There’s an interesting premise a Netflix show left wide in the open in one of its newest additions to its binge-worthy roster. In The Society, packs of high-school students mysteriously come back to their town only to discover that they are left to fend for themselves, without a trace of their parents or any other adult in town. What were they left with? Their mobile phones that can retrieve and send messages to one another, but no Internet connection that could connect them to the outside world.

We live in an era where the young are subjected to problematic stereotypes: entitled, whiny, materialistic, and Instagram-obsessed, with fleeting attention spans that can only be piqued by superficial fads and inane ideas. Somehow, these labels overshadow everything that remains to be lauded about the kids of today: bold, ferocious, uninhibited in their opinions, unrelenting in their goals.

In The Society, the young may be left clueless as to how to stand on their own, but they slowly adapted to the milieu they were thrust in, finding ways to cope, survive and even thrive. They established a government, formed alliances, crafted rules they believe in, and marched on.

For this issue, we wanted to champion what it’s like to be young, adventurous, and free. We picked two young superstars in the making—graduates of reality talent competitions who soldiered on with their dreams intact, and their eyes on the prize.

Rank met with Kyline Alcantara, a young but “seasoned” actress who’s no stranger to the industry she has envisioned to penetrate and succeed in since she was a young girl. Don’t be fooled by her petite frame, jolly disposition, and easy likability, Kyline is, in so many ways, a force to be reckoned with—backed by an army of over 3 million supporters cheering her every move in social media alone.

Then there’s Paul Salas, 21-year-old dreamer who first walked into public consciousness as a young boy who treated production sets as his playground. 15 years later, he claims to have developed a firmer grasp of the industry that he has literally grew up in—stronger in his vision of leaving an indelible stamp.

One look at their victorious run to the top and it cannot be missed: with these two, much like all of the young ones who are emerging triumphant in the fields of sports, business, media, and politics, the kids are definitely alright.

KYLINE ALCANTARA IS BUILDING HER EMPIRE

On Kyline: Carnation sheer coat by Jann Bungcaras

You need to be reminded that Kyline Alcantara is actually a teenager.

She walks in a room and gets acquainted with everyone like a seasoned personality does—from the styling team, the videographers, down to the shoot assistant who fixes the studio lights and she does so with ease and confidence that you forget this young singer-actress, framed in a petite, lovable frame, is actually a 16-year-old girl who’s been in the business for over a decade now.

She greets her glam team—a duo of hair and makeup artists whom she has worked with in the past and addresses them like they’re long-time friends she hasn’t seen in a long time, or, in her terms, her “mamshies” she longs to share anecdotes with after a long lull of not being together.

It’s a refreshing sight—surprising, even. But not to her. This won’t be the first time she would be described as someone who’s ahead of her years. “A lot of people actually tell me that,” she quips in jest—still beaming with energy even coming straight from a taping that packed up at 3 a.m.

For one, when you ask about her acting influences, she would quickly reply Bella Flores—for her, the queen of show biz ‘kontrabidas’, then Cherie Gil, Gladys Reyes, and Maricel Soriano. It is also important to note that she worships Beyonce, who, at the time of her cover shoot, dropped an album of her now-iconic Coachella performance, which she readily jams and lip synchs to the entirety of the shoot. Again, unlike her contemporaries who may be inclined on icons her own age, she leans on someone who’s a bit out of her age bracket. She’s warm and child-like, but her eyes mean business. One look at her and you see a young, dedicated soul, ready to claim what’s hers for the taking.

“I think it’s because of my family—my parents and how I’ve been raised,” she responds when asked why she comes across more mature than her age. “I believe it’s because of everything that I have gone through. I am glad that I have really started out early and I have taken on responsibilities at a young age. My journey, as early as I have started it, really made me mature to see and take on the world differently.”

Long before she was dubbed “La Nueva Contravida”, winning awards for her show biz break in Kambal, Karibal, she shares that she has been called “Talent ng Bayan”—a young freelancer traipsing from one bit role to the next in almost all local television networks.

“At 7 years old, I started going on auditions and getting roles on television. At 8, I saw that there’s a talent search on TV and I knew I had to be part of it.” She continues, “Growing up in Bicol, I think there’s a good chance my parents thought I was crazy because I like looking at myself in the mirror and performing different emotions. I am so glad that they saw early on that I was serious about acting. They knew that I would be able to multi-task. Even if I would go on these auditions and get my paychecks for these jobs I get, I would be able to continue my studies. And for that, I can’t be thankful enough for having that kind of support system until now.”

The youngest of three children, the long waits in production sets and lines at auditions were her playground but she knew, as well as her family, that she’s meant to take on the industry. “I think as a young person who’s trying to make it in this industry, people would expect we are just here to play and enjoy. That may be true, of course. But I am glad that I was taken seriously. They didn’t expect that I would be that serious about my craft and that I would enjoy it because it’s a dream I worked hard on.”

Fast forward to 2018, in her move to GMA 7, the trajectory of her career has accelerated full blast. In a matter of a year, she was recognized for her role as Cheska and Crisel in Kambal-Karibal, recorded her own album, “Kyline”, which cemented the road to her first solo concert, “Take Fl16ht” at the Skydome in SM North Edsa.

Accolades soon came pouring in for her in the local and international scene, copping the Best Supporting Actress awards from the PMPC Star Awards, the Alta Media Icon Awards and then the National Award at the 1st Asian Academy Creative Awards held in Singapore. As a singer, she was also recognized by the Star Awards for Music, winning New Recording Female Artist for the record, “Sundo.” Just recently, at the Myx Music Awards 2019, she was also nominated in the New Artist of the Year category.

 “For ‘Kambal, Karibal’, sobrang sarap because I get to play with so many characters. I played a total of three characters because that’s what the story required. Sobrang saya ko na binigay nila ang ganung opportunity. I knew from the start that the pa-sweet roles are not for me. There’s nothing wrong about it but I feel the happiest when I am challenged. Mas gusto ko yung napaglalaruan ko yung character,” she shares.

It was a joy to hear a young actress talk about character sketches and influences that span genres and periods and true enough, the fruition of this preparation is critical acclaim, with many insiders calling her the next show biz tour de force. She shared Viola Davis’ role as Annalise Keating in the Hollywood Series How to Get Away with Murder as the influence that drove her performance.

Just recently, she closed yet another chapter of an afternoon drama, where she stepped into the shoes of the lead character in Inagaw na Bituin, playing a young girl raring to take what is rightfully hers in a family of legends.

 “Sa Inagaw na Bituin, there was a big adjustment because I had to approach the role a bit ‘softer’. I play a lead character who was separated from her family, who then found her way back home through music. Iba siya kasi galing ako sa pagiging kontrabida. So, kinailangan kong baguhin ang atake,” she relays. “It definitely is a good feeling wearing all these different hats because it has always been my dream. I feel so lucky that I am given this opportunity and there’s no way I would take advantage of that and I will go the extra mile to make it work,” she said.

Now, in between rehearsals for variety shows like Studio 7 and Sunday Pinasaya in her home network and waiting for an action role she fell in love with playing one of her most recent roles, the multi-faceted teen actress vows to continue to harness her craft, be it through lessons she keeps handy through apps she downloaded to workshops and learning she continues to immerse herself in.

“At my age, I feel like I am still exploring and discovering things about myself. But one thing for sure is that I have the love and support of my family here. And I continue to strive to improve myself, enjoy what I am blessed with, and try my best to succeed in what I do,” she closes with a smile.

PAUL SALAS STANDS HIS GROUND

“I didn’t take it as a job. Parang naglalaro lang ako nun,” Paul Andre Salas, a young man of 21, matter-of-factly recalls his mindset upon his thrust in the scene.

At the young age of six, Paul, the eldest son of Michelle Solinap and Jim Salas, of the iconic Universal Motion Dancers, knew he wanted to be in front of the camera. “We were in Iloilo then and I just told my mom that I want to be an artista. At first, she didn’t like the idea because she wanted me to concentrate on my studies first. I had to convince her and my father that I have what it takes and I can do what I need to do just to be who I was meant to be.”

After a little prodding, his parents were soon convinced to allow him to give acting a try—with a father who is no stranger to the entertainment scene and relatives (actors Dingdong Dantes and Arthur Solinap) who are already regulars in the industry. The year was 2004—an era of reality talent searches and the doors of GMA Network’s Starstruck Kids aided the cause of Paul’s desire to break it to the industry. He has not looked back since.

Blazer, Avel Bacudio. Boots, Doctor Martens.

In my questions to Paul, he lets out quick but sincere answers, all punctuated with a chuckle or a sheepish smile, like a normal young adult would commonly communicate with. But one look at him and there’s definitely nothing common with the way he has grown and lived—not with a life of tapings, television guestings, red carpet premieres, and press conferences, that spanned most of his life.

He appears laidback and unassuming, but an in-depth chat with him uncovers the new, and refreshed outlook that he now has, grounded by his love for his craft and a mission to leave a dent in the business. In fact, only a year after his stint in the now-defunct television show, he has received his very first accolade, the Best Child Performer award for the film, Shake, Rattle, and Roll 2k5.

His climb from obscurity to showbiz prominence may be marked by help from people his DNA afforded him to have but Paul is proud to have led his young career through and through with his unrelenting passion to make it big.

“When I was a young boy who’s dreamt of seeing his name onscreen and wanted to see what it’s like to be in a set, it felt more like I was playing. Parang laro laro lang, enjoy lang. Tinuturuan kami na sumayaw, mag-act, pero para lang kaming naglalaro and I did enjoy the experience,” he shares.

Things changed in his pubescent years, approaching his teenage life. He may have caught the acting bug at a really young age, but the realization of the demands to stay in the fickle and competitive business of show came to him at 13. “Getting into show business is one thing. But making a lasting impression is a whole other story. I started to have this realization that I have to do well and I have to love what I am doing because it is a job I cannot take advantage of. I have to come prepared. I have to be the best version of myself—one project after another.”

For over nine years, he has tested the waters in his move to a different network, a decision that proved to be difficult yet fruitful in his growth as a young actor. But the transition was not just in the craft he chose to hone but in the life he has grown to live.

“Growing up was fun but challenging. For me, it was different. I was home schooled, pero pag no taping, I can go to school. Yung iba kong mga kaklase nakikilala ako na lumalabas ako sa TV, yung iba, inaasar ako, and yung iba naman hater. You won’t feel normal, pero you should strive to be normal because you would lose grasp of yourself. I tried to remind myself and others that I can be and I am just a normal student and that I can live a normal life.”

When he reached his late teenage years, the demand on the roles he was tasked to play, as is expected, compounded. It was a transition that did not come as a breeze but a rather trying phase that called for him to break out of his comfort zone.

Pagdating ng mga 16 to 17, nafeel ko yung mga mature roles na ang dumarating sakin. Nakakapanibago kasi nasanay ako nung bata to be the side kick, to be makulit. Sobrang laki ng adjustment and ng pressure and na-stress ako nun. I remember doing a scene for this teleserye where they asked me to cry and for some reason, I just couldn’t. Pumasok ako ng kotse ko and I just felt bad for myself. But after that, with people guiding and teaching me, I felt relieved. I am growing up. And I have to grow up too—in how I look at my profession and my career. Buti nangyari sakin yun, kasi nalaman ko kung ano ang dapat kong gawin,” he recalls on his professional journey.

With a renewed sense of dedication for his craft now in his arsenal, the young actor took on new challenges for his growing career. Over fifteen years in front of the camera and he still feels like he is just beginning.  In 2018, after almost a decade, he signed back to his mother network, and landed on a role for the series, Kara Mia.

Masaya kasi nalalaro ko ang character ko. May pagka-similar sa character ko in real life. Cool lang. Enjoy. Dun ko na-feel na pag kinikilala mo ang character mo di ka na mahihirapan. And what made it more special is the bond that grows with the people with the same mission as you are. Dun ko na-realize na di biro ang trabahong ito at hindi ka magtatagal kung hindi mo ‘to passion. Yung puyatan, yung pagod, yung negativity in and out of the industry, lahat yun balewala kung mahal mo yung ginagawa mo.”

In between tapings and workshops that aim to harness his acting, and even dancing and singing chops, Paul seeks to land a superhero role, and eventually snag a Best Actor trophy in the future to prove his mettle as an actor—similar to the reception and acclaim received by his acting icon, Dingdong Dantes.

“I’ve never really dreamt of becoming famous. It’s not what I want. Ang gusto ko eh yung makita ng mga tao na may galing ako, at pinaghirapan ko ang anumang meron ako ngayon. That’s the goal and I will continue to work hard for that,” he ended.

Produced and art directed by Leo Balante
Photography by 
Joshua Ke at The One Raw
Styling by 
Kiki Tan and Julianne Mariz
Make up by 
Jason Delos Reyes
Hair by 
Mark Anthony Sto Domingo-Rosales
Nails (for Kyline) by 
POSH NAILS Hand and Foot Spa
Videography by 
Jedidiah Figuerrez
Cover art by 
Cavin Calvin
Special thanks to Artist’s Haven Studio, 
Mark Sablan and Juliana Maxine Vasquez of GMA Artist Center