Amid the growing number of local BL (boys love) shows being produced and premiered online as of late comes an all-new story about former childhood friends who find their way back into each other’s lives while coming to terms with their own feelings for one another.
“Ben X Jim” is the latest BL series to air this year starring young actors Teejay Marquez and Jerome Ponce. Written and directed by Easy Ferrer, the show is set in the time of the pandemic, where 23-year-old graduating student Ben (Marquez) has to confront the romantic feelings he’s hidden from his friend, a 24-year-old self-made car shop owner named Jim (Ponce), when he returns home for the first time in years.
The story is emphasized to be one unlike any we’ve watched before, for the fact that it won’t be a “virtual love story.” Jerome and Teejay underwent a locked-in taping just to bring the series to life with real emotions and real interactions.
In an exclusive interview with WhenInManila.com, Jerome and Teejay explained what motivated each of them to take on the roles.
“Of course, this is another opportunity for me as an actor to really showcase another style to show my supporters and fans my versatility,” said Teejay. “And, for me, to represent the LGBTQ community is a big shoe to fill. Napakagandang ([It’s] a very wonderful) opportunity. And why not? It’s 2020, we can do anything.”
Jerome, meanwhile, explained that he had a similar storyline with his previous role in A Soldier’s Heart which meant that he had no qualms taking part in this new BL show. Additionally, he had already worked with director Easy Ferrer before, so he trusts that the role will challenge him and, at the same time, be something he can definitely pull off.
“Alam ko ‘pag gumawa [si direk], nagbigay siya ng story, alam kong kaya kong gampanan,” Jerome shared. “Kapag tinatrust ka, mas more on ‘yun ‘yung gustong ibigay kaysa gumawa ka ng isang bagay na hindi mo pa kapa. So dito, hindi ko nga kapa pero trusted ko naman.”
[“I know that if Director Easy makes something and gives me a story, I know I can handle it. When they place their faith in you, it’s more about following through on that expectation rather than just doing something you don’t know you can do. So here, I may not be experienced but I trust them.”]
“Gusto kong makita ‘yung sarili ko sa tahak na ‘to, this kind of work sa pag-aarte (I want to see myself take on this path and this kind of work in my acting career),” he added.
When asked about what message he hopes to give to the Filipino audience with “Ben X Jim,” director Easy talked about the importance of telling tales about the LGBTQ+ community that are much more real than how popular media has been portraying them over the years.
“It’s actually perfect timing. We’re so glad in the community, sa (in the) LGBTQI+ community, that it’s actually a great time that these kinds of stories are actually being told na (already),” he said. “That our stories are being told in a different light, that we actually also have good endings, we have good stories, kinikilig din kami (we experience excitement), may love stories din kami (we have love stories too). It’s not just always about painful [endings] and tragedy. Hindi laging ganun ang ending ng mga kwento namin (Our experiences don’t always end that way). We have a lot more stories to tell and more dimensions to talk about.”
“So it’s actually a good time that … we can showcase every story na (that) we’ve been keeping to ourselves for so long. Kumbaga (That is,) we’ve been trying to break the heteronormativity once and for all by telling stories that are actually normal also for us,” he continued. “For the longest time our stories have been marginalized and now we’re being put into the center and being highlighted once and for all so that we can actually tell the people and tell the world that our stories are also valid [and that] we have a place here.”
Teejay added, “I think the message of the BL series na ‘Ben X Jim’ is actually showing the people that same-sex relationships and opposite-sex relationships are the same in terms of love. Love is for everybody. We are born equally and we are all here to love.”
“Ben X Jim” will premiere on October 15 on Regal Entertainment’s Facebook page and YouTube channel.
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