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.
“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.