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Althea Vega gears up for Cinemalaya starring role in ‘Amor Y Muerte’

Althea Vega. (Photo by Nathan Lubian)

Last year, indie actress Althea Vega had memorable supporting roles in two films in the New Breed section of the Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival—Aloy Adlawan’s “Ang Katiwala” and Mes De Guzman’s “Diablo”, which won Best Film and four other major awards.

This year, one of the most sought-after actresses in the independent film circuit is headlining Cesar Evangelista’s “Amor Y Muerte (Love and Death)”, one of the five entries in the Director’s Showcase section of Cinemalaya.

Acoording to the story concept, the film is “an examination of the initial encounter between the Indios (natives) and their colonizers (Spaniards) in the 16th century and their conflicting views on love, passion, religion, and sexuality.”

“I play the character of Amor and she wants to fulfill her desire as a woman. This is not your typical love story as it is heavily based on an important period in our history where our origins and the transformation of women are explored,” Althea told InterAksyon.

If the initial sizzling teaser of the film is any indication, it looks like Althea could pull a stunning surprise in this year’s Cinemalaya and give Lovi Poe (“Sana Dati”), Alessandra De Rossi (“Liars”) and even Star for All Seasons Vilma Santos (“Ekstra—The Bit Player”) a good run for their money come awards night.

Taking on roles and doing scenes other actresses would think twice of doing, the dusky actress often compared to Tetchie Agbayani doesn’t just light up the screen, she sets it on fire. And she has been doing with almost every film since her sensational debut as the sex-starved wife of Polo Ravales in Joel Lamangan’s “Walang Kawala”.

“I don’t have problems playing different characters. I could be a mother, a lesbian, a queen, a criminal or a prostitute. Name them, I’m willing to do it but I must have to like the story first and foremost. I’ve always wanted to play characters that I find challenging.”

Althea admits that some of her recent roles have been very challenging. She plays a very shy lesbian in Nerisa Picadizo’s “Astray”, a role she says she has never done before. In Sean Ellis’ critically acclaimed “Metro Manila”, she plays a wife and a mother of a family trying to make it in the big city who ended up as a dancer in a seedy bar.

And in Gil Portes’ “Bayang Magiliw” which is currently showing on SM cinemas nationwide, Althea plays a housewife in a small town who also happens to be the favorite mistress of a philandering town mayor who unwittingly causes his downfall in a key sequence.

“I first worked with Direk Gil Portes in ‘Two Funerals’ which was also a Cinemalaya entry in 2010. I learned a lot working with both him and Direk Joel Lamangan in ‘Walang Kawala’ as I believe they both made me a better and effective actress, especially when I had problems showing the right sentiments in some scenes,” she pointed out.

Althea admits that she wasn’t always as focused on her craft as she is now.

“Actually, I was already into acting when I was still in college taking up Mass Communications. I did bit roles on shows by GMA ABS-CBN. Way back then, I had this shallow perception on what I was doing. I was doing it not because I wanted to become a professional actress but because I was doing it just for fun and also because I was earning extra allowance for my studies,” she confessed.

That all changed in 2008 when a friend of hers told her to audition for Manny Valera’s DMV Entertainment who at the time was looking for a leading lady for the project that turned out to be “Walang Kawala”.

“I was told that the movie was provocative but I was determined to make it a try. During the audition, I gave it all the emotions they wanted to see and luckily I got the part. I signed a contract with DMV right away and that’s how my journey began. As the years went by, I became more motivated to hone my skills and develop a true passion for acting”.

It was also during the time of the “Walang Kawala” auditions when the daughter of a former police officer who was born Melody Amor Cortez decided on what would become her screen name.

“Althea is a Greek goddess meaning to ‘heal’. Women with this name have this deep inner need for silence. I knew it was perfect for me because I’m an introvert person and I’m sympathetic to others. Vega means star. I believe that we all have uniqueness and we all have that light to carry,” she revealed.

As for her dream role, Althea said she always wanted to play national hero Gabriela Silang even though a new biopic starring Christine “Tin” Patrimonio is already in the works.

“I want to play the strong personality of Gabriela Silang because I’m a native Ilocana just like Gabriela. I was born in Pangasinan and I grew up in Cagayan Valley. Yes, I heard they’re filming this already but I will still be happy to play this character in the future if given the chance.”