What you see on television is what the effervescent Mariel Rodriguez is in real life.
The bubbly young talent chatted her way through hosting stints in the three Pinoy Big Brother (PBB) editions: PBB I, PBB Celebrity Edition, and PBB Teen Edition. As a result, she's now one of the most in-demand talents of Boy Abunda's Backroom Inc. Now she's also co-hosting ABS-CBN's noontime show Wowowee.
Not that she's complaining.
"No'ng first season ng PBB, three hours lang 'yong tulog ko every day," Mariel tells YES! "Pero okey lang. Kasi, when you're enjoying, hindi mo siya mararamdaman. Nakaka-gimmick pa nga ako, e."
Although she's a natural when it comes to making people laugh, Mariel feels that she'll be more at home in drama. "I really want to be an actress," she says in earnest.
With the conclusion of this year's PBB shows, the 23-year-old has suddenly found herself at home more often, with nothing much to do.
"Hindi pa rin ako sanay. Eight p.m., nandito na ako sa bahay. Oh, my God! Ano'ng gagawin ko ngayon? Nag-text nga ako sa mga PBB people, nasesenti ako."
The pictorial is in BF Homes, Parañaque, in the family home of Mariel's maternal grandparents, Rafael and May Sazon, with whom she's living. Her parents separated when she was still young, and Mariel grew up under her grandparents' supervision. Lolo and lola have now turned over the main house to their granddaughter and are staying in adjacent quarters. But they're all still living under one roof.
"One roof, one everything, one Meralco bill! Hahaha!" Mariel quips.
Mariel's initiation into showbiz came with her first commercial for Clean & Clear's face powder. Given her pretty face and friendly demeanor, other projects soon followed, not only on television but also in print ads.
It's hard to believe that, as a young girl, Mariel had a different personality altogether.
"As a kid, I was really shy," she relates. "Pero after a while, nagkaro'n na ako ng sungay! Then, when I made friends, 'yon na. Naging madaldal na ako!"
The chatterbox got her first acting gig in MTV Asia's Rouge, a short-lived television series that had four young Asian women battling crimes while alternating as band members in Singapore. Mariel played Pam, the master sleuth of the group.
That was where it all started. After Rouge, Mariel received an offer to become an MTV veejay. After her stint as veejay, Mariel went on to co-host Extra Challenge with Paolo Bediones. Other offers soon came around.
In between her PBB stints, she was awarded the plum role of Aga Muhlach's wife in ABS-CBN's now-defunct comedy series, Ok Fine, Oh Yes! Mariel considers this one of the highlights of her still-short career.
"'Yong Ok Fine, wala naman sa plano. Kasi, alam ko, a lot of girls auditioned for that. 'Tapos, to be paired with Aga. Hello?! That's why I'm grateful to him. Lagi ako nagti-thank-you."
Mariel's enthusiasm for her work obviously stems from her love for showbiz. She still gets starstruck when she meets top celebrities like Sharon Cuneta and Kris Aquino. "I couldn't believe it, my God! She knows my name!" was Mariel's reaction after Kris had a short conversation with her at the ABS-CBN compound.
Now, Mariel is recognized not only by other celebs but by fans as well. Her career is obviously moving along. Where it will lead her, only time will tell. But she's both optimistic and philosophical.
"I'm just going with the flow," she says, now more thoughtfully.