Mara Lopez admitted that she did not expect to win Best Actress at the Cinema One Originals festival for her the movie Palitan. “Nung inannounce, sobrang umiyak ako kasi siyempre I was overwhelmed. Parang I’ve always wanted to win pero parang medyo alanganin ako sa film festival na ito kasi nga alam ko na kalaban ko si Gina Alajar, eh alam mo niyo naman na she’s such a great actress. She’s a veteran actress and award-winning [one]. So that night talagang no expectations at all on my part. I just wanted to attend and to support my movies, yung two movies ko. And nung tinawag akong Best Actress, si Philip Salvador pa talaga yung tumawag sa akin,” she recalled.
Mara was a member of Star Circle Batch 13 and is the daughter of former beauty queen and actress Maria Isabel Lopez. Mara said her mom was so proud of her accomplishment as well. “Para siyang mahihimatay, she was so happy! Kasi si mom, more than two decades na siya sa industry and after twenty years na siya na-nominate for best supporting actress and hindi pa siya nag-be-best actress,” she said.
Described as a sexy thriller which was a homage to the Filipino cult classic Scorpio Nights, Palitan involved many intimate scenes between Mara and her co-stars Alex Medina and Mon Confiado. But Mara said her parents understood it was all part of the role. “Alam ni mommy from the start. Alam niya. It was harder for my dad. He knew what the story was about because I explained it naman from the very beginning of the shoot na Palitan is really for me an acting piece, a dramatic piece. I mean it is an erotic thriller pero it really is a dramatic piece and nung pinapanuod niya nung premier night, first time naming lahat mapanuod, hindi raw niya pinanuod. Nag-te-text lang daw siya kasi parang ayaw niya ako makita na nakahubad onscreen which was very understandable. Tapos nung nagkaroon kami ng isa pang screening, gusto niya sumama. Talagang nagpumilit siya sumama. Tapos inamin niya na hindi niya napanuod nung first time pero nung nanalo na ako gusto na niya mapanuod,” she said.
Apart from Palitan, Mara was also part of the cast of Melodrama Negra which won the Audience Choice Awards. “Siyempre sobrang happy na dalawang film na important got recognized from the film festival kasi there were 13 films. So at least nag-stand out yung dalawa na Melodrama Negra and Palitan. Honestly sinasabi ko sa lahat na out of all the entries sa Cinema One, I’ve seen half of them and Melodrama Negra is talagang yung pinaka-entertaining to watch, pinakamasayang panuorin na kahit bata or matanda maaaliw,” she said.
Mara is now currently working on a new indie film with Kapamilya heartthrob Paulo Avelino. “Right now we’re shooting a new movie called Debosyon, it’s a Bicolano film. This is also an independent film. One day pa lang kami nag-wo-work together pero he’s really fun to work with naman. He’s serious but I guess every actor is naman. With Paulo I can really see na he has a very artistic mind kasi minsan we talk about the script, minsan nag-a-add kami ng mga magagawa sa script tapos biglang sasabihin niya, ‘Yah may hidden meaning ito,’ ganyan. He’s a very artistic person na talagang he takes his craft seriously,” she said.