Spotlight on Sanya Lopez
Joy Torrejos (The Freeman) - July 16, 2016 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines - Sanya Lopez takes on the reins from an actress hailed for her sensual appeal and for transforming her “Encantadia” character into a fan favorite.

 For that alone, the 19-year-old showbiz newbie feels the severe weight of expectations to do just as well as Diana Zubiri, the original Sang’gre Danaya of the 2005 telefantasya.

 A success story that director Mark Reyes loves to repeat, Diana had then been carrying the stigma that came with starring in sexy films when she came on board “Encantadia.” To everyone’s surprise, her turn as the headstrong Sang’gre and her love team with Alfred Vargas erased said stigma, endearing Diana to kids and older audiences alike.

 The pure-blooded diwata Danaya keeps the earth jewel and is described for having an unwavering sense of justice. Though the youngest, she is the most fearless and level-headed among the four sisters. She knows her kingdom’s laws by heart, and while she may be extremely stubborn, she’s one to do things by the book. Danaya projects a tough and uncaring aura even though she’s already breaking down inside. She may not die if she does not want to, as she can transform herself into any animal or plant she wishes.

 This Monday, Danaya returns to primetime TV, this time given life by Sanya, a native of Malolos, Bulacan, who, like her co-star Gabbi Garcia, dreams of being crowned a beauty queen someday.

 The Kapuso talent was discovered four years ago by the late star builder German “Kuya Germs” Moreno on the set of “Walang Tulugan,” where her elder brother Jak Roberto was a regular. Mistaken by fans on set as another GMA-7 talent Kim Rodriguez, Sanya’s beauty impressed Kuya Germs, that she was asked on the spot to return as a guest for the next episode.

“Nakilala ako doon mismo sa set niya when I visited my brother during one of his tapings. Kuya Germs saw me and sinabi sa akin, ‘O kapatid ka pala ni Jak. Gusto ko next taping, nandito ka ha.’ Pinasok na ako sa ‘Walang Tulugan,’ until time came that they would guest me in other shows,” Sanya shares.

 She was then asked to join the hit afternoon drama “The Half Sisters,” helmed by the director of “Encantadia.”

 “Thank God na pinasok ako sa ‘Half Sisters.’ Parang aksidente lang na napasok ako. I know I was only supposed to have three taping days, pero tumagal yung character ko,” she says. “‘Half Sisters’ was such a big help to me. That’s what really gave me exposure, kasi sa ending, ako pa yung kinasal.”

 Direk Mark shares that early on, Sanya’s star quality was already evident, but because she wasn’t the main star of “The Half Sisters,” they had to think up ways to de-glamorize her.

 “Sanya was the best friend of Barbie Forteza’s character in ‘Half Sisters.’ Palagi niya ka-eksena si Barbie and Thea Tolentino. I realized, baka maka-distract ito kina Barbie and Thea because she was pretty,” says Direk Mark. “What we did with her, palaging panlalaki yung pinasuot namin sa kanya, long sleeves, with eyeglasses and pilay to tone down her beauty. Later on, she became integral to the story, so it became okay already.”

As Danaya, Sanya’s weapon of choice is close to nature. She wields two wooden sticks and is also skilled in hand-to-hand combat.

“I had no arnis skills whatsoever, so that’s what I targeted first since Danaya is good with arnis” she says. “Pinag-aralan ko talaga before I auditioned because I was really aiming to play Danaya.”  (FREEMAN)


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