She still looks as fresh faced as when she first started her showbiz career in her teens, but Gwen Zamora has matured in so many ways in the last six years.
Gwenaelle Tasha Mae Agnese in real life, Zamora was lured into the world of performing arts since childhood. As a little girl, spare time meant enjoying the ropes of various dance forms such as ballet, jazz, belly dancing and even flamenco. Loving the spotlight, she was naturally enticed to try her hand at acting and at the age of 13 started out in school plays, which laid the foundation for her interest in show business.
By age 17, Zamora moved on to become a commercial model and endorser for various products, but perhaps her biggest break came a few years later when she debuted on the big screen via the 2010 Metro Manila Film Festival official entry Enteng Kabisote (Si Enteng At Si Agimat). The then newcomer landed the role of the iconic Faye, the immortal fairy, to whom Vic Sotto’s character Enteng is married.
Affirming her acting prowess, she was nominated Best Newcomer and Supporting Actress for her debut movie. She reprised her role for two more Enterng Kabisote outings, namely, Enteng Ng Ina Mo and Si Agimat, Si Enteng At Si Ako.
Outside the franchise, she also appeared in Boy Pick-Up, My Kontrabida Girl and other light hearted films.
As with most movie stars, Zamora is also active on TV. She is part of the longest running gag show, Bubble Gang, and landed different roles in such soaps as Grazilda, Machete, Inamorata, Indio, Aso Ni San Roque and My Mother’s Secret, among others.
One of her career milestones arrived when she landed the lead role in the 2012 Indonesian movie The Witness, which was shown in Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines.
Ever the thriving artist, her accomplishments in mainstream media never rendered Zamora to be lax. Impressed by the growth of independent cinema in the country, she branched out in the genre with the award-winning Mario Cornejo film Apocalypse Child.
The indie movie is hinged on the premise that Apocalypse Now director Francis Ford Coppola—who shot parts of the 1979 American epic war adventure film movie in Baler—left an illegitimate child in the Philippines. The film was shot in 2015 and premiered in the same year at the Quezon City International Film Festival. Zamora plays the role of Serena, who—in her own words—is “the fire starter” of the plot.
“My character is basically the cause of the fire. She kind of creates this feud among everyone,” Zamora related to The Manila Times during a pocket interview on September 14.
The 26-year-old actress thoroughly expressed why she enjoyed her first experience on a indie set.
“The movie was the best experience–craft-wise and work-wise–that I’ve had in my six years of being in the entertainment industry. One of the reasons why I enjoyed it so much was because of the treatment that the movie was given,” Zamora began.
She explained it took director Cornejo and his co-writer Monster Jimenez five years to write the story to start with so that the flow and the script had no flaws.
“They knew exactly how they wanted the story to go. The way we auditioned and the way we prepared for the movie was nothing like I’d ever done before. We knew the script and had chemistry testing before we even got to the location. It was all planned out but once we started rolling, the movie became a collaborative work. If we felt that the scene could be improved we were allowed to make suggestions to the director or the co-actors,” Zamora shared.
“The experience was really a breath of fresh air because in past movies that I’ve done—and I am not saying they’re bad—we paid close attention to every detail/ In other films, we just got the scrip and then it was, ‘Let’s see how it will go’,” she added.
Her hard work for Apocalypse Child gained Zamora a Best Supporting Actress nomination at 2016 Gaward Urian—the most esteemed movie award in the country—and just this month, a Best Actress nomination from the Film Academy of the Philippines.
“I found out about it a few days ago,” Zamora said excitedly. “I was just really surprised and kind of flattered I was nominated for a Best Actress.”
With the added feathers on her cap, the talented mestiza is convinced all the more that she wants to spend more time in the indie genre.
“I was just blown away working in Apocalypse Child, and so now to be honest, I really want to venture more into indie movies,” she admitted. “I feel like there’s less pressure than with mainstream. In the latter, you have so many people counting on you [to come up with a blockbuster], indie is all about the craft.”