Again, Jillian Ward is no longer TV’s Trudis Liit child star and Daig Kayo ng Lola Ko’s tween fairy, as described in this writer’s previous article. She is now a 17-year-old lass, whose character Donna Marie navigates family and young love drama in the second season of Prima Donnas. The afternoon drama series airs Mondays to Saturdays after Eat, Bulaga.

Acting-wise, Jillian has grown by leaps and bounds and is among GMA 7’s fine young actresses.

“(It’s actually) a love triangle,” said Jillian of Donna Marie’s matters of the heart with two admirers in Nolan and Cedric (played by Will Ashley and Vince Crisostomo, respectively), in a press conference via Zoom. “Sila Mama po, parang di nila matanggap na hindi na ako five years old, pati yung mga ka-trabaho ko po (My parents and those whom I have worked with can’t believe that I’m no longer the five-year-old child they have known before).” In fact, Jillian would also get messages like “Don’t grow up too fast,” which remind her of her cute and charming showbiz beginnings that took off 12 years ago.

“Para sa akin, medyo challenging po siya ng unti kasi for 11 and 12 years puro baby roles yung ginagawa ko, kumbaga ito po yung first role ko, first show ko na mag-bida bilang dalaga talaga na may ka-love triangle (For me, playing my character, who is in a love triangle, and starring in my first show as a young lady, are a bit challenging because for the past 11 and 12 years, I’ve been assigned to do mostly baby roles),” said Jillian.

The real acting trouper in her has made the necessary adjustments, if one may say, to meet the demands of being Donna Marie on the small screen. That’s why Jillian’s only competition is herself: To be better in each acting project.

“Since I was five years old, wala po talaga akong nakikitang ibang artista bilang ka-competition ko po (I haven’t considered any artist as my competition.) Like what I have said in my previous interviews, kami pong lahat dito ay may iba’t-ibang galing (Each female star has her own acting talent),” said she. “Direk Gina is very meticulous, so wala pong na-o-overshadow o wala pong mas nag-shi-shine. Each of us (with a particular character to play) has her own purpose in the show.” Jillian shares the limelight with fellow child stars-turned-teen actresses Althea Ablan, Sofia Pablo and Elijah Alejo, whose characters have their own love interests in the series.

“Parang mas naging mature yung communication skills namin,” Jillian gave everyone a sneak peek into what the teen stars would do during taping breaks. “Kumbaga mas may lalim na yung pinag-uusapan namin. So, I think our conversations (when we were very young) were different as compared to what we’re having now, mas childish yung conversations namin (noon). Ngayon po talaga sabay sabay din kaming nagdadalaga.”

The young stars of Prima Donnas understand the teenage life’s pains and pleasures through their characters on set. This is a training ground, more than a playground, for them to ready themselves for more mature roles.

“I want to try playing characters with more depth, I also want to portray characters with mental disability to spread awareness,” said Jillian, who also sees herself doing action and comedy. “Gusto ko pong i-try lahat ng mga genres para po makapag-explore pa ako, para mas lumawak pa po yung mga kaya kong gawin.”

During this global health crisis, Jillian has also learned the value of mental health. She experienced anxiety at some point and was able to surpass it.

“So, para lang po sa akin siguro push lang po talaga. Never give up, kasi po kapag ikaw po ay nag-give up at meron kang mga problema, nag-give up ka, parang ma-stuck ka po dun eh. ‘Wag ninyo pong hahayaan na mag-stuck sa ganun,” she shared her pieces of advice to those who are going through this phase. “Talagang keep fighting and keep praying.”

She also added that “pero yung anxiety hindi po talaga maiiwasan lalo po ngayon (na) may pandemic and yung sa iba, nag-o-online class pa, talagang super stressed out yung mga kabataan din talaga (anxiety is something that some people cannot avoid because of the pandemic, and (the young ones) are into online class, so they get really super stressed out).”

Jillian said that she is grateful to GMA and Him for giving her work, and to her family for always being there.

As a young GMA artist, Jillian knows how to invest and reward herself. She has put her earnings in necessities such as houses and cars, in which the latter she uses in her profession.

“Parang ngayon pong taon, pinagbigyan ko po talaga yung sarili ko, na bilhan ang sarili ko ng dream car ko kasi talagang pinagpaguran ko din naman po yun. I think I deserve (to have it),” said she, who is now a proud owner of a Porsche Boxster, aside from the BMW she acquired, as being shared on her Instagram account, last year.

Yes, the Prima Donnas star knows how to work hard and enjoy the fruits of her labor. 

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