CONVERSING WITH CHARLENE
by Heinz Bulos, The Web Philippines, May/June 1997
Obviously, she is more than just a pretty face. She is a good actress, a successful commercial model, an articulate TV host, and a pre-med college student. And did I mention a beauty pageant titlist? As if you didn't know.
People remember her for films like Dyesebel and Bridesmaid. Then, there are her TV shows like the sitcom "1 For 3" with Vic Sotto and Rosanna Roces and of course, "Eezy Dancing" with Dayanara Torres. Recently, she appeared in a TV commercial for Panasonic.
Of course, everyone knows she was a 1994 Miss Universe Pageant finalist.
What you probably don't know is that Pitoy Moreno once called her fat. She was when she was a lot younger. Now, that would be short of blasphemous. If you visit her home page (www.stormviz.com/charlene/), you'll know more about her from the numerous articles posted and sections on the latest news and career history. Did you know for instance that she has done modelling work for YSL, Guy Laroche, Vidal Sasson, and Reflections? And that she participated in the 1997 Tournament of Roses Parade? Or that she'll appear in a movie called "Kadre" with Cesar Montano?
Hmmm, I feel I'm witholding too much inside information. Well, there's so much more to learn from our conversation with Charlene, so here goes.
The Web Philippines (TWP): Let's talk about your home page first. You're one of the first celebrities that came out with a Web site. Was it your idea?
Charlene B. Gonzalez (CBG): No, it wasn't my idea. I met a friend by the name of Ronnie Miranda who introduced me into the world of computers. At that time he was heading a company by the name of Storm Visualization & Imaging and showed and explained to me what a web page was all about. Then from there, that's where I started to venture into computers, the Internet, and starting a home page.
TWP: Your home page is obviously popular. Which part do you like best?
CBG: I like the guestbook because it gives me the opportunity to meet and interact with the new friends I have met through my web page. Likewise with the chatroom because it makes me communicate with people right then and there.
TWP: Aside from your home page, which celebrity site do you think is really cool?
CBG: For me, all the web sites that Storm Visualizaton & Imaging has produced are very entertaining.
TWP: I noticed you have a chat program on your site. Do you get to chat with fans often?
CBG: Yes. I try to chat with them as often as I can when I have some free time. Meeting new people on the Net gives me a sense of relaxation and enjoyment.
TWP: Do you get to answer people who sign in your guestbook or those whoe-mail you?
CBG: Yes, I do when I have the time. That's the part I enjoy most about my home page because it gives me the chance to be able to reach out to people and vice versa.
TWP: What's the most memorable fan mail message did you receive?
CBG: When I inspire kids who have problems and they realize that life has to go on and giving them a sense of motivation to tackle the obstacles in life.
TWP: Did you ever receive weird e-mail messages like marriage proposals? How do you handle these?
CBG: At times. Sometimes it is quite flattering but I get embarrassed and start to blush.
TWP: By the way, how long have you been using the Internet?
CBG: About a year.
TWP: Do you consider yourself a Net addict?
CBG: Recently I've been very busy but when I have some spare time, I make it a point to go online and once I'm online, it's hard to get me off. You could say that I'm a part-time addict.
TWP: What do you usually do -- surf the Web, send and read e-mail, or chat?
CBG: Send and receive e-mail, sometimes chat. Most of my time on the Net is spent on responding to my e-mails and my guestbook entries.
TWP: What kind of sites interest you?
CBG: I like sites where I learn and discover new and different things. And I usually use it also to help me do my research work for school.
TWP: Since you have a chat area in your home page, I would assume you love to chat. Did it ever happen that you introduce yourself as Charlene Gonzalez in a Filipino channel and no one believed you?
CBG: Yes that's true. I tried it once and they didn't believe me. They responded by telling me "Yeah right! and I'm the brother of Charlene Gonzalez."
TWP: Do you disguise your personality when you chat?
CBG: In my own chat room, I don't. But sometimes I get to use 'Marilen' which is my character in my sitcom "1 For 3".
TWP: People who chat a lot have this stereotype of being social misfits who can't interact with people in the "real world". What can you say about this?
CBG: No, I wouldn't agree because the people who are computer addicts now have a step forward in the future. Because of the Internet, your list of friends become global and not just on the national level.
TWP: How is the Internet of use to you in your career or personal life?
CBG: It helps me interact with people and meet new friends.
TWP: I hope you don't mind being asked about your showbiz career for an Internet magazine. Netizens are suckers for showbiz just like everyone else. Anyway, when one mentions "Charlene Gonzales", the Ms. Universe pageant is always the first thing that comes to mind. Do you feel stereotyped?
CBG: In some ways yes, because some people have a certain connotation with regards to title holders. It can be quite frustrating for me to be able to tell, reach out, and prove to people that I'm just a normal person and we're all the same.
One thing I always believe is that I was born into this world as Charlene and I will also exit this world as Charlene also. And everything in between are just transition periods throughout my life. So it is always important to remember who you are, where you came from and to keep your feet well-rooted to the ground at all times.
TWP: Perhaps the second thing that comes to mind when your name is mentioned, maybe unfairly, is your TV show, "EZ Dancing". Were you always into social dance?
CBG: No. Actually when I first started EZ Dancing, it was like jumping into a big massive ocean and not knowing how to swim. But with perseverance and patience eventually I was able to get the hang of things for the show.
TWP: Which is most fun -- being an actress, a model, a beauty queen, or a dancer?
CBG: I would say that I enjoy the totallity of everything because each experience opens my doors and my eyes to new and different experiences.
TWP: Charlene, you strike me, and a lot of people, as an actress with a strong AB class appeal. Is this image a disadvantage in your career, or was it never a problem?
CBG: I never really thought about that when I started in the entertainment business. I was not really trying to target any sort of image. I was trying to be myself but have fun at the same time. It can be a disadvantage sometimes because it makes some people apprehensive to talk to you or approach you because they might have some stereotyped image in their mind.
TWP: Is showbiz a long-term career for you; what are your other plans in the near future?
CBG: As long as I'm enjoying and having a good time and making other people happy I will remain in this field but there will come a time where I will have to take the next step in my life and move on. For instance now, it has always been my dream to finish my studies and take up higher education. Now I'm trying to get the best of both worlds by having a showbiz career and pursuing my studies at the same time.