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How Kim Atienza landed his first TV gig thanks to his fit body

April 10 ------ Kim Atienza is now a household name on Philippine television, but how exactly did he start his TV career?

Kuya Kim told the story on an episode of "Fast Talk with Boy Abunda," saying that he was a fan of Tito Boy back in the 90s. "Gusto ko maging parang Boy Abunda rin," he said. "Ang kapal ng mukha ko to say, 'I want to be a TV star.' I wanted to be on TV ever since. Kahit ano, basta nasa TV," he added, whether that was as an actor or something else.

However, the road towards a career in front of the camera was not an easy one. Kuya Kim shared that he went through a lot of rejections on his journey to become a TV star. He said he went on around 20 auditions for commercials in college, but he didn't land a single gig. And yet, there was one positive thing that came out of those failed auditions. "Ang sinabi sa kin, 'Ang ganda ng boses mo. Mag-audition ka para sa mga voice commercials,'" said Kuya Kim.

He then became a voice talent for commercials. He even did voice work for the 1999 "Voltes V" film and other Japanese shows. What he really wanted, however, was to be on-screen rather than behind the scenes. Kuya Kim said that he got a break in 1988 when he landed on the aerobics TV show, "Muscles in Motion." "Wala ko alam sa aerobics ngunit maganda ang katawan ko, nag-audition ako. Nag-e-aerobics ng ilang oras. Sabi ko, 'Kaya ko 'yan," he said. "Maganda ang katawan ko kahit 'yung mukha ko sakto lang. Natanggap ako."

He said that during that time, aerobics were simple and involved moves like jumping jacks and kicks. It then evolved into step aerobics. He also demonstrated and did some aerobics moves with Tito Boy. "Dun naumpisa ang TV career ko, so I thought. 'Yun pala, wala rin, hanggang dun lang," he said. Encouraged by his dad, then Manila vice mayor Lito Atienza, Kim went into politics for a while, starting with barangay chairman and then councilor. Lito told him he would still be on TV as a politician, and true enough, Kim kept getting invited as a guest in GMA Network's "Debate with Mare at Pare."

Kim eventually faced a crossroads and had to choose between his political career and his TV dreams. When the time came for him to follow his dad as Manila mayor after his nine-year term, Kim found a way to get himself on TV for exposure. He refused payment and even said he would find a sponsor for a segment. Kuya Kim said he did it to raise his profile because at the time, he planned to run for mayor in two years. His boss at the time, Maria Ressa, eventually called him out on it and made him choose between politics and TV.

Kim took three weeks to think about it because his family was depending on him to follow his dad's footsteps. During that time, broadcaster and trivia man Ernie Baron died of a heart attack on January 23, 2006, a day before Kuya Kim's birthday. On Kuya Kim's birthday, he even reported on Ernie's wake. Kim, who also does knowledge and trivia segments, saw it as a clear sign of the path he needed to take. He then prayed to God for courage to tell his dad that he would be following Ernie Baron's footsteps instead of his.

Kuya Kim said, "Ang sabi ng tatay ko, 'You don't have to talk. When I watch you on TV, I see how happy you are. Sa City Hall when I see you, para kang inaantok palagi, mabigat ang paa mo. Hindi mo na kailangan sabihin. I give you my blessing.'"



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