He’s got the “twang and slang.”
But despite this “language barrier,” Artista Academy’s Mark Neumann is “determined” to make it big in Philippine showbiz.
This 17-year-old Batangueño grew up in Germany and studied in England.
“Nung tumira ako sa Germany ‘tapos lipat ako sa Pilipinas, tamang-tama yung transition kasi yung German, matigas din,” Mark began, referring to the accent.
He continued, “Pero up to yung year ko sa Pilipinas nung 13 ako, saka lumipat ako sa England for four years, talagang nasanay akong nag-i-English.
“Kasi dun ako tinapos yung high school, college ko… kailangan ko talaga, magandang English at magaling mag-English.
“So nung bumalik ako sa Pilipinas, oh my god, nangyayari na parang ang audition nung last June, hindi maganda…”
But four months later, he was able to turn the tide: Mark made it to the honor list.
And during the press conference for the show’s top 6 contenders last October 21, he told PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal), “I am glad that’s not… they are not looking at it as negative.
“Kasi, even if it’s always… conscious po talaga ako sa Tagalog ko, but it doesn’t stop me.”
He admitted to feeling a bit embarrassed each time he watches himself on TV.
“I put my hands and cover my face like this kasi, nahiya ako… nababawasan talaga acting ko.”
But he assured his fans that eventually, he’ll improve his Tagalog.
With much enthusiasm, he said, “It doesn’t discourage me kasi meron pong mga celebrity na… I did some research… yung mga tito ko, mga friends, they told me na, meron talagang mga artista dito sa Pilipinas— katulad ni Sam Milby, si Anne Curtis— they couldn’t speak Tagalog pero natuto din sila.
“At pag nakita ko yung mga Tagalog nila, parang Pinoy po talaga sila.
“So sa tingin ko po, kelangan ng bibigay na panahon, para masanay ako sa Tagalog na diretso na matigas, walang twang.
“So sa tingin ko, bibigyan natin siya ng panahon para gagaling ako.”
What does he think of the other two male contenders— Vin Abrenica and Akihiro Blanco?
His reply: “Lahat sila magagaling. Talaga malaki chance nila to win…
“But for me, I just enjoy what I do. Kasi kung ang seryoso ko, dun ‘ko lalo magkamali…”
So a few days before the awards night slated for October 27, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, Mark tries not to think about the pressure.
“I just like to enjoy what I’m doing and go with the flow. Pag nanalo ako, I make a mark because I’m determined. Pag hindi, I have hunger to learn… I want to learn more.
“I want people to [recognize me as] isang jolly person. I’m always happy. Makulit ako.
“I like to enjoy life. I like meeting new people. I think positive.”
Mark shook his head when asked about his chances of winning: "Hindi ko alam mananalo na ’ko..."
But he’s sure about two things: “Gusto ko talaga makuha yung accent na Tagalog. Gusto ko talaga magiging artista na.”