It takes conviction, tenacity, and unshakable faith to go after wild dreams. And Barbie Forteza, from the very beginning, knew it. From her long commutes to auditions to finally building her dream house, Barbie walks us through the last 14 years of proving that greatness was always in the cards for her — not because it was her birthright, but because she decided she would get there.
Most of us abandon our childhood dreams once they stop sparkling with promise and leave the realm of practicality. Not all kids who dream of becoming a doctor actually finish medical school. It’s even rarer to meet someone who, as a child, dreamt of stardom and spent the rest of her life following through. One of those few is Barbie Forteza.
Make no mistake — what Barbie has accomplished is no happy accident. While most showbiz journeys start at being discovered, or in recent years, going viral, the Kapuso Primetime Princess’s origin story goes like this: A shy child laid her eyes on a television screen and decided she wanted to be in it.
Full of conviction, this young Barbie committed to the task. She explains, “This is my dream talaga eh. Ito talaga yung gusto kong gawin. Iniisip ko, kung hindi ako artista, ano ako?”
SHE COULD, SO SHE DID
I walked into the studio a little past 7 AM and saw Barbie already in her makeup chair, eager to get started. In the corner was her father, eating breakfast after their early drive. This has been the family’s set-up through the years – a once-in-a-lifetime kind of support that Barbie admits is the secret sauce to her magnetic confidence and fierce determination.
It took a village to raise this star, and this star has never forgotten.
When asked about her humble beginnings, Barbie recalled her first audition. “Yung mga kasama ko sa VTR, nakikita ko na sa mga commercial, so medyo kinabahan si ate girl. So nung [ako] na, kinabahan [ako] at hindi ko nagawa. So syempre ‘di ako natanggap.”
As young as she was, this moment revealed to be the wakeup call she needed.
With wistful nostalgia, Barbie recounted what her mother told her. “Pag-isipan mong mabuti kung ito talaga yung gusto mo ha. Kasi kung mag-iipon tayo, tapos pagdating doon mahihiya ka, hindi tayo matatanggap, sayang yung pagod, sayang yung gastos.’”
Like for many Filipinos, money did not come easy. However, Barbie’s family was determined to give their young girl a fighting chance. Her mom then continued to say, “Pero sabihin mo sa amin kung ito talaga yung gusto mo. Pagtatrabahunan namin ng daddy mo para makaipon tayo ng pamasahe.”
“I remember feeling scared because I’ve made a lot of big decisions at the worst time possible which was during the pandemic,” Barbie explained in an Instagram post. “Everything felt unsure and I guess one of the reasons why I did this shoot was to be aesthetically active on social media for job opportunities, hopefully.”
A year after that, she booked her favorite role to date, and the rest, as they say, is history.
This was Barbie’s motivation then, and it is her motivation now.
“Mas naging confident ako to chase my dreams kasi wala akong kailangan patunayan sa kanila,” Barbie explained about her parents. “‘Di nila kailangan ng explanation kung bakit gusto kong maging artista.”
FINDING HER POWER
Over the next decade and a half, Barbie grew up in the public eye, appearing in a slew of Filipino teleseryes like Kara Mia and Tween Hearts. In 2022, she made her indelible mark on television as she took on the leading role in GMA’s Maria Clara at Ibarra, and brought the show’s fiery, spirited protagonist to life.
“Hindi ko akalain na magiging ganoon din kalaki yung impact niya sa’kin, sa buhay ko,” Barbie said when asked about her portrayal of Klay, the Gen Z nursing student who was whisked into the antiquated world of Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere.
Just like Klay, Barbie found herself defying norms in a world that has stayed the same for a long time.
Before catching this upward momentum, though, Barbie also had her fair share of plateaus. One of which came during the pandemic, when opportunities were scarce and competition was abundant. It was then that Barbie decided to produce her own photo shoot, investing in herself once again, as she has done many times before.
“Sobra talagang pasasalamat ko sa GMA Network dahil nung time na yun, naniwala pa rin sila sa akin,” Barbie recalls. An extension of her innate drive is a well of gratitude towards her network, her management, and her support system. “Even before I got to portray Klay, hindi nawala tiwala nila sa akin. Inalagaan pa rin nila ako, nirenew pa rin nila ang kontrata ko, knowing na ang dami namang bagong artist, diba? Pero hindi nila ako nakalimutan.”
Barbie’s real superpowers, as I witnessed on set, did not end with determination and grit. It included her own brand of unapologetic confidence, playful self-awareness, and unmistakable humility.
A NEW ERA
With her dream house in the works, and an impressive lineup of projects awaiting her, Barbie shared her excitement over the evolution of Philippine showbiz, and in particular, the gradual and optimistic dissolution of network barriers.
“We are open to more partnerships and collaborations. Ang saya isipin na parang magiging isang malaking pamilya na tayo at liliit at liliit na ang mundo nating lahat. Andami kong gustong makatrabaho na dati parang hindi posibleng mangyari.”
And clearly the stars are aligning, as Barbie, who is managed by the Sparkle GMA Artist Center, recently made an appearance at It’s Showtime. She screamed a reverberating “What’s up, Madlang People?” across the studio and her energy was lauded across the nation.
The possibilities are truly endless for someone who dreams out loud.
DEAR YOUNG BARBIE
If the same young Barbie who failed at her first audition could see you now, how would she react?
When asked this question, Barbie erupted in contagious laughter. “Sobrang iba talaga ng Barbie ngayon sa Barbie dati.” From a quiet student who never participated in school functions, she’s transformed into a woman who can pose on a big bike and stay in character while a dozen people took her photos and added wind to her hair.
“I feel like I made young Barbie very proud.”
As for her message to that younger self? Three words that, through unconditional love and support, she’s embodied her whole life:
I got you.
Creative & Art Direction KENNETH DIMAANO
Art Direction JONARD PALTENG
Cover Story and Sittings Editor AYN BERNOS
Photography BORGY ANGELES
Videography JR RAMIREZ
Brand Associate ELYSE ILAGAN
Associate Producer MIKA TAFALLA
Associate Editor RAF BAUTISTA
Video editing GELO QUIJENCO
Production Design KATRISH ARISTOKI
Fashion Stylist RYUJI SHIOMITSU
Makeup VIOLET OCAMPO
Hair JUFEL GOMEZ
Lips DAZZLE ME
Associate Stylists JOAQUIN RODRIGO and CHRISTINE SION of New Collective Style
Special thanks SPARKLE GMA ARTIST CENTER, CHESTER JAN SINGIAN, FELIX ILAYA
CONTINUE READING: 9 REASONS WHY BARBIE FORTEZA IS STAN-WORTHY