Dimples Romana could not be any more different from Daniela Mondragon, her character in Kadenang Ginto
With the star’s effortless delivery as the show’s antagonist—from the way she moves to her intonation—one would expect that Dimples would have more than a few similarities to the character. But as she warmly greets everyone on the set, all those assumptions will quickly vanish. No, you don’t have a diva right in front of you, just an insanely talented actress.
Ask almost everyone you know about Kadenang Ginto and they will most likely recall this iconic scene: Dimples’s character decked in red, angrily dragging her luggage with her. The scene quickly grew into an internet sensation, with netizens creating memes that photoshopped the star and her luggage all over the Philippines. This quickly turned into an opportunity for her to work with the Department of Tourism.
The road less taken
“I actually didn’t say yes to the role right away,” shares Dimples. She explains that a couple of years before Kadenang Ginto, there was never a year that she wasn’t working on two teleseryes, with Greatest Love and Bagani as two of her recent projects. She thought to herself that it might be time for a break. So what exactly was it that made her agree to play the iconic Daniela Mondragon?
“What I love about being in a network such as ABS-CBN is that after 23 years of working as a Kapamilya, they already know what your path is. They knew that my prerequisite for every character was that it has to be different from the last one,” she says. The star goes on to explain this, saying, “My path isn’t as common for most artistas because ever since I was young, I always wanted to do character roles. Meaning, playing characters that truly make an impact, whether it is one scene or fifty scenes.”
Dimples still vividly recalls the day she knew she was going to play Daniela. “My handler calls me and asks, ‘Dimples, are you driving?’ And when I say yes, he tells me, ‘You’re going to have to stop the car. That’s when I knew this was going to be something big,” she shares with a wide smile.
On playing Daniela
Obviously, ‘big’ was a huge understatement. Together with the writers of the show, who Dimples commends, she has shaped every bit of her character to make her into the iconic antagonist we know today.
In a way, Daniela has grew to be a sort of alter ego for Dimples. “When I put on my red lipstick on, I know I’m already Daniela for the entire day,” she shares. Regardless of her portrayal as the power-hungry Daniela, she couldn’t be farther from the character she plays. “There’s no fear to expose every bit of myself through the role because kilala na ako ng mga tao na hindi ako easily nagagalit. People know that I’m far from the character so there’s no fear to play her. And when you play a villain role, you really have to jump in. And it’s one hell of a jump because you’re prone to criticism and being bashed even when you’re not playing the character anymore,” Dimples reveals. However, she doesn’t let this get to her: “At the end of the day, you still sleep better in the evening knowing you’re just doing your job.”
There is another side to why Dimples believes the audience is so hooked on her character. “Daniela is misunderstood because she has all the right intentions but all the wrong ways of executing them,” says the actress. “She looks perfect, but she’s so scarred inside. I think that’s something a lot of Filipinos relate to. Also, I think her character is able to voice out things many Filipinos are unable to say. We’re very timid as a whole, so that’s one reason I think people get so hooked on it. Some people love her, some love to hate on her, so it’s very mixed emotions,” she shares.
On growing as an actress
In addition to her eloquence and quick-wittedness, another thing that impresses me about the actress in front of me is her hunger for learning. Her curiosity is intensely palpable the moment you engage in a conversation with her.
“I think one should be a student of life. Look, I’ve been doing this for 23 years, but when I saw myself on television as Daniela one day, I thought to myself, ‘Wow, I’m only acting from the shoulder up. Imagine what more I can give,’” starts Dimples. So what does this thought lead her to do? “There’s no certain workshop for movement, so I enrolled in dance with G-Force. I wanted to learn how to move like a kontrabida as well. Dance teaches you grace, discipline, being comfortable with your body,” she adds.
In addition to this, Dimples learns from the actors she works with as well. “I learn not only from veteran actors, but from the younger ones as well. The veterans teach you the discipline you need to stay longer in the business while the newbies offer a refreshing take on things,” she shares.
Her true self
Of course, Dimples also has another role she loves to play: that of a loving wife and mother. In the middle of the shoot, she accepts a video call from her husband to show him her makeup look for the day. She also talks about being there for her children: “If there’s anything I’m really good at, it’s balancing my work and personal life,” she states confidently. “For example, when I have 3-4 hours sa set na wala ako kukunin, I go home to spend time with my kids. I’m never late, so the producers allow me. But as soon as I’m needed, I go back to work.”
“My husband has zero tolerance for celebrity entitlement in our household. Tuloy, nadadala ko yung ganong approach even at work,” Dimples shares. True to her claim, there was not one trace of an attitude from the star the second she stepped inside the set (of course, not counting the moments she portrayed Daniela during our shoot). This is something everyone—not just celebrities—could do more of. “I like to think that everybody is created equal. You’re doing your job, I do mine. I think we should all respect that,” she says earnestly.