Uncovered, Under Covers

Anyone can be an internet celebrity nowadays, and Ellen Adarna is one who has used this to her advantage. She has made a name for herself in showbiz, rising above the bumps often encountered by superstars-in-the-making, scathed and furled by none of them. This month, Ellen lands herself a giant billboard on EDSA, cementing her sexy-star status. Zee Lifestyle takes this risk with her as she bares it all.

Thousands of websites and social networking sites pretend to be Ellen Adarna online or, at the very least, associate themselves with her. The site www.ellenEllen.com, for example, is mostly about automobiles, car donations and tips on how to resolve parking problems, but it sports Ellen Adarna’s name and even uses her photo as the main image in every article—obviously enterprising on her celebrity status if only to divert website traffic. Some stalkers have even raked in as much as Php 90,000 with hacked and fake accounts, making the young Cebuana sick to her stomach. “We all ‘lurk’ at one point in time,” she declares, “but stalkers, seriously, they need to get a life. Find a job, a hobby, or anything productive!”

Once dubbed as the “Philippines’ Internet Queen,” Ellen has accomplished quite a feat in slowly-but-surely shedding her internet-only celebrity status. Now she is more focused and intent on diving into the fray that is known by many as the country’s mainstream entertainment biz.

Cast regularly on GMA’s Bubble Gang (the Philippines’ longest-running TV gag/parody program) since 2010, Ellen also took the role of Katrina “Kat” Lazatin in the 2011 Captain Barbell TV series, and now stands as a semi-regular in the 2012 TV series Alice Bungisngis and her Wonder Walis.

On the big screen, Ellen was Aryanna in the 2010 GMA Films feature Si Agimat at si Enteng Kabisote, and will star in the upcoming Topel Lee-directed horror feature, Basement. She is taking everything that comes her way as an opportunity to win over the audience with flying colors.

Says Ellen, “Thankfully, the roles I’ve been offered have been more comedic in their character personas, but in no way am I saying that doing comedy is easy. Trust me, it’s not easy. I believe the real challenges for me will come when I would have to do something like a kissing scene or a simulated sex scene. But I’m doing a movie now, one where I play the role of a manananggal.” She is a trooper and thinks the whole experience is great, even if the role of a half-bodied folkloric monster requires her to be hoisted up in a harness most days of shooting.

With an unfinished history that has long been riddled with controversy and intrigue, Ellen is indeed one for the books, with an “origins tale” that touches on the often met ubiquity of the de facto compromising with the de jure. Zee Lifestyle recently caught up with her, and she answered plainly the questions that hound her less-than-perfect yet consistently fruitful career.

In various online bio-blurbs, forum sites, and message boards, you are pegged as a “Cebuana socialite turned internet queen, turned actress.” This may be what they say, but who is Ellen Adarna really?

I guess, in small parts, I am all of those things. However and more importantly, I remain to be someone who tries to be a good daughter to her parents and a reliable and loving sister to her siblings.

Given that your family owns a chain of motels in different parts of the country, casual observers are quick to point out similarities between Paris Hilton’s career path and yours. Is there anything you would like to comment regarding this kind of association?

I guess there are similarities but it is purely situational.

Given that you are the eldest child in the family, how did your folks take the news of you opting to be in showbiz?

My mom has been very supportive, but my father thinks it’s all a waste of time. Everytime I see him, he would ask, “What are you still doing in Manila?!”

How do you see yourself—more of an actress or more of a model?

More of an actress.

As an actress, what’s the most devastating role/scene that you could see yourself in?

Most probably… a rape victim.

As a model, what was your worst gig? What was your best?

I don’t really recall any bad experiences, but the most recent gig I really enjoyed was when I did a shoot for my friend’s swimwear line. I did my own makeup and they did the styling. My friends and I were just having fun with a camera.

What’s your take on social network lurkers and those who use your name/image for their personal gain?

I just hope that they wouldn’t use my pictures, but there is really nothing I can do. Things are just how they are, in the long run.

Have you ever been a member of an online group? 

I contribute to my friend’s beauty blog.

As a Cebuana, how has Manila been to you, particularly those you work with in the fields you are engaged in? Really good! Everyone has been very kind and accommodating.

Any chance of you deciding to go local, like becoming an actress who is active in Cebu’s entertainment industry?

If the opportunity presents itself, I don’t see why not.

When talking about relationships, there are those who are afraid of falling and those who are afraid of flying. Which type are you?

I’m not afraid of either.

What is to be learned from being Ellen Adarna?

Know what you want and fight for it. Everything I have, I had to work hard for. There were a few wrong turns along the way, but I never saw myself as unlucky. I had to learn how to be a fighter.

The encounter, short and sweet, revealed that there is actually more to the Ellen Adarna persona propagated in cyberspace, a testament to the truth in the saying, “There are masks behind façades.” In Ellen’s case, what was unveiled is a humble and candid 24-year-old, one who is serious in succeeding in her chosen career. Before heading off, she sheepishly confessed, “I can truly say that I’m growing up… slowly, but surely.” And with a smile and a wink, she took off.

  • by Yasunari Ramon Taguchi 
  • creative director David Jones Cua 
  • production assistant Christine Cueto
  • photography Jan Gonzales 
  • fashion stylist Pia Echevarria
  • hair and make-up Jessie Glova
  • hair and make-up assistant Jamaica Mondigo
Zee Lifestyle
Zee Lifestyle

Zee Lifestyle strives to capture the pulse of Cebu! As a city-centric lifestyle magazine, it aims to inform and entertain with features on culture, personalities, travel, food, fashion and everything in between. Follow Zee Lifestyle on Instagram at @zeelifestyle.

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