20-year-old Sophia Laforteza has made history as the first Filipino artist under HYBE—the renowned South Korean talent agency behind BTS, SEVENTEEN, and NewJeans.
The Philippines continues to prove itself as the home of some of the world’s greatest talents, and multi-hyphenated performer Sophia Laforteza is the most recent example of this. The 20-year-old took part in HYBE and Geffen Records’ The Debut: Dream Academy, a K-pop idol training competition that aims to assemble the next outstanding global girl group. This is no small feat, considering that Laforteza was one of only 20 aspiring idols from a pool of 120,000 applicants all over the world, as per GMA News Online.
During its live finale, the talent competition announced that Laforteza will be debuting in HYBE’s newest girl group, KATSEYE. Joining her are fellow up-and-coming idols, Yoonchae (South Korea), Lara (USA), Meghan (USA), Daniella (USA), and Manon (Switzerland), CNN Philippines reports.
A feature from The Korea Times states that the girls will begin preparations for their debut, and HYBE will be announcing its schedule as the journey progresses. The talent agency also plans to release a Netflix documentary on the girls’ growth throughout this process.
Even before this impressive achievement, the talent had already amassed a large following of loyal fans. According to Rappler, Laforteza impressed audiences with a cover of Paramore’s “Still Into You” during the talent competition’s Mission 1, where she ranked third. The artist then ranked first in the competition’s Mission 2, where she sang SSERAFIM’s “ANTIFRAGILE,” before taking top spot again in Mission 3.
Ready for the Next Chapter
Laforteza expressed her gratitude to fans and loved ones upon receiving the news. “I’ve worked so hard to be here. I appreciate everybody who has voted for me and has been supporting me since day one,” she stated during the finale episode, as per CNN Philippines.
In an introduction video for The Debut: Dream Academy on Instagram, Laforteza expressed her passion for singing and dancing, which goes beyond the glitter and glamor of being an idol. “I’ve been singing since I was three,” she shared in the video. “Singing is definitely my first love, it’s the one thing that gives me comfort.
The rising idol also talked about her home, the Philippines. “I think one thing about my people: they’re very nurturing, and I think that’s a big part of who I am.”
The members of KATSEYE are in good hands, as HYBE is one of South Korea’s biggest talent agencies. The company is the very same one behind popular K-pop groups like BTS, SEVENTEEN, and now NewJeans. Geffen Records, which is under the Universal Music group, is also collaborating with HYBE on this endeavor. The record label handles artists like Olivia Rodrigo, Kali Uchis, and Alesso, just to name a few.
Given the dedication and passion of the emerging talents of HYBE, it’s only a matter of time before they too become the next global music phenomenon.
Banner photos via Instagram @sophia_laforteza.