Venus Raj plays herself a little too loudly on ‘MMK’By Nestor Torre
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Ever since she became a beauty queen, Venus Raj has been trying to make it on TV as a performer-host. She’s one of the segment hosts on “Umaga Kay Ganda,” but her performance to date has been less than impressive.
Part of the problem seems to be that she keeps hanging on to her “beauty queen” persona and demeanor, even when they’re really no longer relevant to her new job.
Another factor may be the possibility that she thinks on-cam segment hosting is easier than it actually is. So, she puts in just the amount of work to get her by, and not the full concentration that the assignment really needs.
Thus, when we got wind of the fact that, not only did Venus want to be a TV personality but an actress as well, we didn’t feel sufficiently confident that she would be able to pass muster as a dramatic or comedic performer.
Would she again bite off more than she was truly capable of masticating? Would she aim for the stars, but hit a drastically lower, or even failing, mark?
Well, last January 21 on “Maalaala Mo Kaya?” we got our answer: The anthology drama was doing her bio-drama, and the role of Venus would be played—why, by Venus herself!
At first, the storytelling concentrated on her as a child, and established early on that her dusky coloration subjected her to a lot of cruel bullying that she tried to rise above from by later joining local beauty pageants, and doing well in them.
When Venus finally appeared on-cam to play herself as a teenager, we were struck by the relative lack of “push” with which she played her first few scenes. On her morning TV show, this is one of the elements that made her come off as too self-conscious and not sufficiently focused on the work at hand.
On “MMK,” however, she was more natural and sincere, and there was relatively more “truth” to her performance.
Later, however, she was made to do a difficult crying scene, and her portrayal was not as commendable. She did get the emotions right, but her delivery was too loud and strident, and her facial contortions got in the way of the artistic integrity of her performance.
She had other “breakdown” scenes later in the show, and pretty much the same excesses distracted from her otherwise acceptable portrayal.
We reminded ourselves that she was a relatively new and thus raw actress, so we should cut her some slack. But, Venus ought to know that volume and contorted delivery are not the hallmarks of a felt and fine dramatic portrayal, especially on the small and intimate TV screen.
To further improve as an actress, Venus has to do better than just “obediently” execute everything that her director asks of her. She has to reach the point where she is contributing more of her own feelings, instincts and insights to her performance and characterization.
“Obedience” is fine, but it should only be the starting point, not the end-all of a dramatic portrayal.
On point of structure, the episode was marred by too much reliance on narration—a frequent storytelling “crutch” on “MMK.”
Despite everything, however, the drama was able to make viewers see that the bullying due to racist bias against dark-complexioned people should not be tolerated—and the show should be complimented for forcefully getting that key behavioral and attitudinal point across.
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