Denise back to capture hearts

(The Philippine Star) - July 27, 2012 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - With her rare blend of Eurasian beauty, sex appeal and acting talent, it’s no surprise how Denise Laurel has been hailed as one of the best actresses of her generation.

For the past couple of years, she’s captured the hearts and minds of rabid televiewers with her onscreen presence and charisma. This month, she’s back to reclaim her throne as drama princess in ABS-CBN’s Precious Hearts Romances anthology.

It’s understandable why Denise has such a soft spot for the TV adaptation of the popular pocketbook romance novels. In more ways than one, the series gave her that timely break and offered her relevant, challenging scripts that fully harnessed her potential as a dramatic actress. It also served as the launching pad for her much-talked-about loveteam with the hunky Rafael Rosell.

From the earlier PHR episodes such as Bud Brothers (2009), to subsequent installments as You’re Mine, Only Mine, Midnight Phantom and Kristine (all from 2010), it was in Kristine where she turned out to be a revelation, with her austere, yet persuasively unique brand of dramatic flair, impressing network honchos, critics and fans alike.

Of course, she’s had her share of cutesy, feel-good roles during her pre-pubescent years, but even then, showbiz insiders knew that there was so much more talent underneath that exterior. After all, while she doesn’t really flaunt it, she hails from a talented brood from where she most likely inherited her thespic gift.

Now, Denise’s fans are all excited about her “homecoming” of sorts for Pintada, the 16th installment of the long-running Precious Hearts Romances series, where she gets paired for the first time with Martin del Rosario.

Pintada chronicles the unfolding of a May-December affair between a high school teacher, Lysa Alvarez (Denise), and her student, Sev Poblador (Martin). In the aftermath of a tragic fire that ravages the campus, Lysa manages to save some lives, but she gets physically and emotionally scarred as her face gets badly burnt in the process. Despite her heroics, she finds herself at the receiving end of the townsfolk’s vicious rumors and unfounded mockery.

Left with no other choice, she leaves town and lives in seclusion, her face perpetually shrouded in a veil that conceals her blemished face. Little does she know, however, that the badly-smitten Sev soon sets out to track her down, amidst a daunting journey where he literally “follows his heart.”

“It’s a tragic story, but romantic nonetheless,” Denise muses. “It’s got that coming-of-age slant to it, in terms of the guy’s viewpoint where he stops at nothing to get what he wants. In the beginning, it starts out really light, but later on, my character takes on a more layered persona. She wears a mask not so much to hide, but to save the people around her and do everything to help her family.”

Speaking of maturity, it’s no coincidence how Denise breathes new depth to her acting craft. To her closest friends and work colleagues, motherhood has indeed imbued her with a renewed sense of passion — not just to care for her one-year old baby boy Davian Alejandro, but to also fully probe and plumb the depths of her artistic reservoir.

Would you believe, despite her busy schedule, she still manages to find time for acting workshops? This is the get-go type of learner who never quits, nor feels complacent despite rave reviews. “I’ve attended workshops by Star Magic, Peque Gallaga, Laurice Guillien, Rory Quintos and Cathy Garcia-Molina,” Denise shares.

“I’ve been really lucky with my Precious Hearts team, from direk Cathy to our writers,” Denise says. “Working them for the past four years has been really fulfilling, because each character they lay out for me is so challenging and somehow, I always manage to give them what they want.”

“I also owe a lot to direk Lauren Dyogi,” she adds, “for giving me a second chance at ABS-CBN. This couldn’t have happened without his big help.”

Friends have likewise been bugging her about her weight-loss secrets. Since she gave birth, she’s managed to shed off all those unwanted pounds.

“Every morning, before I start my day, I do my four-minute workouts where I just do as many push-ups, crunches, squats and planks as I can,” she explains. “That jumpstarts my whole system. If I have the time and strength, I box. When I was a kid, I was really into soccer, badminton, and mixed martial arts. I was never really into junk food.”

Despite a backbreaking taping schedule thrice a week, Denise still finds time to dabble in her other artistic pursuits, like singing. She’s laid down the groundwork for an album concept, featuring music that she best describes as “easy listening, nothing noisy, steady and pampa-kilig.” She’s also a semi-regular on the Sunday noontime variety show ASAP 2012.

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