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VP/Cover: Barbie Forteza | Never In The Norm

VP/Cover: Barbie Forteza | Never In The Norm

There have always been statements that were told to us as we grow up. These declarations will box us up, and lock us in a room with a door closed for good. We can’t be too quiet, too shrill, too restless, too still. We can’t seek too little nor ask too much. Yet, we were told not to aim too high but to never get stuck in a hole. We are always told to stay in the middle — to be in the norm. But, that’s the thing, there are people who will never conform; never in the norm. Barbie Forteza is one of those people. She kicks the door down and unlocks it on her own as she continues to face the unwavering storm. 

VP/Cover: Barbie Forteza | Never In The Norm

Conforming to the norm often hampers personal progress, and can even cause a person to lose their identity. That’s the thing about conformity – you don’t have to work too hard just to blend in the background. You just have to stay in the room, and let that storm reign its doom. However, there are people who love the rain even if it would bring them pain. Barbie Forteza saw herself out of the door and jumped at the opportunity to score.

Eto talaga ‘yung gusto kong gawin kaya ko siya pinasok. Baliktad. Hindi siya ‘yung parang ‘minahal ko na lang siya kasi ginagawa ko na.’ Kaya ko siya pinasok kasi pinangarap ko talaga siyang gawin. Mahilig akong manuod ng mga pelikula, ng mga palabas sa TV. Bilib na bilib ako kapag ang gaganda ng mga eksena.

Mahilig din kasing manuod ng pelikula ang nanay ko. Mahilig kaming manuod ng mga [pelikula ni] Sharon [Cuneta] dati. And ‘yun, nae-enjoy ko siya. Tapos, nagpa-practice akong umiyak sa harap ng salamin. Ever since, hilig ko na rin talaga siyang gawin.

Finally, nagkaroon na ako ng lakas ng loob when I was nine years old. Tinanong ko kay Mama, out of the blue, kasi sinasabi ko na imposible nga naman siyang mangyari, ‘Mama, parang gusto kong mag-artista.’ Gusto kong mag-commerical, basta gusto kong makita sa TV.

Barbie Forteza and her hard work came as a result of her family’s undying support. When she was just nine years old, she started to dream about being on television. Of course, her parents went all in to support her dreams. Every adventurous child deserved to have parents just like hers. Not only did they drive her to her auditions, but they would also create video resumes before sending them to agencies.

In all fairness naman to my parents, to my family, full-support sila talaga since the beginning. Nag-shoot kami ng video resume tapos pinadala namin sa mga agencies na nakikita namin sa internet. Thankfully, may isang sumagot. So, pumunta kami ng Makati, taga-Biñan, Laguna pa kami ‘nun. So, commute talaga — bus, taxi.

As a young girl, her drive was undeniable and she took that immense passion. She didn’t want the effort that they do to go to waste due to rejections. So, she worked hard and grew up to be the Barbie Forteza we all know and love.

Nung una, nahirapan ako. Pero since eto talaga kasi ‘yung gusto ko, nagpursigi talaga ako. Ginalingan ko talaga. Kasi nga kita ko naman yung hirap nila Mama atsaka ni Daddy. Kung lagi lang ako mare-reject, kung lagi lang ako hindi maa-approve sa commercials, sayang. Sayang. Parang sinasayang ko lang ‘yung oras at pera nila. So, ginagalingan ko lang talaga every time.

Her humble beginnings start with advertisements on television, going from an audition to an audition. She even pointed out that she has had auditions as a young Marian Rivera for Marimar, Darna, and even Dyesebel. The resemblance was there but unfortunately, the timing never happened.

Thankfully, nakarami naman ng commercials. Then, from there, nakakilala ako ng agent na nagsusupply ng extra. So, dun ako nagsimulang pumasok sa mga teleserye sa GMA. Nag-extra ako sa Lupin. Nag-audition ako bilang batang Marimar, kay Miss Marian Rivera, bilang batang Darna, bilang batang Dyesebel… Puro laging young Marian kaya lang hindi talaga nagtagpo.

Until something did. Barbie Forteza starred as a young Rhian Ramos in the Philippine adaptation of Stairway to Heaven. She had a cutesy tween friendship with Joshua Dionisio who portrayed the young Dingdong Dantes. As an avid viewer of that show, Barbie’s heartbreaking cries and hopeless screams tugged unseen emotions.  

Then, finally, nabigyan ako ng chance to audition for the role of young Miss Rhian Ramos, young Jodi sa Stairway to Heaven. Thankfully, nakuha ako doon. And, doon na nag-start, pinag-sign na ako ng GMA sa kanila.

Of course, growing up in the limelight would incite struggles. When asked about the struggles that she has continued to face in her line of work, Barbie Forteza mentioned internal battles within herself. She challenges herself to be better; even better than herself.

Ang mga struggles na napagdadaanan ko sa trabaho ko, syempre, ‘yung struggle of always trying to prove myself. I always strive to be better. Kasi parang there is always somebody new that comes in, diba? So, kailangan every time kailangan mong improve ‘yung sarili mo para may mai-offer ka sakanila. Hindi ko rin naman masabi na struggle. It’s more of a challenge for me to keep whatever I have right now.

Aside from her internal battles, she also struggles with her time, or lack thereof.

Struggle rin siguro in my personal life would be time with my family, time with myself, time with my loved ones. Definitely. Lalo na kapag locked-in taping. So, talagang trabaho talaga siya.

Barbie Forteza is also just like any other person in this world who struggles with peace within themselves. Despite wanting to eradicate them, she admitted that high expectations get to her. She also thinks that she needs to sustain the people’s expectations. That way, she can improve more and more.

And, lastly, I believe, sa ngayon na napagdadaanan kong struggle is my struggle to be at peace with myself. There’s always this super high expectations in all aspects… As much as I would like to ignore or disregard or dismiss the matter, talagang andyan siya, eh. Constant ‘yung parang kailangan ma-meet ‘yung expectations. ‘Yun yung ka-partner kumbaga ng success. Parang kailangan mo rin i-sustain ‘yung expectations ng tao. Kailangan every time, mag-improve ka din.

Although she has struggles, Barbie Forteza noted that this has always been the life that she wanted. So, she overcomes it as much as she could while enjoying every moment of living her dream. And, that’s one of the things that take her out of the norm.

So, I think those are the struggles that I have been going through ever since I entered showbiz. But, again, this has always been what I wanted. This has always been my dream. So, I just learn along the way. I try to enjoy every moment. I try to be in the moment as much as I could.

Barbie Forteza has had multiple credits under her belt. She went from Jodi to Bambi to Karen to Faith to Diana to Maru to Billie to Pearly to Happylou to Cors and to Klay. She has characters to portray, memorizing more lines to say. 

The thing I love most about acting is having to be someone I’m entirely not; having to be in somebody else’s shoes. And, thankfully, pulling it off.

However, as someone who has grown up in the limelight, she knows how much its brightness could blind someone. Barbie Forteza loves the fact that she can portray someone else, express these characters’ emotions, and give life to their stories.

Ang showbiz kasi masyado nilang bubugbugin ‘yung personal life mo. So, para sa akin, ‘yung acting, it gets me out of my personal space. It gets me out of my personal life. I portray a character. So, hindi ako ‘yun. Nahihiwalay ko ‘yung personal life ko with it. Nakaka-enjoy kasi minsan it gets overwhelming.

Barbie Forteza gets her inspiration from her favorite actresses. She gains lesson after lesson whenever she watches films and television series. Then, she would use what she learned in a character that she portrays.

I also enjoy doing it because I’ve always loved watching films, my favorite series. I usually get references from the movies that I love, the actresses that I admire. Nakakatuwa lang na kapag minsan may character akong peg ‘dun sa mga favorite actresses ko. Somehow, nakikita ng mga tao na ‘yun ‘yung pinaggagayahan ko. So, parang minsan, ‘Oh, my Gosh! Nagagawa ko siya!’

Most of the time, kumukuha talaga ako ng references from movies and from my favorite actresses. Kasi I learned that I’m more of a visual learner than ‘yung mag-research. Mas naiintindihan ko, mas natututo ako kapag napapanuod ko at kapag nakikita ko. Keen observer din kasi ako talaga. So, even the nuances of the actors, I try to observe, I try na gamitin sila sa mga eksena ko minsan na akma naman sa eksena.

Barbie Forteza even revealed that she based her Inday Will Always Love You character Happylou on Emilia Clarke’s Me Before You role as Lou. She might have noticed that they have similar names and similar sunshine cheerfulness. So, she used one of her favorite actresses’ as a basis for the character, mixing it with hints of The Diamond Star, Maricel Soriano.

Actually, ‘yung character ko sa Inday Will Always Love You, si Happylou is halo na Miss Maricel Soriano and Emilia Clarke sa Me Before You. ‘Yun yung parang ginawa kong peg, para lang may panggalingan siya, para hindi lang siya from scratch.

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Of course, with the multiple credits under her belt, we wondered if she ever has a favorite one. We wanted to know the one that she loved portraying the most and the one that impacted her the most. To be honest, I expected her to say Klay from the recently-concluded historical fiction Maria Clara at Ibarra. However, I didn’t expect her to reveal more about the character and how Klay came to her in the first place.

Well, off the top of my head, I would say Klay talaga kasi I created her character with the help of our creative team from GMA Network, our amazing creative team. Siguro ako, nilagyan ko lang siya ng personal input. Kasi when the character was presented to me, it was pretty vague. It was pretty generic.

Mapagmahal na anak, may pinaglalaban, makulit. Parang medyo maraming gray areas. So, ginawan ko siya ng sarili niyang background, family background. Parang tipong may ganito kaming favorite gawin ng nanay ko, may ganitong core memory kami ng nanay ko. Para pag may eksena kami together, mas malalim ‘yung panggagalingan hindi ‘yung basta iiyak na lang — may core memory.

Aside from giving Klay more background, Barbie Forteza also made the character closer to her actual personality.

Nilagyan ko rin siya talaga ng a bit of a personal reference. Ginawa ko siyang as close to my real personality as possible. Kasi alam ko na we will be doing it ‘to for quite a long time. So, for me, na para hindi ako mahirapan humugot agad, I had to be really intact with the character. So, kailangan very close sa personality ko rin talaga.

Regular and occasional viewers flocked to social media to applaud GMA Network for creating a historical fiction like Maria Clara at Ibarra at a time when Filipinos actually needed it the most. When asked about how she felt being part of such an impactful project, Barbie Forteza continued to gush.

I always say how honored and how proud I am of being part of that very important show. It’s not just a beautiful show. It’s a very imporant show. Not only did we receive good feedback and good ratings but we actually brought back the Filipinos’ love for the country, how much the Filipinos before fought for our country. So, parang mas ma-appreciate natin ‘yung Pilipinas ngayon kasi parang etong mga nakaraan… it was really difficult to do. If anything, mas ‘yun yung nagawa ng show, na mas ikina-proud namin. Kasi hindi lang kami basta nagpalabas ng show, meron talaga kaming purpose kaya namin siya ginawa. I’m just so happy to be part of it.

She has always wanted to be an actress when she was just nine years old. She was a mere child when she felt the role call to her and the drive she holds onto grew and grew. So, we asked her if she has any message that she would want to say to her nine-year-old self, the one who dreamt to be the Barbie Forteza that she is now.

This will be the best decision you will ever make. Ituloy mo ‘yan, huwag kang susuko. Enjoy every moment. Ngayon palang sinasabi ko na I am proud of you for trying. Kasi diba may mga pangarap tayong parang ang imposible niyang abutin? Kasi parang masyadong too good to be true para mangyari. Ang masasabi ko sa nine-year-old self ko, huwag kang susuko because there is so much in store for you. Kayang kaya mo ‘yan.

We never know what the future has in store for us. Past Barbie Forteza wouldn’t know that she’d be one of the biggest actresses from GMA Network. Of course, we can’t help but ask her what she would want to say to herself five to ten years from now.

Siguro ang mensahe ko sa aking sarili five to ten years from now is… I’m proud of you and that there will always be people who will be there for you. Hindi ka nagiisa. Whatever you went through, whatever you’ve been through, kung saan ka man nakarating, please know na mahal na mahal kita and kayang kaya mo ‘yan. More pa, more achievements pa.

There have always been statements that were told to us as we grow up. These declarations will box us up, and lock us in a room with a door closed for good. We can’t be too quiet, too shrill, too restless, too still. We can’t seek too little nor ask too much. Yet, we were told not to aim too high but to never get stuck in a hole. We are always told to stay in the middle — to be in the norm. But, that’s the thing, there are people who will never conform; never in the norm. Barbie Forteza is one of those people. She kicks the door down and unlocks it on her own as she continues to face the unwavering storm. 

Publisher | Richie de Quina & Gwynn Crisostomo
Editor-in-Chief | John Luke Chica
Senior Editor | Rapha Garcia and Angela Baltan
PR & Advertising Manager |  Josh Austria
Digital Manager | Allen Esteban
Words by Angela Baltan

Producer | Josh Austria
Photographer | Roj Miguel
Assistant | Alfred de Peralta
Film by | Pogs Torres
Makeup | Toni Aviles
Hair Stylist | Manilyn Moster of Gorgeousa Makeup Studio
Styling Team
Stylist | Kenneth Ramil
Associate Stylist | Karl Dioso
Jewelry | Adornos Fine Jewelry
Designers | Liz Enriquez and Reymark Enrique
Studio | Prowess Supremacy Production Inc.

Special thanks to Sparkle GMA Artist Center, Chester Jan Singian, Felix Ilaya, Jas Baldoza and Salo-Salo Together

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