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EXCLUSIVE: Barbie Imperial Is The New Sexy Leading Lady To Watch Out For

 

In her three short years in showbiz, beginning with a brief stint on reality show #PinoyBigBrother and appearances in movies ‘Everyday I Love You’ and ‘Love Me Tomorrow,’ #BarbieImperial has already established herself in the local entertainment industry. This year, she takes on her most daring and challenging role yet—in our exclusive digital cover story, get to know @msbarbieimperial, the new sexy leading lady to watch out for. • Produced by @gracelibero, @_judyarias, and @akosiboyjorge Photography by @rxandy Art direction by @jpendesign Makeup by @owensarmiento Hairstyling by @ethandavid_ Styling by @myrrhlaoto, assisted by @carvey_sam and @ziadelarosa Shot on location at Microtel by Wyndham in UP Technohub Special thanks to @thepartykitchenph • #People #DigitalCover #MetroDotStyleExclusive #wellstyledlife #lifestyled #lifegoals #inspiredliving

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It's just been short of three years since Barbie Imperial started her journey in showbiz through the reality show Pinoy Big Brother (PBB): 737. Her stint on PBB, however, was short-lived, as she was the first housemate who got evicted. Nevertheless, this fresh-faced mestiza (who, by the way, has such nice skin that makeup artist Owen Sarmiento didn't feel the need to apply foundation on her for this shoot) persisted and slowly established herself as an actress in those short but meaningful years.  

After her appearances on movies like Everyday I Love You and Love Me Tomorrow as well as TV shows Wansapanataym, Maalaala Mo Kaya (MMK), and Ipaglaban Mo, she is now doing her most daring and most challenging role yet. Barbie stars in the afternoon teleserye Precious Hearts Romances Presents: Araw Gabi with JM de Guzman. The show premiered with 15.7% percent ratings and has been maintaining good ratings since.

But like all inspiring stories, Barbie's journey to stardom is a long road of hardships. Through it all, she shows that even a simple probinsyana can achieve her dreams as long as she has the heart and courage to pursue it.

 

 

 

Humble roots

Barbie grew up with a small family in a small neighborhood in Albay. It was a tough childhood for Barbie, who had to grow up and learn about the world without a father.

“Wala si papa, umalis siya simula pa lang. Mahirap kasi na wala kang dad. 'Yung dad kasi ng brother ko, sinusuportahan siya, tapos ako, hindi,” Barbie shares about her estranged father, who actually only lived a couple of blocks away. “I know him, malapit lang 'yung bahay nila sa’min, tapos minsan nga, nu'ng mga grade 3 ako nu'n, nagta-tricycle na ako para mapuntahan ko lang siya. Kaso 'yung wife niya kasi magagalit, so ginagawa ko, 'pag andu’n na ako, tinitignan ko sa ilalim ng gate kung andu'n 'yung kotse ng wife niya.”

Living only with her mom and her brother, Barbie says that the absence of her father was not just difficult financially, but most especially when it comes to the dynamics of the family. On top of not having a father figure growing up, Barbie says, “'Pag family day sa school, may dagdag points kasi ’pag buo 'yung pamilya. Eh ako, kulang. Gusto ko nandu'n 'yung papa ko kasi sayang 'yung points. Achiever kasi ako, kaya nalalamangan ako ng kalaban ko, eh. 'Tsaka 'pag mga meeting, mga tatay 'yung kailangan, mag-isa lang 'yung mom ko na babae.”

It would not have been surprising if Barbie harbored ill feelings and anger towards her father, who, after all those years, never really took the initiatives to provide for her, or even contact her. But taking after her mom, Marilyn, Barbie never focused on the negative, constantly reminding herself of her mom's words, “Kung 'di para sa'yo, baka 'di talaga good for you.”

And so she focused instead on her studies and her family, and became an honor student and a model daughter. She graduated on top of her class in grade school and consistently performed well until high school, all while helping her mom tend their sari-sari store and accomplish the household chores.

 

 

 

The shy girl blossoms into a star

Barbie never dreamed of entering show business. She says that she was especially shy when she was younger, so she never aspired to be on the stage or under the spotlight. The only time she went out of her comfort zone was when she joined a small pageant in their locality, just so the prize money could help their family.

After winning in that pageant, she received an offer to become an endorser of a soap brand. Barbie mustered the courage to put her confidence issues aside to help her mom.

But then, the audition for PBB happened. It was the talk of the town. All of her friends were going, and Barbie felt so gravitated to the auditions despite the fact that: one, she actually had no interest in entering the PBB house; two, she had no idea about PBB; and three, her go-see for the soap endorsement coincided with the auditions.

“'Di naman talaga ako nag-audition dahil gusto ko. Gusto ko lang makisabay. Eh 'yung province kasi namin, kung ano 'yung uso, lahat nakikisabay talaga. Parang gusto ko lang rin marinig 'yung boses ni Direk Lauren kung siya talaga si Big Brother,” Barbie recalls with a laugh.

And so, despite her mom advising her against it, she auditioned. And like everyone else, she waited in line the whole day for a chance to get into the top 10. Her agent from the endorsement wanted to pull her out, but Barbie stood by her decision to stay in the audition. She shares, “Feel ko talaga may something eh. Seven na lang kaming natira nu'n, pero na-feel ko talaga. Sabi ko sa sarili ko, 'Konti nalang.'”

Several more auditions in Manila followed, so Barbie had to miss enrolment for her next year in high school. It was all worth it in the end, because she was picked to be a housemate. Barbie was introduced to a nationwide audience with the moniker “Doll Along the Riles,” because their family was actually living along the railway tracks of the Philippine National Railroad in Daraga, Albay.   However, after everything she went through and everything she gave up to get into the house, she was evicted at the very first eviction night.

“Umiyak ako siyempre, pangarap ko 'yun para kay kuya at mama eh. Iyak ako nang iyak, feeling ko alone ako. Tapos 'yung mama ko, nagtatampo pa pala sa'kin, kasi buong PBB ko, puro dad ko 'yung bukambibig ko,” Barbie says.

With her dreams of winning the prize money for her family shattered, Barbie decided it was time to go back to Albay to continue her studies. But like the other opportunities that came knocking on her door, unexpectedly, another one came. Just a week after she was evicted, she got a call from ABS-CBN, casting her to be part of the TV show All of Me (which, interestingly, also starred JM, her Araw Gabi co-star).

From there, Barbie found herself jumping from one project to another. Every time one would end, one was already in the waiting list. She has starred in two Ipaglaban Mo episodes, two MMK episodes—one saw her portraying herself in the depiction of her own life story—and had stints on Wansapantaym and La Luna Sangre. She was also part of the short-lived all-girl group GirlTrends on noontime variety show It’s Showtime.

And then came her biggest project yet, Araw Gabi.

 

 

 

Owning the spotlight

When asked how she finally transitioned from a shy little caterpillar to the big and blossoming butterfly she is now, Barbie says it all came naturally. After all the acting and dancing workshops she went through with ABS-CBN, she found herself more and more comfortable with the spotlight. This is why when she was encouraged to audition for Araw Gabi, it was as if the stage was already being set for Barbie's first piece de resistance.

Barbie reveals she originally auditioned for the role of Isabel, a sweeter and younger role that she thought fit her character more. But when she did not get the role, she was called back to audition for the protagonist, Michelle Verano.

“Pagdating ko nu'ng audition, puro beauty queen! Ang tatangkad nila!” Barbie recalls during her callback. “Kinabahan talaga ako. So, paano? Paano ko lalabanan 'yun? Tapos nalaman ko na si JM 'yung leading man. Eh maliit si JM. So, yes! May lamang ako sa mga beauty queen! (Laughs)”

It's only been short of a month since Araw Gabi premiered, but the new love team and teleserye is already resonating well with the viewers. Apart from the mystery and the drama that have become the central themes of the show, Araw Gabi also became famous for its more daring scenes, usually with Barbie as Mich at the center.

This is why Barbie reveals that her family was admittedly worried when she had to shoot these scenes. “Kinabahan sila kasi syempre ako 'yung bunso, tapos sa buong pamilya, sa magpipinsan, ako talaga 'yung baby girl nila. Lahat sila 'pag may kissing scene, pumipikit sila! May time pa na umiyak 'yung mama ko kasi 'yung rape scene, may totoong kiss na.”

The scenes were intense and challenging, from the daring ones, to the dramatic parts, especially for Barbie who has only been acting full-time for three years. But she says that throughout the whole experience, her co-actors have become her second family, guiding and mentoring her to become better with each day.

“'Yung mga co-actors ko, kahit magaling na sila umarte, sina Ate Vina (Morales), si JM lalo, kahit off-cam, tinutulungan nila ako,” Barbie shares and continues to talk about how his leading man on-screen has really become helpful even behind the scenes. “Lalo si JM, 'pag drained na talaga ako, tapos iyakan buong araw, binubulungan niya lang ako, kasi alam na niya lahat eh. Kasi nag-workshop kami. Binubulong niya lang lahat ng pain ko, lahat ng nakakasakit sa'kin. Isang linya pa lang, sasabihin niya pa lang, 'Pagod ka na?' Tapos iyak na ‘ko agad.”

As an actress, Barbie reveals that her style of acting is by taking the emotions personally. This is why when she finds it hard to cry during a particular scene, “Ipipikit ko 'yung eyes ko, tapos aalalahanin ko 'yung pinakamasakit na nangyari sa buhay ko tapos sasabihin ko sa sarili ko. Pagdilat ng mga mata ko, andu'n na ako sa sitwasyon na 'yun. Pagdilat ng mata, nandu'n 'yung dad ko. Iniisip ko andiyan siya, tapos naluluha na ‘ko. Siya talaga ’yung bubog ko.”

And with the support of her family, her leading man, her co-actors and directors, and the strength she has found within herself, Barbie delivers what's required of her for every scene—except for this one moment that Barbie reveals candidly was the most difficult scene she shot so far: “[May scene na] taas-baba kami sa hagdan. Ang haba ng linya ko. 'Di ko talaga magawa. Siguro nabu-bwisit na si JM kasi ’di ko makuha, mga five takes na kami, pinakamatagal ko na 'yun na take.

 

 

Everyday Barbie

Beneath this talented and motivated actress, Barbie is a down-to-earth, fun-loving, and kalog teenage girl. She is just 20 years old, after all!

Barbie reveals that, nowadays, taping would eat up her daily schedule, that's why she barely has time for anything else. She says she is spending less time with her friends, would only see her mom once or twice a month, and regrets that she has less time for her favorite pastime, which is playing mobile games. Not that she is complaining, of course!

Pag-uwi ko, matutulog na lang ako. Dati, maglalaro pa kami ng kapatid ko ng Rules of Survival, online games. Mga panlalaki nga, eh!” Barbie admits. Contrary to her name and her dainty appearance, she is actually a hardcore online gamer, and some of her favorites are competitive shooter games or tactical games like PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (PUBG), ROS, and Mobile Legends. In fact, she's so good at it she would sometimes even emerge as the last (wo)man standing in PUBG or ROS.

When it comes to taking care of herself, Barbie admits she does not do much to maintain her slim figure. She does a lot of dieting, and works out when she gets the inspiration to do so. She also says that she is now looking for ways to go back to school and study while doing Araw Gabi. She insists, “Ako, gusto ko talaga bumalik sa school, kasi kaya ko naman. Dati, gusto ko maging engineer pero feeling ko mahihirapan na akong humabol kaya 'di ko pa alam. Basta gusto ko muna makapagtapos ng high school.”

Apart from school, whenever her schedule opens up a bit, Barbie also says she wants to pursue more dance workshops.

But on top of everything, what this passionate young lady really wants to devote more time for is her family. In fact, she shares cheerfully that her mom is visiting her this month to celebrate her birthday. These special moments are what give Barbie the drive and motivation to keep going and keep improving, and to push through the tiring and tough times. Because as it is evident in her journey, for Barbie, it's all about family. Everything she's doing, it's for her mom who has persisted and raised them single-handedly, for her brother who has stayed by her side and supported her, and maybe even for her dad who has now started to slowly open up to her.

Because at the end of the day, when we ask Barbie who she thinks Barbie Imperial is, she says casually, “Si Barbie, 20 years old, ay gagawin ang lahat para sa family niya.”

 

 

 

 

[photos]

 

Gray swimsuit with cut-outs by H&M, white blazer by Zara, open-toe heels by Charles & Keith / white two-piece swimwear by Soak Swimwear and bejeweled black blazer by Light Shine White / black two-piece swimwear by Soak Swimwear and silver jacket by Zara

 

 

Produced by Grace Libero-Cruz, Judy Arias, and Jovi Figueroa

Photography by Rxandy Capinpin

Art direction by Butchie Peña

Videography/video editing by Vanessa Lumaque

Makeup by Owen Sarmiento

Hairstyling by Ethan David

Styling by Myrrh Lao To, assisted by Carvey Samonte and Zia dela Rosa

Shot on location at Microtel by Wyndham in UP Technohub

Special thanks to Party Kitchen (@thepartykitchenph) and Andrea Austria & Anna Tan of Microtel