"Kaya ko ba ito? Kontrabida? I've never done it before and it's something new."
Nikki Gil had misgivings when the role of Jennifer La Peña in ABS-CBN's upcoming afternoon soap, Mundo Man ay Magunaw, landed on her lap.
She knew that accepting the character of a villain would compel her to be someone she has never been known as—a mean girl.
"Even in real life, my friends can attest to the fact that they've never seen me in any, kumbaga, catfight or whatever," Nikki says with a chuckle.
"But I realized that it's what I've been waiting for, it's what I've always wanted to do—things that are, mga roles na medyo, offbeat.
"Siyempre, hindi pinalalagpas ang mga ganyang pagkakataon."
Nikki is not about to back down from this challenge.
"Ako nga, sa tingin ko pa, you are only an effective kontrabida kapag talagang kinamuhian ka ng mga tao.
"So, yun ang pinagdadasal ko na mangyari—kamuhian ako ng mga tao!" says Nikki.
Apart from feeling blessed and privileged that she gets to work with seasoned actors Eula Valdes, Tessie Tomas, Sylvia Sanchez, Pinky Amador, and Allan Paule, the 24-year-old artist is determined to get what she can out of the experience.
PREPARING FOR HER ROLE. At the show's grand press conference last night, January 18, 2012, held at ABS-CBN Network's Dolphy Theatre, Nikki relayed how she prepares for her role.
The clever actress/video jockey/singer said she did research work.
"Research na lang because the sensation is very new, the sensation is very raw.
"Iba rin yung dating, iba rin yung nailalabas.
"Siguro kanya-kanyang ano na lang, diskarte, dahil yun na nga, I've never really experienced going up to someone and being, forgive the word, a bitch to a person."
How did she go about it?
Nikki explains, "Tinandaan ko lang yung mga pelikulang na-affect ako dun sa mga kontrabida.
"Madami akong pinanood dahil nga, as I mentioned earlier, what experience I lacked doing the teleseryes, because I do it very rarely, I had to make up for in research.
"Pinanood ko yung original just so I understand the background.
"At saka yun ngang mga movies na talagang naapektuhan ako, pinanood ko rin uli."
Nikki is referring to the original movie, Mundo Man Ay Magunaw, shown in 1990. The film starred the loveteam of Sheryl Cruz and Romnick Sarmenta.
SLAPPING SCENE. In the trailer of Mundo Man ay Magunaw, Nikki's scene with young actress Empress Schuck shows her, while in character, slapping the face of her sobbing co-star.
Nikki recalls how she politely warned Empress of the slapping scene prior to the shooting.
"Nagpaalam naman po ako sa kanya...
"Nagpaalam naman ako na, 'Empress, hindi ko pa ma-control ito, ha. Baka siguro pag tagal, e, mako-control na natin siya...para nga hindi siya ganun kasakit!'"
While the equally beautiful Empress took no offense, Nikki adds, "You know what? Yun siguro yung beauty of working with professionals like Empress, of course Ms. Eula, and everyone else.
"Lahat ng nasa set, nakakaintindi ng mga kaakibat ng trabaho.
"Yung mga, kumbaga, kasama, yung mga part and parcel of the business and of being an actress."
Rechie del Carmen, who co-directs the soap with Jeffery Jeturian, admits that motivating Nikki in that particular scene was trying.
Whatever their difficulty, Nikki was able to deliver.
Direk Rechie states, "Ang tagal nun kasi naiilang siya, e! Ang hirap para sa kanya maging bitch.
"Pero nung take na...matagal yun kasi nag-usap sila [Nikki and Empress].
"Pero nung take, nagulat talaga kami. [Sabi namin] 'Ang galing ni Nikki, 'no?'
"Parang magic lang din na ang bait niya, 'tapos [nung] nag-take na, ang galing niya.
"Magaling siya, in fairness."
PROTAGONIST VS. ANTAGONIST. Will Nikki assume more antagonists' roles from now on?
The actress—who has mostly done protagonist roles in stage plays such as Sweet Charity and Legally Blonde—says that she does not mind.
"They're equally challenging. They're equally, in terms of emotion, draining.
"Pareho lang naman silang nakakapagod, pareho pa rin naman ng emotional investment na inilalagay dun.
"So, depende lang din."
She further expresses, "Siguro ang sarap ng buhay ni Ms. Eula na every once in a while, she gets to play kontrabida and then minsan mabait."
Nikki, while hardly experienced in television acting, says that her theater background helps.
"Ako siguro, I would like to thank the theater world for what little background I have in terms of acting.
"Malaki talaga ang natutulong ng training ng teatro.
"Kahit na hindi ka masyado mag-teleserye, kung meron ka namang theater background, it more than makes up for.
"Yun lang, sana magawa ko pa rin pareho kasi magkaibang mundo sila. And pareho kong nae-enjoy.
"So, sana naman hindi ma-sacrifice yung isa sa kanila."