Barbie Forteza
Joy Torrejos
Barbie Forteza wields her primetime magic anew
Vanessa Balbuena (The Freeman) - February 21, 2019 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — If Barbie Forteza is nervous about a project, then they must have something good on their hands.

“I’ve been here for a while. Kahit papaano, medyo marami na din akong  nagawa. At ito, masasabi kong nacha-challenge ako. It’s a good feeling for me. Kasi kung kinakabahan ako, ibig sabihin, maganda ito,” the 21-year-old actress said of her newest primetime series “Kara Mia,” currently airing its pilot week.

In the fantasy-drama, Barbie’s Kara shares a body with her sister Mia, whose face is hidden at the back of her head. Born with disprosopus or craniofacial duplication, Kara and Mia (Mika dela Cruz) represent how good and evil are every individual’s two natures, of how we make the good triumph over the other, and how love will time and again conquer all.

While the visual of two butting heads in one body can be initially unsettling and can easily go the horror path, Barbie said they are taking the PG route.

“Though there have been rare cases [of disprosopus], our approach will be very pambata, because we have a touch of fantasy and folklore,” she added. “The story is very relatable. Even if our situation is a rare case, it’s a typical story of sisters, of family, of two girls falling in love.”

Aside from the concept that’s never been done before on Philippine television, what sealed the deal for Barbie in taking on the assignment was the inclusion of her boyfriend, Jak Roberto, in the cast.

“When I learned na makakatrabaho ko si Jak, parang wala ng ibang tanong,” admitted Barbie, who met Jak in “Meant To Be,” a rom-com series that had them first starring together, along with three other leading men.

No to PDA

It is her first time to act alongside a boyfriend in a TV show, and while the young can often be carefree when in love, Barbie has set it upon herself to draw the line between work and personal life.

“We haven’t taped together yet. Na-experience ko lang na nag-regional kami, nag Aklan kami. Kahit magkasama kaming dalawa, parang hindi din namin masulit yung time together kasi nga trabaho,” she said.

“Work is work. Pinag-usapan na rin namin yun na pagdating sa set, huwag tayo masyadong PDA kasi naiilang din ako. Nasanay ako ever since na laging tent, tapos set. Tulog, basa ng script – wala akong ibang ginagawa. And happy ako dun. So sabi ko sa kanya, huwag kang mabibigla sa akin sa set, pero baka hindi kita pansinin. Worse case, baka ma-distract pa ako.”

Will smooching scenes be easier with a real-life sweetheart, or will there be any at all? “Mahirap eh, kasi may bantay ako sa likod. Parang ang awkward,” said Barbie, referring to her character’s hidden second face. “Bukod sa pangpamilya, pambata ang show na ito. So I don’t think it will go that far.”

Asked what drew her to Jak among her other suitors, Barbie cited the actor’s qualities that resemble her dad’s.

“Naaalala ko sa kanya yung Daddy ko, kung paano niya alagaan si Mama, kung paano niya tratuhin si Mama. Parang naging better half talaga ni Mama si Daddy. Kahit hindi ko pinipilit yung sarili ko, kasi nagsimula kami na magkaibigan. So mas nakilala namin yung isa’t-isa bago pa naging kami. Wala ng naging problema kasi lama na namin paano i-handle ang isa’t-isa,” she shared.

A matter of pacing

Barbie, whose last two primetime shows (“Meant To Be” and “Inday Will Always Love You”) were of lighter fare, said she is glad to return to heavy drama.

“Nagkasunod-sunod na palagi akong nagpapatawa. Na nae-enjoy ko naman. Pero name-miss ko din naman na nacha-challenge, na umiiyak ng almost 24 hours,” said Barbie. “I think medyo maninibago po sa akin ang viewers dahil matagal-tagal akong nag rom-com at ngayon lang ako ulit babalik sa heavy drama.”

With her shows often going beyond one season and rating competitively, what does she think is her secret weapon? “Siguro ang dali nilang maka-relate sa akin. Kasi parang isa akong paslit na maraming ginagawa sa buhay. Ako, kapag may iniidolo akong artista, ibig sabihin, nakaka-relate ako sa kanya. May something sa kanya na feeling ko ganun din ako. I think I have to give the credit to GMA and the creative sa lahat ng nagawa ko. Lahat ng binibigay nila sa akin, nagugustuhan ng masa. I think they are the magic, hindi ako. Yung story na ginagawa namin, the role I’m portraying – hindi nila pinababayaan na, ‘Ah si Barbie, sige kahit ano na lang…’ Hindi ganun. Pinag-iisipan talaga nila, kaya nakakataba ng puso.”

Always the good soldier when her network taps her for various projects, the “Sunday PinaSaya” mainstay said she only refuses when the roles require kissing scenes, the idea of lovemaking or pregnancy plot lines. Not that she herself is uncomfortable at getting out of her goody-goody mold.

“I think there is a better time for it. Kasi paano kung ginawa ko na before? Hindi na bagay sa akin ang ‘Kara Mia’ kasi pang bata siya. Paano pa nila ako paniniwalaan? I think it’s just a matter of pacing,” explained Barbie.

When the time is right for her to take the leap into adult, mature roles, Barbie said she’d love to portray a serial killer, being that she’s a fan of thrillers, crime, mystery and the sci-fi series/film genres.

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