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Barbie Forteza: Thriving In Her Quarter Life

Barbie Forteza has come a long way. Starting out as a commercial model at 10 years old, she successfully ventured into television acting—which has since become her bread and butter. With this, Barbie has earned the title of GMA Network’s Kapuso Primetime Princess, having starred in several top-rating shows like “Tween Hearts,” “The Half Sisters,” “Meant To Be,” and “Kara Mia.”

Now, Barbie enjoys the popularity of her current show, “Maria Clara at Ibarra,” where she plays the role of Klay, a Gen-Z who is transported into the world of Jose Rizal’s novel, “Noli Me Tangere.” Not only has the show reaped success in the ratings game, it also continues to receive good feedback from its audience

“Maria Clara at Ibarra” comes as a perfect opportunity for Barbie to make some life changes. After all, she has just entered quarter life. In this FreebieMNL Spotlight exclusive, Barbie takes us through her experiences of growth and maturity as she enters the new year.

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Zara denim corset and tanktop, H&M denim cargo pants

Goodbye “tweetums” roles

Barbie’s role in “Maria Clara at Ibarra” has posed a new challenge for her acting mettle, as it was a far cry from the “tweetums” and kilig-kiligan roles she used to do. And it’s GMA Network’s biggest project for 2022. However, all this didn’t sink in at first when the role was initially offered to her. “Kasi hangga’t hindi ako nag-ta-taping, hindi siya totoo for me na ‘Ha, binigyan niyo ako ng ganito kalaking project? Ha, ganito yung tiwala niyo sa akin to entrust this kind of a big project’—kung ano yung clinaim nila before na next important milestone on primetime and then you gave it to me,” she explains during her FreebieMNL Spotlight interview.

The role also became the perfect opportunity for Barbie to do some reinvention in terms of choosing her next characters, not only because of “Maria Clara at Ibarra,” but because she’s now 25 years old.

She says, “Since 25 na rin naman ako, siguro hindi naman na ako para gumawa pa ng mga pa-tweetums but not necessarily daring. Hindi naman kailangan; siguro mas mature lang, characters with more depth, mas may lalim, mas may pinaghuhugutan. Medyo graduate na ako doon sa pretty girl na may apat na lalaki,” she laughs, referring to her role in the 2017 series “Meant To Be,” where she had four leading men.

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But more than anything, Barbie trusts her management, Sparkle, with whatever role comes her way. “So, kung may ibigay silang project sa akin, no matter what that is, ibig sabihin naniniwala sa akin na kaya ko yun. So whether it be edgy or on the more safe zone, siguro yun ang feeling kasi nila sa akin na deserve ko at that time. I just take it.”

What’s more important is that Barbie is clear with her career goal: “Malinaw yung career na gusto kong tahakin, malinaw yung image na gusto kong ipakita sa mga tao na aktres ako more than anything. Yun yung mas gusto ko pang i-enrich, i-enhance, i-improve.”

More maturity for Barbie

While 2022 was a big blessing for Barbie in terms of her career, she also faced a “big challenge” as she finally pushed through with the construction of her dream house. But the experience wasn’t as smooth as she wanted it to be.

She shares: “I have a lot of learnings from it because it’s a different experience, different people you meet—grabe. Doon talaga galing yung ‘you really can’t trust anyone,’ doon talaga galing yun. I don’t want to say budol, but it’s close to that; I’m still in the process of figuring that out. Pero yeah, I charge it to experience; ngayon alam ko na.”

How Barbie sees it now is that the experience allowed her to mature and grow. “I feel like mas nag-mature ako noong nagpatayo ako ng bahay kasi mas malaking responsibilidad talaga kasi investment siya, e,” she explains. “Hindi rin talaga biro yung ilalabas mong pera.”

It also became a turning point in terms for her family relationships as Barbie is able to put her wall down and open up with them about her problems.

“I learned to appreciate them more kasi nga, ngayon na may problema and all, andiyan sila para makinig. So, hindi ako nagkaroon ng any mental health problem when I started building my house,” she starts. “Malaking tulong talaga na nandiyan yung pamilya ko, mas naging open ako sa kanila. Mas natuto akong huwag sarilihin yung problema, kasi as a Leo, yung pride mo na ayaw mong malaman ng tao na mali ka. Binaba ko yun, in-open up ko sa kanila na may problema ako ‘tapos nakinig sila sa akin, tinulungan nila ako. So, from there, ang laking luwag sa loob ko, ang laking gaan ng loob ko ngayon.”

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Barbie’s maturity did not only manifest in her relationships with family, but also with the way she deals with her workmates and other people she comes across. This did not just come with age, but with how the pandemic became an equalizer to everyone.

Walang mataas, walang mababa, lahat tayo naapektuhan talaga ng pandemya, so from there, mas natutunan kong ma-appreciate yung mga tao sa paligid ko and how precious their time is, why they’re doing their jobs—the bills to pay and all that, the responsibilities you have to take on,” explains Barbie. “So, mas na-appreciate ko yung mga taong nasa paligid ko.”

Despite this, Barbie’s past experiences push her to also focus on making her own decisions instead of just relying on other people’s opinion. “I think mas mag-fo-focus ako sa sarili kong opinyon and intuition and hindi ako magpapa-influence sa iba,” she claims. “Kumbaga I can get opinions from anyone, everyone, pero at the end of the day, ang dapat masunod, ako. Ang dapat mag-decide for myself is me.”

With this in mind, she wants to practice making better decisions this year, admitting that “Minsan, yung pagiging impulsive ko, doon nanggagaling yung bad decisions, yung mga biglaang pag-de-decide because you want something right away. Siguro, this year, I’m gonna have to learn how to wait kasi minsan, kapag mas naghihintay ka, mas nakikita mo yung bigger picture, so mas na-a-analyze mong mabuti yung bagay na yun.”

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Zara ribbed tube tanktop, H&M checkered polo, Shein denim pants, Rock and Rose white pumps

Relationship growth for Barbie and Jak

Barbie also happily shares that her relationship with Kapuso actor Jak Roberto has matured—allowing them to grow individually and as a couple.

Barbie says Jak was very supportive of her while she faced her house construction problems. But aside from that, she is also aware that they have gone past the honeymoon stage. After all, Barbie and Jak have been together for almost six years.

She expounds, “Feeling ko, mas nag-grow yung relationship namin both in a bad way and in a good way [dahil] we’re past the honeymoon phase. In a bad way kasi, siyempre, yung mga kilig-kilig, yung mga good morning text—though hindi naman nawala yun—mas nasanay ka lang kasi so parang wala nang butterflies in your stomach.”

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But getting over the honeymoon phase also deepened their relationship. Barbie explains that Jak has been more understanding and supportive of her endeavors, especially that her FiLay team-up with David Licauco in “Maria Clara at Ibarra” is very popular right now.

“It usually comes from Jak na, ‘If kailangan niyong mag-post, if kailangan niyo mag-promote, go,’ kasi nakita niya ang lakas talaga ng FiLay and super support siya, kaibigan niya rin talaga si David kasi so full support,’” explains Barbie. “If, napapansin niyo, yung mga postings ko lang of us is yung holidays, pero other than that, para hindi siyempre ma-divert yung attention, naiintindihan niya yun. So, I really appreciate that; it’s such a mature move from him.”

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H&M white bodysuit, Terranova denim pants
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Meanwhile, Barbie has learned to become less strict, allowing Jak to pursue his own passions and hobbies. “Mas hinahayaan ko na siyang mag-motor, to go out with his friends, to spend time with his friends,” she shares. “Mas nagkaroon kami ng mutual understanding in terms of hinahayaan namin yung isa’t isa and to let each other discover kung ano pa yung kaya naming i-explore sa mga sarili namin.”

A better version of Barbie

As Barbie enters the next quarter of her life, she is armed with the knowledge of how to balance her life in terms of being a goal-getter and just enjoying her free time.

She candidly shares, “Minsan nga naiisip ko, meron akong dalawang personality: isang goal-getter, parang isang very productive na, ‘Okay, I want to achieve a lot of things, I want to accomplish a lot of things in this short period of time.’ Tapos parang I have days na gusto kong humiga na ‘Sandali lang, bukas na yan, isa isa lang. Sandali, teka lang, naguguluhan ako.’”

Learning from “both types of Barbie,” as she calls these personalities, allows her to select which goals to prioritize and, at the same time, acknowledge her own limitations.

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Of course, Barbie still has a lot of things she wants to achieve as she welcomes the new year.

“In terms of career, I want to make more films. I want to explore different genres of film,” she shares. ”Sa personal naman, gusto ko nang makapag-Christmas sa dream house, sa new house, so ipu-push ko talaga na matapos.”

With better goals and resolutions, Barbie proudly declares: “I think the 2023 Barbie is a better version of the 2022 Barbie.”

Photography Wilmark Jolindon
Art and Art Direction Alexandra Lara assisted by Dani Sison
Interview and Cover Story Jimpy Anarcon
Styling Daryl Maat
Makeup Toni Aviles
Hair Manilyn Moster of Gorgeousa Makeup Studio
Special Thanks Felix Ilaya and Diana Evangelista

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