MANILA, January 5, 2004  (STAR) She became a celebrity via bold flicks. Her first starring role, Sambahin Mo Ang Katawan Ko earned for her a Star Award for Best Newcomer. But after several bold movies, Stella Ruiz decided it was time for her to reinvent herself.

Stella does not regret having made bold films. "One of the things I learned from my acting career was the more you bare, the more the audience will ask for more," she says.

But as a newcomer in the Ď90s, Stella was a notch higher. Not many new starlets had that rare opportunity to be noticed for their acting. Movie audiences expect bold actors to shed clothes.

"I have nothing against those who have shown more than I did. I donít want to do anything forced. People will notice."

Thus, when she made a 360-degree turn away from sexy films, Stella was firm and resolute in her decision. And she decided to concentrate on singing.

Stellaís love for music dates back when she was a teener. She also plays the guitar. "My friends have been telling me I should have pursued singing even before. Nauna sana ako sa iba."

To further hone her craft, Stella took voice and guitar lessons and bought a Yamaha Acoustic guitar, said to cost between P40,000 to P50,000. Stella has been entertaining people with her acoustic sets. Her favorite singers include Alanis Morisette, Michelle Branch and Cindy Lauper, among others. Aside from her solo shows, Stella also has had the opportunity to sing with Gary Valenciano, Vina Morales and Jimmy Bondoc, among others.

How does the audience react to her new-found profession? "Thereís a slight resistance. They canít believe it. Of course I used to be a sexy star. Pero ako deadma lang. Siguro di nila matanggap na maganda ako, maganda pa ang boses ko," she laughs.

Yes, she still gets ooohs and aaahs, especially from the male crowd. "What can I do? Iím sexy. Thank God, wala namang nambabastos sa akin."

Starting tomorrow, Stella performs at the Manila Pen Conservatory every Tuesday.

Last month, Stella had a hectic singing schedule. She was at the Musik Bar in Mother Ignacia last Dec. 12, at Carabana last Dec. 15, BF Dampa with Jimmy Bondoc last Dec. 16, Philippine Heart Center last Dec. 19 with Aiza Seguerra, and at Bagaberde last Dec. 18. She was also at Don Bosco Sta. Rosa with Jimmy Bondoc last Dec. 27. Stella also sat as one of the judges in the Miss Arctic at the Forum last Dec. 20.

"I am very excited with what I am doing. Imagine, itís only you and the guitar before an audience, without voice enhancers. They can tell if you are faking it," she adds.

And Stella Ruiz is not. Her talent is real.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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