Maxine, Maris, Nella tackle challenging roles in “Beauty Queens”

Beauty pageants are a big part of our culture and, especially if held internationally, would always go down in the annals of history as a remarkable event for Pinoys . An iWant original series titled “Beauty Queens” turns this Pinoy addiction to ‘battles of beauty and brains’ into an astounding drama that explores the lives of konteseras behind the seemingly perfect pageant milieu.

The show circles around a premier family of beauty queens headed by the matriarch Dahlia Rodriguez-De Veyra (Gloria Diaz), her tragic past with mom Tarsila (Maris Racal) and the awful challenges of forcibly molding her children into becoming titleholders like her. Dahlia’s kids, however regal, have other priorities than winning a crown. One of these potential queens opts to become an activist and the other one enters the convent. This conflict would give rise to more issues and drama until Dahlia’s ‘skeletons’ are out in the open.

This interesting series features a cast of real-life beauty queens like Gloria Diaz, Maxine Medina, and Winwyn Marquez. They are joined by Lotlot de Leon, Nella Dizon, and Ross Pesigan. Kapamilya actress Maris Racal will play a special role as Tarsila Zamora, the first-ever titleholder in the clan.

Maris, Maxine, and Nella psyched viewers as they share more about the series in this Kapamilya Chat interview. Nella acts as the young Dahlia, a strong woman taught to use her allure, intelligence, and strength to get what she wants in order not to imitate her mom Tarsila’s dreadful life.

Playing as the eldest child of Dahlia, Maxine’s Daisy defied everyone’s expectations when she turned her back on the family’s pageant legacy to pursue a religious vocation. The Miss Universe Philippines 2016 hinted at a deeper motive behind her character’s desire to become a nun.

Maris provides the backstory as Tarsila, a beauty queen during the 40s era whose name became the perfect soil to plant the family’s seemingly fruitful legacy. But behind Tarsila’s glamorous life as a queen and a politician’s wife is her weak persona that succumbs to domestic violence. Her eldest daughter Dahlia would grow up witnessing her tragic experiences.      

Adding spice to this series’ gripping plot is the stellar cast composed mainly of real-life pageant virtuous. Nella admits that working with Gloria, Maxine, and Winwyn brought her massive pressure. She, nonetheless, used it as motivation to study her role and how a true beauty queen moves on stage. She reviewed the actual footage Gloria’s 1969 Miss Universe coronation as reference. At 17 and standing 5’5” tall, and not to mention blessed with beauty and intelligence, Nella could pass as beauty queen. However, joining a pageant isn’t something she sees on the horizon. The young actress said she’s not yet comfortable with wearing a two-piece bikini in front of an audience, although she’s not closing her doors to the possibility.

Maxine was among those beauty queens who boldly crossed over to showbiz to pursue an acting career. Her last major role was as Isay Navarro-Cardinal in the afternoon drama Los Bastardos. She and Gloria were co-stars in that series but they’re playing different roles now and sharing more intense scenes, hence the pressure. Maxine mentioned that she would always gain lessons from the veteran actress, such as when they enacted a heated mother-daughter argument, the most challenging scene she did in “Beauty Queens.” Maxine shared, “I had to be shaking mad, eh hindi ako sanay na maging gano’n, so medyo challenging sa akin. Then, mahaba din script ko nun, dumating sa point na hindi ko mailabas ‘yung galit ko kasi hindi ako nagagalit talaga, eh.”    

Maris, albeit surprised to be offered for the role of Tarsila, is always eager to try something new. She is both challenged and amused to don the character of a ‘vintage woman.’ She prepared for the role by studying the mannerisms and attitude of women during the 40s era. She said females in the past were more poised and refined contrary to modern girls who are bolder in their actions. Maris had to be careful even with the slightest mannerisms in order to bring her character to life. She gives props to Director Joel Lamangan for guiding, and correcting her minimal errors, all throughout. This marks her second project with the veteran director but the lessons are always new. Maris enjoys working with Direk Joel, who she described as “sobrang bait at ma-chika ‘pag off-cam.”  She added, “Basta kapalan mo lang ‘yung mukha mo kasi lahat nai-intimidate sa kanya, eh.”

While Maris was more relaxed, Maxine was admittedly nervous upon knowing that she’s going to work with the top-caliber director. “Takot na takot every time,” she confessed. There was an instance when Maxine’s heart palpitations due to anxiety could be heard through the lapel microphone placed on her chest, sending the cast and crew into laughter. On a serious note, Maxine doesn’t mind being corrected at times. She’s humble enough to call herself a newbie who still has a lot to learn about her craft and she appreciates Direk Joel’s hands-on supervision. “Napagalitan niya ako. Oh my god!” Ako naman kasi sobrang attentive naman ako. ‘Pag pinapagalitan ako, siyempre learning ka, eh so ine-embrace ko and in the process, ina-absorb ko lahat kung anong sasabihin sa akin.”

Nella once played a minor role in another project helmed by Direk Joel. But her assignment in “Beauty Queens” was bigger and, if anything, challenging. The young star revealed that even she was slightly scolded in the middle of a take. “Ilang beses po niya ako kinorrect kasi wala daw emosyon ‘yung face ko.  Although hindi naman siya galit, paulit-ulit lang ako na-correct. He knows what he wants sa scene. He’s very focused in every detail,” expressed Nella.

Before “Beauty Queens” premiere in July 15 on iWant, Maxine, Maris, and Nella gamely took on “The Game of Crown” challenge wherein they showcased their knowledge on Filipino proverbs. It was a 10-item fill-in-the-blank game that spawned totally hilarious ‘hirit’ moments.

Maxine, claiming to have just been influenced by funny gay friends, got us laughing with her answers “Kung ano’ng itinanim ay siya rin ang bunga,” “Ang magandang asal ay kaban ng bigas,” and “Ang batang hindi nagsasabi ng katotohanan ay sinungaling.”

Of course, Maris also put her wit in the game, saying “Kapag may isinuksok, may butas.” Meanwhile, Nella provided the pearl of wisdom and took the explaining seriously. “Kapag maiksi ang kumot, matutong mamaluktot. Kapag may binigay sa’yong certain situation dapat matuto kang mag-adjust kung anong meron ka,” Nella said.

The second round of the game required the three ladies to guess different Philippine tourist destinations. 

Catch Maxine, Maris, and Nella alongside Gloria Diaz and Winwyn Marquez in the newest iWant offering, “Beauty Queens” streaming on July 15.