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Exclusive: MMFF 2017’s Best Actress Joanna Ampil On Filming 'Ang Larawan,' Plus Her List of Must-Watch Musicals

Photo from @joampil


If you haven’t seen Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) 2017’s Best Picture Ang Larawan yet, one of its lead stars, Joanna Ampil, may have piqued your curiosity after she bagged the Best Actress award at the recent MMFF.

A new face in the local movie scene, her first-ever venture in film totally got her raves for her performance as the older Marasigan sister, Candida, in the said musical film. With her powerful and captivating portrayal, some may wonder why it is just now that they’ve watched such an incredible actress. The 42-year-old actress is no newbie. In fact, she’s a pro with a dossier that features years of acting experience. And if you’re a fan of musicals, you would most definitely be familiar with her.


Photo from @joampil


The local acting industry may be foreign land to Joanna, but when she’s onstage wearing the hat of a character like Fantine in Les Miserables or Grizabella in Cats, she disappears and goes full-on with the persona she’s playing.

Joanna has been doing musicals abroad since 1993, her first leading role being Kim in Miss Saigon. That’s the start of what would be a long list of remarkable plays that eventually made her a well-known and well-respected actress in the theater scene.



Her recent Best Actress victory opened many possibilities for this talented lady. It won’t be surprising if this globetrotting actress stays in Manila for awhile to work on a teleserye or another movie soon, especially now that her amazing performance got her on everyone’s radar. And she welcomes these possibilities with a ready-for-anything mindset: “I want to keep learning; I want to know the work here. I know people say, ‘Oh, it’s long hours here.’ Yeah, exactly! I want to know what it’s like. It would really be nice to really learn the culture in that medium,” she says.

Metro.Style got a chance to chat with Joanna as she prepares to fly out of the country again for the Asian tour of Cats. Get to know MMFF 2017’s Best Actress Joanna Ampil—from the challenges of filming Ang Larawan to her favorite musicals!


On her favorite scene in Ang Larawan. “It would have to be that scene where she is in the middle of a conflict as to whether she would sell the painting or not and what she would have to do to survive. She is already believing what Pepang and Manolo were telling them, that they’re parehong inutil. A lot of things were going through me then.”

On missing the filming experience. “The entire experience was a joy kasi by that time, alam ko na ‘yung Candida. I got her down to a T. Preparing myself to the scene, ’yun lang ’yung challenging, pero masaya na rin ’yun eh, kasi nakuha namin ’yung gusto naming ma-achieve. Tapos everyone was just so nice. I actually miss it, you know.”

On how she envisions the painting. “[Given I haven’t seen the actual painting], I would see it as something extremely wild, fiery, in red and orange na shade. Candida described it as halimaw, so it’s something that’s quite fearful na ’pag nakita mo siya, it does something to your senses. I like paintings like that actually—’yung merong nadi-disturb sa loob mo.”

On the goal of Ang Larawan. “It’s to teach the youth of the culture—of what it was like in the 40s— whether it’s still relevant nowadays, all those things, maraming aspects. And to bring the words of Nick Joaquin again and Rolando Tinio, to introduce the national artists  to the youth, to enjoy musicals, and to make them more accessible to the mass.”

On what she’s doing next. “I am going back to Hong Kong to resume my contract with Cats. I’m free the entire February, then I’m going to China after that. But now after Ang Larawan’s success, hopefully, I’m gonna stay here to do work.”

On her favorite, must-watch musicals. Follies, Les Miserables, Cats, Hamilton, Sunset Boulevard, Wicked, and Mary Poppins.”


Photos from @joampil