Now in New Zealand to pursue a promising career in the entertainment business, with an exciting new project in the pipelines and still going strong, Rhoda is on her way to realising her reason of being. Her focus and determination proves that something can come out of nothing. Never having to do much, but was already heading to that direction, her imprints on her hands tell her sheís made to perform, with luck on her side too of course.
Inspired by Paula Abdulís music videos, at the time when she was doing cold hearted snake, was one of her biggest influences in dance, along with Janet. She soon found herself gearing towards acting, finding opportunities in theatre and especially film more alluring and rewarding.
Her love for dance still brings her back to the memories of where she first started, with Regineís concert ĎForever Afterí being her first major job role as a choreographer, she created a show-stopping act that alleviate herself into a multi-talented performer.
Rhoda challenges herself to build a foundation for the wider audience to recognise filipino talent, wanting the community to support each other and help scrub away any stereotypes. She truly magnifies the whole purpose of New-Manila and we are here to support her every move. She is an inspiring role-model, down-to-earth and stunning, if you could define beauty, itís her.
How would you describe your journey up until this point?
The weird thing, I donít know how they say it, but you know when people have a calling? Like to be a priest or whatever, I feel like I never really tried to do this. When I was little, my parents always said that I was dancing or was doing something. And Filipino parents when theyíre new to something, they donít know how to nurture it.
It wasnít until I was about 13, when I took my little sister to her ballet class because my mum couldnít one night. I watched and came home and wanted to do it too? So I started doing ballet, they put me in with all the younger kids, I was oldest girl there? Then they kinda saw that I had a naturally thing for it and they bumped me up.
I did my GCSEs, tried to do my A-levels, if you ever knew anything about my history I was quite a naughty girl? I had my wild days, I use to bunk a lot and not go home? Iím sorry about that now. But I didnít last in St Charles , I was out of there by Christmas, they kicked me out. I think I caused more stress to my parents, I wasnít catching up with the work so when I got expelled I didnít know what do to with myself. I found a job as a sales assistant in hobbs . My older sister Renee always knew what she wanted to do. At the time I was dancing, going to part-time classes, she suggested colleges to go to and said to audition? I did and got in.
I took a dancing course at Laines Theatre Arts, came out and have been very lucky since, because I never really knew what I wanted to do, you know when you just fall into things. I really believe that if you are meant to be something, you will, no matter what. And I think, in retrospect, I wouldnít be an actress if I didnít go through all that. I will always dance, I will always have a love of that.
When did you realise at what point that was the right direction for you?
I went to a lot of castings and stuff, but never truly understood that that was meant to be? I was still trying to dance and it got to a point where I was going up for things, like the King and I the musical and on tour, I got offered the understudy of tuntim, which is the slave girl? I got that through my dance agency. At the same time my acting management had got me a casting for a film with Steven Seagal?
I decided not to take the ĎKing and Ií because the possibility of doing a film was that more enticing. I got flown out to Thailand to meet Steven Seagal and to audition again. They said if you get the role youíd have to stay for a month? So pack your suitcase as if youíre gonna be there for a month. I didnít get it, so I had to come back with a big massive suitcase, crying because I didnít even stay there for a month, I was back in like a week?
I came back to London and thought I could have taken that dance job? But youíll never know? I would have gone Ďwhat if?í
I auditioned for Bombay dreams and got offered the part as the dancer, they were offering me a year contract and for freelancing, to be working for a year thatís good. My acting agency said I would be unavailable for any castings for a year. If anything big comes up youíll be committed for a year. They didnít make me but I kinda got the sense that they wonít be happy with me taking a contract, so I had to turn that down.
I went through auditions and I going through recalls, getting offers for stuff and Iím turning it down. I look really bad, because Iím wasting their time and Iím wasting my time so I had to make a decision, dancing or acting? I was getting good results from the acting, so I said Iíd stick it out for a few years and see where that leads me. I can always go back to dancing, but I will always be an ensemble, or someoneís understudy, I donít have an amazing voice to have a lead part on stage, I will always be in the chorus, and yeah, thatís when I realised Iím gonna do the acting?
Was that one of your hardest decisions?
Yeah, it was, because there isnít much auditions for an actress than there is for dance? You can always crash commercial auditions, thereís always something going on, like little jobs. With acting itís different, you always have to wait for the castings to come in or for them to say Ďshe looks the partí.
I wasnít working for the first 6 months after having said no to Bombay dreams? It got really quiet and I werenít sure if I had made the right choice? I might have well have done that? Cuz nothing else was coming in? But then I got offered chorus line, that was a really good job, it was good for my CV. I donít regret it, I donít think you should regret things, but you kinda do go Ďoh?í
What is your first memory of performing?
Me and my sister use to live in earls court, till I was about 6 years old. And when we were really young, me and my sister use to do little shows for our parents and would get them to watch us? We choreographed something to Ďsolid as a rockí. And it was involving duvets, where Iíd go underneath it and I was the rock? I think that was my first memory, I didnít know then but thatís how we use to muck about, those were the games we played, Iím older now, and I know that isnít quite.. Normal ?
How did you get into acting/dancing?
My older sister who is also an actress, was up for a part in Holby city, as the Ďbigí sisterí and she asked her agent if theyíre looking a little sister, they were, she recommended me saying, Iím also in the business. And for her incentive it might increase the chances of her getting the part, if theyíve got two sisters going for it. We didnít get it.. but from the auditions it was good feedback, they were like weíll take you on as a trial, and the rest, is what they say is history?
What struggles have you been through to get to where you are now?
Loads, financially itís been hard, if youíre gonna do, you gotta do it. If itís not a good run, then you get into debt. With freelance work, payment is not always on time, so youíre waiting around, for money you know is there, but its not visibly there?
And also emotionally, Iíve always had to go away a lot, one of my first dance jobs was in west side story on tour, around the UK for 9 months. Being away from your partner was difficult. Iíve always gone away on contracts, away for a few months and over Christmas. So its hard on your relationship, any long-distance relationship is quite difficult.
How hard is the entertainment industry to break-through as a Filipino? Is there a lot of marketing areas for a Filipino face?
There is a lot of undiscovered area and thereís a lot of potential for a better word to use. I really want to do something about that. We really need to do something as a community. As a performer its really hard, cuz you have how many people going for the same role. It can get quite depressing for your self-esteem, you have to be able to take so many knocks, and you gotta be prepared and just accept the fact that youíre gonna get more rejections then people accepting you, you just gotta learn to get yourself up again, you watch things like x-factor and people crying as stuff, thatís just the reality of our lives. Obviously, itís not as harsh as that, they donít tell you about yourself in your face?
There arenít any roles specifically written for a Filipino girl? Instead theyíll say oriental, Chinese or Japanese? My sister and I get called in for these roles, people have struggled with the fact that Iím Filipino, they think Iím mixed? Iíd be waiting in a room full of girls who are really Chinese or Korean, and I just know Iím not what theyíre looking for?
I asked a casting director after an audition what can we do because we keep finding ourselves in this situation? She said thereís not much you can do, unless they write the parts out there, itís all about whatís available? So itís not about finding them, itís about creating them.
The whole asian explosion, they wrote everything, they created everything, and now theyíre big, they created it for themselves, and thatís what we need to do as a community. Do what Matt Damon and Ben Affleck did, write yourself a part. We need to get pro-active, we need to get recognised in a positive way.
What would be your ideal role?
Iíve always wanted to be an x-man. I went through a phase of wanting to be a witch like on Harry Potter? I went up for Cho-Chang, his love interest, I was so gutted when I didnít get it because Iím a big Harry potter fan. She is 15 and at the time I was like 20 something. I thought it was meant to be for me, and now I just know some people are meant to be those parts, that wasnít mine. When I see the girl who got it, it was for her.
What has been your most memorable performance?
Chorus lineÖ that was a big challenge for me, I played Connie Wong, someone who was meant to be 32 but looks younger, which is something I can relate to, Iím 27 and always go for younger parts. I was working with amazing people. I got really nervous because I felt like I had a lot to prove.
How important was that role to you?
The whole thing, I proved a lot to myself, if I had to prove anything to anyone it was myself, it was for me, that I can do it, cuz I had my doubts.
What is it about acting that makes it worth all the energy? Why do you do it?
I canít imagine doing anything else? I love doing it, being able to live someone elseís life. I love watching someone really good or inspiring, and I canít wait to be that person, someone watching me. Itís something that I canít imagine not doing? I tried to give it a break for a while, focus on my wedding and save money. But I got really down and depressed that I wasnít going up for stuff, then I said Iíve made a mistake, ok put me up for stuff.
What challenges are worth fighting for?
lifeís too short, if youíre not happy in a situation, then you know what to do, do whatever makes you happy. Dancing, acting, it really makes me happy, thatís whatís vibrant about me, the colour of my soul. Thatís just me? Thatís always worth fighting for.
What does it feel like to perform?
Performing at the Regine Velasquez concert, it was the first time experiencing that! It was amazing! When I was up there, when it first started, that roar from the crowd?! When I opened my eyes, the lights? All I could make out was the flashes? And it was so much to take in? We all came off stage and we were all so high? Your adrenaline is goingÖ I couldnít stop smiling! Itís a good thing it wasnít a drama, because I couldnít stop smiling! It was a real rush!!
What advice would you give to someone who is looking to venture into the same field?
Just go for it, youíll never know until you do, and if you really want it and itís meant to be then itíll happen. You gotta be prepared to put the hard work into it. And when you do make it? Still enrol yourself to courses, go to classes, you got to keep wanting more, keep bettering yourself. And to let go and have fun with it.
This information came from http://www.new-manila.com/rhoda.htm