MANILA - Julia Barretto, whose first drama series in a lead role will premiere in March, credits her leading men in the project for helping her improve in acting.
The teen actress will co-star with Enrique Gil and Sam Concepcion in "Mirabella," a "fantaserye" directed by Erick Salud ("Aryana," "May Isang Pangarap") and Jerome Pobocan ("Mara Clara," "May Bukas Pa").
In the first trailer for the primetime series, Barretto is shown in a forest where her wooden skin appears to blend in. The curse, nonetheless, appears to have its gifts, as withered leaves and flowers bloom again at her touch.
"'Mirabella' is actually a love story," Barretto told reporters on the sidelines of a recent ABS-CBN trade event, where the network's new TV shows for the first quarter of 2014 were unveiled.
"It's about a girl na cursed siya, and she falls in love with this guy, pero 'yun pala, ayaw sa kanya ng lalaki. So makikita natin kung paano maapektuhan 'yung buhay ni Mira because nalaman niya na hindi niya pala mapagkakatiwalan 'yung lalaking 'yon," she said.
Barretto did not reveal if the male character she was referring to will be portrayed by either Gil or Concepcion.
Asked to describe how Gil is a leading man, Barretto said, "Masaya siyang katrabaho. He's a really nice guy, and he's a good actor. I'm so happy I'm able to work with him kasi madami rin akong natutunan sa kanya every taping day."
The 21-year-old actor has starred in four drama series since 2011, including "Budoy" in 2012 and last year's "Muling Buksan ang Puso."
Concepcion, who rose to fame in 2005 after winning the singing competition "Little Big Star," is credited with around 10 theater roles. His role in "Mirabella" will mark his first primetime series outing.
The two young actors previously co-starred in the teen-oriented series "Growing Up," where they portrayed brothers.
"Tinutulungan nila ako, kunyari pag may heavy scene," Barretto said, referring to her leading men. "They're always there to help pag kailangan. I think hindi nila alam, pero I learn a lot from the both of them, lalo na na baguhan lang ako."
Barretto, a daughter of former actress Marjorie Barretto and comedian Dennis Padilla, debuted on television in 2007 with a minor role in "Walang Kapalit." This was followed by two more acting projects until 2008.
She resumed acting in 2013, when she was launched as a member of ABS-CBN's talent management firm Star Magic.
At 16 and with a launching TV series set to premiere next month, Barretto said she intends to focus first on her career.
Entertaining suitors can wait, she said.
"I choose not to have a boyfriend muna, kasi marami pa akong priorities right now. And I'm just 16, I'm super young, 'diba? Angdami ko pang magagawa. Marami namang time for love. Siguro paglaki ko nalang -- mas mature na, mas marami nang alam sa life. Baka 'yun, pwede na!"