Jaclyn Jose made history when she bagged the Best Actress award at the 69th Cannes Film Festival in France.
She was the first Filipino bestowed that honor.
The Philippines’ entertainment industry celebrated Jose’s surprise win, hailing her as one of the nation’s hardest working and most versatile actresses who deserves global acclaim.
“This is a victory for the Filipino film industry. This is a victory for the Philippines as a whole,” Joel Lamangan, a well-known director, said.
“Filipinos are very good actors. They can be compared to anybody. That’s what Jaclyn Jose proved.”
Jose’s original manager Ed Instrella said although she has been one of the nation’s most popular actresses for three decades, she decided at a young age that she “wanted to be an actress, not a star.”
Her current manager Perry Lansigan described her as a “workaholic” who relentlessly pursued as many roles as possible.
“She doesn’t take a rest of two or three months [between roles]like other actors,” Lansigan said.
Some quarters questioned Jose’s win but the jury came to her defense.
In a report by Variety.com, some festival attendees felt that Jose’s role in the Philippines’ entry “Ma’Rosa” by director Brillante Mendoza was “too small to merit the award.”
But the jury led by president George Miller saw otherwise.
Member Mads Mikkelsen, a Danish actor, said, “We found her to be a wonderful leading actress, a master of her skills. It was not a supporting character.”
At IndieWire.com, more jury members maintained that Jose truly deserved the win.
Hollywood actor Donald Sutherland said, “The critics were wrong. It’s a big-time leading role,” while French director Arnaud Desplechin commented, “She’s the film. She broke my heart.”
Jose beat famous mainstream actresses–Oscar-winning Charlize Teron and Kristen Stewart of the US–and another Oscar awardee, Marion Cotillard of France.
But her strong rivals, according to the jury, were “I, Daniel Blake’s” Hayley Squires, and “Graduation’s” Maria Dragus.
In “Ma’Rosa,” Jose plays the role of Rose, a “slum matriarch” who falls prey to corrupt police after deciding to deal with small-time drugs to support her family.
The award took Jose by surprise. She expressed nothing but gratitude in her acceptance speech. “To Cannes, thank you so much, thank you to the jury, thank you that you liked our film.”
She credited her success to Mendoza, who bagged the Best Director trophy for “Kinatay” in 2009.
The duo hold a special relationship because they also represented the Philippines in Cannes in the film “Serbis” in 2008.
“Ma’Rosa” is Jose’s third film under the director, her first being “The Masseur,” Mendoza’s first groundbreaking independent film in 2005.
“I dreamt of this, that someday I’m coming back with my daughter . . . Hindi pa siya artista noon [she was not even an actor then],” she said of her daughter Andi Eigenmann, who is also a cast in “Ma’Rosa” and who was with her at Cannes.
“The biggest challenge for me was not to act. Especially since I am coming from television shows where I play loud and campy characters,” she told reporters.
The 52-year-old said she had to “tone everything down to zero” — even performing without make-up on.
It is a dramatic change from her regular job, playing a spoiled, rich woman in the popular
Filipino TV soap opera, “The Millionaire’s Wife.”
Variety magazine praised Jose for the “naturalistic grace” of her film performance.
The daughter of a Filipina mother and a largely absent American serviceman father, Jose first became famous in Philippine show business circles for her ethereal beauty.
But she has proved to be a versatile and hard-working actress, starring in dramas, comedies, horror stories, romances and television soap operas.
Jose has won numerous acting awards in her native country and acted for some of its most prestigious filmmakers.
But it is her relationship with “Ma ‘Rosa” director Mendoza — a friend for more than 30 years — which has brought her into the international limelight.
Praises and congratulations
Filipinos in the show business and filmmaking industries showered Jose with congratulatory messages on social media.
“Congratulations Jaclyn Jose, for bagging the Cannes Best Actress award. HISTORICAL #proudtobePinoy,” posted Dawn Zulueta on Twitter.
Director Carlos Siguion-Reyna also tweeted, “Congratulations, actor Jaclyn Jose and director Brillante Mendoza, for the Cannes Best Actress win!”
“Amazing win for Jaclyn Jose, a first for the Philippines!” echoed reporter Atom Araullo.
At the sidelines of a news conference on Monday, actress Denise Laurel, who played a young Jose in ABS-CBN’s “Prinsesa Banyera,” believed the latter “deserved” the win.
“I really observed how she acts and it’s not overacting. That’s why it is well deserved [really].”
Jose’s current network, GMA-7, said, “Let’s all congratulate Ms. Jaclyn Jose for winning the Best Actress award in the prestigious Cannes Film Festival!”