “I’m thinking of going out of town since going out of the country is impossible. If not, I’m just going to celebrate at home with friends and family,” she smiles.
Jane admits she wanted a new car for her birthday, but she’s opting to spend her money wisely on a profitable venture instead.
“Mas uunahin ko muna business then after that, maybe a house. We still don’t have anything specific pero p’wedeng pet grooming business. My mom wants a laundry business while my brother naman wants a car wash with a café so magbre-brainstorming muna kami pag-uwi ko. Sobrang nakakatuwa lang kasi isa iyon sa bonding ng family namin and if ever, that will be my first business,” Jane excitedly tells Metro.Style. “Dream ko talaga magkaroon ng house not just for me but also for my family kaya konting tiis pati tiyaga lang. Ibibigay ni Lord iyan.”
This spark of positivity in her is considerably fueled by her finally being on the set, breathing life into her iconic role in Darna: The TV Series. Despite delays due to a number of reasons including the pandemic, this much-awaited project is finally happening, transitioning from being a movie to a TV series. JRB Creative Production is at the helm of this ABS-CBN project.
Life as Darna
Since landing the role of Darna in 2019, Jane’s preparations for the role have been overwhelming yet exciting. “I needed to train physically but I also needed to prepare mentally and emotionally kasi it’s a big role, an iconic role and a big project. Hindi ako dapat kinakain ng overwhelming emotion,” she shares, adding that she has been following a strict diet, working out and doing cardio exercises to prepare for the role.
She admits feeling the pressure but is choosing to channel it in a positive way. “Yes, I feel the pressure. Hindi naman madali iyon kahit sino sa posisyon ko... Mapre-pressure ka but excited. Sobrang excited ako especially if masuot ko na iyong costume and nandoon na ako sa itaas at naka-harness na ako. Baka talagang umiyak ako and I mean, tears of joy,” Jane says.
The actress is especially looking forward to the set she will be working in and the showbiz family she’s about to have in this TV series. “We have already started doing our first lock-in taping for the first cycle. Ipinag-pray ko talaga kay Lord na dapat happy set and family kami. Importante sa amin na dapat family kami lahat and not just thinking about work but also thinking of friendships and also relationships namin sa isa’t-isa. The set is light and we’re just enjoying the moment,” Jane reveals, emphasizing that this is important since they’ll be spending more time together than with their own families while they’re busy with the production. The actress hopes to replicate her positive experience on the set of Coco Martin’s FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano, the longest-running series in Philippine TV, which she described as fun and family-like.
Among the co-stars she will be working with in Darna: The TV Series is Joshua. “Si Joshua, napaka-brilliant na artista. He knows kung ano iyong ginagawa niya and nagtutulungan kami sa set. Sometimes we talk online before, hindi lang namin ine-expect na magkaka-work kami kaya bago sa aming dalawa and inaabangan din namin iyong magiging story namin for this. Off-cam naman, we do bond and talk,” Jane shares.
Jane has also had the chance to bond with castmate Iza, who will also play the role of Darna and Narda’s mother. “Mama Iza has always been there for me and hindi siya napapagod magbigay ng advice. She’s one of the people who told me to always believe in myself and i-embrace ko lang iyong pagiging Darna. Napakalakas niyang tao and napaka-fit na fit na tao talaga! Nakaka-inspire so if you guys want to join Mama Iza and me sa workout namin, why not?” she gleefully narrates.
The production has also recently announced Janella as the actress who will play Valentina, the snake-haired supervillain of the show. Jane expresses how happy she is that Janella was chosen by the management.
“When I found out she will be Valentina, I messaged her personally, and gusto naming magtulungan sa set. Sobrang happy ako. She can pull it off. Knowing Janella, she’s a great actress and this is new for her and for everyone na kontrabida naman iyong side niya. Kaya we’ll see kung ano’ng mangyayari sa aming dalawa as Darna and Valentina.”
Though bagging the highly-coveted role is empowering in itself, Jane’s idea of what empowers her has more to do with empowering other people. “I feel most empowered kapag tinutulungan ko iyong mga taong nangangailangan talaga. Not just physically but also more on mentally because I know the feeling kapag mayroon kang anxiety or depression. Isa talaga sa advocacies ko is magkaroon ng group or to talk about mental health. We can help other people by being there when they need someone to lean on,” the young star says.
Life as plain Jane
Off-camera, the Darna we know is actually a catwoman. Jane spends her free time playing with her 15 cats which she mostly rescued and adopted. Two of her cats—Mia and Mar—were rescued after she discovered them at a taping for Maalaala Mo Kaya. She also previously owned two huskies and is now keeping a corgi. When she’s not working, the actress also finds time for experimenting with dishes and reading books like Atomic Habits.
And while many people and celebrities only recently got acquainted with K-pop and K-drama during the pandemic, Jane is actually one of the OGs (originals) who started her K-journey as early as when she was just 13 years old.
“Bata pa ako mahilig na talaga ako sa K-pop. I’m trying to learn Hangul, the Korean language, kasi gusto ko rin mag-venture sa ibang bansa,” she reveals, her eyes widening with enthusiasm as she talks about the topic.
Like a true fangirl, Jane started sharing her favorites enthusiastically. “Nag-start ako with 2NE1, Girls Generation, Super Junior, f(x), Big Bang, Miss A, After School—sobrang dami! Basta iyong generation ng SS501, CNBlue, 2PM and 2AM. Now kasi new generation so I’m welcoming myself ulit sa groups like Blackpink and Itzy. Sobrang nai-in love ako sa Itzy and pati sa solo artists like Somi and Jessie. I want to see them soon. If after ng Darna and may mga concerts na, I really want to go!” she exclaims.
Likewise, Jane points to K-drama as the reason she’s into acting. She names The Moon Embracing the Sun, Missing You, Guardian: The Lonely and Great God (Goblin), Kingdom, My Name, and Start-Up as her favorites. “Maganda rin mag-observe not just in Korean entertainment but also sa Western like Hollywood movies,” she smiles.
With 2021 wrapping up soon and is about to end beautifully for this actress, Jane couldn’t ask for more even for the holidays. “My Christmas plan is just to be with my family lang and have Noche Buena with them. Simple Christmas pero gusto ko maging unforgettable for us at home,” she responds.
And while this generation’s Darna deserves to be treated like royalty that’s befitting her star status, the item on her Christmas wish list is as modest as her introvert and humble self: “I want a vacuum cleaner. Adulting na kasi talaga. Baka magustuhan rin ng cats ko iyong robot vacuum cleaner. Hindi ko na kailangan magwalis-walis,” she beams and laughs.
Happy birthday, Jane!
Photos from Metro.Style archive:
Produced by Grace Libero-Cruz
Photography by Charisma Lico
Creative director: Randz Manucom
Sittings editors: Geolette Esguerra and Kate Paras-Santiago
Makeup by Effie Go-Iñigo
Hairstyling by Jay Wee
Styling by Cath Sobrevega, assisted by Riri Verano, Kristine Landingin, and Jem Arboleda
Special thanks to The Cravings Group and Star Magic