September 29, 2012

The Nineties Scream Queen Is Back !

Janice de Belen earned the title Scream Queen in the nineties for portrayal  several times in Shake Rattle and Roll films, and of course headlining the blockbuster Tiyanak, which gave birth to the popular phrase “anak ni Janice,” referring to her monster baby in the Peque Gallaga movie.

A generation of audiences have seen Janice grow up on national television, playing many roles. First as a child struggling to keep her parents together no matter the odds in the soap Flordeluna, and then years later, as a woman who would get her heart broken a few times in movies and in real life. Through it all, the public has always had an affinity with the actress, taking her side especially when she’s running from monsters and ghouls and whatnot. Today, after more than three decades in the limelight, audiences continue to be enamored by her—her honesty, her smarts, and her acting chops.

This October, audiences will once more hear her scream and battle the supernatural in the much-anticipated Tiktik: The Aswang Chronicles, as she plays the mother of Lovi Poe. 
“I am Lovi’s hysterical and judgmental mother!” she says. She forgot to say very protective, which she is in this movie about a group of aswangs that threaten the life of her pregnant daughter. 

“At first, hindi pa ako na-excite, maybe because I read the script on my iPad, and it felt different,” Janice says when asked about the film. 

“Then I got the hard copy and suddenly I was in. I have done a lot of horror and monster films in the past and it was a great idea to start doing them again.”
“I think it’s safe to say that I’m having a sort of second wind,” says Janice, who has just won Best Actress at the last Cinemalaya Film Festival, together with her three co-stars in Mga Mumunting Lihim. At 43, she is probably at her busiest: she hosts the Saturday talk show Showbiz Inside Report, is currently working on a primetime soap slated to premiere in October, and is one of the stars of the recent horror studio offering The Healing—together with no less than Vilma Santos. It might just as well be her second wind, or, she says, 

“Maybe the renewed passion for my craft just emanates from within.”

There was a time, she confesses, when she was content in just playing mom to her five kids. She was still married then, of course, to the actor John Estrada. But after their separation, she knew she needed to work again to support her children. She came back to television, but this time as a TV host. It was only in 2009 that she would go back to acting via the fantaserye Darna. When she moved to ABS-CBN in 2011, first appearing in the successful primetime drama Budoy as the adoptive mother of a special child played by Gerald Anderson, her star would continue to rise again.

After a couple of indie projects that included the 2011 hit Zombadings 1: Patayin Sa Shokot Si Remington, Janice will again be seen in the genre she continues to shine in: the suspense-horror-adventure. In Tiktik: The Aswang Chronicles, she is once more part of a colorful ensemble of actors, but this time working in a completely made-up set inside a green screen studio.

​Janice enjoyed working in a studio where an entire fictional town was built. “Controlled environment is the best condition to work in!” And she also enjoyed working with the director Erik Matti for the first time in a film. He has directed her before, but in TV commercials. “It was fun! Directors and actors really need to have a rapport for the work to turn out well. I think we did have that. He gave me the freehand to explore and play with my character, and it’s always nice to hear him say ‘Beautiful!’ or ‘Very good!’ after each take.”

​Despite her busy schedule, she still finds time to be a mom, of course, to her real life kids. She says nothing much has changed in her role as mother, even if her kids are all relatively grownups. “I don’t think much has changed. Nabawasan lang ng isa kasi married na si Luigi [her son by Aga Muhlach],” she says, before adding: “Ah, wait—I’m less hysterical now.” 

​She knew she was quite an OA mom before, much like the character she plays in Tiktik: The Aswang Chronicles, but for good reason. “I think all moms have that hysterical and judgmental streak—iba-iba lang ang pag-execute. We only want the best for our kids.” 

​Career and her children are easily Janice’s top priorities these days. Romance has taken a backseat. 

“I haven’t been lucky in that aspect of my life, so huwag na muna. Let it come when I am truly ready. Now is not the time.” 

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