Jillian as Donna Marie in the afternoon drama Prima Donnas: Acting is my passion.
Jillian Ward is a big girl now
Jerry Donato (The Philippine Star) - August 17, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Hers is the story of starting early in show business and loving it eventually. Jillian Ward, TV’s Trudis Liit child star and Daig Kayo ng Lola Ko tween fairy, is now a teen star. She is ready to break away from that awkward phase that every child star needs to deal with. Her upcoming GMA 7 Afternoon Prime series Prima Donnas shows that Jillian is indeed a dalaga (a young lady) already and has the potential to become a fine young actress. The drama premieres Monday, Aug. 19, after Hanggang Sa Dulo ng Buhay Ko.

“I’m happy to have reached this far in showbiz from the time I was a (child star) to now that I’m a teenager (nag-dadalaga),” said the 14-year-old Jilllian of her showbiz career’s “transitory” period in a recent group interview. “I hope I will stay (long in the business and grow old with it). It was a bit difficult because of (the) awkward stage, hindi ko po alam kung dalaga po ako or bata pa rin po ako (for me to figure out whether I should play mature roles or stick to kid ones).”

Perhaps, the management also experienced that same dilemma of Jillian’s. Thus, the young star considers Prima Donnas as a turning point in her career to start accepting “mature” roles fit for her age and to slowly fade out from the cute, kiddie characters. Jillian is Donna Marie, one of the triplets born through surrogacy. The other Donnas (Donna Belle and Donna Lyn) are played respectively by Althea Ablan and Sofia Pablo, also Kapuso teen stars. “This is (a point for me to say that) dalaga na ako talaga, na mas-mature na ako at sa personal life ko (that I’m a young lady now and have grown in [both of my professional and] personal life),” she added. That realization, Jillian shared, began when she starred in My Special Tatay (topbilled by Ken Chan as a dad with mild intellectual disability), and right there and then, she knew that “tumatanda na po talaga ako, hindi pwedeng laro ang pag-arte. To me, I love acting and I see it as a work (profession) and I no longer see it as a play or (the set as my) playground.”

Although the idea of that awkward stage was challenging to many child stars, Jillian said that she never felt that way. After all, acting is her passion and GMA has been generous in giving her project after project. She also has supporters behind her. These are Jillian’s reasons to continue on with her showbiz career. At this early, she is in fact challenged to prove that she is here to stay and acting is what she intends to do in life.

With co-stars Sofia Pablo (left) and Althea Ablan

“I started at five,” Jillian recalled. “Actually, it seems that I would have a project every year kaso hindi (sila) katulad ng Trudis Liit na nagmamarka. I hope and pray that I will be known as Donna Marie, my character, from Trudis. (This time) I hope that people will know me more.”

Part of her wish list is to essay roles that the public will not only talk about but also love and remember. The home-schooled Jillian also felt the support of GMA, her mother network. Since the Trudis Liit days, she has always been among its contract talents. It’s a blessing she is thankful for. “They help me grow, hindi nila ako pinababayaan. I’ve had projects and (TV) guestings,” said she, who has also appeared in Super Ma’am and Sa Piling ni Nanay.

“I’m very honest when it comes to acting. I expect them to give feedback (on my work),” said Jillian of working with fellow teen stars Althea and Sofia. “I also tell them (what I think of theirs) dahil alam ko kung gaano kahirap ang showbiz, maraming mas magaling pa, mas maganda pa. So kailangan po talagang maging hardworking kung talagang mahal mo ang job mo. Tinutulungan ko sila kasi alam ko na gustong-gusto nila ito.”

Also in the cast of Prima Donnas are Katrina Halili as the surrogate mother of Donna Marie, Donna Belle and Donna Lyn; and Wendell Ramos and Glaiza de Castro as the triplets’ parents. Chanda Romero, Aiko Melendez, Benjie Paras and Elijah Alejo complete the line-up of stars. At the helm is Gina Alajar.

What makes Jillian different from other teen stars is her child-star experience, which has also given her the vantage point and the advantage in understanding the ins and outs of showbiz.

“It’s a different feeling and experience when you started young in showbiz, (yung) patanda ka nang patanda, ibang klase pong journey iyon (kumpara) sa bigla ka na lang nag-simula, matira matibay,” she said.

Like any other life’s ambition or journey, Jillian’s started with a dream and the people around her believed in the then child star and showbiz watchers can attest that she has survived the cutthroat world of local entertainment. For Jillian, however, it is not enough for one to dream, one has to work hard as well.

ALTHEA ABLAN HANGGANG SA DULO NG BUHAY KO JILLIAN WARD SOFIA PABLO
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