JUST two years ago, Maine Mendoza was the Philippines’ “Dubsmash Queen,” capturing hearts with her over-the-top expressions in zany videos.
She quickly drew the attention of executives of the longest-running noontime show “Eat Bulaga,” who included her in the show’s skit “Kalyeserye,” where her “accidental” love team with Alden Richards was born.
Now aside from being an “Eat Bulaga” princess, she has starred in two hit movies and has a primetime show with Alden where she plays a character similar to her real self. This coming Holy Week, prepare to see a whole new Maine Mendoza as she headlines “Prinsesa,” one of the six episodes for this year’s “Eat Bulaga’s” Lenten presentation.
In “Prinsesa,” Maine plays Mayang, a professional pickpocket who fosters an unlikely friendship with a child who will teach her the value of family and forgiveness. Joining her are Wally Bayola, Ryzza Mae Dizon, Anjo Yllana, and “Trops” stars Tommy Penaflor and Joel Palencia.
“Snatcher ako. Prinsesa ng lansangan ba kung tawagin. Tapos, hindi ko kasi nakasama ‘yung pamilya ko dito, lumaki ako na ganun ‘yung ginagawa kong trabaho,” Maine said.
(“I play a snatcher. A ‘street princess.’ I am estranged from my family and grow up as a petty thief.”)
The role is both a challenge and a privilege for Maine. She usually plays cheerful roles, in short, characters not far from the real-life Maine. This time, she plays a role that requires her to dig deep. But she is no stranger to acting. The 22-year-old TV host has displayed her acting chops in projects such as the hits “Imagine You and Me” and “My Bebe Love.” She is also used to doing dramatic scenes thanks to her primetime soap, “Destined to Be Yours.” But Maine said her role as Mayang is perhaps her most difficult – and most interesting – yet.
“‘Yung persona ko as Maine Mendoza, malayo sa character ako. Kasi si Mayang, galit lagi sa mundo. Meron din naman siyang sympathy sa tao, kailangan lang kunin ‘yung kiliti sa puso. Doon lang kami nagkakapareho ni Mayang,” she said. “Most of my roles are happy lang na babae na optimist. Alam naman ng mga tao na most of my roles ay medyo happy-happy lang. Pabebe. Pero dito, iba ako. Parang mas kailangan dito ng acting dito since hindi naman ako ganun talaga as a person.”
(“Maine Mendoza is different from Mayang, who is full of enmity. She can show empathy but you need to touch her heart. That’s our only similarity. Most of my characters are happy, optimitic . People are aware my roles are happy, childish. This one is different. I really need to flex my acting muscle because I’m not like my role.”)
She is slowly making her mark as a versatile actress. But she is not letting the praise and the laurels – she won a Best Supporting Actress award in the 2015 Metro Manila Film Festival – get to her head.
“Admittedly, hindi pa ako talaga adjusted sa acting life,” she said. “Nahihirapan pa rin ako, kailangan ko pa rin ng tulong ng acting coach and directors. May adjustments pa rin, naiilang pa rin ako kapag umaarte. But I just let it flow. Ang ginagawa ko talaga is I focus sa work ko and sa script. I really take it seriously para makadeliver ako ng maayos in terms of acting.”
(“Admittedly, I have yet to adjust to acting life. It’s not easy; I need the help of an acting coach and directors. I still need to adjust and I still get distracted when I act. But I just let it flow. What I do is focus on work and the script. I really take it seriously so I can deliver.”)
“Prinsesa,” directed by Mike Tuviera, will air on April 11.
The Lenten special, which will air on GMA from April 10 to 12, will also feature Alden Richards and Ryan Agoncillo in “Kapatid,” directed by Bb. Joyce Bernal; Paolo Ballesteros and Ai-Ai delas Alas in “Inay,” directed by Joey Reyes; Lorna Tolentino in “Pagpapatawad,” directed by Gina Alajar; Jake Ejercito, Jose Manalo, Tito Sotto and Barbie Forteza in “Mansyon,” directed by Linnet Zurbano; and Vic Sotto and Joey de Leon in “Kaibigan,” directed by Joel Lamangan.