Newbie actor Rob Gomez, who comes from the Ejercito-Estrada clan, could have easily opted to use their famous last name, and enjoy the clout that comes with it in show biz.
Instead, he took after the name of her mother, former actress Kate Gomez, saying that he "wants to start my own journey."
"At first, we thought that going with 'Estrada' was the more striking choice. If anything, it would be an advantage. I love them and respect everything they have done. But there are already many Estradas who are also very good actors," he said in a recent Zoom conference for his launching film, "A Girl + A Guy," the first original offering from the video-on-demand service Upstream PH.
Rob's mother and Gary Estrada are siblings. His grandparents are the late George Estregan and former actress Agnes Moran.
"I don't want to live in the shadow of anyone. I want to work every single minute for every role and opportunity that I get," he said. "I also realized that my mom is a great actress, too, and has always been a big inspiration to me. So Gomez it is."
Rob grew up in San Antonio, Quezon province. And despite his family background, acting, he thought, was never in the cards for him. But eventually, he thought that it was something he could do, too.
"If I were to describe myself, I would say that I'm an aspiring actor, college student, athlete, trying to reach the stars and make his dreams a reality," said Rob, who's currently taking up export management at the College of Saint Benilde.
His first taste of show biz was almost a decade ago, when he appeared in an episode of "Pidol's Wonderland," a defunct comedy series narrated by the late industry icon Dolphy. And then, through his godparent and late starmaker, German Moreno, he had a two-year stint in the variety show "Walang Tulugan."
"I'm not a variety show type of guy; I would rather have a script. But it was, nonetheless, an eye-opening experience," said Rob, whose batchmates included Derrick Monasterio, Jake Vargas and Ken Chan. "I hosted, sang, danced and introduced people. There were actors my age who inspired me. And as I watched them perform, I would think, 'I should be there, too.'"
After "Walang Tulugan," Rob stopped entertainment work to continue his studies. And for a while, he thought that he would never be able to return. But much to his surprise, he received an offer from film producer and Upstream PH executive Dondon Monteverde. "It felt like destiny," the 23-year-old celebrity said.
While he had a bit of experience being on television, film was an uncharted territory for him. "It did take some getting used to, because it's a completely new scenario. I don't have experience, so it was challenging and nerve-wracking—but also satisfying, too," he said.
"A Girl + A Guy," which will be available for streaming this June 24, is a coming-of-age film that follows Raf (Rob) and Fiona (Alex Miro)—two young people trying to figure out their place in the world. After breaking up with their respective partners, Fiona tries to navigate her career. Raf, on the other hand, begins an affair with his colleague.
Directed by Erik Matti, the film revolves around such themes as self-discovery, career, heartbreaks, relationships and how social media affects them. "It's about how young people perceive the world and how they experience relationships. It's about career ruts where you don't know what you really want to do. It's about regretting the past and hoping for a better future, but having the mentality to just stay where you are," he said.
How was it working with Alex? "She's a good actress and she's very dear to me. On the set, I try to be as gentlemanly as I can be. I try to offer what she needs, to make sure she's comfortable. She's also professional," Rob said, adding that they didn't undergo a familiarity or sensuality workshop, because Matti wanted their scenes together to be more natural. For Rob, being directed by an award-winning filmmaker like Matti was an honor. "Nobody in the family has worked with him yet, and he's one of our best. This is really a blessing and I hope there are more to come," he said.
Driven by a desire to improve his craft, Rob said he will continue working hard, so he could realize his dream of winning a best actor award. "I want to have that milestone … something that will make people know who I am," he said. INQ
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