MANILA -- (UPDATED) The long wait is over. Darna has finally found her villain.
After years of speculation, Janella Salvador is formally introduced on Friday as the actress who will portray Valentina, the serpent queen and main nemesis of Pinoy iconic superhero Darna, to be played by Jane de Leon.
Salvador's character Valentina is the last main role to be revealed in the much-awaited “Mars Ravelo’s Darna: The TV Series” of ABS-CBN.
The #TheValentinaReveal, which streamed live on ABS-CBN Entertainment YouTube channel and Facebook page, introduced Salvador as lawyer and vlogger Regina/Valentina, who is cursed with venomous snakes for her hair and will become the archenemy of Darna.
"Sabi nga nila, walang magaling na bida kung walang worthy na hahamon sa kanyang kakayahan. Today, I am proud to say na may napili na tayong babaeng magbibigay kulay at pasakit sa buhay ni Darna. Ang pinakahihintay ng lahat, one of the Philippines most infamous nemesis -- Valentina," de Leon said before the camera moved inside a room where Salvador was waiting.
"Good afternoon, mga Kapamilya. Ako po si Janella Salvador and I am Valentina," Salvador introduced herself.
"First of all, I am very, very honored to be chosen among the many actresses who auditioned for this role. I am sure they are equally as amazing and I would like to take this opportunity to thank Chito Roño
and ABS-CBN for giving me the opportunity to portray this iconic role. I promise to live up to everyone's expectations but also make it my own," she added.
Both Salvador and De Leon said that they are excited to work together
"Siyempre ang daming Kapamilya na na-miss ka. Nagbabalik na si Janella. And, of course, I am so excited na makatrabaho kita at sa mga susunod na eksena na;" de Leon told Salvador.
According to Salvador, Valentina in the series is an empowered woman.
"I like her because she's smart, she's an intellectual. Kaya na-in love ako sa role na ito because she actually does have a good heart, hindi lang nagagamit sa tamang paraan. So abangan niyo na lang kung paano 'yon," said Salvador who admitted that she did not expect to get the role.
This will also be Salvador's first time to portray a villain. "It's a very exciting thing for me kasi it's a gray role. It's more of a dark character. Sobra akong excited na laruin siya and to get to know who she really is," Salvador said of Valentina.
"Siguro aabangan niyo, mapapamahal din kayo kay Valentina. Hindi niyo ini-expect pero mapapamahal kayo sa kanya. Like I said she has a good heart. Tama 'yung pinaglalaban niya sa buhay. Pero siyempre may pitik din tayo minsan. So abangan niyo 'yon," Salvador said.
The series' director, award-winning filmmaker Chito S. Roño, handpicked Salvador from among the many artists who auditioned for the sought-after role.
Salvador's inclusion in the highly anticipated adaptation of ABS-CBN signals her biggest comeback on television after a year-long hiatus.
She was last seen in the hit series “The Killer Bride,” which paved the way for her to be hailed as Princess of Philippines Television in the 2020 Box Office Entertainment Awards.
The 23-year-old actress took a break from showbiz to give birth to her firstborn Jude, her son with boyfriend Markus Paterson. She gave birth October last year in the United Kingdom. The couple returned to the Philippines with their son only in February this year.
Salvador now joins the "Darna" stars and crew who started filming the series last Monday at ABS-CBN’s Hollywood-standard sound stages in San Jose del Monte, Bulacan.
According to Salvador, she started taping for the series on Thursday but she haven't actually started training for the action scenes.
"I am really looking forward to starting and I know that this is going to be a physically draining role pero kayang-kaya," Salvador said.
Asked by De Leon if she is ready to touch snakes, Salvador said: "Alam niyo ba guys mayroon ako actually na alagang ahas? So sanay na ako sa ahas. Kayang-kaya ko 'yan."
Salvador, the daughter of OPM singer Jenine Desiderio, who is known for her hit "Hindi Ako Si Darna," now joins the list of actresses who played the iconic villain.
Previous actresses who played Valentina on the big screen and on television were Cristina Aragon, Celia Rodriguez, Pilar Pilapil, Pilita Corrales, Iwa Motto and Alessandra de Rossi.
“Mars Ravelo’s Darna: The TV Series” is under JRB Creative Production and will be helmed by Roño, along with director Avel Sunpongco.
Previously announced cast members include Iza Calzado as the original Darna and Narda’s mother, Zaijan Jaranilla as Narda’s brother Ding, and Joshua Garcia as Narda’s romantic interest Brian.
“Mars Ravelo’s Darna: The TV Series” is the latest development in ABS-CBN’s long anticipated version of Darna, an enduring pop culture icon who has been played by some 15 actresses since her big-screen debut in 1951.
ABS-CBN obtained the rights to Darna in 2013, when it signed a partnership with the Ravelo estate that included 12 more titles or characters created by the komiks master. -- Reyma Buan-Deveza, ABS-CBN News