Award-winning actress Gelli de Belen talked about her showbiz career during a press conference held in Quezon City. She has been in the Philippine showbiz industry for 29 years. For all those years, she managed to remain active, taking on different projects as proof of her versatility. Now, Gelli is part of ABS-CBN’s teleserye La Luna Sangre.
In the teleserye, Gelli plays as Betty Torralba, the doting aunt of Daniel Padilla’s character Tristan. She has taken a mature roll, and in this case, her character serves as a mother figure. As a mother and an aunt herself, the actress is able to deliver on her role based on experience.
The actress is grateful to be part of La Luna Sangre, which she sees to be a good project. Gelli is happy to be working with new actors, actresses and new directors; and of course, to be working with people she’s worked before. She shares that being back to the Kapamilya Network feels like a homecoming pointing out that the network was her home for a very long time.
Gelli de Belen had her television debut in 1994 as a mainstay of the sketch comedy show Tropang Trumpo, which aired on ABC 5 (now known as TV5). Her first hosting job on TV was for the defunct noontime show ‘Sang Linggo nAPO Sila. After it went off the air in 1998, Gelli switched networks twice. First she went to GMA Network and stayed there for several years before moving back to ABC 5 (which had become TV5 by then).
Out of curiosity, I asked her about her experience working with different networks. Gelli de Belen was quick to point out that she loves all three networks. She has worked on different projects, in different environment. Indeed, her craft as a versatile performer doing acting and hosting has honed her to be the best in what she do. Asked if she’d be willing to transfer back to GMA or TV5 again and she responded with affirmation noting that she has established relationships with all networks.
But at the moment, she’s excited to be working with ABS-CBN again for a long time. “I felt a bit anxious too because I knew I’d have to adjust to a relatively new environment again,” she says. “But I said yes to becoming a Kapamilya kaagad because I’m always willing to work and try new things. I felt a sense of nostalgia when I walked the halls of ABS-CBN again. I kind of grew up there. I started working there when I was fifteen years old until I was twenty-four, so of course I was very happy to be back. It felt great to see my old colleagues and friends again. It was fun to meet new faces as well.”
On working exclusively for major networks, Gelli explains the pros and cons. “I think there are pros and cons to being signed exclusively with any network for us old-timers (hehehe). The pros would be being secure that you have a job for the length of your contract, that you are relevant enough for them to invest on you and that raises your status as an actor, so to speak. Cons would be, not being able to work elsewhere, I guess options and opportunities are limited as well since unlike the younger actors, we the older ones would have more roles open to us since we usually do not play the lead as much, so more roles are available. Not having an exclusive contract would give us the freedom to choose more roles and work for any network. So for me, at this point where I think I have established myself already, I prefer not being exclusive to any network.”
She managed to be relevant for the past 29 years in the industry. As an established actress, she is equally adept in both comedy and drama. She dabbled in both genres and was successful in doing so. Proof to this is the Best Actress recognition Gelli de Belen received from the Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino for the movie “The Secrets of Sarah Jane: Sana’y Mapatawad Mo,” in which she played a woman with AIDS.
Aside from acting, hosting is also her passion which she would love to have her hands on. Gelli is articulate and is able to carry herself well as host. “Hosting is another passion of mine and I am grateful to have been able to learn a lot from my hosting stints. As a host, I can express myself as me and address the audience directly, as opposed to acting where I become someone else. Hosting is one of the things I love most about this business, so I’d love to find a way to do it again now that I’m a Kapamilya.”
Since returning to ABS-CBN, Gelli de Belen has done two teleseryes—FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano and Magpahanggang Wakas, the latter of which saw her play against type. “It felt great to have been part of such exceptional shows,” Gelli enthuses. “Especially when I did Magpahanggang Wakas. My role on that show was my first as a full-on antagonist, and I loved doing it. I have to admit that it was a big adjustment for me, but I welcomed the challenge and I hope I did justice to the character I was given.”
Gelli is having the time of her life on La Luna Sangre and says she’s open to doing fight scenes should her character get caught up in the war brewing on the show between humans, werewolves and vampires. “I hope for my character to continue to be the grounding factor to keep Tristan’s fearlessness in check. I’m looking forward to seeing Betty evolve and grow as a character. Of course I’m open to doing fight scenes. It will be challenging but I do miss doing scenes like that. It has been a while since I did action. I’d like to see if I can still handle such scenes in the event I’m called upon to do them.”
The actress shares that she’s also thinking about doing an independent film in the future. Right now, however, she’s still looking for the right script. “Of course I’m open to doing films again. I did a short film and an advocacy film recently and I’m also willing to do indies. Right now I’m not sure what kind of film I want to do or who I want to do it with because there’s an infinite amount of possible plots and stories, ‘di ba? But siguro as long as it’s interesting, I’ll do it gladly.”
Gelli de Belen’s adaptability for any given role assigned to her has opened many doors over the years. I’m quite sure she won’t have difficulty in landing projects from any networks. The actress is under Asian Artist Agency’s management. For inquiries, email [email protected] or call tel: (02) 405 4423 or (02) 855 4765.