14 years ago, the teen show Spirits was the adventure-charged, alien-fighting series that sparked the careers of then-rising stars Rayver Cruz, Maja Salvador, Michelle Madrigal, John Wayne Sace, and more. Fast-forward to 2018, the newly launched streaming platform iWant is bringing forth a reboot of this '90s-set supernatural story with six fresh faces who are geared to make their own mark in the world of show business.
Among the cast of this year's Spirits Reawaken is young actor Grae Fernandez who takes on the character of Red, previously portrayed by Rayver, the new kid who moved from the States and soon finds himself spearheading a group of fellow teenagers with superhuman abilities. As they navigate a world of alien forces and internal struggles, Red, along with Gabbie, Jesse, Lloyd, Maya, and Nato, is on a journey to self-discovery with a purpose for the greater good.
From being part of a promising young cast to having the chance to take part in an iconic story, Spirits Reawaken is a dream for any teen actor like Grae. But what ultimately drew him to this breakout project is the fresh screenplay. "Every time talaga na may bago kaming script for the week, ang ganda ng ine-exert na effort sa pag-gawa ng story," he says. "Every time na nababasa ko yung script, naa-amaze talaga ako sa quality."
Considering that this is his first lead role, Grae obviously had his fair share of jitters. Starring in a series as a newbie is already heart-pounding on its own. But taking on a reboot of a show with an all-star original cast is on another level of nerve-wracking. However, the 17-year-old knew how to handle the pressures well. When it comes to prepping for this remake, Grae shares that research was key, saying, "I watched the old videos of the original Spirits. I looked at Kuya Rayver at kung paano niya atakihin 'yung role."
Another thing that helped Grae feel more at ease is the "chill" working environment led by director Topel Lee. "First time ko may nakatrabaho na parang hindi nase-stress sa set," Grae says about the acclaimed film and television director.
Of course, there's also nothing like working with a bunch of rising stars who are the in the same league as Grae. It gives him a sense that they're all starting at the same point and learning together not just as workmates but as budding friends.
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In the series, fresh face Chantal Videla plays the gentle-mannered and over-achiever Gabbie, Red's love interest. On set, Grae describes Chantal as the "angel" of the group with her soft and innocent qualities. On the other hand, he says Jairus Aquino and Bugoy Carino (who play Jesse and Nato respectively) are the loudest among them and usually spark the teasing. According to Grae, Kira Balinger, who follows the footsteps of Maja Salvador as Maya, joins in the rowdiness of the boys, considering her as the "dark horse" when it comes to contributing to their humorous vibe. Lastly, Patrick Quiroz, who takes on the role of Lloyd and form a love triangle with Red and Gabbie, is Grae's closest friend among the cast as they share the same interests and hobbies.
When asked how he fits into this six-piece gang, Grae claims to be the "observer" which was evident during our previous video shoot with the whole cast. He'd usually just sit by himself during downtime, watching videos on his phone while the rest were chatting or throwing banters at each other.
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But Grae's "guarded" character isn't to be mistaken as a negative quality. Once he's thawed the ice, he breaks into a charming lad filled with bright-eyed insights. "I'm still learning my craft, pero ang mahalaga sa ngayon ay 'yung pagmamahal ko sa trabaho ko," he says. Much like Red, Grae is at a point in his life where he's beginning to discover where his passion and purpose lie. After all, he still has a whole path ahead of him, and there’s no need to rush.
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Photographed by Miguel Alomajan
Creative Direction by Madel Asuncion
Art Direction by Mikka Caronan
Styled by Matt Panes
Grooming by Dexter Gonzalgo
Video by Salt Bandits