Princess Punzalan living her Hollywood dream

Princess Punzalan living her Hollywood dream

/ 12:15 AM March 23, 2024

Princess Punzalan (left) with Timothy Busfield

Princess Punzalan (left) with Timothy Busfield —CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Since Princess Punzalan and I are like sisters, her joys and woes are mine as well. That’s why I am ecstatic that she landed a role in the hit US series, “The Cleaning Lady” (TCL), which is streaming on Amazon.

When she left for the States in 2005 to settle down with her hubby Jay and raise their daughter Ellie, Cess was ready to live a life away from show biz. She even worked as a nurse. But a brilliant actress like her ought to keep shining. After another Pinay talent, Dolly de Leon, made waves in Hollywood, here comes Princess all set to reign supreme. Cess never ceased, so she finally seized the day.


Here’s my chat with Cess:


Tell us about TCL and your role in it.

It is about the journey of an immigrant mom, Thony (Elodie Yung), in the US as she does all things to keep her son (Sebastien and Valentino Lasalle) alive and well. I play the role of Alma dela Rosa, who is Thony’s mother-in-law and Fiona’s (Martha Millan) mom.

How different is it working with an international crew?

Since TCL is a series, the cast and crew have become like a family. The only difference is the language, equipment and working in a studio.

Please share some off-cam stories.

I had COVID when I auditioned on tape for the role, and I was able to convince them that I was older than my real age. The first time I was on set, the make-up people spent at least two hours using silver Sharpie on my hair (which is black) to make it look gray. For Season 3, they already used a gray wig on me.


How did you handle the jitters? I did not have any jitters. I felt like I was home because everyone was warm towards me. My acting classes with Billy Hufsey also helped me to not be intimidated by American actors.

What’s your advice to aspiring Pinoy actors who are dreaming to get a big break in the US?

Accept and embrace who you are. There is a role for every gender, race and personality, so just be patient and persevere. Keep your skills sharp by studying, observing and practicing. Be a good and sincere human being to everybody you meet. No one makes it alone. We need a team. People help people, and with God’s help, we can get there.

Please share any of your encounters with Hollywood actors.

Timothy Busfield was the director of Episode 301, “Arman.” I used to watch him in “The West Wing.” I super enjoyed working with him because he is also an actor—an Emmy awardee, at that—who understands the process, feelings and needs of actors.

What’s your takeaway from TCL?

My takeaway from the show is that you will never really know what you are (or are not) capable of until you get to the point where you feel like you don’t have a lot of choices left. You either face it, or you run away. Choices in life are real, and they happen every single day.

Jerald Napoles

Jerald Napoles —VIVA FILMS

Besties through thick or thin

Jerald Napoles and Nicco Manalo take their friendship in real life to the big screen. They portray besties through thick and thin, sick or sin in Viva Films’ horror-comedy, “Pagpag 24/7” (now showing in cinemas).

The movie is inspired by the superstition that one must make a short stop before going home after attending a wake. Doing so will confuse spirits so they don’t follow you home. Let the loco duo, Mitoy (Jerald) and Boying (Nicco), tickle your funny bone while sending chills down your spine.

Here are quotes from Jerald (J) and Nicco (N):

J: Nicco and I have been friends since our struggling days in theater. We almost gave up on our dream, but here we are now. Working together in this movie is something we never thought would happen.

N: If I die, what I want to be engraved on my tombstone is this: Here lies Nicco. He tried to be a better person every day.

J: If I could choose a ghost of any dead celebrity to haunt me, I would pick Charlie Chaplin. I will show him what comedy is like these days and get his reaction. I want to know how he will compare it to his style of comedy.

N: It’s unavoidable to be compared to my dad (Jose Manalo). But I make a conscious effort to develop my own style of comedy to set me apart from him.

J: In “Instant Daddy,” Danita Paner and I had to follow a narrative. But in our new movie, we were given the license to ad-lib and add our own input.

N: The celebrity ghost I wish I could see is Heath Ledger. I want to know what was going through his head while he was playing Joker and ask him the true story behind his shocking death.

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J: It was quite challenging to act as if I saw a ghost even if there was actually nothing in front of me. I should look frightened instead of funny to make the audience empathize with me.

TAGS: Hollywood, Princess Punzalan

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