STAR for All Seasons and Batangas Governor Vilma Santos relished working with successful names in the show business on her latest Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival entry "Ekstra."

On her first independent movie venture, Vilma breathe life to the character of Loida Malabanan, a single mother who works as a bit player both on television and the silver screen. To highlight her role in the film, the production tapped Kapuso actress Marian Rivera and ABS-CBN talents Richard Yap and Piolo Pascual for cameo roles in the project.

"Ekstra," co-produced by Star Cinema and Quantum Films, is this year's Cinemalaya top grosser. Santos also won this year's Best Actress award for Director’s Showcase for her role as Loida.

Rivera, Yap and Pascual's inclusion helped highlight her role as a bit player in show business, Santos said during a press conference on Thursday afternoon at the Dolphy Theater in Quezon City. It added layers on her depiction of the job.

"Kailangan talaga na makasama namin ang mga sikat na artista para mas lumitaw po ang pagiging ekstra ko. Hindi lilitaw ang pagka-ekstra ko kung hindi lilitaw ang mga big stars," she said.

Santos then thanked Piolo, whom she was able to work with in the 2002 Star Cinema flick "Dekada 70."

The actress-turned-politician also shared that she became good friends with Rivera after doing the movie. She now fondly calls her "Baby Marian."

"Noong sinabi ni Atty. Joji (Alonso) na si Marian ang isa sa mga malalaking artista, she was the one who agreed na makasama siya sa Ekstra with Ate Vi. Hindi pa kami nagkasama at hindi pa rin nagkita (before shooting). That was the first time," Santos said.

Rivera did not ask for anything in return. She's just happy the younger actress accepted the offer and they became good friends after the project, Santos added.

"Hanggang ngayon ay textmate ko siya. Ka-text ko lang siya kagabi. Masaya ako na may nabuong friendship and closeness," said Santos.

Meanwhile, Vilma revealed that the inclusion of Cebuano actor Richard Yap in the indie movie was her only request from the producers of the film.

She's a follower of Richard since his early days in "My Binondo Girl" and his current big hit, "Be Careful with My Heart."

Santos said, "Si Ser Chief, sabi ko kay direk, 'Direk, ang dami nating big stars, baka pwede namang lumabas dito si Sir Chief. Kasi fan ako ng 'Be Careful With My Heart.' Kapag day-off, nasa bahay lang ako, nanonood ako talaga and nai-in love ako sa character nilang dalawa ni Jodi (Sta. Maria)."

Santos also thanked the participation of seasoned actors Cherie Gil, Cherry Pie Picache, Eula Valdez and Pilar Pilapil.

"Sa lahat po ng big stars, mga kaibigan ko na talagang nagbigay ng oras nila para mabuo yung 'Ekstra,' salamat. Kung wala sila, hindi mabubuo (ang pelikula). From the bottom of my heart, maraming-maraming salamat po."

"Ekstra" garnered a total of five awards in the recently concluded Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival. It is set to hold its theatrical released starting August 14 in cinemas nationwide. (Sunnex)