It's impossible to miss Xian Lim's presence at a hotel lobby on a typical Thursday afternoon. Brandishing a long-sleeved checkered shirt with a bright green tie, a dark blue cardigan, and slim-fit jeans, Xian is striking, in every sense.
Being a fitness buff and a former college athlete have certainly helped Xian develop the well-defined physique that make him stand out in a crowd.
Of course, it helps that he towers at 6'2".
But Xian isn't your stereotypical jock.
His boyish charm and sense of style have made him one of the freshest faces on the showbiz block, as well as one of the hottest trendsetters in the fashion circuit.
It's not surprising how Xian inevitably caught the eye of the stylemeisters behind Mint, a local apparel brand known for its line of preppy, urban casual wear for men and women.
The Kapamilya actor was recently launched as the latest endorser for Mint's denim line.
Xian is quick to admit that he initially felt apprehensive about being tagged as a fashion plate.
But after getting to know the Mint team and the cameras started clicking for their initial shoot, he immediately felt comfortable just being himself—even if he knew that he was filling in the shoes of Mint's former endorser Jericho Rosales.
When asked why his rocking and robust physique was not seen at the recent Cosmo Bachelor Bash—Cosmopolitan Magazine Philippines's annual event where the hottest bachelors bare their bods—Xian had a bit of explaining to do.
"Actually I was [asked]... We were so busy taping and all that, so naisip ko ... once I start my diet and all that, feeling ko maaapektuhan [ang focus ko]."
Prepping one's body for strutting on the ramp requires laborious workouts and an even more rigorous diet. Not that Xian wasn't up to it.
But it was a personal decision to give up the experience mainly because he had no time for diversions.
Xian currently stars in ABS-CBN'S primetime soap My Binondo Girl, where he plays the role of the slick and precocious Andy Wu.
He is cast alongside actors Matteo Guidicelli, Jolo Revilla, and rising actress Kim Chiu.
"I thought to myself na maybe I'll do it some other time," he says.
"Naisip ko kasi na if I join, maaapektuhan yung focus ko. I mean I've been waiting for this break. I decided to focus on it more.
"I want to make the best out of it. I just prioritize the work given to me. I've been waiting for it for so long."
Xian's statements perhaps reflect his kind of work ethic.
At 22, he is dedicated and driven.
In fact, Xian has been given more challenging acting stints, including a role in ABS-CBN's now defunct afternoon soap, Katorse, and the Cinemalaya 2010 entry, Two Funerals.
Xian is exhilarated by a project he is currently working on.
"It feels good waking up every morning going to the set.
"Now, I feel like I'm more mature... even the role's mature. I'm really happy I've been blessed with this project.
"[I'm so] excited kasi nga everytime I see the script, there's always something new."
To Xian, playing Andy Wu in My Binondo Girl is his biggest break, that's why he makes it a point not to leave room for distractions. Especially dating.
Although these days, he scuffles with purveyors of intrigues linking him to the leading lady of the show.
To this he says, "Hindi naman mahirap magkagusto kay Kim.
"She's very nice, she's very kind, she's everything you can ask for in a girl.
"Pero for now, I choose to focus talaga on work."
He emphasizes that his mind is set on one thing. "Ayoko nang maraming iniisip kasi 'pag ganun... you can't work.
"Work is my number one priority."
ATHLETE-TURNED-ACTOR. Before coming to the Philippines, Xian Lim had a life in Daly City, California, where he was born and raised.
He was half-way through his B.S. Psychology program when he decided to live in the Philippines to play basketball.
Xian went on to be a part of the University of the East's (UE) Warriors just like his father, Godofredo Lim-Uy, who also played for the team in his prime.
How exactly did Xian land in tinseltown?
He is quick to clarify that he never started out as a model.
"I don't like considering myself starting off as a model, kasi I only did it for... nakakatawa nga kasi it was really accidental."
Xian narrates that he got his photos taken just for the heck of it.
"I just wanted to get professional pictures. It was cool.
"I mean, from your normal everyday life, from the States [where] you work eight hours, tapos forty hours a week, tapos yung school mo pa. So it [was] normal college life in the States. Pagdating dito— basketball, school—it was very out of the box!
"Ibang-iba siya sa normal routine ko, so I enjoyed it... It's [the photos] for my personal use, yung wala lang! Yung pang My Space or Facebook lang!"
Or so Xian thought, until he chanced upon a photographer who introduced him to Star Magic director Johnny Manahan.
Soon, Xian was attending acting workshops, which led to solid projects.
XIAN LIM IS ANDY WU. Playing Andy Wu is much like Xian being himself.
Approximately "85 to 90 percent" of Andy Wu is Xian Lim, according to the actor.
While he shudders and laughs at the thought of claiming to be as "responsible" as his character in the soap, Xian's demeanor gives away how he really is in real life.
"Si Andy Wu, meron siyang pagka-OCD [obsessive compulsive disorder]," he elaborates.
"He doesn't like things being dirty... gusto niya parating ayos lahat. He wants everything in the right place.
"So ganun ako. I want everything clean, gusto ko plantsado lahat.
"Gusto ko everyone's okay... I don't want any awkwardness."
Moreover, Andy Wu's character plays the piano. Xian's dream is to become a professional musician.
"That's my first love," Xian quips. "I love playing music, I love playing anything I can get my hands on.
"Gusto ko pag-aralan siya, kasi nga I'm a stay-at-home type of guy."
Xian, who learned to play the piano at the age of 13, in fact gets to perform his compositions in My Binondo Girl.
Like his character Andy, he expresses himself through music and plays the piano on a day gone bad.
He used to play classical pieces by Mozart but he got tired of them, so now he composes on the spot.
Asked if an album is possibly on its way, Xian answers that making music is one of his goals this year.
For now, he stays focused on his present projects, ready to suit up for whatever comes his way.