Drawing power of ‘Team Jolly’ put to test in first starring series ‘Raya Sirena’


Pablo as a mermaid in “Raya Sirena”

Playing a mermaid is a dream Sofia Pablo has been preparing for since she was a young kid. Now she finally gets to be one in the romantic fantasy miniseries “Raya Sirena.”

“It’s my dream role… I have been taking swimming lessons with a mermaid tail since I was 6 or 7, because I have always wanted to do a mermaid-themed film or show on television; I grew up watching lots of those,” she said in a recent virtual conference for the said GMA 7 show, which airs Sunday afternoons starting April 24.

“Raya Sirena” originally aired in September 2021 as a one-off installment of the drama anthology, “Regal Studio Presents.” But because of its good ratings and the positive buzz it generated on social media, GMA 7 and Regal Entertainment decided to do a miniseries out of the episode.

“I jumped when I found out that it was going to be a miniseries because I thought we were going to do only one more episode,” she said. “While I was able to play mermaid last year, I was left wanting for more because I only had a few scenes. This time, I have more scenes wearing the tail and I get to swim in the sea!”

Mermaid role

The seven-part miniseries will continue the story of Raya (Sofia) as she returns to the Casa Elena resort where she first turned into a mermaid. The once bratty Raya has learned a great deal from that experience as she becomes a more loving daughter and a good friend to Gavin (Allen Ansay), the son of their resort’s caretaker.

While the “Team Jolly” love team is part of the afternoon soap “Prima Donnas,” “Raya Sirena” is Sofia and Allen’s first starring series. And they’re both “proud and honored” that they were given a chance to prove their mettle as young actors.

“There are many other love teams, many of which are more popular than us. But we were given this opportunity to show what we’re capable of … we’re worth it,” Sofia said, adding that she does feel some pressure about her new project. “I hope this show makes a similar impact as the first one, because the producers invested a lot in us. I hope many people get to watch it and feel kilig.”

“Team Jolly”: Allen Ansay (left) and Sofia Pablo

“Team Jolly”: Allen Ansay (left) and Sofia Pablo

Popular partnership

Sofia and Allen’s partnership is popular not only with television viewers, but also with social media users. “Team Jolly’s” TikTok videos, for instance, get millions of views and engagements. Asked where they think their onscreen chemistry comes from, the young GMA 7 stars admitted that it’s something they themselves can’t explain.

“When we first did our look test, people told us that we have something special … something they don’t see when we do scenes with other actors. And we’re like, ‘Really? Why?’ We don’t know where it comes from,” Sofia said.

“She’s so easy to work with. If there are kilig moments, we don’t have to work for them as hard because they come naturally for us … because we know each other so well,” Allen added.

Or perhaps it’s because romance is already brewing offscreen? But they’re just best friends, they insisted. Sofia and Allen are just 16 and 19 years old, respectively, and they feel like they’re still too young to be thinking about love life. But do they feel pressure from fans teasing them and wishing that they end up together in the future?

“It’s OK,” Sofia said. Allen, meanwhile, said that if it does come to that in the future, they will have to wait for the right time and be of age. “We don’t feel pressured. It’s OK with us if people feel that way. If I ever end up courting her, it will have to be at the right time and age … maybe when we’re already both OK with our careers,” he said.

While they’re open to working with other actors, Sofia and Allen would rather stick together for now. “We’re used to working with each other, so I guess we will have to adjust if ever we work with someone else,” Allen said.

“I’m OK working with others, but I think it will be better if we continue together, because we have gotten comfortable with each other,” Sofia said.

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