It all started with a dream to bask in the limelight of show business. And for Sarah Lahbati and Steven Silva, it was a dream worth working hard for.
And work hard they did after grueling weeks of workshops and tests to hone their acting capabilities and get them in shape for future projects. True enough, their efforts paid off and the two eventually became StarStruck V's Ultimate Survivors. (CLICK HERE to read related story.)
Steven and Sarah appeared live on Showbiz Central yesterday, February 28, to relate their experiences of winning GMA-7's reality-based artista search.
The Oceanside, Calfornia-born Steven spoke first to tell what he felt when he was proclaimed the Ultimate Male Survivor. Seeing his reaction on the final night of StarStruck V on SC's VTR, he couldn't help but smile.
"Para sa akin, madaming emotions," the 23-year-old new Kapuso star from Davao explained. "There was happiness and sadness. Parang I was crying and smiling at the same time. There were just many emotions."
Sarah for her part admitted that there was a little confusion when she was announced as the Ultimate Female Survivor.
"Nag-uusap kami ni Diva [Montelaba, First Princess] at hindi kami nakikinig sa sobrang kaba at kung ano lang pinag-uusapan namin para lang ma-relax," the Swiss-born beauty said. "'Tapos, bigla na lang napatingin siya sa akin at tinulak niya ako. Sabi niya, 'Ikaw! Ikaw ang nanalo!' 'Tapos ako naman, 'Ako?' Hindi kami nagkaintindihan and then, nag-explain siya na ako nga."
Winning any competition has it perks. Aside from getting exclusive contracts, Sarah and Steven each brought home P1.5 million cash prize. When asked what they would do with their winnings, they didn't hesitate to reveal their plans.
"Para sa akin, my focus was to help my family," Steven said. "So, sigurado after I have my money and I save it up, I will help my family sa Davao. Tapos, I want to help my mom and dad kasi alam ko they helped me so much. It's payback time...also a brand new car."
"Gusto ko rin tulungan parents ko kasi kung wala sila, e, wala din ako dito," said Sarah. "Sana makabili din ako ng brand new car pag may mga work na."
What are the next plans of the network for them? Do they have any upcoming TV projects right now?
"Wala pa," said Sarah. "Wala pang pinag-uusapan."
How about their career path? Would they prefer acting or singing, or both?
Sarah answered, "Ako po, kung kaya ko, singing and acting. Ever since kumakanta ako at dream ko mag-acting din. So, kung puwede pagsabayin, e, why not?"
Steven, on the other hand, said, "Ako, gusto ko talaga ay maging singer. I also want to release albums. I also want to try my hand sa acting through soaps."
DREAM PARTNERS. Steven and Sarah are now certified Kapuso stars and, in time, will be paired with other actors and actresses. For now, who would the two prefer as their screen partners?
After a pause, Steven mentioned StarStruck 2 First Princess LJ Reyes. When asked why, Steven smiled and said, "Maganda siya, 'tapos magaling siya sa acting. 'Tapos, we always see each other sa StarStruck, mga tapings and everything."
For Sarah, her dream leading man is Richard Gutierrez, the twin brother of Showbiz Central co-host Raymond who interviewed her and Steven and one of the hosts of StarStruck V.
CHANGES ANEW. Immediately after being proclaimed winners of StarStruck V, Steven and Sarah are already going through major changes, like working independently and being miles away from their families.
Sarah's Morrocan dad Abdel Lahbati told SC in a separate interview that he would be going back to Switzerland. He is confident that his daughter would do just fine in her chosen career.
"I think she would be all right because when I used to talk to her, she told me that she can manage now and that her mom is with her. We know that she can be dependent. When I go back to Switzerland, I know that she can manage to stay with her mom."
Sarah's mom, on the other hand, said: "Iyong suporta namin, e, yung nagtawag kami. Mga kababayan namin, mga kamag-anak namin, mga kamag-anak namin, at 'yong love namin sa kanya na maramdaman niya na hindi siya nag-iisa. Iba talaga ang parents na nandiyan lang sa tabi."
Weeks before the Final Judgment, Steven's mom had to go back to the States to attend to personal matters. Even then, she was proud of her son's achievements.
"With all the hard work, we are happy sa achievements ng anak ko," she said in a Skype interview with SC. "We just hope and pray na he will stay humble and hindi magtsi-change. He should be the same Steven we know. I hope also na wala munang babae. I want him to remember one thing, na ang pinakaimportante ang pamilya. Family comes first. We are so proud of him."
Though his mom was absent, Steven's Portuguese dad was there to witness his son's winning moment at the Araneta Coliseum.
"I was almost anticipating that he's gonna win," Steven's father admitted. "He did so good that I can't see anybody winning that except him. I was that confident because he did so good and it was the first time I saw him perform. So, I was in tears and I was so happy. 'That's my son,' you know... I'm proud of you and I love you very much. I wish a lot of success. I don't care if you make a billion dollars, just be happy and I know we will be."
After watching the interviews of their parents, Sarah and Steven were asked by Raymond about the things that would change now that they are in show business.
"Of course, mahirap para sa akin kasi 16 lang ako," said Sarah. "Dad ko kasi kailangan bumalik sa Switzerland. Iyon ang pagbabago na hindi na kami tatlo. Magiging mahirap 'yon, pero kakayanin kasi ito ang gusto kong gawin."
Sarah added that her mom would permanently stay in the Philippines to support her. Knowing that her dad would be leaving in a few days, she couldn't help but turn teary-eyed: "Nakakalungkot kasi super close kami ng dad ko. Babalik na siya, so mami-miss ko siya... Siyempre mas masaya kami kung kumpleto. Siyempre okay lang kung ako na magwo-work for them basta magkakasama kami."
Steven, on the other hand, commented about his mom's absence during the Final Judgment. What did he feel exactly that night knowing that his mom was not there physically?
"Sobrang hirap," he said. "Dati my mom was always been there for me. Pero sa Final Judgment wala siya, so mahirap. It was a really hard adjustment."
When asked if he would have to choose between family and career, Steven said, "Para sa akin, hindi. Kahit nandito ako sa Pilipinas, parang I always have my family. They are supportive and always with me. Para sa akin, my family is still there even though my career is here."