Ashley Ortega won’t let heartbreak spoil career’s biggest break | Inquirer Entertainment

Ashley Ortega won’t let heartbreak spoil career’s biggest break

By: - Reporter
/ 12:20 AM March 13, 2023

Ashley Ortega

Ashley Ortega

For 10 years, Ashley Ortega had to make do with supporting roles or one-off episodic projects. But despite the seemingly glacial pace in which her career moved, she never lost hope. Ashley waited and waited, treating every job that came her way as if it were the biggest break of her career.

This year, her patience finally paid off. For the first time in her career, Ashley landed her first lead role through the sports drama “Hearts on Ice,” which airs weeknights on GMA 7 starting March 13.


“I would say that this is my greatest achievement as an actress so far… It’s so overwhelming. The idea of me being a leading lady has yet to sink in. Our makeup artists told me, ‘Anak, bida ka na.’ It feels so new,” she told reporters at a recent press conference. “I have been in the industry for a quite a while now. I did mostly supporting roles, but no complaints here.”


What helped the Kapuso actress get through career uncertainties was her mindset that puts importance on longevity, above all else. “I never grew impatient. And I think it’s because I was never really after fame—I want longevity. I admire veteran stars. I want to be like them when I get old, still acting and respected for their craft,” she said.

“That’s why every role I get—no matter how small it is—I look at it as something big and important,” the 24-year-old actress added.

Making things even more special for Ashley—aside from the fact that it airs on GMA 7’s prime-time block—is that it merges her two biggest passions in life: acting and figure skating. Ashley took up figure skating when she was just 4 and grew up competing in various skating meets, both here and abroad. By the time show biz beckoned at 12, she had already collected about 80 medals. “I feel so lucky that GMA did a show that was tailor-made for me,” said Ashley, who represented the country in past competitions in Japan, Thailand, China and Malaysia.

In “Hearts on Ice,” Ashley plays Ponggay, an aspiring figure skater with a leg impairment. It was really her mother who dreamed of becoming a champion figure skater. She failed, so she tries to live out her fantasy through her daughter. But because Ponggay craves validation and love from her mother, she devotes herself to the sport, despite her disability.

Later on, she stumbles upon a content creator whose music brings out the best in her on the rink. As it turns out, her beloved online idol is the snobbish Enzo (Xian Lim).

Ortega (left) with Xian Lim

Ortega (left) with Xian Lim

In her journey toward skating success, Ponggay encounters bigger competitors who treat her like a laughingstock. She also forms an unlikely friendship with Monique (Roxie Smith), a talented international skater. Unknown to them, their mothers used to be bitter rivals in the skating circuit.


Nervous and pressured

“When I was told that the show was going to focus on skating, I cried. I couldn’t believe it. And I do feel pressure. I’m nervous, because people have expectations. There’s still work to do. We have a long way to go. But our director, Dominic Zapata, assures me that he has my back,” she said.

While the role isn’t as heavy on drama as her previous role in “Legal Wives,” the skating aspect makes “Hearts on Ice” physically demanding. “The theme is lighter. But it’s also draining because it involves a sport. We shoot at night, during the mall’s closing hours, until morning,” she related. “We have to train regularly, too.”

Ashley couldn’t help but “fangirl” when she learned that Xian was going to be his onscreen partner. “I watched his shows. And I already knew who he was before I entered show biz. Meeting him in person, I found him approachable. He’s handsome…very charming and super friendly,” she said. “We became friends,” said Ashley, who also admires Xian’s dedication to his skating lessons. “He’s so hardworking. I always see him on the rink, training. He’s such a fast learner, and that’s impressive because he’s an adult skater.”

Two months before shooting began last November, Ashley called it quits with her boyfriend, Lucena City Mayor Mark Alcala. As they focused on their respective careers, time became an issue and they eventually drifted apart. But she wasn’t about to let a heartbreak affect the biggest project of her career.

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“I poured it all out in the months leading to filming. I told myself that I had to focus. So iniyak ko na lahat and allowed myself to recover from the breakup. I didn’t want that burden while working on the show. I channeled all my energy to training. This show has my full focus,” she said. INQ


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