“Sige nga, try ko.” (“Alright! I’ll give it a try.”)
Kyle Velino never really imagined being into show business and being an actor. Growing up, he had many people encourage him to do so, but he never took it to heart until the year he auditioned for reality show Pinoy Big Brother—a random push towards an unexpectedly right direction. Although he failed to earn himself a spot in that season’s set of housemates, ABS-CBN had other plans for him.
Johnny Manahan, more commonly known as Mr. M, saw his audition tape and called him to a workshop. After his first one, he was immediately presented with a contract under Star Magic. The rest, as they say, was history.
He starred in minor roles on seryes in the Kapamilya network, namely The Good Son, The Killer Bride, Playhouse, and more. But it was the 2020 web series, Gameboys, that ultimately changed the game for the budding actor.
According to Velino, The IdeaFirst Company already had him in mind while writing the character of Terrence, the antagonist set to go through lengths to tear the main love team of Gavreel and Cairo apart.
It surprised him to hear that the writers remembered him from an audition for a different project under the company two years prior. But it shocked him even more that the role was offered to him in the time of this pandemic, when he thought his career would take an indefinite break. One audition tape he thought was long forgotten granted him an opportunity that would propel him from obscurity into the promising star that he is from the first-ever Filipino-made Boy’s Love (BL) web series: “Kung para sayo, para sayo talaga.” (“If it is meant for you, it really is for you.”)
And there it was: Gameboys.
Playing the kontrabida (villain) role, Velino entered the Gameboys universe as the third party that will drive a wedge between the main love team—one of which is his ex-boyfriend, Gavreel.
The character of Terrence was so effective in portraying an ex persistent in getting his old lover back, that fans of the series truly felt wary of his every word and action, with theories all over the Internet dissecting his lines.
But it was definitely in episode 13.5, Alt Gameboys, where Terrence’s character blossomed into the next level of anti-hero with a look into his complex and dynamic story. The special episode, set in the timeline after episode 13 but following Terrence’s adventures online, takes on a darker and more intimate tone.
Alt Gameboys is aptly titled as such to depict Terrence’s venture into the “alter universe,” a generally taboo topic that spotlights the “dark side of Twitter,” as some may call it.
Viewers were surprised that the series even chose to talk about it, as most people create “alt accounts” to conceal their identities online for whatever personal reason—most of which revolve around sharing explicit content and meeting strangers for sexual pleasures. But for Terrence, his character represented the small group of people on the alternate feed in search for someone—anyone—to talk to.
“Sometimes our anonymous self is our truest self.”
On the alternate universe, Terrence made the leap to talk to a total stranger—something that is usually frowned upon in light of the many creeps that inhabit the Internet. In his loneliness and despair, he took the risk for a chance of true companionship.
And it is in this display of depth that his character transcended from a run-of-the-mill villain into a complex human being that viewers resonated and deeply related with. And allowing his acting chops to be displayed in subtle but effective fashion.
This episode is just one of the many examples on how Gameboys gracefully represented real people throughout the series. With Velino’s portrayal of Terrence, he who was initially the mere antagonist viewers wanted to be rid of was dissected further into a multi-faceted person with his own pains, motives, and story.
As Velino put it, the series and the team behind it took complete responsibility over making sure people felt seen and represented throughout the story, which could be seen with every character who was different and unique in their own way.
“For me, yung pinakaimportante dito is yung role na pino-portray mo, yung mga tao na nanunuod sayo na nakaka-relate sayo. Feeling ko yun talaga, eh. Yung nakaka-inspire ka ng ibang tao na, ‘ah, storya ko to.’ Feel ko yun yung madadala mo habang buhay. Yung maaalala ka kasi may nagawa kang isang project na tumatak sa maraming tao. Yun yung greatest blessing or achievement ng isang aktor.” (“For me, the most important thing is the role that you are portraying and the people who are watching who can relate to you. I feel that is the key. To inspire people and make them feel that they are seen. For them to recognize that it’s ‘their story’. I feel that that’s what I will forever bring with me. That you are remembered for doing a project that made its mark on people. That’s the greatest blessing of an actor.”)
Hence, the butterfly effect. The theory that each individual action sets off a series of consequences, and one small difference would create an entirely altered course of events.
In this case, Gameboys moved and inspired many members of the LGBTQIA+ community to be proud of their identity and love, “Yung mga nanuod ng Gameboys, sana nagkaron sila ng lakas ng loob magpakatotoo sa sarili nila.” (“Those who watch Gameboys, I just hope that they find the strength to be true to themselves.”)
Moreover, Velino’s portrayal of Terrence opened much-needed discussions on the complexities of man, and being responsible on the Internet (especially in the “Dark Side”), among many other things.
When asked about his similarities with his character, the 20-year-old actor answered, “Pareho kaming hindi perpektong tao.” (“We’re both imperfect human beings.”)
And that’s something that rings true for all characters in Gameboys who successfully showed the different sides of being human and being in love in today’s modern world.
And just like that, from a random audition from his early days in the industry rippled into him playing a major part in a whole movement across a community that was often either underrepresented, or misrepresented.
Produced by Leo Balante
Fashion and styling by Avel Bacudio
Photography by Jan Mayo
Grooming by Nadynne Esguerra
Shot on location at the Penthouse Studio