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Challenging roles motivate stars to stretch their limits

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Challenging roles motivate stars to stretch their limits

Jodi Sta. Maria

Jodi Sta. Maria

Jodi Sta. Maria has established herself as one of local show biz’s most accomplished and successful “maturing” stars, but little has been heard about her in recent months.

It was a treat, therefore, to recently see her topbilling an episode of the “Maalaala Mo Kaya” dramatic anthology show.

The intense TV drama gave us an opportunity to keep tabs on Jodi’s continuing growth as an actress—and the good news is, her thespic skills are in tip-top shape.

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Jodi is currently “between assignments” after scoring with the series “Pangako sa ’Yo” and the movie “The Achy Breaky Hearts,” so she should be given bigger and more significant TV-film projects real soon. While waiting for those major showcases, however, occasional vehicles like her “MMK” outing are appreciated.

The episode’s plot and theme were suitably challenging, giving Jodi many opportunities to put her well-honed emotional resources to good use. She played a woman who kept making the worst choices in her love life, allowing herself to be used and abused by the men she loved.

To make things worse, her smothering mother also eroded her sense of self-worth, further pushing Jodi’s character into a tight corner, with precious few options to provide for her children. Thus, when push came to shove, Jodi was forced to agree to become—a babymaker!

That’s right, a childless man (Raymond Bagatsing) paid her a lot of money to get impregnated by him and give birth to his offspring. It was a harrowing decision that shook her to the roots of her being and convictions, but she made it to save her other children from abject poverty.

The episode’s “babymaker” theme made it an unusually challenging and attention-calling vehicle for Jodi, and she measured up to its inordinate demands.

Even better, she has become such an experienced and accomplished actress that she can do more than just weep and wail to predictably lugubrious effect.

Instead of doing just one melodramatic schtick over and over again, Jodi came up with a more psychologically varied depiction, shedding greater light on her character’s abject condition and prospects.

The “Maalaala Mo Kaya” anthology program’s penchant for showcasing good actors, like Jodi, who aren’t seen that regularly on TV, deserves viewers’ appreciation.

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It fills a felt need to keep “maturing” stars active in an industry that prefers youthful performers above all else.

It’s also prized for the unusual thespic challenge it poses for the gifted actors it showcases, which inspires them to further stretch their limits and do their utmost best.

Even senior stars who are seen regularly in supporting roles in teleseryes can benefit from an “MMK” showcase, because they get to play main protagonists, instead of the usual parent or grandparent roles.

For instance, Gloria Romero is currently a regular presence on “Meant to Be,” but the series is more interested in the romantic romps of its young leads.

We’d love to see the “underused” Gloria playing a lead role in a special “MMK” episode written especially to showcase her at her best.

It would be a significant TV “event” in itself that would really make many TV buffs’ viewing day—and month!

Other acting icons who “deserve” an “MMK” showcase include Ronaldo Valdez, Coney Reyes, Tirso Cruz III, Vivian Velez, Laurice Guillen, Nikki Ross, Barbara Perez and Robert Arevalo.

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