Emmy Award-winning actress Jodi Sta. Maria is best known for playing Amor Powers in the 2015 remake of Pangako Sa’Yo; she also starred in the hit 2016 film, The Achy Breaky Hearts. Now, she takes on the lead role of Nikki Villegas in CBN Asia Presents, In My Father’s Arms, airing on April 14 (Good Friday), 5:00 p.m., on ABS-CBN 2.
Written by John Valdes Tan who also co-directed the film with Icko Gonzalez, In My Father’s Arms is a moving story of the kind of love that is available to us in the arms of our Savior. Let’s get some insight into the mindset of this talented ingenue:
What made you say yes to this project with CBN?
This is something I have never done before. I consider this as ministry work. I’ve been in the business as an actor for 17 years and I believe that it is really important to share the message of this story to the audience. I actually feel honored and privileged to be a part of this Holy Week Special.
What was it like working with CBN Asia?
It’s different (laughs). This is the very first time that I worked with CBN Asia. I like how we begin our day with a prayer and whenever there are important scenes or heavy scenes, we always pray. We also end our day with a prayer. We all know that we are doing something that brings glory to God so it is really different in that sense, and I like how calm the set was (laughs).
Tell me about your character. Who is Nikki?
Nikki believes that there are mistakes in life that are really unforgivable. Something tragic happened to their family and she blames herself for it. Because of guilt, she ran away from home.
What similarities do you have with Nikki and how did you use it to connect to her character?
I used to think that there are things we do in life that are really unforgivable. There are mistakes that cannot be erased and you end up blaming yourself for it. That’s how Nikki and the old Jodi are similar.
What’s the difference or edge of your character as Nikki from all the other roles that you have portrayed before?
All the roles that I portrayed before are really different from each other but among all of them, it was only Nikki’s character who received the most important gift of all, the grace and love of God.
What are the lessons that you learned from the story itself?
Doing this, I realized how our Father in heaven really loves us. I was reminded of a quote from Corrie ten Boom that says, “There is no pit so deep that God’s love isn’t deeper still.” No matter how great we think our sins and mistakes are, God’s love and forgiveness is still greater. All we need to do is to come to Him, ask for forgiveness, and then put our faith on Him.
What realizations do you hope the viewers would get from this Holy Week Special?
Most of the time people are reluctant to come to God because they have a wrong picture of Him. They see Him as a tyrant, punishing you for every mistake. But then what they don’t realize is that He is a loving, gracious, and compassionate God. So after watching this special, it is really my prayer that people will realize how much God loves them. Like Nikki, if they committed a grave mistake in the past, God is always able to forgive them; and that by receiving Jesus in their lives, they’ll get the opportunity to experience real freedom.
In your opinion, how important is it for the people to see this kind of inspirational story?
I think it is important because it is not every day that a show would really tackle or talk about the love of God. You can usually watch stories about human love – like a mother’s love, a father’s love, this or that kind of love. But it is unusual to watch something about the unconditional, agape kind of love. So I hope that people will realize this as they watch In My Father’s Arms, that the story itself will move their hearts and also speak to whatever situation they are currently in.