Getting Sharon Cuneta to do a teleserye is next to impossible, but she said yes to Madam Chairman for three reasons.
First, the Megastar is overwhelmed with the support of TV5’s big bosses to her first ever teleserye, which will premiere on October 14.
“Ngayon lang ako nakakita ng isang presidente at CEO [chief executive officer] ng isang network na present sa press con, Mr. Noel Lorenzana at [Head of Entertainment Division] Ma'am Wilma Galvante,” Sharon enthused during the press conference of the said show last October 4.
After years of doing mostly music variety shows on TV, Sharon shared that it was Wilma who urged her to try something new this time around.
“I’m very happy to be part of TV5 now. I have not been this happy since I signed up.
“Eto na yun. Biro mo, mahigit two years na rin. Dama mo yung concern sa amin in a way na—I’ll just say this—very sincere.
“Iba pag ang respeto mo sa leaders mo, present. Kasi bibigyan ka nila ng reason na mahalin sila. Kapag gano’n, lahat kayo excited, mula sa staff hanggang sa artista.”
Second, Sharon fell in love with the concept of playing a street smart but kindhearted barangay chairman.
Not only is it very timely, but tackling current events makes story development easier.
“When Maam Wilma said Madam Chairman, akala ko chairman ng korporasyon. Sabi niya, chairman ng baranggay. My eyes talaga lit up kasi nakita ko na yung potential. Ang daming pwedeng gawin sa show.
“You can be socially relevant without shoving it down your audiences' throats. You can be funny and entertaining, but not be walang kwenta.”
"Ngayon lang ako nagkaroon ng role na ganito. Never in my 35 years in the business. I'm very happy that I did it here in TV5."
Playing the role of a public servant is also close to Sharon’s heart since politics runs in her family—being the daughter of the late Pablo Cuneta [Pasay City Mayor], niece of Senator Tito Sotto and wife to former Senator Francis Pangilinan.
Sharon, for her part, feels that being part of showbiz is much like that of politics in terms of her exposure to people from all walks of life.
This made it easier for the Megastar to internalize her title role as Madam Chairman or simply Bebeth.
“Sa show kasi, nag-umpisa ako as kagawad sa barangay, pero nag-concentrate ako sa business ko bilang tindera ng kakanin.
“Tatlo ang anak ko. Wife ako ng isang OFW [overseas Filipino worker], na hindi ko alam umuwi na pala, nasa kabilang barangay lang at may kasamang iba.
“So, parang lahat ‘yan will come into the picture.”
Lastly, the Megastar agreed to do a daily show because of acclaimed director Joel Lamangan, whom she worked with in the movies Magkapatid (2003) and Mano Po 6: A Mother’s Love (2009).
Sharon bagged acting awards in both films.
“Even Direk Joel is perfect as our director kasi meron siyang strong sense of social responsibility. Wala siyang balak tumakbo pero tumutulong siya. In that way we're kind of the same. Like mother, like daughter.”
That they both work well together is a given. The bonus, according to Sharon, is that they have the same twelve midnight cut off in terms of working hours.
“Takot na takot ako mag-teleserye nung araw. Kasi notorious, pag naririnig mo yung mga balitang morning to morning ang taping ng artista.
“Mabuti na lang ang nanay ko at ako pareho kaming Cinderella,” Sharon cheerfully exclaimed.
Having worked with various directors through the years, the singer-actress observed that Direk Joel is the type who works fast and still comes up with quality material.
“I’m so happy that the first teleserye I’ve ever done is this and the first teleserye director I’ve ever been handled by is Inang Joel.
“Kasi yung team ni Direk is magnificently efficient. Hindi ka kukulangin sa lighting. Hindi ka kukulangin sa shots, may close-ups kung saan kailangan.
“Hindi minamadali para matapos. Lahat pag trabaho, tahimik. Tapos pag walang trabaho, kainan na, masaya.
“And I really appreciate each one of them cast and staff, especially Direk Joel.”
The soap hasn’t even started yet Sharon is already hoping that Madam Chairman gets extended.
She stated with much optimism, “I think i-extend pa nila yung 13 weeks kasi nagmamakaawa ako.
"I have to tell this from the bottom of my heart, as God is my witness: I haven’t loved a show this much.
“I’m a singer. I love all my music variety shows in the past. Siguro, kasi it’s the first time na tawa lang ako ng tawa, tapos nagpapatawa, tapos may puso.
“I get along with the whole cast, the crew, the staff. I love working in an efficient environment.
“But most of all, I love working in a happy environment And that’s what I come home to three times a week in Madam Chairman.”