The evolution of Roxanne Barcelo
You might have barely noticed it, but Roxanne Barcelo has been a steady presence in show business throughout her 18 years in the industry – as a singer, actress, television host, and now as film producer.
If there was one thing Roxanne is great at, it's staying true to herself and doing her own thing.
Born in Virginia in the United States, Roxanne started modelling as a child and hosted for a kid's show in ESPN's "The Kid Club."
Growing up in an era where Sharon Cuneta ruled Philippine tinseltown with films, television shows, and one album after the other, Roxanne started singing at eight years old and cemented her interest in performing early on. Like most young girls, she loved belting out Disney classics and was obsessed with Jasmine, the first woman of color to become a Disney Princess.
"When I found out that Lea Salonga was behind Jasmine, and then I found out that she was a Filipina, na mindblown talaga ako. That's when I knew I really wanted to pursue the arts," Roxanne says.
Fast forward to a few years later, her family moved to the Philippines, and Roxanne was in uncharted territory when she entered the country's showbiz industry at 13 years old.
After winning first runner-up at a singing competition called "Metro Pop Star," Roxanne was launched as an actress through a network contract with GMA-7.
Her morena complexion and small frame was immediately cited as negatives in an industry that worshipped mestizas and curves. She was introduced to an entirely different culture at an age where she didn't have much self-assuredness to fight back.
"Sa showbiz kasi, kailangan you have to be very confident and you have to know who you are. You can't expect yung isang bata to know who she is and her capabilities just yet. But I was so blessed to have had that shot. Early on, I knew that I didn't want to try any other kind of work but to perform," she quips.
Currently playing the avenging vixen Natalie in ABSCBN's "Wildflower" and headlining the film "I Found My Heart in Santa Fe" as island girl Jennifer, Roxanne says that her dream projects were number one: to star in a musical, and number two: to do an action film.
Generally, she hopes to bag roles that depict an empowered woman. "My heart is for women and for the Filipina. There was a time when I was really weak and hindi talaga ako marunong lumaban. We need to be confident and strong, and to push Filipinas to believe in themselves. I want to be someone in the media that reminds Filipinas to love their own color," Roxanne muses.
For her, representation was everything. And now that she is in a position to be a role model for others, Roxanne is set to inspire Filipinas and women in general.
Roxanne wrote a song called "Morena" alongside three other songwriters and offered it for “I Found My Heart in Santa Fe.” As they filmed a number for it, out of curiosity, she asked who among the young girls she was working with wished they had fairer complexion.
"And siyempre a lot of them were saying 'Ako! Ako!'. Island girl talaga ako, I'm morena myself, and I want these kids to know that they are beautiful– and they really are. I feel like this should be addressed habang bata pa, kasi when we're kids doon natin nafo-form yung ideas natin," Roxanne says.
"Kasi dati, at home sabi ng magulang ko maganda ako. But sa showbiz, may standard. So I found a way and I turned it around. I told myself I will work out and I will love my color. Lalo akong magpapaka-morena!" Roxanne recalls.
Despite having those setbacks at the beginning of her career, Roxanne was grateful for that start. She had her fair share of queuing at auditions and looking for roles like any other real performer.
Even with her love for performing, the 32-year-old learned the value of education, having non-showbiz friends, and knowing which part of the stage to stand on.
Roxanne never had a fixed image. One chapter of her life she was a TV host, and then she was a teen actress, she became a recording artist, a part of a reality show, and then a model, and now a co-producer.
For one thing, Roxanne credits that versatility as the reason why she got to stay in the business this long as well as the fact that she had jumped from one management after the other throughout her career.
"Magka-akibat kasi ang vision ng manager of you as an artist but to be honest I really evolve. I always find something to improve on. I want to sing, act, and host, and just the essence of being a performer. I wanted to tie it all up because for me at the end of the day-- if I get to do what I love, I'm willing to be versatile and change it up," Roxanne reveals.
The actress admits that she's intense, and when a reckoning came into her life in the form of a failed relationship, Roxanne realized that she was so much a risk taker, she didn't have a plan B.
"When I reached a point where I didn't get married to my ex, I asked myself: 'Okay, what do I really want in life? What do I want to do?'" Roxanne shares, saying that at the time she was hosting the kids show "Batang Bibo" and "Art Angel" she thought it was the perfect exit - a wholesome image to start off motherhood.
But that didn't happen.
"Sometimes kasi the answer lies in the question. After all these change in image and rebranding, all I really wanted to do was be part of empowering projects that connect with people because being an artista, it's all about being able to connect. I want to make songs people will sing, I want to play characters that people will love and hate."
This time however, Roxanne was blessed with a flourishing career and a happy relationship with boyfriend Will Devaughn. The couple has been together for four years now and both star in and co-produce the romantic comedy "I Found My Heart in Santa Fe."
This was the first time that the two produced a film, let alone star together in one.
"Ang advantages with working alongside your partner is bukas ang puso mo. Sometimes it's not even acting eh. The challenge is when we have to fight. But once cut na, cut na rin ang energy na yun," Roxanne quips, saying that it was wonderful to explore the characters and the location with someone you truly love.
Both actors were drawn into the film for the reason that it wasn't a love story just yet but a "beginning of a love story."
Additionally, Roxanne and Will had wanted to be part of the project from start to finish and the only way to do that was to learn the ropes of all aspects of the project.
"Iba kasi pag may sariling baby. I wanted to be part of it from beginning to end, and see it through. Iba kasi yung experience."
Asked about her sexy phase as Roxee B., the selfdescribed conservative star says, "I avoided the sexy image for the longest time. Kahit na tawagin akong maarte or strict but at the time I was attending strict schools and my management was strict. Later on I understood that I had to look the part. In reality I'm actually very conservative," Roxanne explains, revealing how she turned down two lead roles in a sexy film.
"I think when you discover what you like then you can do other things at all costs as long as it's within your value."
Roxanne is currently enjoying her role as Natalie in "Wildflower," saying that it has been so fun to embody someone complex. It had been a surprise being casted as Natalie: Roxanne shared how she auditioned on a Saturday, got the role that evening, had to cut her hair the next day, filmed on a Monday, with the episode airing the next day.
Prodded about what she thinks her greatest achievement is, Roxanne refuses to cite her endeavors just yet, but she'd like to win an award for her performances someday.
"Hindi ko pa pwedeng sabihin kung may biggest achievement na ba ako. My parents are proud of me and that's something but I want to be constantly hungry for goals."
Roxanne with boyfriend of four years and “I Found My Heart in Santa Fe” co-star Will Devaughn