‘A perfect thing to happen,’ after 40 long years
‘A perfect thing to happen,’ after 40 long years
Dexter Doria’s FAMAS and Urian 2021 wins —
By Mila Astorga-Garcia
The Philippine Reporter
When Dexter Doria bagged this year’s FAMAS* Award for Best Supporting Actress, she received a deluge of congratulatory messages with the common remark: “it’s about time”, “it’s long overdue,” “it’s long deserved”, etc.
These responses were not surprising at all. In the over four decades that Doria has appeared in movies and television, 175 times, according to one count (Wikipedia) , she has been hailed an outstanding actor, portraying varied roles, whether in comedy or drama. But always, she remained an award nominee for the longest time, until she finally became a winner.
Doria won the 2021 FAMAS Best Supporting Actress for portraying the role of a mother suffering from an early onset of Alzheimer, in the film Memories of Forgetting, directed by Jay Altarejos. This milestone is even doubly sweeter as it closely follows her win three months ago as Best Supporting Actress in the prestigious Gawad Urian Awards for the same film.
“With a career for more than 40 years, this icon deserves all the recognition she is getting right now from her poignant performance… It’s about time.” says one admirer from the movie industry who believes Doria could be the grand slam artist this year because of this double win.
Reached by The Philippine Reporter for an interview via Messenger for her own reaction on the double milestones, Doria said:
“For over forty years in my career I’ve had nominations for Urian and Famas awards, but I was always just a nominee. People would always say, it’s great to be nominated, and I should agree for it is already an honor being nominated and I would get nominated often. In a way, it’s their telling me, we believe in your talent. But now, that I have won. ‘Iba pala talaga. Masarap manalo!” (It feels different, actually. It feels great to win!)”
“For many years, it has always been the same people winning, but I am not complaining as they have been really deserving too. And they have a fan club, which I don’t,” says the star with humility.
“ But now that I’ve won, talagang pahabol (really a catch-up) at this time of my career, I’m very happy. Sadly, some actors fade away before they are recognized in the career they have worked hard on for many years,” she says.
“I deserve winning the award because if you don’t deserve it, they will not give it to you. It is really a victory,” Doria says, thankful that she got it during her lifetime.
As early as her first film, Inay, during the first year of her acting career more than 40 years ago, Doria had already won a nomination but did not get the award, she revealed in her FAMAS thank you message. She said she had promised then that the day would come when she will finally get it.
“I did not realize it would take me 40 years to do so,’ she chuckles.
“Imagine that it took me that long. But time has made me humble,” she confides.
“Winning is the perfect thing to happen this time in my career. So I’m so grateful to all those who believed in me,” says Doria, who thanked her director Jay Altarejos, among others.
What kind of acting did she use in that role that she thinks made her win the award?
“Why did I win? Because I did not act,” was Doria’s quick reply.
She explains that she just acted the way she had interpreted the mother’s role, “in a very subtle but nuanced manner.”
“It is a very simple role, no dramatic moments. I had just to do it with my own interpretation of how a mother would be in that situation. I just did the part in a natural way. I’ve been through every gamut of emotions in roles like this. Through the years I have mellowed in my acting and that is good; it is something that has to be addressed in Philippine movies, where so much drama is involved, but which does not have to be acted out so forcefully. Subtle lang (only), as it is done in foreign drama films nowadays.”
Doria’s real name is Gloria Taccad, and the name-change happened when she was picked by the famous fashion designer Dante Ramirez to be an ideal model during her teen years. Gloria then was reed thin, lanky with a boyish but graceful gait.
“At that time, the fashion models were coming from the elite class, pedigree, but many of them were voluptuous, so he picked me, and thought the name Dexter, without a last name, would be most fitting and classy,” she says.
Then when she joined the film industry, she first used Dexter Taccad, and people thought the name belonged to a man. Someone suggested Dexter Doria would be more like it for her screen name. And so the name stuck.
Aside from the natural organic way she has evolved into the kind of actor that she is now, to what does Doria credit her acting career?
“The UP Prep experience helped me a lot,” says Doria of her high school exposure to serious dramatization, declamation and oratorical interpretations in her English and literature courses. UP Prep was a school known for its high academic standards as the curriculum was rigorously crafted towards college-level learning.
After the experience of acting out roles in the literary classics, under the critical eye of the teacher and discriminating taste of classmates, it became easy for her to do TV serial dramas, she muses.
“After tackling Shakespeare and other classics under the tutelage of strict teachers, how can other roles be so difficult?” she asks, mischievously.
Doria’s high school classmates still vividly remember her dramatic rendition of the 17th century soliloquy by Christopher Marlowe, FAUSTUS.
Aside from her early acting experience, her many years of actually playing various roles in Philippine cinema under exceptionally gifted directors honed her in her craft, she seriously adds.
Her next projects? Doria looks forward to her musical film “Katip” referring to the new Katipuneros of the 1970s at the height of martial law, which still has to be shown to regular theatre audiences, for some reason. In that musical, she plays the role of an activist nun and has a number of singing parts. “It is about what happened during martial law and I’m willing to testify about what happened during that time, and people should know that,” she said, saying she was an activist then as she considers herself an activist now. She confides she was so happy to be picked for the film as she actually knew what happened during those dreadful martial law years. “It is a beautifully made film which should be shown to everyone, as the real martial story should be told” she emphasizes.
Right now the musical is shown to a limited audience only thru accessing special theatre arrangements. An effort to have the film accepted as an entry to the Metro Manila Film Festival this year was rejected by the government-run film board, she says. “Maybe it will be shown in theaters when Leni Robredo wins as president,” she hopes.
What Doria is most excited about at present is her being tapped as one of the the numerous volunteer actors who will be campaigning for the presidency of Leni Robredo. “Yes I’d like to announce that and we are doing so as volunteers we are not being paid for promoting our candidate,” Doria says proudly.
“At this point I can say I’m very happy. I feel fulfilled in what I’ve done and what I do. I don’t have any regrets in life,” she concludes the interview cheerfully.
*Wikipedia: The Filipino Academy of Movie Arts and Sciences Awards (also known as the FAMAS Awards) are the annual honors given by the Filipino Academy of Movie Arts and Sciences (FAMAS), an organization composed of prize-winning writers and movie columnists, for achievements in Philippine cinema for a calendar year.
(Full Disclosure: The author belongs to the same University of the Philippines Preparatory School Class of 1965 as Dexter Doria.)