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Mercedes Cabral is slowly carving a name for herself in the Philippines film industry after making her mark in Pinoy indie films which were screened in various international film festivals. tabloid! speaks to the underrated yet genuinely gifted actress.

You’ve had more success in international film festivals than in local showbusiness. How do you feel about that?

Happy and sad. It’s nice when foreigners, especially the ones who really know what they are talking about, appreciate your talent. I feel proud when I go to film festivals abroad and people praise our films, not even my acting. It’s sad that in our country, we pay more attention to commercial rather than art films so we fail to notice how many good actors we really have.

You’re known more as an indie artist. Is this by choice?

No. This is only because these are the projects I am being offered. But I have no qualms, I’ve done really good projects such as Serbis and Captive, both directed by Cannes winner Brillante Ma Mendoza. Serbis was my first indie film, and coincidentally it was also Direk Dante’s first indie project. I had to audition for the role. It was heaven sent.

So would you do more mainstream projects?

Of course, as a newbie in the business you always want to have as many projects as possible. It helps you test your range as an artist, and honestly speaking, it also takes care of bills.

What’s the difference between working in an indie and a mainstream project?

Big difference, especially when it comes to the budget. But for some reason, doing an indie film is more challenging because we make do with what we have, and fulfilling because I find myself exerting more and the results are usually good.

Did you always dream of being an actress?

I was in college studying Fine Arts when I started acting. But now that I’m sort of doing well, I’d like to be a better actress. It’s a fun job. I didn’t know I had a talent for acting, and now that I’ve discovered I can do it, I’d like to keep getting better at it.

Which actors do you look up to?

There are lots. I have had the privilege of working with top artists such as Nora Aunor and Direk Dante [Mendoza]. I hope I get to work with the others — it’s a nice learning experience, at least for those who are willing to share their talent.

And what about those that don’t share their talent?

There are artists like that and I cannot fault them. It’s a competitive world out there. But if you observe them well enough, you discover their techniques. You pick up the ones you like, and discard what you think will not help you grow as an artist.