Posted: 30 Aug 2011 02:28 AM PDT
Young actress Siti Saleha Baharum is geared up for the challenges in her acting career.
Budding actress Siti Saleha Baharum has always considered Britain as her home, but deep down, Hari Raya is still meaningful and poignant to her. Though her mum now resides in England, Saleha looks forward to every Raya where she gets to meet family members from her father's side from Kuala Selangor and Klang in Selangor.
"I usually take a short break, one whole week to unwind and just lepak with family members. The first three Raya days are the most fun and lively," said the bubbly actress who was born in Basildon, England.
According to Saleha, she doesn't really have a kampung apart from her hometown in England.
"My dad is from Kuala Selangor. Unfor-tunately, both my grandparents aren't around anymore so every year we celebrate it around Klang Valley, particularly Klang," said Saleha, who is the third of four siblings.
As far as tradition is concerned, she has two baju kurungs ready for this year's celebrations. With a cheeky grin, Saleha hopes she can fit into them once she is done with the ketupat and chicken rendang delights at home with the family.
Apart from Raya, there are other things that this young woman, filled with spirit and spark, should be celebrating. Though a newbie, Saleha is fast gaining a name in acting circles.
Not because she is the baby sister of Shamsul Annuar or Sam Bunkface, the lead vocalist of local pop punk band Bunkface and Azenders (his second band). Or that she is always referred to as the face in a popular beauty product advert here.
Instead, it's all because of Nora Elena, the character she played in the drama series of the same name that caught the attention of 1.75 million viewers over national station TV3. Saleha became a household name almost instantly.
"I love Nora Elena because she made it possible for me to get further careerwise. Although I have been in show biz for nearly three years, this drama series gave me the breakthrough and exposure. I think I am very lucky," said Saleha of her hit character in the 24-episode drama which ran early this year.
Despite the popularity of Nora Elena, Saleha's brush with fame started much earlier.
At 12, Saleha was already modeling. At 13, she seized another opportunity to appear in a telco ad. Thanks to her Pan-Asian looks which she inherited from her British-Dutch mother, Tracey Johnson (or Aishah Rahman), and father Mohd Baharum, Saleha has made the most of her parentage. This has led to many other commercials and print advertisements here.
"It was a gradual progress for me. I graduated from TV commercials to TV actress. Thank God for that because it made me more confident as I can use my past experiences in commercials," said the 21-year-old actress.
When she landed her first TV role, Saleha proved that she was just as natural on a TV screen too.
She made an impact with all her acting roles, ranging from Kasut Tumit Tinggi, Farah, Kapten Boleh, 5 Jingga, Zaleha, Kecuali Cinta Mu and Awan Dania (second season).
Saleha, who acted alongside actor Aaron Aziz in Nora Elena, has also appeared in several telemovies, namely Puaka Topeng Putih, Hati Batu, Raya Mona and Kau Laksana Bulan.
"I really want to act in movies next. I want to be a versatile actress and tackle different roles. I do not mind doing older characters or teenage characters. A horror movie would be nice," said Saleha, who has also dabbled in theatre acting (Stage Therapy in 2009).
But this mass communication student at a private college in Selangor is not in a hurry to plunge into a film career straight away.
"I am not disappointed that I have not been cast in a movie role yet. The time has not come. I'm sure it will happen eventually. Until then, I will wait patiently for that break," said Saleha, who admires actress Vanidah Imran.
At the moment, Saleha can't afford to act full time as she needs to concentrate on her studies.
"I have a very packed schedule, so I can't possibly go for long shoots," said Saleha, who named 5 Jingga, Habil dan Qabil and Ustaz Amirul as her favourite dramas. Finishing her studies ranks high on her priority list.
"Honestly, I don't intend to pursue journalism because I know writing is not my forte. But I would probably focus more on broadcasting and PR. Right now, I'm in the middle of producing a music video for one of the assignments I have.
"Producing as well as directing is something that I would plan to do in the future. It's definitely on my list," said Saleha as she finished off this interview with a winning smile.
Posted: 30 Aug 2011 12:14 AM PDT
Quirkly but lovable? This week the sofa spudniks embrace memorable TV characters that have bucked the trend.
I'VE been watching The Glee Project and am so inspired by the concept of celebrating individuality and unique characters that I began thinking of my favourite television characters that truly encapsulated the idea of being extraordinary, whether they were good, bad or ugly.
Very quickly my mind honed in on more than a handful, whom I don't think I will ever forget.
No.1 on my list is Nellie Oleson. Created by Laura Ingalls Wilder for her Little House books (apparently she was a composite character based on several of Wilder's childhood acquaintances), Oleson was played to a T by actress Alison Arngrim. The character was unbelievably naughty, sharp tongued and cunning. She was rich, prim and proper, the exact opposite of our heroine Laura. She had everything Laura wanted and more (well, she was rich and always got her way).
Nellie's parents, Nels and Harriet Oleson, owned the only shop in the small town of Walnut Grove. Nellie took after her awful mother (Katherine MacGregor) and was nothing like her kinder dad (Richard Bull). She was the epitome of the spoilt child and I don't think anyone else has come close to playing this sort of a character, or at least left an impression the way Nellie Oleson did. The thing about Nellie is that she was so good at playing bad (she had a true mean streak in her) that we accepted her for what she was. In fact, we'd expect no less from Nellie than the absolute worst possible behaviour.
Next up, I have to mention the Prince of Weird, Fox Mulder (David Duchovny). Before the X-Files, I don't think I truly appreciated characters like him, not to mention his group of geek friends, the Lone Gunmen. But one doesn't get to make a cameo on The Simpsons unless one has some sort of monumental effect on the television viewing public, which no doubt Mulder certainly had on me.
So obssessed with paranormal, extraterrestial and conspiracy theories, Mulder's race to discover the truth (which he is certain is out there) becomes the force that drives his very existence. His sidekick, Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson), ably juxtaposes his character with her more scientific, rational, logical approach to life. A good yin and yang mix to keep all sorts of viewers happy.
I liked Mulder's particularly cynical brand of humour (google "mulderisms" to get a quick taste) and felt that Duchovny somehow managed to lend Mulder's character just the right amount of charisma to make him cool.
I can watch the X-Files over and over and not get tired of it. Yes, it has some far-out plots with mysterious twists and turns to whet my appetite, but mostly I think the series works because of Mulder, and the fact that he is matchless, in terms of someone who embraces his individuality and thrives on it.
I have more characters that I would like to expound on, for instance, absolutely anyone in the Alan Ball series Six Feet Under. The Fisher family – made up of Ruth, Nate, David and Claire – were absolutely divine. Each member so intricately different from the next and yet so believable as a family unit, albeit dysfunctional. The family business? They were funeral directors! Splendid! Again, with this series, casting was spot on because the actors (Frances Conroy, Peter Krausse, Michael C. Hall, Lauren Ambrose) managed to flesh out their suitably unique characters so convincingly.
But I can't dwell too long on them, because Indra is trying to bulldoze her way into this discussion and have a go at letting you know what she thinks individuality on TV is all about. – A.M.C.
UNLIKE Ann Marie, I am not a fan of Glee or The Glee Project. I am all for celebrating individuality on TV – you know, geek chic and all that – but not at the expense of good entertainment.
Somewhere along the line, I think Glee stopped being about compelling storylines built around interesting and often sidelined individuals. It became more about celebrity guest stars (does anyone else think there has been one too many episodes of Gwyneth Paltrow already?) and flashy song routines.
Musical theatre has given way to karaoke performances (err ... what was the Britney Spears tribute episode all about, eh?). What happened to the stories? What happened to character development? Glee lost the plot and I lost interest.
So I turned to another show that brings together an ensemble of oddballs – Modern Family. The 30-minute sitcom revolves around three households of one extended family: the first is the household of patriarch Jay Prichett (Ed O'Neil) and his hot, young Latina wife Gloria Delgado (Sofia Vegara) and her son Manny (Rico Rodriguez); the second household is that of gay couple Mitch Pritchett (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) and his partner Cameron (Eric Stonestreet) and their adopted daughter Lily; and finally there is Jay's daughter Claire Pritchett (Julie Bowen) and her family: husband, Phil Dunphy (Ty Burrell) and their children Haley (Sarah Hyland), Alex (Ariel winter) and Luke (Nolan Gould).
Every character in Modern Family is precious. But more than that, the stories are fresh every episode and the writing is funny.
My favourite Modern Family character? I like Dunphy – the uncoolest dad on TV at the moment. Dunphy and Claire met in high school where he was ... a cheerleader. Unlike his father-in-law Jay, Phil isn't a man's man. He's a hopeless handyman (I am quite sure that the wonky step he keeps tripping over will never get fixed) and he's not a jock (cheerleader, remember?). But, he's a doting husband and a loving dad.
He's an overgrown man-child and his idea of being a good parent is being friends with his kids: he believes in peer-enting, not parenting. He is goofy, but really sweet. He's the kind of dad you love (because he'd do just about anything for you – even console the boyfriend you just broke up with), but would rather your friends (certainly not your boyfriends) meet.
Why? Well, he's embarrassing. He thinks he's cool and reckons he's "down" with everything hip (hey, he knows the dance routines and songs from High School Musical – whaaat?) but he's just not. But Dunphy has good intentions and is so earnest in everything he does that you just love him.
He loves Claire to bits and though he occasionally catches himself drooling at a hot neighbour or even his stepmother-in-law Gloria, he's as harmless as a cat on prozac (and just about as clumsy, too).
So you see? You don't need a contrived show about oddballs (Asian girl with a stutter, fat girl with a big voice, wheelchair-bound kid who gets a break, bullied gay kid who sticks to his guns) to celebrate them — you need a good old-fashioned comedy like Modern Family. – S.I.
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