From Richard Faulkerson Jr. to Alden Richards
Showbusiness was never on the horizon for Richard Faulkerson Jr. The industry that values, nay, requires heaps of ego and self-confidence was alien for somebody who grew up with near zero-levels of self-esteem.
“I really didn’t like being in the spotlight,” he says. “I don’t like attention. I was very insecure.”
But the wide-eyed, fair-skinned kid clearly stood out among his classmates and contemporaries in Sta. Rosa, Laguna, where he grew up. He credits a high school adviser who first pushed him to join a popularity contest, which he initially declined because of said self-esteem issues. But the adviser was relentless and clearly had faith in him. And so he finally caved and joined the school pageant, Mr. and Ms. Intramurals.
“I said, ‘Sige na nga,” he says. “Para matapos na.”
Of course, he won.
After that, he entered two more such contests, one pitting residents of Sta. Rosa against each other, and another for the whole province of Laguna. He won those, too.
That’s when he started thinking to himself, hey, maybe there’s something to this being-in-spotlight thing. It was when the young, still-Richard-Faulkerson-Jr’s mother died in 2008 that he got into it in earnest. He started auditioning for commercials and TV networks, powering through the self-doubt and pushing the insecurities out of the way.
Sweater by Carolina Herrera
He remembers his first audition for a teleserye—one of the male leads for GMA Network’s Alakdana starring Louise delos Reyes. It was 2010 and he was all of 19 years old.
“I remember that I was late, he says. “I was the last person to arrive in that audition. It was in this studio in GMA na super lamig. I had to memorize the script in 10 minutes. I’d never memorized any script before.”
Apparently he did well enough that he got the part. Richard Faulkerson Jr. was on his way to becoming Alden Richards.
His story is well-known from that point on. Roles in various commercials, TV shows and films followed, plus a stab as a singer with albums produced under a recording contract with GMA. His steady appearances onscreen had the desired effect—he was becoming well-known. The trappings of fame hit: he was being stopped for pictures by fans screaming his name—Alden Richards.
ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW
“It was overwhelming at first,” he says. “My first months as Alden Richards, I had to get used to people calling me Alden. I’m really Richard. I’m RJ at home.”
Then, of course, AlDub happened. If he thought he was famous then, he was unprepared for the insanity of the nationwide obsession with his onscreen partnership with Eat Bulaga mainstay Maine Mendoza.
“I’ve been in the industry around nine years now,” he says. “I realized that, more than the popularity, the fortune coming from this job that I’m doing—it’s all meaningless without me being able to inspire people. I can honestly say that I’m not doing this for fame. I don’t want to be famous. Deep down in my heart, I just really wanted to be an actor. An actor who can help tell great stories through all the projects that I make. To inspire people. To inspire fans. That’s the real purpose of my job right now. Being onscreen, being on TV ads, being on billboards and magazines—all that comes as a bonus na lang. My higher calling is to really be an inspiration. More than anything else.”