SEOUL, South Korea – Filipino actress Cherish Maningat appears in the Korean movie “Stand by Me” starring well-known and respected veteran actor Lee Soon-jae.
The film is about a grandfather (played by Lee Soon-jae) who is raising his two grandkids alone. He soon learns he has only a short time to live so he arranges a special gift for them. In the film, Maningat plays the role of Vanessa, the kids’ mom.
In an exclusive interview with Bulletin Entertainment in Seoul, Maningat talked about her career in Korean theater and movies, working with Korean stars and her dream male co-stars.
“Stand by Me” is Maningat’s fifth Korean film. She is also a musical actress, acting coach, English teacher and event host in Korea.
Maningat has been living in South Korea for 11 years. After getting her BA Communication Arts degree at the University of Sto. Tomas, she applied for a master’s degree scholarship at the Korean National University of Arts. She got accepted, studied for three years and graduated with a Master of Fine Arts in Directing in 2011.
“At first, nag-start ako sa Korean musical productions,” she said. Among her theater projects were “Birds by Aristophanes,” “Who Missile Punched Muhammad Ali’s Temple?”, “Twelve Singing Animals” and “Arirang Fantasy,” which ran from 2011 to 2012.
While she was performing in the theater, a talent scout told her, “Why don’t you try to audition for a movie?’”
She auditioned for the 2013 film “My Little Hero,” starring Kim Rae-won, Ji Dae-han, Jo An and Lee Kwang-soo, about a Filipino-Korean child who is selected to compete for the role of a main child actor in a musical about King Jeongjo for a Broadway production. Maningat played the role of Ji Dae-han’s mom.
In 2016, she appeared in three Korean films: “Showdown” starring Lee Joo-seung, Oh Ji-ho, Lee Jung-jin and Shin Jung-geun; “Bacchus Lady” headlined by actress Youn Yuh-jung; and “Missing” starring Gong Hyo-jin and Uhm Ji-won.
She’s the only Filipino actress currently working in Korea. She’s also been offered roles on TV dramas but she declined them because of schedule conflict with her works as acting coach and English teacher, which are her full-time jobs.
Through films, Maningat has worked with Korean stars as Kim Rae-won, Youn Yuh-jung, Yoon Kye-sang (who is also part of the boy band g.o.d), Lee Jung-jin and Lee Soon-jae.
Among them, she picked Lee Soon-jae as the star she had a great time working with, saying he’s “very warm.”
She described Kim Rae-won, who rose to fame via the dramas “Attic Cat” and “Love Story in Harvard,” as “very professional” and “strict” when it comes to acting. Maningat said Gong Hyo-jin is “cool” to be with. She played the star’s friend in “Missing.”
Asked about the good things about working in the Korean film industry, she said, “Good experience like yung mga nasa production teams, even the actors and staff, many of them accept me even though I’m a foreigner. They’re very warm.”
Given the chance to pick Korean male stars to work with, Maningat chose Gong Yoo, Kang Dong Won, Park Seo-joon, Park Hyung-sik, Lee Min Ho and Lee Dong Wook.
As for her future plans about acting in Korea, Maningat said, “Before I used to have plans na parang gusto in five years dapat kilala na ako.”
But in 2016, she realized that “I will just take it when it comes. When there’s nothing [offers], it’s okay. Ang iniisip ko na lang sa kanya ay parang dessert. So when there’s no dessert, it’s okay. When there’s dessert, it’s nice, I’m happy.”
If opportunity comes, she will make acting her main career, saying, “I would pursue it. But for now, I’ll just take it as it comes.”
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