Lawyer role a tribute to Jo Berry’s late father

Lawyer role a tribute to Jo Berry’s late father

By: - Reporter
/ 12:25 AM March 04, 2024

Lawyer role a tribute to Jo Berry’s late father


Being a lawyer was a dream Jo Berry shared with her late father. That plan, however, had to take a backseat when a career in show biz beckoned. So, when she was asked to play one in an upcoming drama series, she couldn’t help but see it—in a way—as a full-circle moment.

“When this project was offered to me, I prayed and told my father, ‘It’s just a role, but at least I get to play a lawyer,” the actress told reporters at a press conference for “Lilet Matias: Attorney at Law,” which airs weekdays starting March 4 on GMA 7’s Afternoon Prime block.


In 2021, Jo lost her father, brother and grandfather to COVID-19—all within a month! And while that devastating blow left her depressed and questioning herself if she could still go on with acting, she soldiered on, knowing that it was what her father would have wanted.


“I didn’t question it because I had faith. But I won’t deny that I’m hurt and in pain. I know that I won’t be OK like I was before. I feel like there’s already a void. May kulang na. I don’t think I would be able to move on. But whenever I feel sad, I remember what my father told me: ‘Ituloy mo lang ang laro,’” she said.

And so, despite not having time to grieve, Jo still chose to push through with her then drama series, “Little Princess.” It was hard, but at least she had a reason to get out of bed.

Messages of support

“When you’re in pain and mourning, there are days when you don’t want to get up; you just want to sleep and stay in bed all day. So I busied myself with work. I tried to see every taping day as an opportunity to see friends and ‘extended’ family. And hearing all the messages of support made me feel OK,” she related. “That gave me a reason to get up in the morning.”

READ: Jo Berry shares valuable acting tips from Nora Aunor, Cherie Gil

Still, she was thankful to GMA 7 for giving her the choice whether or not to do the show.

“My brother died on Aug. 26; my lolo on Sept. 1; and finally, my father on Sept. 21. I received his ashes the following day. Locked-in taping was already set on the 23rd. But when that happened, GMA told me that it was OK not to do it if I wasn’t ready … But I opted to do it,” she said.


Her decision was also her way of honoring her late brother—who used to be her manager—and all the hard work that he devoted into her career.

“It was the last project my brother worked on. I also wanted to make my father proud,” Jo pointed out. “I also knew that the show was ready to go. Nakalatag na. I thought about my coactors, the production team. It was the pandemic. Projects and money were hard to come by. I decided to push forward. Yes, I couldn’t mourn properly, but I don’t blame anyone because it was my choice.”

Empowering projects

Directed by Adolf Alix Jr., “Lilet Matias: Attorney at Law” revolves around the titular character, whose experiences with bullying and injustices inspired her to pursue law. Described as a “little person with a big purpose,” Lilet eventually achieves her dreams and vows to use her position to defend the underprivileged and victims of abuse and discrimination.

But one day, she chances upon a case that inevitably opens old wounds and forces her to deal with all the pain her estranged family has caused her.

Cast of “Lilet Matias: Attorney at Law”

Cast of “Lilet Matias: Attorney at Law”

“I’m thankful for empowering projects like this, because it’s a gamble to give title roles to someone like me. So I do my best all the time. The trust people have in me fuels me to do better. I feel happy when viewers tell me that the characters I play are lovable and inspiring,” she said.

Pursuing her dream

Jo is a big fan of the Korean legal drama “Extraordinary Attorney Woo,” which also served as one of her pegs for her show. “I love that show. I watched it way before ‘Lilet’ was offered to me. I was happy,” she said.

And somehow, the show reignited her desire to pick up where she left off and take up law someday. “After graduation, I looked for a job so I could earn enough money for law school. But then, my first show, ‘Onanay’ (2019) came … But given the chance, I would still love to pursue it,” she said.

The actress has never set foot in a courtroom. So just imagine her anxiety levels rising, she said, when she filmed her first scenes at the Manila City Hall of Justice. “Nerbyos talaga, as in! In my first scene, I kept buckling even if I had my lines memorized. All eyes were on me. And I had to speak in a different way, use words that I don’t use in real life. So that’s challenging,” she said.

Good kind of challenge

But it’s a good kind of challenge, though, she said. “The pressure inspires me to do the job well. I make sure I ask about things I don’t understand. I need to study. The role keeps me on my toes.”

And it’s in times like those that she really misses her family. “This is the first face-to-face press conference without my brother … I always think, ‘What will my father and brother say about this scene?’ They used to share their thoughts about my work, which I have always valued,” she said.

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“Pero ano kaya ang sasabihin nila this time? Will they be proud of me?” she wondered. INQ

TAGS: Entertainment, Jo Berry

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