There’s a new actress in the block bound to get seriously huge attention from viewers in the coming days.
Jo Berry, who has dwarfism condition, is the lead star of GMA’s “Onanay” that premieres tonight. In an interview, she said she hopes to help break the bias against her kind, that of being good only for comedy.
“I feel I can be an instrument to clear the mindset of viewers about little people, that we can also portray serious roles,” she explained.
“I have nothing against portraying funny roles but I hope they are decent ones. Most of the time, when people see little people on the street. they call them by names of funny characters because these are usually demeaning,” she added.
Jo’s Spanish-American father, Perry, also has dwarfism. He is President of the Little People Association of the Philippines. Among her siblings, she and her eldest brother have the condition.
Jo grew up with a positive outlook in life.
“I understand why my shape is different from others,” she said. “I feel God shaped me differently because He believes I have a big purpose to serve. That’s why I never reached the point where I pitied my situation.”
She didn’t even reach denial stage because there was nothing to accept to begin with – things are simply the way they are.
“I have no inadequacies.”
With seasoned actors
On how she got the role on “Onanay,” Jo recalled it was the staff of the network that offered it to her.
But the 24-year-old still asked the permission of her parents, particularly her father.
She thinks accepting the work is a highlight in her life, as well as for the community of little people.
The series is about Onay, a woman born with Achondroplasia or a bone growth disorder which impeded her growth. Because of this, she is often the subject of ridicule but she chooses to remain positive in life. She gives birth to two beautiful daughters — Maila and Natalie — who cannot be more different from one another. Despite a tragedy and traumatizing events, Onay’s motherly love remains pure and unconditional, the way every mother is to her child.
The show also features the special participation of Nora Aunor as Nelia, Onay’s supportive mother who will do anything for her child.
Joining them to play equally important role is Cherie Gil as Helena, a former beauty queen and now a wealthy owner of an online fashion magazine. She is also Onay’s mother-in-law who will make her and Nelia’s life miserable.
Completing the powerhouse cast are Gardo Versoza as Dante, Nelia’s younger brother who will treat Maila as his own daughter; Wendell Ramos as Lucas, a rich and careless man who used to be an alcohol and drug addict who will later on play an important role in Onay’s life; Rochelle Pangilinan as Sally, Onay’s childhood friend who works at a beauty salon and is very supportive and endeared to Maila; Vaness del Moral as Imelda, Lucas’ jealous and possessive wife; Enrico Cuenca as Oliver, a handsome school jock who will fall for Maila; and special guest Adrian Alandy as Elvin, the loving and responsible husband of Onay who fell in love with her because of her beautiful innate qualities.
Jo shared that she never never dreamed of becoming an actress, that’s why everything feels surreal for her.
Her future plans? Take one small step at a time until the bigger picture appears.