Susan Africa

Radiant inner beauty...

One of the admirable people I know in showbiz is SUSAN AFRICA. She is a good example of beauty that glows from within. You can sense her radiant aura. When you talk to her, observe the life in her eyes and you will agree that the eyes are the window to the soul. With SUSAN, what you see is what you get… and what you will get is all that is good. 

SUSAN is the SUSAN DAVIS in MARA CLARA, the battered martyr wife of GARY DAVIS (ERUEL TONGCO).

In this article, SUSAN shares her thoughts to us. Enjoy the read! 


 
WHEN AND HOW DID YOU BEGIN YOUR CAREER IN SHOWBIZ? 
I was a very shy teenager when my Tita (Odette Marquez, a producer/owner of Movie Masters, producer of “Ina Ka Ng Anak Mo”) encouraged me to join an acting workshop she was sponsoring in Baguio in the early 80’s. The workshop was handled by Soxy Topacio and Joel Lamangan of PETA. The experience opened my eyes to the possibility of “hiding” behind characters being portrayed which was helpful to me in overcoming my shyness.

At first I was not interested in "showbiz". I was more focused on learning from the theater. After training with PETA, I later became active performing for CCP’s Bulwagang Gantimpala, Teatro Pilipino, as well as a few plays at the Metropolitan Theater and UP.

My first big break in “showbiz” was as a regular in the Philippine Sesame Street Project of CTW (Children’s Television Workshop). SESAME, which later evolved into Batibot provided ideal working conditions based on US standards, with tapings starting at 8am and ending at 5pm every day, Monday to Friday for 6 months.

WHAT DID YOU DO PRIOR TO ENTERING SHOWBIZ? 
I was a ramp model doing the rounds of luncheon fashion shows in 5 star hotels in the Roxas Boulevard area which was the trend that time. At the same time, I was taking up Fine Arts major in Advertising at UST.

WHAT ROLES DID YOU POPULARLY PORTRAY? 
Before Mara Clara, I had been typecast in “mataray” or the rich doña type of roles. It was Mara Clara that helped me move on from this typecast. 

In the theater, I portrayed all sorts of characters ranging from Sisa (in Kanser based on Rizal’s Noli me Tangere), to Gwendolyn Fairfax in “The Importance of Being Earnest”.

WHAT WAS YOUR MOST CHALLENGING ROLE? 
In the movies, my favorite and most challenging was Charlie, a mama san in “Olongapo the Great American Dream”. It was also memorable because the role gave me my first acting award.

WHAT KIND OF ROLES HAVE YOU NOT PORTRAYED? 
I’m more type casted now in poor nanay roles. Although I love doing this and adding different facets to this type of character, I’d like to be able to do some variety portraying glamorous roles with a twist or a great character growth such as Jessica Lange’s role in “Grey Gardens”.
 
WHAT IS YOUR DREAM ROLE? 
Something like Meryl Streep’s in Mama Mia. Although I cannot sing, it is my fantasy to do a song and dance role.

WHAT IS YOUR MOST EMBARRASSING EXPERIENCE?
Hmm... none that I remember...

WHAT IS YOUR MOST UNFORGETTABLE WORK EXPERIENCE?
Working with foreign productions where the working conditions are excellent.

WHAT WERE YOUR HIGH AND LOW MOMENTS IN LIFE AND IN YOUR CAREER?

I’m always high when I am working on a teleserye.
Low moments are when I’m waiting for a project.

ANY REGRETTABLE MOMENTS? 
None. I learn from all my experiences.

HOW DO YOU WANT PEOPLE TO REMEMBER YOU? 
As someone who made a difference in their lives.

WHAT PEOPLE DON’T KNOW ABOUT YOU. WHO IS THE REAL SUSAN AFRICA 
  1. I love to write. I love to paint. 
  2. I enjoy reading books and surfing the internet. 
  3. I work at AIM as Program Manager for Alumni Relations as my day job. 
  4. I’m also Associate Editor of the AIMLeader, the alumni publication of AIM. 
  5. I’m still basically shy. I shun parties and “showbizzy events” as much as possible. 
  6. I’m very simple and I try to be as “unmaterialistic” as possible. 
  7. I’m also very religious and I have special devotions to Mother Mary and Padre Pio. 
  8. I’d like to think of myself as a devoted mother… basically I’m a family person whose life revolves around my husband, kids and other members of my family circle. 
  9. I’d love to do theater again but what stops me is that it will be taking a lot of my family time away from me. 
YOUR ADVICE TO THOSE WHO DREAM OF ENTERING SHOWBIZ? 
Study the craft first. 
Do not come in empty handed. 
Learn the culture. 
Love your job.

WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE SUCCESSFUL? 
Perseverance, dedication and hard, hard work. 
Plus enjoyment and joy in what you are doing.
 
REALITIES IN SHOWBIZ THAT PEOPLE DO NOT KNOW. 
  1. Working conditions can be very difficult. 
  2. There’s a great amount of waiting. 
  3. You have to love your job to be able to stay in showbiz. 
  4. You cannot say no to your director out of respect. 
  5. You should not complain because a lot of artists want your job.
GIVEN THE POWER TO CHANGE THINGS IN SHOWBIZ, WHAT WOULD IT BE? YOUR WISH LIST. 
  1. Better working hours
  2. Better scheduling so that the artists’ energy is preserved
  3. Better scripts for senior people
  4. Out of the box, exciting stories
ACTING TIPS TO ‘NEWBIES’
Be sincere.

YOUR PERSONAL MESSAGE AND ADVICE TO READERS? 
Whatever you may be involved in, remember that we are here to help build meaningful and lasting relationships and to be excellent in our endeavors. In the long run, we cannot take whatever we have, even our glories and possessions when we leave this life for the next. What matters is how we have provided meaning, love and happiness to others, and how we have made this world a better place in our own small ways.