Why Juday is the down-to-earth drama queen

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TESSA MAURICIO-ARRIOLA

Judy Ann Santos is certainly a drama queen in the literal sense. Since making her professional debut on television in “Kaming Mga Ulila” 39 years ago, she has won a total of 24 best actress awards for dramatic portrayals both on the small and big screens, and continues to be considered the superstar of her generation to this very day.

It was therefore both surprising and admirable how this veritable icon in Philippine show business admitted to all and sundry that she had actually lost her confidence in acting very recently.

Candid and down to earth at the grand media conference for her upcoming starrer with Angelica Panganiban—a dramedy titled “Ang Dalawang Mrs. Reyes”—Juday simply confessed she needed to seek validation from her director and colleagues if had pulled off a scenes or not. Something the veteran actress had probably not done for a very long time.

Used to making as many as five to seven films a year at the height of her career, Juday took intermittent breaks from moviemaking since marrying Ryan Agoncillo in 2009. Eager to focus on her family life after devoting all her time and energy to her career since age eight, she only filmed one title a year or even none at all following the birth of son Lucho in 2010 and Luna in 2016. [Her adopted daughter Yohan is now 13 years old].


Judy Ann Santos marks her return to mainstream movies via ‘Ang Dalawang Mrs. Reyes’

As such, the seasoned actress acknowledged she felt panicky at the start of shooting for Mrs. Reyes, a movie by multi-awarded director Jun Robles Lana (“Die Beautiful,” “Bwakaw,” “A Barber’s Tale”), which required not just Juday’s penchant for shedding tears, but precise comedic timing.

“It took some time bago ako kumalma,” related the first-rate actress who went as far as saying she felt terrified to shoot her lines across Angelica who is, as Direk Jun put it, already “plakada” (an expert) in comedic acting.

“I think it was after the third shooting day, I had to talk to sina Direk Jun (Lana) and the rest of the production staff to ask if, OK ba yung trabaho ko? ‘May kulang ba? Ano pa ba ang dapat kong gawin?’ Ganoon ako hindi ka-confident sa trabaho ko. I needed that assurance na natawid ko yung ginawa kong punchline.”

Behind the scenes with her fellow lead Angelica Panganiban who has more experience in comedy than Santos

She recalled feeling the same way in her most recent movies “Kusina” (2016) and “Tyanak” (2014).

Saying she felt she just “lost it,” Juday even poked fun at her age and said she found the digital cameras unnervingly quiet compared to the whirring sounds of yesteryears’ contraptions.

“Ganoon ako ka-walang confidence sa trabaho ko or sa sarili ko as an actress. Feeling mo, you just lost it. Ikaw ‘yung bagong luma sa grupo tapos ikaw ‘yung pinasok sa kumukulong tubig na lahat hitik na hitik sa experience,” she poetically expressed.

Even more admirably, she said that when she finally got her groove back, she felt excited at the prospect of learning new approaches in moviemaking and acting.

“Eventually, na-enjoy ko yung buong proseso, kasi ang motivation ko is to learn and to challenge myself, and I guess I’m about to reach my finish line kapag naipalabas na ito.”

To some extent, it is understandable why Juday felt unsure of herself in portraying the role of Lian in the movie. A career-driven woman who marries her college best friend (Joross Gamboa) only to find out after many years he is having an affair with another man—the husband of Angelica’s Cindy (as portrayed by JC Devera). They are both Mrs. Reyes in the movie, both driven to outrage and wild antics just to get back at their men.

2018 begins with a promising dramedy with two noted actresses

Indeed, it has been intriguing to watch Judy Ann Santos, who is praised for her controlled acting, go a little over the top in spewing her lines from Mrs. Reyes’ official trailer. It will certainly be very interesting to watch her, as she puts it, pull off the entire material.

“It took me some time to do a movie again because I really wanted something different, something that would challenge me,” the gifted actress explained. “And reading the script of Ang Dalawang Mrs. Reyes, I knew ito na yon,” she ended.

Co-produced by Star Cinema, Quantum Films and IdeaFirst Company, Ang Dalawang Mrs. Reyes hits cinemas nationwide on January 17.

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