Young actor learns to love his sex worker character

Khai Flores believes his debut star turn in the movie Sugat Sa Dugo was God’s hand at work.

Flores — born Ezekiel Khairo Schofield Jarlos — plays the lead character Jack, who’s forced to sell his body to make ends meet.

Sugat sa Dugo, written by celebrity hair and makeup artist Bambbi Fuentes, is based on a true-to-life story of a person who suffers from HIV that develops into full-blown AIDS and dies.

The movie also features promising newcomers of Dragon Talents Management.

Janice de Belen

Janice de Belen, who portrays the mother of Jack, recently won for her role the Best Actress award in the International Filmfest Manhattan in New York.

Know more about Flores and the movie in his chat with Daily Tribune.

Daily Tribune (DT): How did you get into acting?

Khai Flores (KF): When I was 13, I used to stand in front of the mirror and talk to myself. Sometimes people would find me crying. They thought I was crazy. It also made me think if there was something wrong in me.

I first auditioned for (the ABS-CBN series Kadenang Ginto. Biglaan lang. I didn’t have any experience. I didn’t even know you’re not allowed to look directly at the camera. I learned a lot. I played the best friend of Kyle Echarri. Then I became a regular for eight months. Within that period, many opportunities came, like Ang Mga Kaibigan ni Mama Susan, directed by Chito Roño. During the pandemic, I did Huling Hibla. Sugat sa Dugo is my third movie.

DT: Tell us about your character in Sugat sa Dugo.

KF: Jack doesn’t like his job as a sex worker, but he does it to feed his family. He’s a lovable brother and boyfriend. The movie is about family, life, and death.

DT: Prior to the movie, did you have any background on HIV or AIDS?

KF: All I know is HIV. Hindi ko masyadong naririnig ‘yung AIDS. When I got the role, I studied my character. I went to a bar to see ’yung mga galaw nila (macho dancers) para maging true to life. I also watched a movie on HIV and AIDS starring Jared Leto. That’s how I learned the difference between the two diseases.

DT: What’s it like to transition from a TV drama to a movie with such a heavy theme?

KF: Malaki po ’yung impact sa ’kin. In Kadenang Ginto I played a supporting role. Ngiti-ngiti lang ako sa likod. If I have lines, they’re just a few. In my first movie with Joshua Garcia, I had a couple of lines, too. But at that time hindi pa ako masyadong kampante sa sarili ko. In Sugat Sa Dugo, we had private workshops in theaters… Doon din po nabago ‘yung acting ko. Minahal ko po talaga ’yung character ni Jack.

DT: Would you say you’re now a better actor?

KF: Yes. I can now cry for one minute. Before, I couldn’t even memorize my script. I was nervous all the time. It was like an exam for me. But now, I’m excited to read them. I think this is really my passion. It is what is in my heart.

DT: What was it like working with Janice de Belen?

KF: In the Philippines, you’re not human if you don’t know Janice de Belen. When I was younger, I got to watch her because of my lola. Now imagine Janice as my mother. There’s nervousness. In our first scene together, I was in character. Bawal po akong ma-star-struck so nilabanan ko po siya.

DT: Did she give you any advice?

KF: In the movie’s trailer, I was in a wheelchair. Janice gave me advice like how to sit properly, in a hospital bed dapat nakasandal ka. She told me huwag akong mahihiya.’ Be comfortable. Be you.

DT: How do you feel now that the movie is finally showing in cinemas?

KF: There’s always nervousness. I’ve been taking sleeping pills because I can’t sleep. I’m nervous about what people are going to say. But I’m happy. I’ve been in show business for only three years, but a lot has happened to me. I thank God every day. I think God knows that I’m a good person, that’s why he’s giving me all these.

DT: Do you see yourself doing more projects after Sugat Sa Dugo?

KF: Yes. Hopefully. Sana mapansin po ako sa Sugat, hindi lang ako pati na rin ‘yung mga kapatıd ko sa Dragon Management. All of us did our best. Hopefully viewers will pick something up from this movie.

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