At this point, Dolly de Leon has been everywhere. The actress has been the object of everyone's affection thanks to her scene-stealing performance in the black comedy thriller Triangle of Sadness. As this year's film circuit rounds out, she's been getting recognition left and right, even making history as the first Filipino to be nominated for a Golden Globe and a British Academy Film Award.
This success comes after a long career of playing extras and supporting roles in numerous local productions. Before she became a darling for indie film buffs everywhere, Dolly started out as a theater arts graduate expanding her portfolio through the stage and the screen. She usually played second fiddle to primetime stars such as Lovi Poe, Arci Munoz, and Dingdong Dantes, and it's only now that she's reveling in her own spotlight.
In an interview with PEP.ph, she reveals the arduous path she took to become the critically-acclaimed star she is today. "Naranasan ko na gumanap na baka. Gumanap din ako na kamatis. Naranasan ko nang gumulung-gulong sa putik, ilublob sa ilog. Naku! Lahat talaga naranasan ko sa film set," she recalls.
In Triangle of Sadness, Dolly portrays a "toilet manager" who assumes the role of "captain" when she and her affluent employers get stranded on a deserted island. She says that she didn't have to do any "research" for the role since she actually experienced taking on a blue collar job before.
"Nagtrabaho na ako sa isang fast food chain at naglinis na ako ng kubeta. Naglinis na ako ng toilet, naglinis ako ng dining area, naglinis ako ng kitchen… Naranasan ko na iyan," says the actress.
Playing someone from a less fortunate background was something Dolly was familiar with, being the child of an OFW. "I know her story. Na-witness ko iyon kasi noong '90s, tumira ako sa kanya ng [ilang] weeks so nakita ko ang buhay niya."
"I would say my whole life is really exposed to that kind of life," she continues, "Naranasan ko na rin ang hirap. Naranasan ko na rin na hindi mo alam kung anong kakainin mo sa susunod na araw. Kung paano mo babayaran yung kuryente dahil mapuputulan na kayo. Minsan, naputulan na kami. Nangyari na iyon sa akin."
Despite all of these hardships, though, Dolly persisted in the entertainment industry, and her efforts seemed to have culminated when she bagged the part of Abigail (one she auditioned for even without an agent.) At 55, she's the best proof we have that hardwork does pay off.