G goes for it
By Nikki M. Meru
People Asia Magazine 03/28/2003
Two-and-a-half years out of Manilaís klieg lights has given 24-year old Giselle Toengi a hefty serving of reality, which she seems to have found more appetizing. Now at the gates of Hollywood, sheís hoping for ó and looking ó her best.
Giselle left for America on Sept. 15, 2000. Her two-year stay in New York completely changed her life. It was a big stretch from working everyday to not working at all, to going to school, which she hasnít done in a long time, to going to auditions, which sheís never done before. Yet, in just two months, she was able to adapt and adjust to the new lifestyle very well. "It was really a personal struggle to leave the life I was used to here because in the US, Iím an ordinary person. I loved it and at the same time it was very difficult Ďcause I wasnít used to it but it didnít take a long time for me to embrace the anonymity and just the normal day-to-day life," shares Giselle.
Though there were many instances when her auditions were unsuccessful, her confidence has helped her a lot in achieving inner happiness and contentment. "If thereís one thing you have to be, itís confident," she quips. "No matter what people tell you, no matter how many times youíre turned down, you still go for it and keep yourself secure with your talent and with yourself and at the end of the day, after all the auditions or all the work that you do, you go to bed and youíre alone with yourself. So you have to accept who you really are in order to face all these people and be yourself and be true."
Sheís taken dance classes, acting lessons at Lee Strasberg Acting School, and kicked a few major gigs in New York and around America. But who would have thought that a person like G Toengi would find joy in bar tending, taking reservations in a restaurant, cleaning windows and even doing her own laundry, not as a role in a movie but in real life? These are humbling experiences that sheís very proud of. "Iíve learned things that you donít learn from books," shares Giselle. "Iím less impulsive now that Iíve grown up. In a way, Iíve grown up a lot and my mentality has changed since I left. My perceptions of things are on a bigger scale now. I try to look at the bigger picture, I donít try to sweat the small stuff like I used to."
Sheís learned how to take things one at a time and let them take off and swing at their own pace. "Iíll go where the work takes me."
Giselle moved to LA last Oct. 28, for pilot season, the first quarter of the year when all the major television shows cast for their upcoming series. The transition was smoother this time. Her sister and manager Avie Cabral helped her settle in. Aside from Cabral, Giselleís other agencies in the US are Don Buchwald and Associates and Aire Modeling Management. When sheís in the Philippines however, she goes under the care of Manila Genesis and Tonette Buizon.
Giselle is in pre-production for a lot of independent films. Her manager/sister is working with Chris Castillo, son of director Celso Ad Castillo, for A World Without End, a psychological thriller. Sister Act, the production company that she and Avie share, has also been keeping her busy. A lot of doors are opening for her but she says, "It takes time and Iíd rather talk about it when itís in the canÖ "
If there is one most important thing among her learnings about life, it is that hard work really pays off. Her eyes glow radiantly as she speaks of her life in America. Giselle comes back to Manila every Christmas to spend time with her mother and brother and she loves the fact that she lives a "dual life" as she calls it. "Here Iím praised and Iím adored and obviously I take it with a grain of salt. But there itís so different; I drive my own car, I go to the groceryÖ " She likes it there yet she has learned to take Manila in healthy dozes. "I would have never been able to get to America if it wasnít for the opportunity that was given to me here in Manila. Itís helped me a lot in terms of my growth and my hands-on experience to try to conquer what Iíve always wanted to do. But at the same time, Iím striving for something thatís long term and I just feel that itís time to lead a venture and challenge myself to try that market (the global market)."
When she says "global," she doesnít solely pertain to Hollywood. In fact, contrary to what some people think, itís not the only thing that drives her. "Iíd like to start like everybody else and hopefully establish my career to the point where I can play opposite all these legendary film actorsÖ a lot of things have changed after being in New York. My being in Hollywood has nothing to do with what I struggle for or what I aim for."
The searcher has gone quite far in her inner journey and it has paid off really well. And still, sheís chewing and digesting one bite at a time. "Maturity doesnít always come with experience but itís an inner journey to really get to know yourself. And Iíve had a lot of time to ponder about what I want to happen in my life. Iíve had a lot of walks in the city, sitting in the park the whole day and really just reflecting. And it wonít stop there; I mean, I continue to do that everyday, Iím a searcher so Iím always trying to find ways of bettering myself."