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.

The Freeman - - FRONT PAGE - By KARLA RULE

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

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