Nancy McDonie of Momoland has been announced as the new leading lady of James Reid, and here’s what you need to know about the Korean singer.
“I want to become a musical actress," Nancy McDonie declared when she joined Korea’s Got Talent in 2011 as a member of a four-piece kiddie dance group called Cutie Pies.
She was only 11 then, but she already knew where she was headed after outgrowing Cutie Pies, which was in fact the start of Nancy's journey to becoming a K-pop idol.
No sooner than her mother enrolled her in a dance class, Nancy formed a group with three others in her class. They called themselves Cutie Pies and signed up to join the Got Talent show in their country.
To the delight of the judges, Nancy and her friends, all pre-teen, danced synchronically to hip hop.
The group made it to the top 40 of the competition but failed to make the winning cut, even as they continued to impress the judges.
Five years later, Nancy appeared on TV once again, this time on Finding Momoland, a reality show searching for a new female K-pop group. The show aired 10 episodes from July 2016 to September 2016.
Nancy competed with nine other talented hopefuls to secure one of the seven spots in Momoland.
Although the judges of Finding Momoland constantly harped on the seeming lack of harmony and enthusiasm of the whole batch, they noticed the talent of individual trainees.
One episode in particular showed Nancy's performance that wowed the judges.
It was easy going for Nancy from then on. She made it to the final selection of Momoland members, together with Hyebin, Yeonwoo, Jane, Nayun, Ahin, and JooE.
The mission at the end of Finding Momoland was for the seven girls to convince 3,000 people to watch their finale showcase, which aired in June 2016.
But only 2,300 showed up, prompting the group to work harder through busking, street performances, and so much more. They also had to hold several crowd-funding events to be able to have the money to record their album.
Their hard work paid off five months later. In November 2016, they released their first single, “JJan! Koong! Kwang!" A happy pop sound that was fun to listen to, the song however was not a commercial success.
The following year, the group added two new members—Daisy, a rapper who was in Finding Momoland, and Taeha, a vocalist who appeared on Produce 101, another idol-making reality show.
Despite this new development in their group, success remained elusive to the girls.
Their next two singles, “Wonderful Love” in April 2017 and “Freeze” in August 2017 also failed to chart in Korea.
Suddenly, the stars began to align for Momoland. The group was not out of luck after all.
First, their performance of “Wonderful Love” went viral with Jooe dancing like an unhinged woman. This also led to Jooe becoming an endorser for a softdrink brand. Her commercials went viral as well, lifting the girl group to national recognition.
By this time, with the Korean public now attuned to their kind of music, Momoland's fourth single was much anticipated.
And that next song was “Bboom Bboom,” which went viral as soon as it was released on January 3, 2018.
“Bboom Bboom” was such an earworm it dominated the airwaves until the end of the year. Its video has more than 408 million views as of press time, and so many now know the song's choreography.
It was in the “Bboom Bboom” era when Nancy became recognized in the Philippines.
Filipinos who have watched the music video noticed the resemblance of Nancy to the actress Liza Soberano.
The comparison thrilled Nancy. In a live video broadcast she shot with fellow members Ahin and Daisy in April of 2018, Nancy was dumbstruck when she saw Liza’s photos for the first time. “Wow,” was the only word she could utter.
This simple look-alike issue catapulted Momoland to become one of the most recognized K-pop groups in the Philippines.
Nancy and her peers had visited the country multiple times in 2018. At one time, they came not for a major event, but to perform in a mini-concert in Vigan.
The group remains popular in the country to this day. Their songs are being played in radio stations, and they continue to appear in talk shows and magazine shows.
Nancy can't thank her Filipino fans enough for the huge support for her and her group.
At a press conference in Manila in August 2018, she especially expressed her gratitude to the Merries, the group name of their avid supporters in the country.
Nancy said, “We have such fantastic fans from around the world, and through Facebook, we get to share with them what we do every day, in fun and really engaging ways.
“On some days, the Merries get to see the fun and hard work behind our music in real-time, and seeing them get as excited as we are is really something that’s important to us.
"To finally be here in person in Manila to meet some of our fans is really a thrilling experience.”
Nancy and her group’s triumph was not limited to Korea and the Philippines. They have also performed to huge crowds in Japan, the United States, Vietnam, Indonesia, United Arab Emirates, Singapore, and Mexico.
Momoland continues to bask in the good fortune of “Bboom Bboom.” This, despite the group being hounded by scandals and controversies—perennial bane of celebrities.
Nancy, for example, has been attacked for making fun of bulimia, an eating disorder. In her defense, she was joking about it as a coping mechanism because she herself suffered the same eating disorder in the past.
Fans of other groups such as Blackpink, BTS and iKon accused Nancy and her group of disrespectng their idols. They flooded Momoland’s music videos as well as the individual social media channel of its members with hate comments.
Although their accusation was disproved, toxic fans continue to besiege the Mooland girls.
Momoland is also undergoing an internal crisis. Two members have left the group, while one is in limbo. Yeonwoo left to pursue acting, and Taeha left Momoland’s management company supposedly to continue as a soloist. Daisy, meanwhile, is stuck with the company even if she is not allowed to perform with the group.
Thankfully, Nancy and the other remaining members are resilient enough to pursue their dream. Momoland’s post-“Bboom Bboom” singles have been receiving favorable responses from the listening public.
“Baam” was a hit on Philippine radio. “I’m So Hot” won a trophy in The Show, a musical variety show in Korea. The dance steps for their single “Banana Chacha” became viral among Korean children. Then “Thumbs Up” won a trophy on M Countdown, another musical variety show.
What’s next for Nancy and the group?
It looks like they will continue to establish their fanbase in the Philippines. Nancy is set to star opposite James Reid in The Soulmate Project, a TV show that will air on ABS-CBN this 2020. Fans of James and Nancy have dubbed their tandem as JaNcy.
Momoland also has a travel show that will air in the Kapamilya network’s digital channels.
Nancy is happy to be able to spend time in the Philippines doing these new shows. “I actually saw a lot of comments and people really are happy about this, so I’m really happy for you guys, too,” the Korean singer said in an interview.
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