Ready, set, action!!
Article from the Sun daily by Ong Kah Shin (posted on 13th Oct 2015)
JENVINE Ong was only 17 when she made her debut in a television commercial. The 25 year-old bagged the second runner-up title at the Miss Chinese Cosmos Southeast Asia pageant two years ago, and is now acting in local drama series and films.
Being a former state table tennis player who has a background in tae kwon do, Ong easily grasps martial art techniques, which explains her action-packed roles in films. "I go for Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) training for four hours, twice a week. I really enjoy learning new stunts," said Ong, who dreams of becoming a kung fu actress like Tan Sri Michelle Yeoh and starring in a Hollywood action film.
Armed with sheer perseverance after her degree, Ong decided to pursue a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in May 2014 and has been scoring straight A's in every semester despite her busy schedule. "It has been quite difficult as I have to juggle between modelling, acting, studying and managing my beauty salon. Passion and determination brought me this far," Ong added.
Ong also noted that modelling and acting have influenced her life and her philosophy of it.
"In the past, my thoughts are constrained in a box but now I am quite open to ideas. I also like to take on things that challenge my ability," said Ong who has developed interests in music, snowboarding, dancing, archery and cycling.
How do you prepare for a drama or film role?
I do a lot of research beforehand. In order to present MMA stunts, I look for videos online. Many of my friends in the wushu sport scene also offer me some help. Our national wushu champion Michael Chin taught me a lot of wushu stunts, and how to look good and fight great on TV.
What about acting challenges you?
Crying for a scene is hard for me but I always choose to believe I can do it. Losing weight is also a big challenge as I gain weight easily and cannot say no to food. I exercise regularly and struggle with my diet so I would look fit on TV.
How is acting rewarding for you?
My experience of playing different roles such as a murderer, doctor, police and forensic investigator has trained me to be versatile. It trains my willpower to challenge myself and continue exploring my potentials. I also gain access to an extensive network of people from different backgrounds.
What's next in the pipeline?
I would probably pursue a Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA) after my MBA. Doing my MBA has been promoting my holistic growth especially in presenting and communicating, which enhances my onstage performance. However, it really depends on my schedule as DBA would require my full attention. Career-wise, I would like to explore the market in China. I recently came back from joining a reality show in Beijing.
How would you advise an aspiring actor or model?
If you have the passion, go for it without thinking too much. Every industry has its own difficulties. In the beginning, my parents didn't support me but slowly they changed their mind after seeing me work hard. I never thought I would join the Miss Chinese Cosmos Southeast Asia pageant or pursue a MBA; but winning third prize in the pageant motivated me to keep striving. Never give up on your dreams.
Special Female Force (Hong Kong, 2014) and Ge Mei Lia (Malaysia, 2013)
Mind Game (Singapore, 2015) and Turning Point (Malaysia, 2015)
Maxis (2015) and SEGi University (2015)
In a digital daze
Article from the Sun daily by Yee Jie Min (posted on 8th Oct 2015)
WHAT did it take for Fazil Fuad, 27, to be at the top? The managing director of creative technology enterprise Company27 (C27) came up through the ranks from his breakthrough photography gig with Nike, but most importantly, he learnt how powerful visual language can be.
Fazil started as a junior art director for an advertising agency, but his venture into creative technology began when he was headhunted by Rocket Internet which founded Zalora.
This was where he grasped the utilisation of art in technology – from something as pure as photography, it became a matter of user experience and user interface design.
"Essentially, what I am interested in is how human beings interact with visuals, whether it is a photograph or screen. Human being interfacing has made its way into, and crafted a whole vision in my life and career," he said.
What did you learn?
When I was with Zalora, what was interesting was how fast it grew. I was in charge of the front-facing aspects of the website. One of the bigger parts of my job was studying how people interact with visuals. We uncovered a lot of things. We managed to track that shooting clothes on different models would sell to different market segments.
Caucasian models work very well in Malaysia, and my theory is that Malaysian consumers are very aspirational. It is not so much of wanting to wear that dress – they want to be that person.
Images sell your product; you don't even read the description. But whether this person is happy, or will return (to purchase again) comes from the description. The purchasing behaviour of people in general is 90% very skewed towards visual interfacing.
How is it different being a creative director and a managing director?
The CD role demands one to be constantly thinking out of the box – most of the time, leveraging on ideals as opposed to logical or financial restrictions. Basically, being the craziest person in the room.
As MD, I had to adjust to a more wholesome approach, balancing what is best for the client, and C27's business objectives. We have a pack of very talented people and it gives me the ability to move the company into the directions that we want.
I have many mentors, which I fall back on in a lot of things. But why this company is here, and why I am managing director, is relevance – the passion to keep up with things.
Right now, it is still very daunting. I look at myself as a creator who works with equally minded people who want to do cool things.
How do you define a leader?
To me, a leader is a good communicator. In any relationship, 90% why things fall through is because of the lack of communication. It has the most destructive power when it comes to breaking an organisation.
What is the future?
Everyone says privacy is dead but I disagree; I think the definition of privacy is evolving as we strive to live more efficient lives. There is some information you can't give out, but our tolerance towards the invasion of privacy will evolve.
I believe products of the future, and their user experience will be extremely curated. In that sense, one day we will be totally fine with giving out certain amounts of information in order for us to live more efficiently.
For example, I don't want to click three times to get the leather shoes I want. The platform should already know what I like and should only show me things that I will actually buy.
How do you keep up?
You don't have to keep up – the world makes sure you keep up. Everyone is bombarded by content every single day. Information is pushed towards you and you need to filter it yourself. To keep up with trends takes a lot of reading and experiencing, not so much of going out and getting it anymore.
The art of being Zen
Article from the Sun daily by Hanna Alkaf (posted on 21st Sep 2015)
ZEN Cho is not your average lawyer. The 29-year-old Malaysian, who lives in the UK, also happens to be the best-selling author of Spirits Abroad and the editor of Cyberpunk: Malaysia, both anthologies of short stories from local publisher Fixi Novo. And September will see the release of the much anticipated Sorcerer to the Crown, the first book of her fantasy trilogy set in Victorian London, under Ace Books in the US and Pan Macmillan in the UK.
Did you always want to be a writer?
Yes. I think my family was a bit puzzled by it when I was young and doing all these weird things such as spending hours reading in the bathroom, and covering the computer screen whenever they passed by – I didn't like anyone seeing my works in progress, then or now. But they've been delighted about Spirits Abroad, Cyberpunk: Malaysia and Sorcerer to the Crown. I am very lucky. They're hugely supportive about writing and everything else, practically and emotionally.
How did you find and hone that distinct writing voice and style?
I did it by reading and writing a lot. One thing I did as a teenager was write pastiches: I'd write short stories in the style of, say, Rudyard Kipling or P. G. Wodehouse, just for the fun of it, and to see if I could.
The greatest single change since those days is that, while I still love pastiche, I've developed the courage to abandon it and write in my own voice for the stories that need it. But obviously that's a voice that contains echoes of all the things I've read and that have influenced me.
What inspires you when it comes to your writing?
I write primarily in two modes. One is fantasy in a Malaysian setting, or with Malaysian characters. The other is what I jokingly call fluff for post-colonial book nerds.
For the first type of story I'm generally inspired by things that happen in my life – it saves on research, because you just take an incident that actually happened and add some magic. The second mode is my outlet for my pastiche habit. I draw inspiration from the books I loved as a kid and teenager, but add dragons or spaceships.
As a Malaysian Chinese living in the UK, how has this juxtaposition of cultures affected you as a writer?
Living in between cultures – being this dislocated person – has shaped my work in all sorts of ways. With my view of fantasy in particular, I call my stories that feature Malaysian hantu and Chinese vampires "fantasy" because that's the market niche they seem to fit, but actually it is so natural to write of hantu as real because that's how you talk about them at home. I don't believe in hantu myself, but I'm a bit worried they might not care whether I believe in them or not. Maybe my stories aren't fantasy, but a version of realism incorporating a level of reality that isn't generally accepted by modern, Westernised people.
The local English literary scene has evolved a lot in recent years. What are some of the improvements you've seen, and what do you think we can do better?
Improvements are in bulk and visibility. There seem to be more writers than ever before,and we can connect with each other now thanks to the Internet. I think we're doing a lot of the right things in building community, supporting one another, continuing to write and improve our craft. One thing I would like to see is people reducing the extent to which they look West, and figuring out different forms of validation and ways to get their stories out there, other than the standard US/UK publishing deal.
Would you ever give up being a lawyer to concentrate solely on writing?
Maybe. I can see circumstances in which it would not be possible to maintain the two careers anymore, and I'd have to choose one, though honestly writing might not even be the choice. (I'll always write, but publishing is an uncertain industry.) It would be a shame to give up law altogether, though. I take a lot of pride in my job and I think being a lawyer has actually made me a better author, and vice versa.
More than a Youtuber
Article from the Sun daily by Jessica Chua (posted on 1st Oct 2015)
IF you're a YouTube junkie, you may have come across this bubbly girl by the name of Jenn Chia. Her YouTube stint began in 2009 when she posted a video of herself singing and playing on the piano a song that she wrote.
Her YouTube channel "So I'm Jenn" has since grown into an archive of self-written songs, covers, skits and vlogs. Chia makes music from time to time by herself if not with her band KissKillMary.
Nonetheless, she prefers presenting her musical projects in front of a live audience, and focuses on creating entertaining skits for YouTube.
"I'm very passionate when it comes to creating ideas and more importantly, I'm very inspired by people. I like to connect with people in any way possible, especially through ideas.
"A lot of things that I talk about are very inspired by people's antics," said the 24-year-old.
This passion and interest gave Jenn the courage to quit her job and concentrate on YouTube full-time as a content creator.
Recently, she ventured into TV hosting after being recruited as the newest face of The 8TV Quickie.
What do you love about YouTube?
The way it connects people. If you have a voice for something, and you want to do YouTube, just put it out. You may get only five views but those five views are a big deal. You never know who'd be watching.
It was through my videos that I met Mark O'Dea which then led to 8TV.
Where do you find the strength, focus and balance in wearing so many hats?
There are days when I ask myself, "What are you doing?" It is very easy to feel demotivated. The characterdefining moment is how you bounce back from that. So for me, I always look in the mirror whenever I feel doubtful, and I think about the ultimate goal.
I try to get myself involved in everything and meet different people because you never know what can happen. And that kind of ignites something from within. I also learn to balance everything by taking some time off for short trips every now and then.
What is your recipe for creativity?
Don't limit yourself. When you have an idea for something, develop it a little bit more. Don't give yourself excuses about why the idea shouldn't be happening. When you do that, it curbs your creativity.
As a content creator, you've got to be able to envision ideas and have the audacity to execute them.
What message do you hope to speak through your work?
I want it to relate. I want people to know that they're not alone. For example, I'm an insecure person and I know that I'm not alone. I think having insecurities doesn't mean that you will fail in life.
It is how you work on your insecurities and find value in yourself. So my work is all about being with you and showing you that we can connect with the same
How do you deal with criticisms and haters?
I talk to people whose opinions I respect. Then I ask myself if I'm happy being who I am and doing what I do. I take a moment and accept the fact that there are people who hate you, and people who love and support you.
The moment you accept that and move on, that's when you can be yourself. I watch Gordon Ramsay a lot. When they have problems in the kitchen, Chef Ramsay always says, "Bounce back up!"
That shows how you handle problems. You bounce back up.
What is your personal advice to aspiring YouTubers and content creators?
Ask yourself, "What's the worst that can happen?"
That's something that I always ask myself. Be thick-skinned and just do it. I'm still alive, passionate and capable. So I'm just going to put myself out there.
At the end of the day, you want to satisfy yourself.
Article from the Sun daily by Yee Jie Min (posted on 15th Sep 2015)
ZULKIFLY Mohamed Din might be the friendly barista you meet as you grab your daily dose of coffee, but the 23-year-old is not just competent in the art of brewing coffee but is also nifty in playing the saxophone. Zulkifly, a Starbucks shift supervisor in Ampang Jaya, is a self-taught saxophone player. He says his love for coffee enables him to play better music; showing passions do go hand in hand.
What stirred your passion in coffee?
I studied a little about coffee when I was pursuing my diploma in plantation and management, but it was with Starbucks that I learned all about coffee.
Tell us your experience with Starbucks.
I've been with Starbucks for almost two years. It took me some time to learn the recipe for every beverage. Espresso beans are rich and 'caramelly', and are used for latte, cappuccino and mocha. There are also flavoured beans for brewed coffee. These beans can have a cocoa or lemony flavour, and different blends such as willow blend, medium blend and dark roast. This can be differentiated through smell, acidity, aroma and body – the four major steps in coffee tasting.
I also learned the art of brewing coffee. Starbucks uses three types of coffee machines – La Marzocco, Verismo and Mastrena. For Mastrena and Verismo, the machine automatically grinds the coffee beans to make an espresso shot, but for La Marzocco you need to grind the coffee beans manually before using it to make the espresso shot.
Working in Starbucks is a unique experience as I not only need to make beverages, I also have to serve food and be the cashier. It makes me a well-rounded person. I also learnt about people and their demands. Some customers are in a hurry so we need to serve them quickly, while others are friendly and easy to communicate with.
What's your most memorable experience as a Starbucks employee?
One of the memorable experiences was joining a CSR programme at Kg. Lubuk Jaya. The community there runs a banana farm which is one of Starbucks' banana suppliers. Starbucks built a computer centre in the village for its community.
As part of the programme, we did some landscaping and made storybooks with the children there.
Why the saxophone and how did you master it?
I started playing the saxophone when I was 15 years old. I was inspired by a friend who regularly went to Istana Budaya to practise and perform. I chose it because it presents me as a gentleman.
It wasn't easy learning to play the saxophone. I taught myself with some guidance from my friends and YouTube. I also learnt improvisations through books and friends.
When I first started playing the saxophone, there would be a little noise and squeaky sound if I blew it wrongly. Back in school, I joined the marching band and it was there I first learnt about music.
I have played with a band called D'Highschoolian Quintet in Alamanda Shopping Centre, The Curve and One City Mall. Nowadays, I play the saxophone twice a week but when I miss it, I would play it every day.
How do coffee and music make a good pair?
After I joined Starbucks, I became a coffee lover and realised that coffee makes me a better musician. I need to manage my time between work and playing the saxophone. When I am practising, I put aside my job and am more focused in what I am doing; vice versa.
What is your plan for the future?
I want to have my Starbucks' Coffee Masters and am studying for it. My aim for next year is to jump to the next level of my career.