TWI's Chewy Buhion had the wonderful pleasure of sitting down with some of the cast and crew of Repertory Philippines' season opener, BOEING BOEING.
Giannina Ocampo – Gabriella
Giannina plays Gabriella, the sultry Italian air hostess from Alitalia. Giannina has most recently been taking the lead in Rep's The Wizard of Oz, as Dorothy. Giannina talks to us about her character, her dream role and who and what inspires her!
Can you describe your character? How close is Gabriella to Giannina?
“Gabriella is your typical Italian. She’s very warm, but she’s also very fiery, very feisty when she’s angry. And she’s also a very sentimental person. Actually, during the whole play,her main objective is to just marry Bernard. To marry the love of her life.”
I would say [our personalities are] not that far apart, because Italians and Filipinos are very similar in nature. The main difference I guess is, Gabriella is very seductive, and she’s very slinky, she’s like a cat, and she’s always twirling her finger. Even if she’s so touchy-feely, and PDA with Bernard, she knows what she’s doing. I guess in real life I’m not that seductive. I wouldn’t say innocent, but I’m not in your face and always wanting to hold you, and kiss you. In terms of her personality, I am a very sentimental person. I am very sweet. I would like to think I am sweet and loving! And when I’m angry, it’s all out there. So, when I’m doing her angry scene, that’s really how I am when I get angry.”
So how was the audition?
“It was nerve-wracking. Every audition for me is nerve-wracking, especially since initially I thought Gabriella would be Jacqueline the French character, because there are other versions of the script. I had been taking French lessons since I was 10, and in my head I already knew I would be speaking with a French accent. Then when I got to the audition, and they presented the script which said Gabriella, I said, “Holy smokes, it’s Italian!” I just got so nervous with having to put up an Italian accent and seeing the other two (Carla, and Jennifer-) I said, “I feel so out of place here!” I always feel inadequate. I never feel up to par. I’m always trying to be better.”
What twist do you put to your character since you say she’s quite similar to you?
“I made Gabriella a lot older than I normally am. Like when I’m in love I am like a baby. I’m your typical damsel-in-distress, I guess. There are some girls who want to be in control. I am not that type. So in that regard, Gabriella is very affectionate towards Bernard, but she knows how to get what she wants in a more mature way. And I’m not like that. Initially, I saw Gabriella as a Sophia Lauren character, but reading the script more and more, she’s not as demur or as elegant. She’s more fiery, so when I come in as Gabriella I have a vague picture of SofiaVergara, but of course Italian. She’s a big peg, I’d have to say.”
How did you do your research for this part, because this is different from certain versions of the script?
“I have been watching Italian movies nonstop. I even found a Skype partner in Italy, just so I could listen to her speak English, and I taught her English. That’s how I was practicing with the accent. And, this would sound so vain, but I have so many recordings of myself reading the script. I’d make people listen to it asking, “How does it sound? Does it sound Italian to you? Does this sound Italian to you?” The accent killed me! But it was fun! It’s always fun doing something different.”
What’s your dream role?
“Eventually I would like to play Diana from Next to Normal. That was actually the first play I watched, that really made me say, “I would love to do that.” I watched Tita Menchu (Lauchengco-Yulo) play it, and that was the play that made me want to pursue professional theatre. At that time I was a management trainee in a company. I was in the corporate world for 3 years, and realized I wasn’t happy there. One summer while I was working I decided to join workshop. After the workshop, Next to Normal showed, and I watched it then said, “I want to do that.” It’s a complete change. I’ve been doing this for 3 years.”