First-time Cosmo cover girl!

This is Gabbi Gar­cia at 18: stronger, sharper, with a steady con­fi­dence rem­i­nis­cent of her for­mer war­rior princess al­ter ego.

Cosmopolitan (Philippines) - - Contents - By Dyan Zarzuela

“I needed that break from work, from stress, from the en­tire world. I think ev­ery­body de­serves some time to breathe. That trip was also my way of mak­ing up for lost time with my mom, dad, and sis­ter, who I barely saw dur­ing the 12 months I spent film­ing

En­can­ta­dia,” says Gabbi. “Hawaii was an im­pul­sive move. Not long af­ter we got back from the US, I de­cided to tag along with my mom, who’s a flight at­ten­dant, to Hawaii. It was amaz­ing! Go­ing on those trips and see­ing how peo­ple live and hus­tle in dif­fer­ent places made me feel recharged and ready to take on big­ger ad­ven­tures.”

You started join­ing pageants at four and en­tered show­biz at 15; were there times when you felt in­se­cure? How did you deal with it?

Not when I was four to eight years old. I was a re­ally con­fi­dent, bibo kid! I felt the in­se­cu­rity from grade six on­wards, when pu­berty hit, which I think is nor­mal for most teenagers. I don’t think I was bul­lied, but I feel like I was mis­in­ter­preted in high school. I was ac­tive in aca­demics and co-cur­ric­u­lars be­cause I just re­ally wanted to per­form. That was my goal in high school, and it wasn’t for any­thing else. But some peo­ple hated me and said stuff against me for be­ing “too ac­tive.” I wasn’t the con­fronta­tional type back then, not un­less it was re­ally be­low the belt. As long as I could han­dle it, you wouldn’t hear any­thing from me. To this day, as long as I feel se­cure in my­self and my abil­i­ties, I don’t let out­side noise get to me.

When I started au­di­tion­ing for com­mer­cials and got re­jected so many times—out of 50 au­di­tions, I would book just a hand­ful!—it re­ally helped that I had a strong sup­port sys­tem in my fam­ily. Open­ing up to your fam­ily, friends, and the peo­ple you trust is so im­por­tant.

How did so­cial me­dia af­fect the way you per­ceived your­self while grow­ing up?

I use so­cial me­dia for in­spi­ra­tion on who I want to be­come and what I want to achieve on a daily ba­sis. What gets me some­times, which is a given in this in­dus­try, is the neg­a­tiv­ity. But it’s re­ally about know­ing your­self and be­ing se­cure in who you are, which takes time, pa­tience, and courage. Of course, there are still days when you don’t feel com­fort­able deal­ing with neg­a­tive com­ments. That’s why I ap­pre­ci­ate the In­sta­gram fea­ture that lets you dis­able the com­ment sec­tion when­ever you want.

How par­tic­u­lar are you when it comes to your feed aes­thetic?

I know that some peo­ple make se­cret ac­counts or pri­vate gal­leries on their phones to see if a new post would look good with their cur­rent feed. Per­son­ally, I don’t re­ally fol­low a pat­tern when it comes to my In­sta­gram. I know what I like, and I just go with what­ever I think looks nice.

En­can­ta­dia is quite pro­gres­sive: Women rule, fight for their peo­ple, and can be any­one they want to be, though not nec­es­sar­ily be with whom they want. What did you learn from play­ing such a strong, in­de­pen­dent woman like Alena?

It still amazes me how the writ­ers came up with a story that em­pow­ers

Alena, my char­ac­ter in En­can­ta­dia, shows how im­por­tant it is to fight for your right to make de­ci­sions for your­self.

women and shows that to­gether, we can ac­com­plish any­thing we set our minds to. I love Alena. From a soft­hearted, timid girl who gives and gives and gives but never takes, she grew to be­come one of the strong­est di­wata in the land and even a Hara (queen). Alena was re­ally dis­tracted by love and other things. Her char­ac­ter shows how im­por­tant it is to know your worth as a per­son and to fight for your right to make de­ci­sions for your­self. Know­ing her worth is what made her strong.

Work­ing on the show has def­i­nitely helped me grow as an ac­tress and as a per­son. I learned that act­ing is not about fak­ing emo­tions—it’s about the truth. As long as you’re true to your­self and your emo­tions, you will be able to de­liver a good per­for­mance. Since we “shot to air” most days, we re­ally had to know our char­ac­ters in­side out: how our char­ac­ters will re­act to cer­tain sit­u­a­tions and how they will emo­tion­ally at­tack a sce­nario. In the be­gin­ning I had a hard time with it, but half­way through the se­ries, I started to feel like Alena was a part of me, like I had an in­ter­nal switch for the char­ac­ter.

You jug­gled high school and show­biz at the same time. Do you plan to do the same for col­lege?

I was about to study mu­sic busi­ness man­age­ment be­fore En­can­ta­dia; I had taken the en­trance exam and sub­mit­ted all the re­quire­ments to the school al­ready. But then Enca came, and I just had to take it. I’m very glad I did be­cause it was such a rare op­por­tu­nity. Now I’m plan­ning to en­roll again in the same school.

What would you look for in new roles or projects? What’s next for you?

I’m ready for more. I’m not choosy when it comes to projects that GMA Artist Cen­ter trusts me with. I know that man­age­ment is ex­plor­ing dif­fer­ent paths for me. Right now, I’m keep­ing my­self busy with work­shops, guest­ings, and Sun­day

Pi­nasaya, where I get to host and sing. It’s a com­edy show, so it’s a nice break from all the cry­ing and dra­matic scenes.

Any dream roles?

Hon­estly, Alena was one of my dream roles al­ready. I re­ally en­joyed the fight scenes, so I’d like to ex­plore more ac­tion projects and do an­other fan­taserye.

How about with your mu­sic?

I’m ac­tu­ally up to some­thing right now. I plan to do R&B soul soon, with some acous­tic songs, too.

Your par­ents have been very sup­port­ive of your ca­reer from the be­gin­ning, right?

Def­i­nitely. When I was get­ting re­jec­tion af­ter re­jec­tion dur­ing au­di­tions, my par­ents would al­ways re­mind me that it’s just about the right op­por­tu­ni­ties. It’s about the right tim­ing, cou­pled with hard work, of course. My mom is the most beau­ti­ful woman in the world for me—all the moms out there, and the sac­ri­fices they make for their fam­i­lies, are beau­ti­ful.

My dad is so pro­tec­tive and hard­work­ing. He in­sists on driv­ing me around even if I tell him he should get some rest. He’d al­ways say ,“Kungano‘yung pa god mo, da­p­at­pagodko rin.” I love our talks when we go on long drives to­gether. I re­mem­ber one time he told me, “Ev­ery artist’s goal is to soar high. But once you get to the top, it’s very lonely and there are a lot of temp­ta­tions. Re­mem­ber what we taught you, your val­ues and foun­da­tion as a per­son.” My dad is also a re­ally good judge of char­ac­ter. He has that fa­therly in­stinct when it comes to mga manlili­gaw.

Has he given his ap­proval to any of your suit­ors?

As of the mo­ment, no! [laughs]

Lastly, what is one thing you wish more peo­ple knew about you?

I’d love for peo­ple to get to know me as Gabriella Lopez—that’s my real name—and not just as Gabbi Gar­cia. Some­times I feel like I have two faces; there’s Gabbi and then there’s Gabriella, who likes think­ing about out-of-this-world stuff. As an artista, peo­ple can some­times mis­in­ter­pret you and the way you think. But re­ally, I just love talk­ing to dif­fer­ent peo­ple and ex­chang­ing views on life and self-dis­cov­ery.

Pho­tog­ra­phy By Paolo Pineda

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