Sharon, Pops take on more mature roles

By Nestor U. Torre
Inquirer News Service

WE appreciate the change of image that Sharon Cuneta and Pops Fernandez have daringly effected this year. After many seasons of playing it cute and young to keep their fans happy, they have finally chosen to portray older and less escapist characters in their new starrers.

In her Metro filmfest entry, "Crying Ladies," Sharon is cast as a down-on-her-luck woman who sidelines as a professional mourner in Chinatown, crying for a fee at the wake of a Chinese businessman.

Sharon's character is streetsmart -- a hustler and gambler who is even briefly jailed for estafa. She dreams of a better life to regain custody of her young son.

This is a big departure from Sharon's past roles, many of which have been of wellborn characters living elegant lives in beautiful mansions.

Those characters made her popular with moviegoers because they promised empathetic escape, and eternal youth and beauty. In "Crying Ladies," Sharon plays an older and much less perfect person. That should result in reality-based rather than escapist empathy, and that's all to the good.

For her part, Pops Fernandez, another actress-singer who has been playing it cute and youthful into her late 30s, has agreed to play the blind mother of a teenage girl in her new soap, "Twin Hearts" on GMA-7.

This too is a far cry from Pops' earlier youthful and with-it projection, which has included her being paired with leading men younger than she is.

Pops looks more comfortable in her new role, because she doesn't have to work so hard trying to appear like she's still in her early or mid-20s. Instead, she can now concentrate on delivering a good performance, and that's the right focus for a performer's creative energies.

We don't mean to say that Pops has to keep playing mother roles from here on in. There are many kinds of "maturing women" characters, and they don't have to be old and dowdy.

The point is that, as they mature, popular actresses shouldn't have to worry so much about looking young, because it's a struggle that, ultimately, nobody can win-even with facelifts, fantastic lighting and youthening camera filters!

After a star becomes really popular, as both Sharon and Pops have, their fans should allow them to play increasingly mature roles, and not require them to portray the same youthful characters they essayed more than a decade ago.

After all, the fans themselves have aged, so it's unfair of them to demand that their favorite stars remain eternally beautiful and youthful!

Now that Pops and Sharon have opted to play more mature and less escapist characters, we trust that their fans will grew up and mature with them, and continue to support their new and more complex portrayals in TV-film seasons to come.

We hope, too, that these stars' example will prompt other maturing stars to play characters that are closer to their real age, and with greater pertinence to the here and now. That way, local productions can become more relevant to the way things really are, and we can concern ourselves with aspects more significant than just a performer's eternally youthful looks.


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