Why Rita Avila was scared to play kontrabida in Ang Sa Iyo Ay Akin

An infuriating kontrabida role will never stand on its own unless taken on by an effective actor. Rita Avila’s newest onscreen character, Belen, seems knitted to her own flesh. Everything appears natural about her weeknight acting in Ang Sa Iyo Ay Akin. But, Rita, and everyone who knows her, would vow that she isn’t in any way similar to Belen, thus the challenge and hints of fear.

Rita said she’s even scared to play a bad woman onscreen because she’s known to be so jolly, friendly, and bright in real life. Such roles require gargantuan emotions typically of pain and anger, “ang daming karga,” as how she puts it.

“Takot ako mag-kontrabida kasi ang daming sinasabi tapos ‘yung energy, kailangan laging mainit ang ulo mo. Kung sa totoong buhay masaya ka, talagang magkakarga ka kasi salbahe ka dito,” she said.

She would describe Belen as complicated, a woman longing for love yet always left broken. And this imbalance laced with isolation results in poor, aggressive choices.

Besides, Belen carries glamour as part of her kontrabida arsenal, as contrast to Rita’s simplicity off-cam. She isn’t sure if people would believe but Rita swears she can be shy at times.

“Lagi akong pinaaalalahanan ng ating mga director na ‘yung posture kailangan proud ka, hindi ka magpapatalo. ‘Yung gano’n na reminders kasi nakakalimutan ko. Kasi sa totong buhay, hindi naman ako ganyan. So, pagka-cut, gusto ko ‘yung natatawa ako kasi ang pangit, eh, nega,” Rita added.

Therefore, it can be said that her effective portrayal is simply a product of raw talent, years of experience, and the humility to still thirst for learning.

People may assume that co-working with husband-director FM Reyes makes things easier but it doesn’t. She’s no different from other artists on the set. Direk FM doesn’t treat her like a wife, even calling her ‘Ms. Rita’ to keep the milieu professional.

“In 18 years, parang pangatlo ko pa lang naman sa kanya ‘to na nenerbiyos ako, nerbiyos na ang hirap mag-perform sa harapan ng asawa mo. Bibitiw ka sa pagiging misis, eh. Kailangan artista ang nando’n sa harapan niya. So, bibitiw ako na hindi ko siya asawa, direktor ko siya sa set,” she said of working with Direk FM.

Rita was a fan of Ang Sa Iyo Ay Akin before joining the cast for its second season. When she was tapped to portray Belen, she doubted if she can keep up with the cast’s splendid performances. She stressed that it’s normal for artists to have their own insecurities. She set her foot on the set pressured and nervous but it didn’t take long. She instantly felt welcomed.

“First time kong makatrabaho silang lahat except for Maricel. Watching them na ganu’n sila ka-grabe umarte, kaya ko kaya? Lahat sila matatalinong artista, eh. Alam mong pinag-iisipan nila ‘yung character nila, ‘yung pagbitiw ng salita nila. Tapos nu’ng nandoon na ako sa set, warm naman silang lahat, very nice, so nag-adapt naman agad. Wala namang feeling na hindi ako accepted sa group. Masaya at komportable agad,” shared the veteran actress.

The lock-in setup called for more adjustment. It was scary and uncomfortable at first but they eventually coped with the situation. Now, they can even focus on its advantages such as earlier pack-up time.

Rita feels honored to share scenes with the Diamond Star Maricel Soriano even if it involves sharp slaps and intense confrontations. They’ve been friends for long, which is why it doesn’t get awkward on the set. They even tend to laugh a lot before switching to their characters and taking face-off scenes. She even called Maricel’s recent face-slap “the friendliest slap of the Diamond Star” as the latter made sure she’s not hurt.

You may call her names or hit the television sets to release the ‘gigil’ over Rita’s viciously evil character. That would only validate her effective, stunning performance as Belen. She’s happy to infuriate the viewers because that is her job. Rita will eagerly take all the hate in the world like trophies of recognition.

Rita also talked about her recent holiday celebration with the family. She called it ‘honeymoon’ because it was only her and Direk FM during the New Year. For Christmas, they kept their tradition of singing Jesus the Happy Birthday song. Looking back on 2020, Rita said she learned to be more humble and to live a simple life. The preceding year also reminded her of the Filipino spirit of ‘bayanihan,’ of the passionate generosity of her kababayans.

Watch Belen step up her wickedness in Ang Sa Iyo Ay Akin, created by Dindo C. Perez and Julie Anne R. Benitez and directed by FM Reyes and Avel Sunpongco, airing every Monday to Friday on Kapamilya Channel, Kapamilya Online Live, and A2Z.