Meet the 12 new faces of Star Magic

The talent management company behind the Philippine entertainment industry's brightest stars has introduced its latest batch of bets for stardom.
In the tradition of grooming and preparing hopefuls into full-fledged artists, ABS-CBN's Star Magic on Thursday formally introduced its 12 new "discoveries" of different backgrounds -- athletes, students, models and showbiz royalties.

Having started in 1992, Star Magic has produced some of the Philippines' most recognizable artists including Coco Martin, Angelica Panganiban, Piolo Pascual, Bea Alonzo, John Lloyd Cruz, Jodi Sta. Maria, Gerald Anderson, and Kim Chiu.

Now on its 21st year of discovering talents, the talent center has recruited fresh faces anew to form "Star Magic Circle 2013."

Here's what we know about them so far:

Alex Diaz, 17
Birthday: July 21
Talents: Acting, dancing, hosting, singing
Alex Diaz 

Of Scottish-Filipino descent, Diaz was based in Canada for two years before landing a part in a TV commercial in the Philippines. The upcoming actor said his father had initial reservations about his planned career path. Even then, he pursued work as a commercial model.

The stint opened opportunities for the 17-year-old, including an invitation to audition for Star Magic. Before the door to ABS-CBN's talent center opened, however, Diaz lready tried his luck in joining the reality TV show "Pinoy Big Brother." Currently a Marketing Management student at the Enderun Colleges, Diaz said he hopes to star in his own film or TV series in the future.

Ingrid dela Paz, 18
Birthday: April 10
Talents: Acting, dancing
Ingrid dela Paz

The Far Eastern University student's "discovery" as a potential star came as a wonderful stroke of luck. She was one of the ushers at an ABS-CBN event, the Gawad Eugenio Lopez Awards, when she met the network's President and CEO Charo Santos-Concio. Dela Paz said she was overjoyed to have been urged by Santos-Concio herself to try her luck at showbiz.

Admittedly, dela Paz has long dreamed of becoming an actress. She was even a member of a drama club in high school, which she said helped boost her confidence. Pointing to her family as her inspiration, the 18-year-old hopes to take on more dramatic portrayals after appearing in an episode of the long-running drama anthology "Maalaala Mo Kaya."

Jerome Ponce, 17
Birthday: June 4
Talents: Acting, dancing
Jerome Ponce 

Ponce is surely a familiar face to fans of the top-rating kilig-serye "Be Careful With My Heart." In the series, the 17-year-old portrays Luke, the son of Richard Lim a.k.a. Sir Chief (Richard Yap).

Before joining the daytime soap, Ponce attempted twice to enter the popular "Pinoy Big Brother." But as luck would have it, his go-see to join the reality TV show led him to auditioning for "Be Careful With My Heart" instead. For now, the former Mapua University student said he would like to stick to the "good boy" image he's built as Luke. Eventually, however, Ponce said he would be more than ready to step up as a versatile actor.

Jane Oineza, 16
Birthday: July 22
Talents: Acting, dancing, hosting, singing
Jane Oineza 

Oineza recently made headlines as the only Filipina actress to have earned a nod at the upcoming New York Festivals. She is nominated as Best Actress for her role as a young girl who was raped by her stepfather in an episode of "Maalaala Mo Kaya."

One of the original cast of the kiddie gag show "Goin' Bulilit," Oineza has successfully crossed over to dramatic acting, with roles in TV series like "Ligaw na Bulaklak" and "Maria la del Barrio." Pointing to her idol Bea Alonzo's versatility as her inspiration, the 16-year-old said she would like to take on roles in action films, romantic-comedy movies, and even more drama TV offerings.

Jon Lucas, 17
Birthday: August 18
Talents: Acting, dancing, singing
Jon Lucas

Lucas initially only planned to pursue a career in basketball, but his stint in a pageant in 2010 served as a boost of confidence that he could have a chance at showbiz. Fast-forward to 2012, the 17-year-old was 129th in line at the auditions for Star Magic Circle Batch 2013.

Currently part of the primetime series "Kahit Konting Pagtingin" as Angeline Quinto's brother, Lucas said he looks foward to working with his idols Coco Martin and John Lloyd Cruz, as well as his dream leading lady Erich Gonzales.

Janella Salvador, 14
Birthday: March 30
Talents: Acting, singing
Janella Salvador

Only on her first role in a "teleserye," Salvador has already managed to trend an expression among avid viewers of "Be Careful With My Heart." As Sir Chief's daughter Nikki in the top-rating series, Salvador is now known for her character's favorite expression, "Oh my G!"

The daughter of actress-singer Jenine Desiderio and singer Juan Miguel Salvador, the 14-year-old said she hopes to star in her own "teleserye" in the future, citing the likes of her primetime favorites "Ina, Kapatid, Anak" and "Princess and I." Her dream leading man? Daniel Padilla.

Julian Estrada, 17
Birthday: January 15
Talents: Acting, dancing
Julian Estrada 

Estrada is following in his dad's and granddad's footsteps. The son of Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, the 17-year-old already has a taste of showbiz, having appeared in the lawmaker's 2008 film "Katas ng Saudi."

Currently a high school student at OB Montessori, Estrada said his interest in acting has made him less shy. Pursuing it as a career now, he hopes to make his family of actors proud. For now, Estrada is leaning towards taking on "bad boy" roles, perhaps even opposite his showbiz crush Anne Curtis.

Julia Barretto, 15
Birthday: March 10
Talents: Acting, dancing
Julia Barretto 

Showbiz is very much part of this 15-year-old's genes. She is the daughter of actress Marjorie Barretto and comedian Dennis Padilla, and the niece of entertainment royalties Claudine and Gretchen. For this aspiring actress, joining showbiz has been a long time coming.

Aside from eyeing a soap opera of her own -- she cited Sam Milby as her ideal co-star -- Barretto said she is willing to learn singing to hopefully become a recording artist. Now all set to finally make acting a career, Barretto said she would like to be known for her talent, and not for her famous aunts and parents.

Khalil Ramos, 16
Birthday: January 22
Talents: Acting, dancing, singing
Khalil Ramos 

He first rose to fame as a finalist in the reality talent search "Pilipinas Got Talent." With a self-titled album and a top-rating series almost immediately following, Ramos regards his first year in showbiz as a big blessing.

But for the graduating high school student, a singing career, over doing more acting roles, takes priority. Nonetheless, Ramos said he is open to doing more TV series, citing as a fulfilling experience his working relationship with the likes of Gretchen Barretto and Albert Martinez in "Princess and I."

Liza Soberano, 15
Birthday: January 4
Talents: Acting, dancing, singing
Liza Soberano 

Soberano is set to make a splash this March as she plays a third of a "love triangle" in the upcoming romantic-comedy movie "Must Be Love." The 15-year-old said she is thrilled to star with Daniel Padilla and Kathryn Bernardo for her first big screen project.

Preceding her debut film, Soberano has already appeared on TV as the younger sister of Jake Cuenca in the defunct afternoon series "Kung Ako'y Iiwan Mo." Since her first taste of acting, the American-Pinay said she has already grown to love the craft. Going forward, Soberano sees herself taking on "good girl" roles and "kawawa" characters.

Kit Thompson, 16
Birthday: February 15
Talents: Acting, dancing
Kit Thompson

Popularly known for his stint as a teen housemate in "Pinoy Big Brother," Thompson's start in showbiz was as a ramp model at a Bench fashion show. At the event, a stylist had asked him to audition for the reality TV show. After exiting the famous yellow house, Thompson debuted on primetime TV via the drama series "Kahit Puso'y Masugatan."

Along with Soberano, the 16-year-old is set to join the cast of "Must Be Love." Going forward, Thompson said he hopes to do more drama projects in the vein of his first TV role.

Michelle Vito, 15
Birthday: October 4
Talents: Acting, dancing, singing
Michelle Vito

Already a model at an early age, it was only a matter of time before Vito explored the world of acting. Last year, she made a mark on afternoon TV as the teen "kontrabida" in the fantasy series "Aryana."

The role may have earned her unfavorable responses from fans of the show, but Vito said she values taking on the "mean girl" character as it honed her skills as an actress. Citing Bea Alonzo and Julia Montes as her idols, Vito said she hopes to follow in the Kapamilya actresses' footsteps.

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