Xyriel Anne Manabat.
She may be all of seven years young, but she is one of the most exciting, charming and talented actresses in the Philippines today.
The young actress lost a mini-TV reality talent search, but has since become a household name and accomplished lead actress. Which is a lot more than can be said for actors 3x her age.
After bit parts in various shows, Xyriel burst onto the scene with a showstopping and scene stealing performance on the drama Agua Bendita. As is typical in Philippine TV, Xyriel played the requisite younger version of the would-be grown up central character.
The series launched to huge numbers and a spirited response, in large part thanks to Xyriel. Not wanting to mess with the unexpected success, the usual one-two week child-set-up gig turned into a two month breakout performance.
Viewers fell in love with this fresh, little star. Then as soon as she left and her characters grew up, the show went to the crapper.
On the popularity of (the first half of) Agua Bendita, Xyriel is given her own show in the form of Momay. The series about a little girl who dies and remains on Earth as a ghost with unfinished business was a great show, 2nd only to the network’s Magkaribal as the best written, most complete series of 2010.
No runarounds, no useless subplots. It propped up the network as it went through some internal drama.
And now there’s the currently airing 100 Days to Heaven. Though Xyriel shares top billing (and main character) with veteran actress Coney Reyes, she remains arguably the series’ star.
The series about a now dead toy company executive who is sent back to Earth in the form of her younger self to right the dozens of wrongs she’s committed in her life has quickly found its footing and has developed into a cute and sometimes inspiring series.
And while the writing is definitely present more than half the time, it is Xyriel’s performance that really helps the series shine overall.
So what is it about Xyriel Manabat? What is it about her that seems to have a positive effect on the series she has been a part of? Is it a coincidence, or could it be there’s a little bit of magic in this seven year old little girl.
It is certainly quite possible. Xyriel has proven that she is a natural born talent. The effortless delivery of witty quips, childhood innocence and 60-year old wisdom. The confidence and charm.
Seeing Xyriel outside of a scripted setting such as interviews and talk show guestings, you’d see a regular 7-year-old. Shy, yet fun and sweet. Which makes her performances all the more amazing knowing she’s pretty much performing and acting in roles completely opposite to her own personality.
Let’s be quick to point out though that the Xyriel Magic isn’t invincible. Her addition to the ill-fated and pointless Noah did nothing to help its nonexistent fortunes.
But this has basically also proven that Zaijan Jaranilla, who shot to fame with his own breakout role in May Bukas Pa, isn’t the real child wonder. Xyriel is. That’s not to take anything away from Zaijan of course, but Xyriel has been lucky enough to get excellent projects and has the talent to carry said projects.
The stars have aligned for the talented actress. The perfect project and the talents to pull them off. There hasn’t been such a natural born young talent in years. If that isn’t wonderful magic, then I don’t know what is.
Or really… Xyriel Manabat is just plain gifted and blessed with enormous talent.