Dolly de Leon on importance of Filipino representation after Cannes victory

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 2) — Filipina actress Dolly de Leon was the talk of the town after her performance in "Triangle of Sadness," which was hailed Palme d'Or winner at the 75th Cannes Film Festival.

In the satirical film, De Leon plays Abigail, a cleaning lady in a luxury cruise ship filled with rich passengers, until it eventually crashed on an island. Hierarchy is flipped upside down when she rises up as the leader of the pack playing the game of survival.

The film, which was directed by Ruben Östlund, reportedly received an eight-minute standing ovation during its premiere at the festival.

De Leon shared on CNN Philippines' New Day her insights and experience playing an overseas Filipino worker in the movie.

"The part that I love the most about Abigail is she's a toilet manager, so in charge siya sa mga kubeta (she is in charge of cleaning the toilets)," De Leon said during the interview that aired Thursday. "She develops from this invisible nobody in a yacht to someone who is looked up to, followed, and turns out to be a very powerful leader in this very small society they built among themselves."

"She really turns the table on everybody and it causes a huge shift in the relationship between her and the other characters. It changes the course of the story," she added.

De Leon said Östlund gave her the freedom to interpret the character of Abigail. She even found that she could associate herself with her character in a bunch of real-life situations, especially in working in a foreign country.

"Abigail was more accessible to me because I was in that situation when I was in a foreign land, working with non-Filipinos and not speaking my native tongue," she said. "Sometimes, it does something to your head when you can't even put in a word like 'oo' (yes)...I would have to translate my own words."

"Mahirap kaya ramdam na ramdam ko ang plight ni (It was difficult that's why I really felt the plight of) Abigail. It's like I lived in her shoes for a little while," she added.

De Leon is a familiar face in some local and international TV series and films. She starred in 2019 Philippine crime drama film Verdict, where she won the FAMAS Award for Best Supporting Actress.

De Leon admitted that she still does not see herself as a "breakout star" in the country, but she remains passionate about acting.

"I think the only way to have our dreams come true is to keep on working. It sounds like a cliche but never give up. Keep doing it. Keep working and working," she said. "That's the only way we can get better and better at what we do."

She also said that she is not picky when it comes to acting roles because she just loves what she does. Her advice to aspiring actors: Never treat anything you do as something small because these things will eventually lead up to your end goal.

"Marami na kaming Pilipinong umabot sa international film setting, sa industry. Kaya ‘yan, malapit na tayong mga Pinoy na magkaroon ng better representation internationally. We are all over the world," she said.

[Translation: There's already a lot of us Filipinos who have reached the international film setting, the industry. We can do it, we Filipinos will soon get a better representation internationally. We are all over the world.]

"For me, panahon na natin. Ito na ‘yun (this is our time). I'm so proud to be part of a community for very talented Filipino artists."

Film production and distribution company TBA Studios announced on Thursday that it will bring "Triangle of Sadness" to Philippine cinemas soon. Details on its release have yet to be issued.