WHEN Mark Anthony Fernandez was a teenager, he was one of the three most popular heartthrobs in the country. Mark Anthony, along with Jomari Yllana and Eric Fructuoso, formed the boy group Gwapings.

And it seems like son Grae Fernandez, 16, is poised to follow in his footsteps. Grae is a member of the all-boy sing-and-dance group Gimme 5 along with Nash Aguas, John Bermundo, Joaquin Reyes and Brace Arquiza. They perform on “ASAP” every Sunday. Gimme 5 had also released an album.

In his 20s, though, Mark Anthony started getting into trouble. But Grae seems bent on stepping out of his father’s shadow and being his own person. And he already has quite a repertoire.

Grae admits that being part of “showbiz royalty” played a large part in his entry into the entertainment world. His grandfather was the late action star Rudy Fernandez while his grandmother is Alma Moreno.

Grae revealed that his father refrained from giving him acting tips so that he’d have his own interpretation of assigned roles and not become a copycat.

Grae, though, said it’s not always about popularity.

“Sincerely love the craft,” comes the teenager's advice to those who want to go into show business. He said that one should not just aim for popularity and earnings because these would often lead to exhaustion and burnout.

Grae was recently in Cebu to help Rosemarie Gaisano draw the second batch of winners for the A Million Thanks Raffle Promo of Gaisano Main, Country Mall, Bogo, Balamban and Moalboal.

Grae has appeared in a number of TV series, the most memorable for him being “Pangako Sa ‘Yo” and “Ikaw Lang Ang Iibigin.”

But he thinks his role in “Pangako Sa ‘Yo” was more difficult to portray because of Patrick Garcia’s iconic performance during the series’ original run.

Grae looks up to “Ang Probinsyano” actor Coco Martin and Cebuana actress Kim Chiu. The latter played Grae’s older sister in “Ikaw Lang ang Iibigin.” Chiu is also Grae’s dream leading lady.

Grae told SunStar Cebu that he has a crush on Liza Soberano but it would be his dream project to be in a May-December relationship with 27-year-old Chiu.

In Hollywood, Grae looks up to Robert Downey Jr. and Scarlett Johansson.

“Actors are role models for their fans,” said Grae. And that’s why he always does his best in every project so that he could also inspire his fans.

While he has done a lot in showbiz—considering his young age—Grae said he still has a long way to go before he becomes a formidable actor. But he is optimistic that attaining this goal is near.

The teenager describes himself as “nice, cool and humble.” And while just a simple person, he makes an effort to look good when he goes out in public so he would not be bashed on social media.

Grae said he is saving his earnings to open a restaurant in the future.

He, however, aspires to reach a childhood dream of becoming a lawyer. He plans to take up political science when he enters college two years onward.

Hopefully, if he becomes a lawyer, he would not have to use his legal expertise to defend his father from legal troubles. Mark Anthony was just released from prison last December following his 2016 arrest for marijuana possession. (with JGA)