Erich Gonzales won the 2nd season of ABS-CBN’s Star Circle Quest in 2005. She waited and waited for her big break, watching as other, newer “stars” with considerably less talent come and swoop in to take the lead roles, relegating her to supporting bit parts; most of the time playing the token teen character in soaps.
Things started to look up when she was cast as one of the three leads, along with Jason Abalos and Heart Evangelista, in a 4-episode Your Song series in 2008. But it took more than a year later after another smaller role in the otherwise successful Pieta for Erich’s real big break to come.
Katorse was originally developed as a Sunday afternoon Your Song miniseries. But, as ABS-CBN usually does, delayed the program until deciding to make the series a daily drama, filling in the languishing 6pm, pre-news timeslot.
It was a hit. Erich’s role as teenage mother Nene finally brought her into the spotlight. A truly breakthrough role that helped people take a 2nd look at Erich as a promising young actress… four years after she won a reality competition that was supposed to be her ticket into the industry.
It was a long time coming for Erich, but she made the most of it and made sure to show that she deserved to be here. Katorse also launched what would become her successful loveteam with Enchong Dee. And Erich took the successes to her next series, Tanging Yaman, premiering the Monday after the finale of Katorse in the same timeslot.
Erich was again the center of the series and despite a larger ensemble cast, was able to use the series to grow. If Katorse was the high school of Erich’s acting career, Tanging Yaman was the college era. Taking that step forward in what was an up and down series would help her with her next television role.
After an acclaimed and understated performance by Erich, with Enchong, in the independent short film Paano Ko Sasabihin?, it was her turn in Magkaribal that signaled her exiting cute, teenage roles and beginning more mature roles.
As Chloe, Erich was able to segue from an angsty teen daughter wanting the attention of her mother to a young adult having to become independent, falling in love and take charge of her own life when that mother just couldn’t do much of anything for her, all in one series.
And though still with Enchong with whom she’d shared plenty of angsty youth stories in their previous projects, both he and Erich were able to take that major step forward with strong, mature performances. Erich was more than able to hold her own alongside her more experienced co-stars.
And after the success of Magkaribal, ABS-CBN entrusted the long in the works Philippine adaption of Maria La Del Barrio to Erich.
The local version of the Thalia Mexican megahit presented Erich with the chance to be truly front and center as the title character of her own series. Similar to the way the spotlights were directed toward Marian Rivera, Carla Abellana and Angelica Panganiban for Marimar, Rosalinda and Rubi respectively, this was Erich’s opportunity to solidify her place as a true lead actress.
But the series was delayed, pushed to uncertainty with questionable decisions by the network on everything from scheduling to casting to promotion.
When the series finally did premiere, it started off well enough. But the delineation of the series from the original telenovela changed the story and the focus on her character, turning the series into an ensemble drama. Which is fine, but not so much when the show is called Maria La Del Barrio. Not to mention that rough middle patch of the series that’s best left forgotten.
Regardless, Erich has turned in an excellent performance in spite of the material given to her. From love and family to pain and revenge, Erich has again used the series as a way to step forward.
As Maria La Del Barrio wraps up, it’ll be interesting to see what’s next for Erich Gonzales. For whatever reason, she hasn’t been a favorite at the network. For whatever reason, she’s had to wait longer than most to get that big break. For whatever reason, she’s had to continually prove herself worthy of being called a lead actress.
But she’s done that. She’s proven time and again that she is a natural talent who still had plenty of room to grow. A gifted actress who is fun and breezy, yet mature and sophisticated, both behind and in front of the camera. She’s continued to give performances with class and maturity that make you believe her and in her. That she isn’t just reciting lines, but for a couple of minutes every day or an hour or two in the theatres, she is this character you’re seeing on screen.
It’s been a long time coming for Erich Gonzales. Hopefully this really is her time. Truly her opportunity to shine with bigger, better roles worthy of her talent.