2004 was her coming out year in the industry, when she joined Star Circle National Teen Quest and eventually bagged the title Grand Questor. From then on she has spent much of her teen years in one role or another, one of the most memorable of which was as Violeta Golda in Carlo J. Caparas’ Ang Panday. But her breakthrough role was as the put-upon teenage mother Nene Reyes in 2009’s Katorse, the TV adaptation of the 1980 film of the same title.
More than a doll
Up close, her tag as “Pinay Barbie” comes to life like a fully-poseable action figure with the upbeat and sugary demeanor that has earned her the adoration of her fans and her industry co-workers. This girl is as cheerful as they come, and it’s hard to believe she has little self-consciousness despite her stature as a young star. Not bad for a girl who started her career at the tender age of 14.
Fast forward to 2013. At 22 years old, and she’s got a resume longer than her arm as an actress, host and image model, plus a battalion of magazine covers to show for her success—including the one you hold in your hands. It’s like a reverse-engineered road to modeling where Erich learned the ropes as her star became brighter.
“I joined [Star Circle] in 2004 and that show had workshops and everything. Ever since then, I never stopped learning. Habang tumatagal ako sa industriya, lalo akong natututo,” says Erich.
Before that, though, the journey of the country’s sweetheart started in Cebu City, where she was born Erika Chryselle Gonzales Gancayco, in September of 1990. The youngest of three siblings, her family then moved to Davao City where she was raised, until she grew to a statuesque beauty.
“I’m thankful that my fans see me as an inspiration because I started as a provincial girl from Davao,” she shrugs. “And I want to tell them that dreams do really come true.”
Perseverance, stamina, and the total lack of fear for hard work are also her hallmarks. The same professionalism that has earned her the respect of the indie arthouse filmmakers with starring roles in Corazon: Ang Unang Aswang and the multi-awarded hip-hop movie Pinta*Kasi, to big studio efforts like the first Filipino and Thai film crossover collaboration titled Suddenly It's Magic –this one opposite Thai heartthrob Mario Maurer.
One of the biggest feathers in her cap may be the role of Divine in the indie film Noy opposite Coco Martin. This movie eventually became the Philippines' entry to the 83rd Academy Awards under the Best Foreign Language Film category.
“I really like acting. It’s really my passion,” she declares. “What I love about it is the transformation. I like being on set and seeing myself and those around me getting into their different characters. The playing pretend, it’s just great. It’s a challenge. I love challenges!”
Fuel to the fire
These days, Erich has been busy taping daily for the fantasy TV show Juan De La Cruz, and considers her packed schedule a blessing, instead of a hindrance to work around. This thespian is also blessed with such good genes that her naturally svelte figure keeps in shape without much of a workout routine. And with that she’s become the envy of many a girl who’s had to diet or join a weight loss program.
“I don’t have any diet or regular exercise,” she says. “But I do play badminton, maybe once a week. It’s pretty good for cardio. Before, I used to do running sa treadmill, but I don’t do that anymore.”
She does confess later that she’s already previously dabbled in boxing and some taekwondo before settling on badminton as her low-impact sport of choice.