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Barbie Forteza:
Taking It All in Stride

GMA’s Artist of the Month opens up about what it means growing up in the limelight, her dream role, and why she’s taking it all in one day at a time.

Words by Cara Emmeline Garcia
Photos by Jamesson Vista

It’s a gloomy Friday morning.

There is a flurry of activity inside Kureji, an unassuming modern Japanese restaurant located on the quieter side of Diliman, Quezon City.

Inside, the team hurriedly sets up the lights and cameras in one of the restaurant’s function rooms. Waiters dressed in black scurry about here and there, doing last-minute touch-ups on the tables and chairs in a separate conference room, which has been transformed into a dressing room for the day for the star that’s about to arrive.

The reason for all the commotion? A Barbie Forteza shoot is about to happen.

A few minutes later, a white SUV parks in front of the restaurant. Alighting from it is Barbie together with her entourage consisting of her dad, her handler, her assistant, and boyfriend Jak Roberto. 

After several introductions and exchange of pleasantries, a member from the team gets down to business and discusses with the fair-skinned actress the things that are needed to be done for the day.

As we begin the interview, we gradually understand the magic that Barbie Forteza is known for.

This lady has charisma and a light, easy-going personality that draws you in.

“Hello mga Kapuso! This is Barbie Forteza…” she says. 

"Basta pag may tinanggap ako I give my one hundred percent.”

Ten years and going...

Barbie Forteza has been on the grind for almost half her life.

Ever since her acting debut in 2009 by starring in the Philippine adaptation of the K-Drama series “Stairway to Heaven,” the actress admits being more mature when it comes to acquiring roles in the small and big screen. “Mas naging chill ako sa mga bagay-bagay. Mas hindi ako naging aggressive na, ‘Hindi! Kailangan makuha ko ito. Kailangan ako ito,’ ganyan,” Barbie tells “Kung para naman sa’yo talaga at ibibigay naman sa ’yo, e di para sa ’yo talaga. Hindi ako na para makipag-compete pa.”

But, there is always a catch. “Umabot na ako dun sa time na minsan ayaw ko na magpa-picture. Nagagalit nga sa akin minsan si Jak, ’no Mahal?” she says turning to her boyfriend who nods at the corner. “Minsan daw kasi ’di na ako nagpaparticipate sa vlog namin. E, kasi nga ’pag nagbabakasyon kami my purpose is to get away from people and from cameras. Tapos ganun pa rin laging may nakatutok na camera sa akin.”

The non-stop hustle makes sense though. “Stairway to Heaven” was Barbie’s first major gig and from then on she hasn’t stopped. The actress, who is turning 22 this July 31, has starred in some of GMA’s most high-rating series, among them Pilyang Kerubin,” “Tween Hearts,” “Meant to Be,” and Inday Will Always Love You. She also recently wrapped up Kara Mia, her nth series in the network, where she starred opposite Mika Dela Cruz, Jak Roberto, and Paul Salas.

The work didn't stop there.

This homegrown GMA talent has also worked on (received praise for) a few independent films like “Tuos,” “Puntod,” “Laut,” and “Mariquina” where she bagged awards like New Movie Actress of the Year at the 26th PMPC Star Awards in 2010 and Best Actress in the 36th Fantasporto International Film Festival in 2016.

And although unrelenting work and a fear of burnout are hallmarks of her generation, Barbie finds herself standing out when the pressure is on to prove both her work ethic and range. “’Di naman ako super workaholic. Alam ni Ate Diane ’yan na marami rin akong tinatanggihan,” she points out her handler. “Pero, ’pag mayroon akong tinanggap o kinuhang work, I really put myself into that job.”

She explains, “Basta pag may tinanggap ako I give my one hundred percent. Kaya kapag may trabaho na feeling ko hindi ako comfortable gawin, hindi ko na ginagawa at all. Kasi I’d rather give nothing to something na ayaw kong gawin kaysa sa i-half ass ko lang.”


With that in mind, Barbie recalls taking part in one of the network’s series “Nita Negrita” to which she top billed. “‘Nita Negrita’ pa rin ’yung pinakamahirap ano, Nanay Fatima?” she asks her makeup artist. She expresses the exhaustion she felt sitting in the makeup chair for hours in order to cover her fair skin to, as the title suggests, close to black. “Tapos ’yung wardrobe namin, at least tatlo o apat ang kaparehas kasi humahawa ’yung makeup sa damit,” she says.

With regards to her favorite project in GMA, Barbie takes a more laid-back approach. “Pinakafavorite ko pa rin si Billie sa ‘Meant To Be’ kasi ang ganda ko lang dun, both on-cam and off-cam,” she says. “Ang daming nag-aalok ng kape at mga fruits. Kaso nga lang ’yung dalawang foreigner laging naka-diet so laging saging na saba lang ang binibigay.”

Barbie played Billie Bendiola a young girl who meets four guys of different nationalities all competing to win her heart. The four guys happened to be Ken Chan, Jak Roberto, Addy Raj, and Ivan Dorschner, the last two being the foreigners she mentioned earlier.

In the number of series she’s had on television, it’s safe to say that she’s had quite a few number of on-screen love teams including real-life beau Jak. To name a few, she’s already been paired with Joshua Dionisio, Derrick Monasterio, and Andre Paras.

And in the world of Philippine television, love teams are key to a high-rating series. Barbie, on the other hand, wants to avoid that. “Okey lang naman na mayroon akong love interest sa project pero ayaw ko lang ng permanent love team,” she says. “Kasi ’yang love, isang malaking element ’yan ng istorya o kaya ng project kaya ’di natin maalis ’yan,” she pauses. “Pero, since matagal na naman ako sa showbiz, kaya ko rin naman siguro na mag-isa.”

Still, it becomes clear that in this hour-long conversation how much love teams are a part of what she has signed up, even if she’s veering away from it. The concept of love teams in the country can be traced back as early as the 1920s where the tandem of the late actors Gregorio Fernandez and Mary Walter in silent films became the ‘it’ formula. #WaFer, anyone?

“Alam na rin naman ni Jak ’yun,” she says. “Ayaw rin niyang matali sa iisang love team kasi meron rin naman siyang pangalan at image.”

The education she’s gotten in the industry so far has given her a new perspective on how to approach both her on-screen and off-screen relationships. “As long as may trabaho and as long as alam namin na mag-grow kami, kahit separately, okey lang. Kasi alam naman namin na kahit ano pa man project ’yan ay kami pa rin at the end of the day.”

She jokes, “Alam ko rin naman na ida-drive pa rin ako ni Jak the next day sa nail spa.”

"Ako kasi takot ako na mag-fail, lalo na sa performance ko.
So, I’d rather not watch myself."

Behind the camera

In a way, understanding how she thinks of the showbiz industry could be considered our extended introduction to Barbie Forteza. As an actress, she is known for having the utmost sense of professionalism and dedication to her craft as stressed by her previous and current co-stars. So much so, that Superstar Nora Aunor had even praised her acting ability during a press event for their film “Tuos”.

“’Di ko ineexpect na sasabihin nila ’yun tungkol sa akin,” Barbie gushes. “Dahil ’pag nasa set kami wala namang anything unusual.” In her mind, she gracefully thanks all the senior actors she’s worked with who praised her continuous effort to tell a story. “Natutuwa ako kasi syempre ’yung respeto ko sa senior actors na talagang idol naman ng lahat e, napapansin rin pala ’yung small efforts ko pagdating sa trabaho at pagri-reach out ko sa kanila.”

In turn, the pressure to always deliver her best performance yet became somewhat an internal issue she had to deal with in the past. “May time na nagkaganyan ako na parang feeling ko na people are expecting more from me hanggang sa I learned to accept what I can give.”

And there were plenty especially coming from her own. “Ako kasi takot ako na mag-fail, lalo na sa performance ko. So, I’d rather not watch myself,” she says. “Kaya ’di ako nanonood ng playbacks at ’di ko jinujudge ’yung ginawa ko kasi after all ako rin naman ang gumawa nun.”

Barbie admits that it simply comes down to her own perception. “Alam ko naman kung maganda o hindi ’yung ginawa ko,” she says. “Pero pag marami akong narinig na pangit ’yung ginawa ko siyempre iimprove ko ’yung sarili ko para sa akin at hindi para sa kanila.”

Barbie’s craft has given audiences and the crew a good look at what makes her so compelling as a performer. She has a commanding presence that automatically turns on cue once shooting starts but as any actor knows there also comes a time to be vulnerable when needed.

“May mga times rin kasi na mahihirapan kang makahugot ng emotions lalo na ng madaling araw,” she confesses. “Akala ng iba, kaartehan lang ’yun ng mga artista na madaling araw ’di makapag-dialogue, ’di maka-arte, ’di maka-iyak. Pero para sa akin kasi kung alam na ng katawan mo na pagod ka na, matulog ka na.”

It also happens to mirror how Barbie deals with her fans.

“Alam ng BarbieNatics ’yan dahil sinabihan ko na sila,” Barbie says. “Sabi ko, ‘Meron naman tayong meet and greet, Sunday PinaSaya, at mall shows na nagkikita naman tayo.’” But when it comes to taping days, she prefers to be in “one hundred percent into the scene and into the taping.”

The way she points it out there are three versions that encompasses who Barbie is–her artista mode, her work mode, and her introverted mode. And for a young actor, she knows exactly how to separate her private and public life.

When she’s not busy shooting, she simply lives up to her name. Like the famous doll, Barbie enjoys her free time glamming up and enjoying her moments with her family as much as she can. “Feeling ko parang reset button ko ’yung free day ko na parang...” she inhales and exhales deeply. “Basta ’pag kakatapos lang ng show, dun ko ginagawa lahat ng self-care ko. Nagta-travel ako, pupunta ako kay Ate sa States, at gagawin ko lahat habang wala akong show.” She says she does all this privately.

Unlike her generation and the generation after, Barbie is not seeking for attention. When doing things “for the ’gram” seem to be what’s fad, she’s steers away from it. “Ako kasi ’yung tao na in the moment. Gusto kong ramdamin kung ano ’yung nararamdaman ko at this moment.” she says. “’Di ako mahilig magpicture at magvideo kasi feeling ko nakakainterfere siya dun sa moment.” She says this momentarily and clarifies that although she does vlog and has a total of more than 400,000 subscribers on YouTube, the one we still on screen is her “artista mode” in action.

Her maximum time limit for filming her makeup vlogs eats up only an hour of a specific day. “Half of my life kasi, ano na eh, public property. Kaya ’yung mga maliliit na bagay tulad ng mga bonding namin, ’yung kain namin sa labas ng pamilya ko at ni Jak, hangga’t maaari, ’di ko pinopost kasi I’d like to keep it for myself.”

Aside from her privacy, the one thing she values the most is her family. “Para sa akin kasi, my greatest critic is my mom,” Barbie says. “Kasi ever since nag-audition ako, siya talaga ’yung kasama ko at siya rin ’yung nagturo sa akin umarte.”

Her parents have been involved in her career as soon as she started living a public life. In fact, her dad who was present at the shoot has admitted being somewhat involved in every project she’s taken on. “Si Daddy ko naman ang forever loyal supporter ko. Wala akong ginawang mali sa kaniya ever,” she says. “Lagi siyang nagbabantay sa set at lagi niyang iniinsist na siya na lang ang mag-drive kaysa kumuha ng driver kasi gusto niyang masigurado na ligtas talaga ako.”

As for her older sister, who is based in the U.S., Barbie admits remaining close to her despite the distance. “Pinagusapan namin ’yun bago siya umalis sa States for good na ’di mababago ng distance ’yung closeness namin sa isa’t-isa,” she says. “Dahil naging ate ko siya, never akong nag-wish na sana magkaroon ako ng kuya.”

"Sana mas marami akong magawang independent films kasi gusto ko naman
i-expose ’yung sarili ko sa pelikula"

Into the future

Despite the many successes and roles she portrayed on-screen, Barbie is not worried about being typecast with a specific role. “Happy ako na na-cha-challenge pa rin ako hanggang ngayon,” she says. “’Yung mga kailangan kong gawin na may mga koneksyon sa heights na ayaw na ayaw ko at ’di ko gustong gawin pero kailangan ay nagawa ko sa TV.”

She seems energized by it, excited by the chance to explore more of what she can do even if it means transitioning to the big screen. “Sana mas marami akong magawang independent films kasi gusto ko naman i-expose ’yung sarili ko sa pelikula - basta maganda ’yung materyal.”

After our interview she gets in the mood to prep herself in the long day of shooting ahead. She’s got seven short videos to shoot for being the Artist of the Month this July. According to Barbie, she’s about to start her “artista mode” as soon as we say the word “Action!”


The last time Barbie was happily taking a break from her hectic schedule was during a five-day trip to Japan, more specifically, Osaka. She went with her boyfriend Jak and his sister Sanya Lopez and they got to go around the city and even visited Universal Studios there. A little bonding moment to spark the inner kid in her. And it worked.

Barbie says, sometimes it’s good to tap into your inner child, something she didn’t take advantage of 10 years ago. “Feeling ko dapat inenjoy ko muna ’yung pagiging bata ko noon at di muna ako nagpadala sa mga bagay-bagay,” Barbie says, “parang ‘relax at bata ka pa.

With the support system behind her and conviction in her own approach in life, Barbie says she’s taking her next career steps one day at a time even if she says “hindi ako ’yung nagpaplano sa future goals ko.”

Time flies fast. It has already been 10 years since audiences got to know Barbie. This talented actress still got a whole lot of career and life ahead of her. Ready or not, she's facing it with her head held high and a big smile on her face.

"Kung para naman sa’yo talaga at ibibigay naman sa’yo, e di para sa’yo talaga. Hindi ako na para makipag-compete pa.”