MANILA, Philippines - It pays to have good looks and show biz genes.
For her uncanny resemblance to ?Gossip Girl? actress Leighton Meester, Maxine Eigenmann easily bagged a major role when she auditioned for the local youth drama show, ?Lipgloss.?
?Although she didn?t have to act during the auditions, she?s proven to be the best actress in the team. It?s in her genes. Dugong Eigenmann kasi,? said Cris Pablo, one of the show?s directors.
Maxine?s dad, veteran actor Mark Gil, is also brother to equally talented thespians Michael de Mesa and Cherie Gil.
?Maxine is perfect for the role of Abby. From certain angles, she looks just like Blair Waldorf (Meester?s character in ?Gossip Girl?),? added co-director Aleah Enrico.
?Lipgloss? is loosely based on the American hit drama series ?Gossip Girl?: From an anonymous blogger, viewers find out about the lives of students of the ultra-exclusive Linden High. The blog becomes the school?s ?unofficial? website.
Maxine plays Abby, who grudgingly accepts playing second to best friend Meg (Saab Magalona) in a popularity contest. For Abby, what?s more important is her boyfriend Jake?s (Rodjun Cruz) undivided attention. Her vindictive side is unmasked when she discovers that Jake has feelings for her best friend.
Maxine and Saab (daughter of rap musician/TV host Francis Magalona) are joined by ?Little Big Star? winner Sam Concepcion who plays Kyle, the secret moderator of the website Lipgloss.
Rodjun, brother of teen heartthrob Rayver Cruz, is the show?s main antagonist.
100 teen talents
According to Pablo, over 100 teens turned up for the auditions. ?We made sure not to get talents who look alike. Gusto namin iba-ibang mukha,? he explained. ?We also made sure to pick actors with personalities that match those of the characters they would portray.?
But the show is more conservative than ?Gossip Girl,? Enrico pointed out. ?We made it more Pinoy by presenting family-oriented issues. The show deals more with friendship, peer pressure and problems in school.?
Pablo added: ?The characters in the American series are mostly two-dimensional. Those who are wicked are wicked to the very end. In this show, the characters eventually experience a change of heart. None of them are absolutely evil or good.?
?Pinoy Big Brother Teen Edition 2? housemate Fred Payawan plays Jake?s younger brother Jiggo, an introvert with suicidal tendencies. His father blames him for his mother?s death.
First-time actor Mikee Lee is Maui, son of a high-ranking police officer, who?s rebellious and fond of dating different girls.
Cheska Ortega is the scheming and ambitious Ziggy who comes from a poor family but is embarrassed to admit it.
Kevin Lapena, a dragonboat enthusiast, is Edge, the caring and protective brother of Ziggy who?s secretly in love with Meg.
Charina Suzara is Julivee, whose family has gotten rich after her father won a lottery in Las Vegas. Her attempts to be accepted in high society will create funny situations in the show.
Mary Grace Perido plays figure skating champ Louise, who comes from one of the richest Filipino-Chinese families in the country, but remains kind and humble. Miki Hahn plays the campus mean girl Steph.
Playing support to the young actors are Lorenzo Mara, Rachel Lobangco, Lloyd Samartino and Ricardo Cepeda.
?Lipgloss,? a production of Prime Events Force Unlimited, airs every Saturday at 5 p.m. on the new TV5.