Iloilo’s ‘Emma’

24-year-old makes waves in film industry

“Billie and Emma” was part of the QCinema International Film Festival held from Oct. 21 to 30 in Quezon City.

ILONGGA Gabby Padilla has always been passionate about performing. She sang, danced and acted in school programs. She joined musicals. At a young age, it was evident that she was born to be a star.

And a star she is now as the 24-year-old landed a lead role in the film “Billie and Emma.” She plays the role of Emma, a model student who falls in love with new school kid Billie.

Gabby Padilla is a 24-year-old Ilongga who play Emma in Samantha Lee’s “Billie and Emma.”

The movie, which was helmed by “Baka Bukas” director Samantha Lee, made waves on social media and among moviegoers. It was part of the QCinema International Film Festival held from Oct. 21 to 30 in Quezon City.

But it wasn’t at all a walk in the park to be Emma. Padilla shares that “it is still an ongoing journey.” She expects more challenges, acknowledging the fact that never will be an easy road toward someone’s dream.

“The course continues to change,” she shares, adding that the most difficult challenge in being an artist is “getting distracted and discouraged.”

Official movie poster of “Billie and Emma.”

“It’s something I still struggle with, but I’ve accepted this to be the nature of the work I do, and that there is learning to be done in every experience,” she added.

Padilla – who considers Lea Salonga, Beyonce and her mentor Ana Valdes-Lim as her biggest influences – knew what she wanted. Thus, she pursued a degree in theater at Assumption College.


Padilla poses with Zar Donato who plays Billie in the movie.

“[My passion in performing] initially started with singing and musicals, then that interest broadened when I became a theater major – and that’s when I got into acting,” she recounts.

After college, this Iloilo National High School (Special Science Class) alumna appeared on several TV commercials for brands like Downy, Maybelline, Globe, Jollibee and Traveloka, among others. Eventually, she landed roles in films like “Sin-o Ang Tiktik?”, “Dahling Nick”, “Eerie”, and “Ang Babaeng Allergic sa Wi-Fi.” She also played Dolores Nablo Jose on “Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral.”

Padilla had to go through auditions to get roles. She auditioned for the role of Emma, saying she loved the “character and all she stood for.” She also wanted to work with the award-winning director.

“We had several readings and chemistry tests until I was finally given the role,” she shares.

Working with Lee has been a new experience for Padilla. “Sam is so collaborative, generous, and intelligent, and I’ve learned so much from her. As a woman, I feel very honored to be part of a team that helped her create ‘Billie and Emma.’ We’re all very proud of the work we’ve done.”

Padilla and Donato pose with film director Samantha Lee.

And her favorite part in the filming process? It was “seeing everyone coming to work knowing that we were all very lucky and excited to be telling this story.”

Padilla is undeniably Iloilo’s rising star. She is not just brimming with beauty. She is also talented and determined. She has her passion as her power. She has her talents as her driving force. Most of all, she has her goal as an artist, and that is “to keep telling stories that matter.” With all these, we are sure that Padilla will keep shining./PN


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