It’s career and love for busy couple KimJe

Singer-actor Kim Molina is very well-organized and always knows her priorities. And those priorities are career and love.

The love of her life is Jerald Napoles, the actor-singer whom she has been living in with for about four of their nine-year relationship. The pair has also put up a number of business companies that have nothing to do with showbiz, and those firms are doing well.

Molina is set to play the lead role in Ateneo Blue Repertory’s production of Zsazsa Zaturnnah The Musical… Yun Lang starting 17 March. Now, we’re dishing out that she and Napoles are also topbilling a new weekly sitcom, Team A, which begins airing 18 March on TV5 at 9:30 p.m.

On the second week of January this year, she and Jerald, along with fellow Viva Films actor Gab Lagman, met with showbiz press people at Botejyu restaurant at Vertis Ayala Mall, QC, to talk about their movie, Girlfriend na Pwede Na. The rom-com was Viva Films’ opening salvo in the cinemas for 2023, opening on 18 January.

What Molina hinted in that restaurant huddle was that she was going to do a stage musical, though she didn’t spill out details. Now we know it’s ZsaZsa Zaturnnah.

Napoles is not in the cast of the musical, but he surely already knew at the restaurant presscon about his partner’s upcoming musical. That must be why he chimed in with a “panawagan” to film producers to bankroll a musical movie starring the two of them so people can watch them dancing and singing together again.

The couple is now managed by Viva Artists Agency. They’ve done four movies for Viva as a love team, including those that were shown only online at the height of the pandemic.

It was in Rak of Aegis, the hit Philippine Educational Theater Association musical, that they first met and fell in love for real (they were also sweethearts in the story). That was in 2014, the musical’s first season (and it had several, turning out to be Peta’s most successful production so far). Molina and Napoles alternated with Aicelle Santos and Pepe Herrera. (Benj Manalo was also cast as an alternate male lead in later seasons).

After finishing Girlfriend na Pwede Na, Jerald and Kim began taping for Team A, which is jointly produced by TV5 and Viva Television. Anjo Yllana, Yayo Aguila and Gene Padilla are also said to be in the cast.

Photograph courtesy of IG/kimsmolina
KIM Molina as ZsaZsa Zaturnnah.

Childhood in Saudi

Kim grew up in Saudi Arabia where her parents work. Her father is a well-established dentist there. She started singing at the age of two and began performing as front act to local Filipino artists in Middle East shows at the age of five.

At 14, she won ABS-CBN’s Middle East search for The Filipino Channel Pop Star, besting winners from Kuwait, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Dubai.

In 2009 she was chosen to represent the Middle East at the World Championships of the Performing Arts in Los Angeles, California. She was a multi-medalist and was awarded the title Senior Grand Champion Vocalist of the World.

As a stage actress, she had her professional theater debut with Viva Atlantis’ production of Disney’s Tarzan in 2013. She was then included in the original Asian cast of Carrie: the Musical as Frieda, and played the role of Oda Mae Brown’s younger sister Louise in the musical stage adaptation of Ghost, both under Atlantis Productions.

In 2014, she did her first stage lead role in Peta’s Rak of Aegis. Later, she performed with Bituin Escalante in the musical Kung Paano Ako Naging Leading Lady, also a creative output of Vergara. That seemed to be her last musical theater performance; soon after, she started landing support and eventually lead roles on TV and in the movies.

Napoles’ last theater appearance was in a repeat of Care Divas, a Peta musical in 2011 that had two repeat seasons. Napoles, too, got recruited to the movies and TV, including a guest stint on ABS-CBN’s Ang Probinsyano.

Molina is now busy rehearsing for Zsazsa Zaturnnah, taping Team A, and managing with Napoles their companies. Zsazsa Zaturnnah opens 17 March at the Black Box Theater of the Arete in Ateneo.

Though they’ve been staying together for about four years now, they aren’t anxious to have children yet or get married. They do know their priorities, right?

International singing tilt

We mentioned Kim Molina as 2009 grand champion of the World Championships of the Performing Arts in Los Angeles, California.

Jed Madela is touted to be the first Pinoy to achieve the highest honors at the WCOPA in 2005. Another one, though, did it in 2017: Cristiani Rebada of the Philippine Opera Company.

The WCOPA claims to be the first and only international competition to find and crown the best aspiring performing artists worldwide. This very competitive event is held annually in the US and is often referred to as the “Olympics of the Performing Arts.” Competitors of every age are judged in acting, singing, dancing, modeling, instrumentation and various other categories.

Like the Olympics, the finest aspiring competitors from countries are qualified and invited. Every contestant is screened, qualified and selected under specific guidelines. The competition was founded by Griff O’Neil in 1996. O’Neil used to be a Miss Universe executive.

Photograph courtesy of IG/Jerald Napoles
JERALD Napoles

The World Championships has sought out and found the next World Stars from over 70,000 applicants and 47 countries in its decade-long competition, which culminates in an annual televised final awards show in Hollywood.

​The contestants are grouped by age into Juniors and Seniors, and then a winner is selected in each performance category for both Juniors and Seniors over a week-long elimination process. Industry heavyweights, talent agents, record executives and television producers judge the talents to determine who moves to the finals.

Once in the finals, a champion is selected by 16 celebrity judges from among the top three to four performers in each category and both age groups. Of the eight category winners, a Junior and Senior Grand Champion Performer of the World is selected and awarded.

Rebada hails from Cadiz City in Negros Occidental. In 2017, when he came home from the WCOPA event at Long Beach, California, he brought six medals with him (two gold medals as Grand Finalist and for Opera, three silvers for Broadway, Gospel and Open, and a bronze for Pop).

He also earned the Industry award, a glass globe, and a plaque as the division winner for Opera, and two major awards: the glass star trophy as the Senior Grand Champion Vocalist of the World and the diamond glass trophy as the Senior Grand Champion Performer of the World.

Not bad for a shy boy whose father had to enroll him in a bel canto school because the dad and the mom noticed that at the age of two, he could mimic the songs he heard and could do so in tune and without missing a beat.

In sixth grade, Rebada overcame his shyness and began to join amateur contests in Cadiz and in neighboring towns, winning in many of them.

To become an even better singer, he studied Music at Silliman University, major in Voice. To earn a living from his talent for classical singing, he joined the Philippine Opera Company (in Makati) and performed in the company’s “Harana” concerts. The POC runs a school for classical singing, and Rebada was accepted to teach there. He also sang in corporate events.

Recent recognitions

Rebada also reaped awards in the Philippines in 2017: the 29th Asia-Pacific Excellence 2017 Awards, Asian Achiever 2017 as an Outstanding Asian Young Performer, and the 2017 Asian Entertainer Award as Outstanding Young Performing Artist.

His recent recognitions include the 2022 Gawad Amerika as Classical Crossover Artist of the Year and the 2022 Spotlight Award as Best Classical Artist.

Today, in California, he is part of the group Fil-Trio, with Los Angeles-based “master balladeer” Kenneth Laurente and Broadway star Lyndon Apostol, both Filipinos.

On 29 September last year, Rebada’s debut single, “Ikaw Pa Rin,” started streaming on Spotify and other online streaming platforms.

The Fil-Trio, meanwhile, has been performing in many parts of California along with Jaya, Tootsie Guevarra, and other Pinoy talents who have made the US their home.

Now that the Philippines is practically back to normal and entertainment events are sprouting everywhere for entertanment-loving Pinoys, he is raring to come home and sing even pop songs and ballads to his kababayan.

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