To feature Kristine Diaz as a Cinderella Story would be an understatement. While her family and friends are proud of her recent achievement being part of Miss Saigon, humility reigns. This reflected on her online interview.
With hard work and a little sprinkle of luck, let’s hear how this gal of zero experience reached the broadway scene.
Continuously, I am in awe of people who gets to live their dreams. As they ascend from the starting point, being the usual person they were to becoming an extraordinaire is worth to feature.
Beyond her imagination, Kristine Diaz becomes a part of the musical Miss Saigon, starred originally by a Tony, Olivier and FAMAS Award winner, Miss Lea Salonga. A glimpse on her journey on how she attained a dream come true awaits.
I had the privilege to work side by side Kristine during her years performing at Hong Kong Disneyland. She always had a lively aura at her every performance sending thrilling vibe to us, her fellow performers and to her audience. I drop my jaw hearing her hit Beyonce’s songs. She manages to play and exude a young role (high school student) effortlessly which makes her fun to work with. Countless gala shows, feature events and a capella jams fill up her entire CV. A simple karaoke sing-along turns into a concert because we end up just wanting to listen to her the whole night. But despite such extravagance, Kristine Diaz remains down to earth and eager to learn. This is how her efforts paid off as she attains one thing that she dreamed for a long time.
STEPPING INTO THE LIMELIGHT
With her vocal power and tremendous work ethics, it is hard to believe that this lass had zero formal training. When it comes to performing influence came in different forms.
Her mother, who was also a singer, sent her to join singing contests, perform in declamations and dance competitions. She exposed Tin to anything and everything that let her gain stage presence. Being a gospel singer, she influenced Kristine to take the stage at an early age. Tin loved the art of performing since then. It became enjoyable for her.
Later on, she gets to learn about the divas of Philippine noon time shows. She imitates as she watched their shows. She looked up to Miss Regine Velasquez, getting points here and there on how to deliver the craft with an ability to connect to the audience.
As she grew up, she got fond of going on stage. Come college years at De La Salle University Taft, Manila, she joined a group called De La Salle Innersoul which immensely taught her how to harmonise in a group as well as do solo singing.
Because of her genuine attack and a humble peg, Kristine managed to pass an audition to Disney.
Realising that she went for it just for experience, it was a leap from joining contests to being one of the lead singers for the High School Musical show. From there, Kristine’s career soared.
She learned a little bit of dancing. She gained confidence not only for stage presence alone but working interracial. For her, this is the ultimate training that made her understand how to take care of her voice. From doing proper vocal warm-up, to extending beyond what she can do as far as evolving from a safe range is concerned, the whole 8 years was a good training on its own.
Talented singers surrounded Tin and known people in the music industry helped her to develop into a beautiful singer. She specifically mentioned how Rony Fortich, a musical director for more than a decade at the same company, honed her into being at her best.
“Our creative team in Disney, especially our musical director, Rony Fortich, constantly pushed me through my years there.” – K. Diaz
KRISTINE IN CHOOSING SINGING AS A WAY OF LIFE
Doing what you love is one thing. Being on stage for Tin, as she is known most by her friends and colleagues in Hong Kong, serves as a channel of expression. While performing in a show, she loves being the reason people laugh, cry, and everything in between.
She performs for a couple of reasons.
One is for the audience for the very reason that she is able to tap into their soul. She loves the feeling of getting them awakened and swayed in awe. In love with the thought on how the story that she shares touches her audience, she takes this big of an emotion to beautifying the craft of singing she became so skilled with.
The second reason is for herself. At this point, she believes that she is serving her purpose in life being a singer. She doesn’t see herself doing something else.
She doesn’t claim expertise in being onstage or being part of a globally known musical. In fact, she had to claim that she is not famous to be asked of what a budding artist should have skills-wise to sustain stardom because she admits that she is still new to it too. Based on her own experience though, she shares her two cents of the qualities a performer should at least acquire.
This points to remember (except #5) in sustaining status in show business is not just for it alone. It is applicable to your life at all costs.
BE PROFESSIONAL. Show up on time and bring it on.
LISTEN. Know who the higher-ups are and learn from them. You do so because they had been down the road.
HAVE A GOOD RELATIONSHIP WITH EVERYBODY. This is not only about your co-performers but also the costuming team, the orchestra, the crew, stage managers and the director himself. Be open in communicating your ideas for a scene. Know the meaning of working together because this could be lost in the way as you do it over and over again.
BE PREPARED. Study the role you are going to portray. Understand that you’ll always have a different take on each performance but it’s important to know the basis of the role, its very core. Then communicate how you want to expand on it. That’s why the director is there. To direct you into creating a connection to the audience through the part you have.
STICK TO THE TRUTH OF YOUR STORY. There’s a very thin line between leaving “you” behind the curtain and putting bits and pieces of your own to make the role crisp and fresh. Rediscovering yourself as you progress in portraying a role from yesterday to next week is of essence. But it’s important not to go overboard so that you won’t get lost separating yourself from the act. Stay professional.
Auditions for Miss Saigon the musical had made a lot of noise among performing artists. In the Philippines alone, there were 900 hopefuls back in 2016 to get into the show. Kristine flew to the Philippines to audition.
She got an offer by the production after a year passed from when she auditioned. She almost lost hope for positive results when the 8th month of waiting came. But she got dumbfounded when it came 4 months further. The offer included a cover for Ellen on top of being part of the ensemble. This made it even more surreal, yet Tin felt excited.
She doubted herself at first if she wanted to pursue a different line of entertainment going outside the fantasy bubble. Looking back from then, Kristine knows she did the right decision in taking it. She was ready for growth more than ever and it was indeed a dream to be part of a Mackintosh Production, especially Miss Saigon.
LIVING THE DREAM
Fast forward to her life-changing decision, performing in Miss Saigon in London for almost a year educated her time and again. She took her 8 years of Disney experience with her and tried open herself to a different realm.
With her sincere gratitude to how she was honed as a singer actress, she rises and embraces liberating and more daring roles. Theatre wise, she got her eyes wide opened to the real deal. Now that she is given a role apart from fairy tales covering Gigi and Ellen, she keeps up with the challenges through research and self-rediscovery.
She and the rest cast were guided to understanding history, specifically, the Vietnam War. Scenes that involve powerful emotions resulting from warfare were beyond comprehension since its aftermath was all about destruction of humanity. They had an orientation about common, yet impactful realities of life such as owning a broken heart, insinuating revenge and surviving death. Since the story line of Miss Saigon was about reliving these moments, it was a blow to Tin realising how depressing it is.
When asked of some resources that she could recommend joining one of the most popular musicals in the world, she didn’t have any personal recommendation. But they had to have some schooling through articles and documentaries.
“…… In case of our show, we had to read a lot of articles and watch documentaries about the Vietnam war. The most memorable one for me, which I think I can speak in behalf of the company, watching the documentary called, “Heart and Minds” took us straight to the right mindset in dealing with our roles. It presented the last few weeks of the Vietnam War all the way to its aftermath. It’s a very heartbreaking one. – Kristine Diaz
UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL
What you may not know about Kristine is that she has an infectious laugh, a killer upper body and soft heart.
Considering her infectious laugh….
Working with her in the show High School Musical allowed memorable friendship to flourish. Being the diva of the group, she always extended help and cheer during jam sessions. She teaches us techniques on how to sustain notes. Tin pointed to us which songs to select when auditioning. Up until now, she is still the golden hearted gal who has an ear for silly jokes, a share in intellectually arousing puns and a bang when she cracks up. She is not afraid to put up a wacky face. Personally, what I love about her is her ability to give a compliment when need be.
Here is a trio that we did that night. We were just starting to learn how to play the guitar. I just learned about this song that night because of Tin and so, let me share a moment that I hold dear in my heart. Most especially now that my friend is a star.
As I mentioned Kristine has a killer upper body.
Besides the voluptuous bod this hardworking woman has, she has the toned arms that brought lots of gold medals and triumphant trophies to Team Mushu‘s Collection. We were both starting to get onboard the team, working side by side each other until my husband and I got pregnant. She was my compliment and I am proud of how she pursued rowing for a dragon boat team for 3 years.
Owning the soft heart…
Despite her brute strength, funny side and perky attitude, Tin always goes back to the source of it all, to God. She believes the Creator had put her to where she’s supposed to be and she plans to flourish from where she is standing right at this moment. On her second year with Miss Saigon, going on tours could be stressful. Being homesick is an old story but it happens.
The rehearsals had sharpened the performer in her to its largest potential. A month was spent to learn the choreography, study the songs, try the costumes and experiment on tweaks added to the existing Miss Saigon musical. She was up and about in all of it. But the sitzprobe, an official musical theatre rehearsal, where all the casts join the orchestra touched her heart in a special way. During the first time she heard it play live, tears fell from her eyes noticing the rest of the casts’ did too. She said it was an incredible experience.
WHERE TO NOW?
Kristine recently was launched playing Ellen. Manchester was the last destination the tour went on for. Kristine’s greatest ambition is to be onstage for as long she can. Help her achieve it by watching Miss Saigon. They will be touring around Plymouth, Norwich, Zurich and many more. Stay abreast to their website, www.miss-saigon.com to catch this Filipina’s act.