WHEN almost all teen actresses were breaking ground with school-girl roles, then 18-year-old Maja Salvador embraced movie acting by first playing the psychic girl whom Kris Aquino confides in the 2006 blockbuster, Sukob. Her debut movie eventually collected P186 million and would go down in recent memory as the second highest-grossing Filipino movie of all time. Not a bad start. Four years into show business, four of the seven movies she’s starred in have been scary and successful. Despite having no premiere night, last year’s Villa Estrella maintained its box office status in its four-week run.

Today, the 21-year-old actress, Maja has pretty much done it all, besides acting in horror movies, that is. While promoting her latest movie, Star Cinema’s Cinco, she continues to charm the television audience by impersonating new comedienne, Melai Cantiveros, every afternoon in ABS-CBN’s Impostor. She’s also played as the “other girlfriend” in the John Lloyd Cruz-and-Bea Alonzo love team in One More Chance.

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Kooky, scary and sexy—what has this girl not tried? Try action movies. Maja shares in her latest visit to Cebu: “Mahal ko ang lahat ng mga naging roles ko. Pero ang gusto kong subukan, ang action movies! Pero hindi pa yata ako handa (I love all the roles I’ve done. I want to try action movies but I don’t think I’m ready for that yet).”

Besides having affection for challenging roles, she has filiations and a paparazzi-scrutinized family history to back up her talent. As niece to action star Philip Salvador, Maja was after all “discovered” by network executives when she reunited with her dad, 80s actor, Ross Rival, televised live.

So when it comes to playing many of her “scary” roles, she does not let her imagination wander far. Growing up, she spent many years in her grandma’s ancestral house in Aparri, Cagayan.

Maja remembers: “Kahit wala akong ‘third eye,’ maraming beses na akong kinalibutan sa bahay ng lola ko. Naranasan kong parang feeling ko na tinututukan ako ng ibang tao pero ako lang naman ang nag-iisa dun (Although I don’t have a ‘third eye,’ I’ve had many scary experiences in my grandma’s house. Sometimes I’d feel as if somebody else was lurking in the room where I was alone).”

The horror-movie princess is quick to admit that scaring the audience is a team effort by commending the special effects team in Cinco: “Kahit maraming tao sa set, totoo talagang natatakot yung mga artista. Siguro yung pinaka-scary moment ko yung eksena na may gumagapang na kamay (Even when there are a lot of people on the set, the actors still get a real fright.

I’d have to say I really got scared in a scene when they operated a crawling hand).”