Paving her own path
Article from the Sun daily by Marion Fernando (posted on 08 Jan 2019)
FOR 26-year-old Jelisa Shanjana, pursuing a law degree and career in TV presenting seemed like a natural decision because she “was a chatterbox all along”.
Having trained under Datuk Aznil Haji Nawawi, she realised early on that talking is her strong suit that allows not only for her personality to shine, but to discover stories of people from different walks of life.
Possessing a repertoire of work in topics relating to politics, sports, and entertainment, the law graduate and former high school debater believes in hard work and dancing to her own rhythm in life.
What is the most interesting thing you’ve learnt on the job?
I’ve learnt everyone has something to offer. It could be a person on set [with] minimal amount of work to do but if we could all understand this idea better, of how everyone has that one side of them [in] whatever your job is. It could be you in a nine-to-five job. It could be you even being a waitress or whatnot. Everyone has something to offer. Everyone’s story is quite interesting. I’m a people person, so I take that very close to my heart, as compared to what my paycheck is or whatever else that happens to me outside [the job].
What is the biggest misconception that people tend to associate with working in front of the camera?
Oh, you can give me one whole day for this [laughs]. I struggled a lot being in law school, especially because of how everyone was very monotonous with how things were. They were very straightforward.
I’ve always been the kind of person that is ... different. I never wanted to fit in and I knew it from the start because it’s just exactly how I am. If I had to wake up in the morning and get myself dolled up for a 9am lecture, I would, because I want to.
It was just that whole misconception where, until today, I still struggle with because people generally have this impression that oh, so you just sit there, you look pretty, you speak to people, and that’s all.
But they do not understand that there’s a lot more that comes together with it, whereby you have to know what you bring to the table.
I love meeting people in order for me to pick up more, and I could also give them a lot of things that I can actually understand, so yeah, that whole idea is always an issue, until today.
How do you feel about working a job that tends to revolve heavily around social media?
I know I’m at this age where everyone is so engrossed [in] it. I’m not the kind of person that’s engrossed [in] it.
For me, I would never ever put my social media as my number one priority. It’s always just about [making sure] I ace my job, and then whatever else that falls in place for me, falls in place.
Social media is important to a certain extent when you’re getting your job done - and you may have a million followers - but if you don’t do it the way you should, and you are live on TV, you’re never getting hired again.
What would a typical day of work look like to you?
Let’s say I was shooting, and if I have a project that’s ongoing it’s pretty much just waking up in the morning, getting yourself all ready. Sometimes make-up takes longer, sometimes your hair takes longer and shooting can go on for hours.
The people you work with on set -that is your family, that is your set of friends. So outside, whatever that’s going on, I sometimes have to disconnect. TV never sleeps, so you have to continue and there are times where I don’t go back for festivals, I don’t go back home quite often. And because I was actually doing my degree in law at the same time I was working, I had to make sure all those hours which I had time to myself, was always put into my education again.
What is one social media habit you wish you would stop doing but you never do?
I think it would be shopping and trying to make sure I challenge myself in my own OOTDs. I love fashion very much. I am very serious. I would say I am slightly older than my actual age but I don’t want to take away that side of me that really likes my bling, and my Barbie’s, and fashion, because a woman can like books and shoes at the same time. There’s no problem with that.
Who inspires you in life?
To be very honest I would say it’s myself. I have a very very big support system, and most importantly I think, is my mum. She’s a single mum, and I was a very difficult child.
I was never the kind of person that wanted to dance to anyone’s rhythm and today, I see the same person that comes for any events that I have or the first person to run in front of the TV when I’m on air. She’s the same person that, back then in uni, would call me every single say to make sure that my grades were according to what she wanted.
If there’s one person who has always had a heart of gold, who had so much courage in her to put herself with whatever the situation was, it has to be her. She’s probably the one person – as much as I don’t answer her calls at times – is still my go-to person.