Iza Calzado (MNS photo)

MANILA, Feb 22 (Mabuhay) — Iza Calzado is still marking a first in her 20th year in showbiz: the fulfillment of her dream to star in a romantic comedy project, after long being “boxed” as a dramatic actress, by her own admission.

Calzado and Ian Veneracion play the title characters of “B&B: The Story of the Battle of Brody & Brandy,” a 7-part WeTV Philippines series that premiered last week.

The Noreen Capili-penned romcom, helmed by Mark Reyes and Sunshine Dizon, follows the story of lovers-turned-rivals in business.

“Sobrang pinangarap ko naman talaga gumawa ng something like this,” Calzado told ABS-CBN News.

“In this industry, they see you, say, as a dramatic actress. You get boxed in. Pigeonholed. And they can’t see you out of that. I get cast for all these heavy roles, and I understand why.”

Calzado’s current “heavy role” is Ellice, who is caught in a bitter feud with her former best friend, in the revenge drama “Ang Sa Iyo Ay Akin.” She filmed “B&B” in between “bubble tapings,” or a quarantined filming duration, of the ABS-CBN series.

Donning Brandy’s flowy dresses and colorful stylings, as seen in “B&B’s” trailers, Calzado appears in stark contrast to the steely, businesswoman façade of Ellice.

Often in fits of anger or in tears pleading for love, Ellice has been an emotionally and physically taxing role for Calzado.

“Talagang ‘yung galit [ni Ellice]… sumasakit ‘yung ulo [ko], nagkaka-migraine. So it was such a breath of fresh air, to even do this for just a couple of days,” she said of her romcom turn as Brandy.

Calzado has had numerous lead roles in romance offerings over her decades-long career — such as her launching series “Te Amo, Maging Sino Ka Man” in 2004, and most recently, the May-December love story “Loving Emily” last year — but none of them with a blend of comedy.

“I’ve always wanted to show also a part of me, the real me. Ian knows that very well,” she said, referring to her leading man. “Makulit ako, tawa ako nang tawa. Playing that was just so natural for me, to be Brandy, and to have that banter with Brody.”

Calzado, 38, and Veneracion, 46, are long-time friends and frequent collaborators, having shared the screen in nearly a dozen acting projects since 2003. They last co-starred in the ABS-CBN drama series “A Love to Last” as Grace and Anton, a couple whose marriage is annulled.

While acting opposite Veneracion now feels “organic,” Calzado considered “Brody & Brandy,” despite its refreshing lightness, a challenging undertaking, given her newness to the genre.

“How do I do this? Am I doing it correctly? I’m so glad talaga na si Ian [ang kasama ko], because he does it so well. He’s effortless,” Calzado said.

In fact, in accepting the project, Calzado quipped that her partner “had to be Ian,” who has had several lead portrayals in big-screen and TV romcoms.

That Veneracion’s schedule aligned with hers, and “B&B’s” filming duration matched her break from “Ang Sa Iyo Ay Akin,” are a testament of right timing for Calzado, after 20 years of waiting and now finally becoming a romcom actress.

“Ang tagal ko siyang pinangarap. I never thought it was going to come. I never thought I would be given this opportunity. And if I felt so bad about it, baka mas hindi pa ma-manifest. You have to give it time, and you have to do the work as well,” she said.

“Trust that what is meant for you will come to you at the perfect time. If it’s not yet there, then that means it’s not yet time,” she said, when asked for her advice to those similarly aiming for a big goal.

“Trust in the flow of life, where it naturally leads you. Kasi, minsan, tayo, gigil na gigil. Pero hindi ito, e. Pag ganoon, just trust — let God, let the universe take you where you need to go, and grow. That’s life. We’re constantly evolving.” (MNS)

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