By Joseph Peter R. Gonzales

After six years, Judy Ann Santos is back in the soap opera scene via “Starla.” Her last drama series was “Huwag Ka Lang Mawawala” in 2013.

This early, many are excited to see her doing a soap again.

“We’ve already started taping for the project. It’s directed by Onat Diaz and Darnel Villaflor. As to its exact launching, I still don’t have any idea when but for sure, it will be this year. When it comes to that aspect, only ABS-CBN perfectly knows. On my part, I’m just happy that we’re able to save episodes. At least, we have ample time to polish everything for the benefit of the viewers,” she avers.

Six years is such a long time. What did she feel when she already started taping?

“It’s fun! We have a happy set. I’m very comfortable. You know, it’s always nice to both work with people whom you’ve worked with previously as well as the new ones.

“I must admit that during the initial taping days, I needed to adjust given that I haven’t made a soap for a considerable length of time. I’m used to the scenario before when as one of your shows is about to end, a new one is making its pilot telecast. After six years, I’ve realized a lot has changed already!

“For one, the lights are different now…they’re smaller, thinner and not that hot. Even the cameras. They’re smaller these days and are portable. They can be changed from one position to another without so much effort. From here, you can see that doing a ‘tele-serye’ at this point is like doing a full-length film. Everything is more organized.”

How is her role in “Starla” different from her past screen characters?

Photo: Judy Ann Santos (Facebook Page @JudyAnnSantosFanpage)

“During our first taping schedule, I appreciate Direk Onat for guiding me along the way. He makes sure that I’m always in sync with the role.

Honestly, this is not an easy character. At first, I thought, it’s just easy but as taping progresses, I realized it’s not. In fact, I always go home with a stiff neck. Ha-ha-ha!

“I experienced it during the first three weeks. It’s because my role in the soap is that of a strong-willed lawyer. So you can just imagine how stiff my neck was that time. You just can’t express a wide smile or deliver a punch line. You can’t do simple adlibs because your character is too strong.

“Despite that challenge though, I’m enjoying the role. It’s something different from my usual oppressed characters. There’s just lots of effort because I have to look and sound my role as a strong, rich and sophisticated lady lawyer. I always wear make-up in every scene and my hair is always fixed.

“To be honest, I don’t know what the people’s reception would be. But then, should I be concerned on that considering I’m already 40 years old?

Personally, I just enjoy the ride. I believe in the material. It holds a lot of promise. It teaches lots of values. I’m quite sure the viewers will like it.”

When she accepts a soap, what are her foremost considerations?

“In every project that I do, I always pray that the production staff would be good and nice, same with the cast members. It’s from there where you’ll form the bond. That’s where you’ll build a family with them. You’ll be able to establish rapport and work becomes fun and light,” ends Juday.