After last being seen in the big screen in one of the episodes of the horror anthology Cinco, Jodi Sta. Maria said she is excited to be starring in Maria Leonora Teresa along with Zanjoe Marudo and Iza Calzado. “Ginawa ko yung pinakahuling horror movie ko yung Cinco. That was four years ago so ngayon lang ulit ako nagbalik pelikula sa Star Cinema. Ang Maria Leonora Teresa kasi hindi lang siya basta horror, may kuro siya, may puso siya at drama at comedy din. So pag pinanuod mo siya hindi mo na maintindihan kung anong nangyayari sayo basta natatawa ka na naiiyak ka na natatakot ka, naaawa ka sa mga characters and yet natatakot ka rin for yourself,” she shared during the movie's grand presscon held last September 4 inside ABS-CBN.
The 32-year-old actress plays a mother who has made her daughter the focus of her entire life. When tragedy strikes, she is forced to deal with the trauma by substituting a life-sized doll for her daughter who passed a way. Jodi said having to act with the dolls (who were made specifically to look like the child actors who portray the deceased children in the film) was the scariest part of doing the movie. “I think siguro yung memory lang nung mga dolls kasi creepy talaga sila and lagi ko siyang ka-eksena so yung eyes talaga particularly yung nakakatakot sa kanya kasi pag nag-stare ka sa mata ng manika, it looks so real. Pero pagdating sa house hindi na [ako takot] kasi pag uwi ko tatakutin ko pa ba yung sarili ko? Itutulog ko na lang yun (laughs),” she said.
The Maria Leonora Teresa star said there were times she would bring along her son Thirdy to work. “Sinasama ko si Thirdy sa shoot and nagtatambay doon sa tent kung saan ginagawa yung prosthetics so natutuwa siya kung paano yung proseso ng paggawa doon sa mga manika. Napakatapang ng anak ko,” she proudly shared.
Even though the movie deals with a difficult topic of parents losing their children, Jodi said she welcomed the acting challenge. “Honestly with this movie hindi ako na-drain because I was really looking forward to shooting. Siguro kasi I've been doing rom-com and light drama for quite some time so mas na-miss ko siya. So pag pumupunta ako ng set talagang sobrang excited ako and I look forward to doing the scenes, yung takutan or yung high emotional drama scenes,” she added.
Even with daily tapings for her popular daytime series Be Careful With My Heart, Jodi said she was happy to finally do a movie project again. “Sana, sana mag-tuloy tuloy. I would like to thank Star Magic na sila yung gumagawa ng trafficking nung oras ko para meron akong time for Be Careful and meron akong time for Maria Lenora Teresa,” she said. The show, which has a huge following locally and abroad, is something Jodi hopes can continue to do good. “Actually hindi ko talaga alam kung hanggang kelan. Wala talagang sinasabi pa and like I always say, it's really up to the management kung hanggang kelan ang Be Careful With My Heart and of course hanggang sa tinatangkilik at madaming ini-inspire ang programa, bakit naman natin hindi ipagpapatuloy at ibigay ang gusto ng nakararami?” she said.
Playing the role of optimistic Maya, Jodi said she has also learned a lot from her current TV role. “I learn from Maya because she's very positive. Pag binabasa ko yung script, sabi ko, 'Masyado na siyang positibo na minsan parang hindi posible.' But then, what I've learned from her is it's really about parang a matter of perspective. It's how you see life, how you see things. It is possible. Her outlook in life is achievable. It's just a matter of choosing to be positive,” she explained.
Jodi said she is not bothered by those who are worried for her being stereotyped to the girl next door role. “Ang akin lang kasi, when I'm out I am myself. I do not portray anyone. It's the people who see Maya in me, yun yun eh,” she said.
With her growing popularity, Jodi said she cannot deny becoming more discerning when it comes to choosing projects. “Hindi naman puwede sabihin na mapili di ba? Siguro mas conscious lang ako sa mga susunod na proyektong gagawin ko kasi dito napatunayan ko yung epekto ng isang programa sa kanyang manunuod and I am praying na sana sa susunod na proyekto ko it's something din na makakapag-impart ng good morals and values sa mga manunuod kasi karamihan ng viewers natin ay bata and I think kailanagan ang mapapanuod nila is something na kapupulutan nila ng aral. Kasi yung pinapanuod nila minsan ginagaya nila eh so bakit hindi nila gayahin yung mga magaganda?” she said
Watch Jodi Sta. Maria in Star Cinema's Maria Leonora Teresa starting September 17 in theaters nationwide. Directed by Wenn Deramas, it also stars Zanjoe Marudo, Iza Calzado, Cris Villanueva, Dante Ponce, Joem Bascon, Eagle Riggs, and Joey Paras.