A Filipina actress based in Hong Kong received much praise in her debut film, garnering her a “Best Actress” nomination for her first film. Not bad for a newbie, huh?
When Crisel Consunji first arrived in Hong Kong, it was for a stint as performer in Hong Kong Disneyland. A theater performer in the Philippines, Crisel would soon find happiness in teaching kindergarten pupils under the Kindermusik program of Baumhaus, the preschool she cofounded.
But her career in the entertainment industry would soon take off to dizzying heights after she landed the lead role in a film by acclaimed director Chan Oliver Siu-kuen entitled, “Still Human”.
Starring alongside award-winning veteran actor Anthony Wong, the 34-year-old Crisel impressed critics with her portrayal of her character, a Pinay nurse who went to Hong Kong to work as domestic helper in hopes of forgetting about her failed marriage in the Philippines.
Nurse-turned-domestic helper Evelyn Santos (portrayed by Crisel) forged an unlikely friendship with Leung Cheong-wing (portrayed by Anthony), her wheelchair-bound elderly employer who had been abandoned by his family and friends.
The film explores the struggles faced by domestic helpers in Hong Kong as well as the plight of the autonomous territory’s aging population.
“It’s a mainstream Hong Kong movie that marks the first time they’re getting a Filipina to portray a domestic helper in the lead,” Crisel revealed.
The film has won the Netpac prize at the Hawaii International Film Festival.
For their impressive performance in the film, the two were nominated for “Best Actor” and “Best Actress” by the Hong Kong Film Critics Society. Anthony won the award, but Crisel’s nomination was already a huge achievement considering she’s a newbie in the film industry and this is her first movie!
The actress revealed the struggles she had to undergo while filming the movie.
“When I saw a casting call for the film on Facebook, I thought it wouldn’t hurt sending them an application. I was lucky Siu-kuen and I hit it off. She’s an intellectual, and she was looking for somebody who could help mold the direction of my character and her story,” Crisel narrated.
“In my first few scenes, I felt like a failure because (director) Siu-kuen kept saying that my performance was ‘too big, too big, too big.’ But she was so patient with me that she would take me aside during dinner breaks and work on my scenes with me—until I got the hang of it. Then, everything came together.”
Crisel would soon manage to act out her part naturally, drawing inspiration in the real-life stories she learned from domestic helpers she had worked with in the past.
“My character’s issues were right up my alley, because I used to do a lot of social work. I taught an acting workshop for helpers for a year and a half, so I knew a lot of their stories. I didn’t even have to do research because I understood where they were coming from,” Crisel explained.
Indeed, she was able to portray the role so beautifully that she got that “Best Actress” nomination. Isn’t that amazing?