Carla Humphries steps away from con­ven­tion

Though a con­sid­er­able veteran in the act­ing in­dus­try, Carla Humphries still has the cre­ative ap­petite of a new­bie


“I’ve been paint­ing since I was eight. I was taught by Mar­cel An­to­nio.” Re­gally poised on a cush­ion, Carla Humphries re­veals un­ex­pected tid­bits of her life as she pre­pares for her shoot. She tells us that she has sung at the Cannes Film Fes­ti­val and at the Monaco Grimaldi Fo­rum. “I never had the chance to sing here in the Philip­pines be­cause [the au­di­ence] wants you to sing pop, they want you to sing Brit­ney, all those high-belt­ing songs. As a young girl, it felt weird singing those songs.” It does seem es­pe­cially off, given that her mu­si­cal in­cli­na­tions range from Ella Fitzger­ald to ZZ Top.

Humphries also con­fesses her real name: “Madeleine.” “Carla,” a moniker given by her han­dlers when she was ini­ti­ated into the in­dus­try as a child ac­tress, had seemed more re­lat­able to the pub­lic, but as she re­veals more of her­self, the name “Carla” starts to feel es­tranged from Humphries’ real per­son­al­ity.

The ac­tress has just wrapped up shoot­ing the film adap­ta­tion of FH Bat­a­can’s Smaller and Smaller Cir­cles, where she was hand­picked by its di­rec­tor and its pro­ducer; the film is set to be shown at the Sun­dance Film Fes­ti­val. She is cur­rently tap­ing a noon­time soap on a pop­u­lar tele­vi­sion net­work, and she’s an ac­tive mem­ber of Com­mu­ni­ties Or­ga­nized for Re­source Al­lo­ca­tion (CORA), which al­lo­cates ex­tra food from es­tab­lish­ments (such as ho­tel buf­fets) to less for­tu­nate com­mu­ni­ties and or­ga­nizes nu­mer­ous clean-up drives. How she found time to do this shoot in be­tween all th­ese com­mit­ments eludes me.

Apart from your work, what is keep­ing you busy th­ese days?

I was think­ing of the per­fect plat­form for some­one who hasn’t re­ally de­fined their place­ment in their ca­reer, [and I thought] I can brand my­self with my own voice rather than have other peo­ple in­flu­ence my brand­ing. So I started [my YouTube chan­nel] “Madz For You,” be­cause my real name is Madeleine and not a lot of peo­ple know that. All my close friends call me Mads. I’m ba­si­cally rein­tro­duc­ing my­self to the world, in­ter­act­ing with dif­fer­ent peo­ple, learn­ing from ex­pe­ri­ences. It’s also a plat­form to show peo­ple my per­son­al­ity and what I’m ca­pa­ble of do­ing. In a past in­ter­view, you men­tioned that you never felt like a le­git­i­mate ac­tress. Why do you feel this way de­spite the nu­mer­ous projects you’ve done? I feel that in the Philip­pines, every­body is artis­tahin. Every­body wants to be an ac­tor, and I feel that [job ti­tle gets] thrown around so eas­ily. Be­ing an ac­tress is dif­fer­ent from be­ing a celebrity or just be­ing on TV. It’s some­thing very per­sonal to me. For me to con­sider my­self as a le­git­i­mate ac­tress, I [have] to gain the re­spect of my peers and the peo­ple I re­spect. I feel like the body of work I should have [to call my­self an ac­tress] is one of a per­son who has re­ally mas­tered their craft. It’s some­thing I want to work for, a ti­tle I want to earn. I al­ways get awk­ward when peo­ple ask me what my pro­fes­sion is, not be­cause I’m ashamed of be­ing an ac­tress, but be­cause I take my job se­ri­ously. It’s [un­com­fort­able for me] to claim.

Did you ever feel like quit­ting the in­dus­try? What makes you stay?

For a while there, I gave up on the idea of re­ally grow­ing ca­reer-wise be­cause it’s very easy to get boxed [in]. There comes a point when you feel you’re not grow­ing as much. You know how they say there are no small roles, only small ac­tors? Peo­ple who are part of the main cast can say that, but I don’t know if they mean it or un­der­stand it. It’s true that your role could be a big part of the script, but not be as present as an ac­tor. You could be a small part of the story and also be re­ally present as an ac­tor.

I’m at the point where I’m learn­ing with ev­ery lit­tle thing I’m do­ing. And I’m do­ing a wide range of things, so un­like be­fore, when I thought ev­ery­thing was go­ing to be cal­cu­lated [in my ca­reer path], I’m now open to pos­si­bil­i­ties, to this chal­lenge, and see what it brings out in me as an ac­tress. Hope­fully, I’ll grow.

Be­ing in this in­dus­try, what makes it dif­fi­cult not just for you but for many peo­ple to de­velop as a se­ri­ous ac­tor or ac­tress?

Our in­dus­try re­ally casts ac­tors ini­tially by the way they look and by their per­sonas off-cam. The tough thing is, as an ac­tor, you’re sup­posed to play roles that aren’t you. That’s why it’s called “act­ing;” [oth­er­wise] you’re

Be­ing an ac­tress is dif­fer­ent from be­ing a celebrity or just be­ing on TV. It’s some­thing very per­sonal to me, that for me to con­sider my­self as a le­git­i­mate ac­tress, I [have] to gain the re­spect of my peers and the peo­ple I re­spect.”

just play­ing your­self, right? An ac­tor gets chal­lenged by char­ac­ters that are far from who they re­ally are. I think as an ac­tor, you must look for some­thing that will chal­lenge you and show you in a dif­fer­ent light.

What has been your most chal­leng­ing role so far?

Hon­estly, I find ev­ery role chal­leng­ing [while I’m play­ing it] in the mo­ment, but af­ter shoot­ing is done, I keep [my­self ] hun­gry for a new chal­lenge. I wouldn’t say I’ve re­ally been tried and tested in too many [films]. I’m open to be­ing tried and tested even more.

Can you tell us about your role in Smaller and Smaller Cir­cles and how you pre­pared for it?

I play the role of Joanna Boni­fa­cio. It’s crazy be­cause I’m one of the only girls in the film. My char­ac­ter is a for­mer stu­dent of the role played by Nonie Buen­camino. I’m ac­tu­ally a Filip­ina [jour­nal­ist] who speaks French, Ta­ga­log, and English, which is per­fect, be­cause I am of French de­scent and speak all three lan­guages.

To pre­pare for the role, [Raya Martin and Ria Lim­jap] had asked if I was will­ing to chop off my hair, which then was [down to] below my bra line, up to chin level. With­out hes­i­ta­tion, I said yes, be­cause for the long­est time, I was re­ally long­ing for a role like this, to be along­side such well-re­spected ac­tors: Bem­bol Roco, Nonie Buen­camino, [Sid Lucero], Jun­jun Qui­tana… And Raya, I had re­searched about him. He had won many awards. He had been part of Cannes sev­eral times, which was one of my dreams. Be­fore I moved back [to the Philip­pines], I had sung at the fes­ti­val, and I told my­self then that the next time I’d go there, it’s be­cause I’d have a film [get­ting shown] there. The fact that Raya al­ready had that un­der his belt was an op­por­tu­nity for me to maybe get closer to it. [Al­though] we aren’t part of the Cannes Film Fes­ti­val, it’s still re­ally ex­cit­ing.

I play a jour­nal­ist. I help un­ravel the mys­tery be­hind the mur­ders that had hap­pened. I was lucky enough to meet the book writer [F.H. Ba­catan] be­cause Joanna Boni­fa­cio was based on her. She’s a

The tough thing is, as an ac­tor, you’re sup­posed to play roles that aren’t you. That’s why it’s called act­ing; [oth­er­wise] you’re just play­ing your­self, right?”

strong char­ac­ter: smart, opin­ion­ated, and com­mands re­spect. I tried not to think about all those [qual­i­ties] too much to the point [of ques­tion­ing if ] I was play­ing true to the char­ac­ter. I spoke to my pro­ducer, my di­rec­tor, and the writer, and then just re­ally tried to feel the mo­ment.

Hav­ing acted in film, tele­vi­sion, and the­ater, which medium are you most in­clined to?

I would say film. For lo­cal TV, we don’t re­ally get a lot of time to pre­pare and get into char­ac­ter. We re­ally need to be flex­i­ble ac­cord­ing to what the role de­mands, the sit­u­a­tion, or [even what] the di­rec­tor asks for. Whereas for film, we have a bit more time. Since I grew up on TV, I’m very aware of light­ing, my cam­era [an­gles], and play­ing it up for the cam­era. That’s what helped me a lot in do­ing com­mer­cials. As a kid, when you’re in that en­vi­ron­ment, you tend to see what goes on be­hind the scenes.

I would love to ex­per­i­ment a bit more with plays, though, be­cause I sing and I know the ba­sics of danc­ing and I en­joy both. But I would love to have pro­fes­sional train­ing first be­fore I do so. You’ve been in the in­dus­try since you were 12. Was act­ing a pro­fes­sion you de­sired ever since you were a child? I was born in San Fran­cisco and then moved to France. Even at a young age, I would speak French with an Ital­ian ac­cent. I would pre­tend to faint ev­ery­where. When­ever my par­ents would get mad at me, I would go in front of the mir­ror and cry, and watch my­self cry. You can say I was a dra­matic child; it was in­nate to me. I loved old clas­sic movies, and I would have vivid dreams of [my­self be­ing] in the movies. I think I’ve al­ways wanted to act, then ac­ci­den­tally en­tered the in­dus­try at such a young age.

Be­ing in the in­dus­try for so long, what is some­thing you’ve learned?

Aside from learn­ing how to be pro­fes­sional and how to man­age my time at such a young age, I learned that when do­ing some­thing for nu­mer­ous years, you aren’t go­ing to be eas­ily as pas­sion­ate or as ex­cited about your job. It’s like a re­la­tion­ship that comes and goes: it’s about con­stantly find­ing the in­spi­ra­tion you need to stay pas­sion­ate about what you do.

In this photo: Cot­ton piqué striped tee and pants, Carl Jan Cruz, carl­jan­ Slip-ons, Two Chic, 6239 Mañalac St., Brgy. Pobla­cion, Makati City, 899-2435

Above: Jacket, Silk robe dress and jeans, Carl Jan Cruz, carl­jan­

Blouse, Two Chic, 6239 Mañalac St., Brgy. Pobla­cion, Makati City, 899-2435 Jeans, Carl Jan Cruz, carl­jan­

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