An engaging mix of subtle maturity and childlike playfulness and romanticism fills the air when YES! Magazine has a photo shoot one Wednesday afternoon in March. In the photo studio are two celebrities who make up one of the hottest love teams of their generation: Kathryn Bernardo, 22, and Daniel “DJ” Padilla, 23.
The two have been part of the KathNiel love team for seven years— beginning with the teen-oriented TV series Growing Up (2011-2012), which was immediately followed by the hit TV series Princess and I (2012-2013). From then on, they have headlined hit movies every year, including Must Be… Love (2013), She’s Dating the Gangster (2014), Crazy Beautiful You (2015), Barcelona: A Love Untold (2016), and Can’t Help Falling in Love (2017).
They have also starred in teleseryes, such as Got to Believe (2013-2014), Pangako Sa’Yo (2015-2016), and their latest hit, La Luna Sangre (2016-2017), where they played star-crossed lovers who must decide the fate of warring wolves and vampires.
It’s a long list of achievements—and hours of grueling taping days spent together—which is why it doesn’t come as a surprise that Kathryn and Daniel have learned to measure the perfect amount of private details that they keep to themselves and interesting anecdotes that they share for public consumption.
The evolution of the love team happened slowly. Compared with their ways when they were first pushed into the spotlight, they have now become less guarded, and more relaxed and confident, traits that come with growing up and being more secure with one’s status in the industry.
They have the ideals and dreams of the young at heart, but they take the road to those ideals and dreams with much practicality.
Kathryn tells us about her wish to become an assistant stylist (“Pag stylist, nakaka-pressure, e,” she says), a makeup artist, and a photographer. And she says all this with charming shyness and openness.
Daniel tells us about his dream of entering deeper into the world of music and admits matter-of-factly: “Pero sa ibang atake na siguro, hindi na sa pagtugtog masyado. Kasi napag-iwanan na rin ako. Hindi na ’ko nakapag-practice.”
What we have here are the Kathryn and Daniel who have gotten to know themselves and each other—amid the competition and the evolution in the changing world of show business. These are the Kathryn and Daniel who are grateful to be among those of their contemporaries who are at the top of the heap, who are aware of what might happen, and who remain steadfast on the road to clearer goals. These are the Kathryn and Daniel who are now unperturbed by the pressures of putting up a facade that is common in their age group.
Now that La Luna Sangre has ended, there is no fear of the unknown future.
“Masaya din ang feeling na nagtapos,” Daniel says. “Well, una, kamusta ba nagtapos, di ba? ’Yon naman ’yong question, e. Paano ba nagtapos? Sa case naman ng La Luna Sangre, maganda naman ’yong pagtatapos namin. Happy kami na may natapos na naman kaming isang successful na project. So on to the next one na. Hopefully, mabigyan kami ulit.”
As for the KathNiel love team, it can only keep getting better.
“Feel ko,” Kathryn says, “nag-eevolve naman ngayon, ’yong sa ilang taon. Malaki na, grabe na ’yong evolution.”
Daniel chimes in: “Every project, may evolution na nangyayari. Meron kaming mga nakukuha do’n sa project. May maturity din na kasama ’yon, along the way.”