MANILA — Jodi Sta. Maria was admittedly “intimidated” when she was offered her villainous role in “Ang Sa Iyo Ay Akin,” saying the character remains a challenge to portray as filming of the teleserye continues.
“Noong time na in-offer ‘yung role sa akin, hindi ko talaga alam kung paano siya gagawin. Na-intimidate ako doon sa role, doon sa hinihingi. Paano ko ba ‘to gagawin? Paano ko ‘to iibahin?” Sta. Maria recalled in the online talk show “Hotspot” on Thursday.
With a career spanning over two decades, Sta. Maria has essayed several memorable roles on television, from the sweet Maya in “Be Careful with My Heart” to the sophisticated Amor Powers in the “Pangako Sa ‘Yo” remake.
“Hindi naging madali,” Sta. Maria said of preparing for her latest teleserye character in “Ang Sa Iyo Akin.”
The ABS-CBN drama follows Sta. Maria as Marissa, who is consumed by her envy of her best friend Ellice’s (Iza Calzado) wealth. In the series’ trailer, Marissa is seen even trading her freedom for money, when Ellice accidentally kills an assailant in self-defense.
In exchange for P10 million from Ellice’s father (Lito Pimentel), Marissa takes responsibility for the homicide and agrees to go to jail, counting on an early release.
Her time behind bars, however, proves torturous and longer than she expected. She soon pins the blame of her misfortune on Ellice, who, unknown to her, protested the deal and consistently checked on Marissa's well-being, only to be given false assurance by her father.
When Marissa is released and receives the money she was promised, she embarks on a cruel mission: to claim everything Ellice owns, including her marriage with Gabriel (Sam Milby) — hence the series' title.
“Lahat naman tayo, meron tayong mga desires, ambitions,” Sta. Maria said, when asked whether she has similarities with Marissa. “In that sense, I guess, pareho kami ng character ko. But sa kaniya kasi, she went to great lengths para makuha niya ‘yun, e, to the point na merong nasagasaan at nasaktan siya. She’s still very human. For her, justified ‘yung actions niya.”
“Ang motivation ni Marissa sa paghihiganti niya ay maibalik kung anuman ‘yung nawala sa kanila. For her, silang dalawa lang ng mom niya. Importante sa kaniya ‘yung mabigyan ng maayos na buhay ‘yung nanay niya. In a way, we are the same sa aspeto na ‘yun.”
Portraying Marissa’s mother, Lucing, is screen icon Maricel Soriano.
Sta. Maria credited her co-stars, as well as her directors, for their “generosity” which has helped her maintain a good grasp of Marissa’s truth and motivation.
“Minsan pag hindi ka sigurado na ito nga ba ang gagawin ng character, nandiyan sila lagi, nakaalalay, para i-bring back ka doon sa core o foundation ng character na pino-portray,” she said, referring to the creative team, including director FM Reyes.
“We always communicate. Sequence per sequence namin ginagawa, to make sure everyone is on the same page.”
Beyond Marissa’s personal journey, “Ang Sa Iyo Ay Akin” will explore the different relationships among the lead characters, from Lucing being Marissa’s voice of conscience, to the infidelity of Gabriel which further damages Marissa and Ellice’s friendship.
“It’s a story about family, it’s about friendship. It’s a story about forgiveness and revenge,” Sta. Maria said. “Ang daming nangyayari sa story, and I believe most of our viewers will be able to relate to one of the characters.”