In the spotlight

WITH zero experience and knowledge in performing arts, Mia Sabrina Mahadir has certainly made a name for herself in this tough industry today.

Having moved from Ipoh to Kuala Lumpur when she was a kid, acting was definitely not in the cards for her when she was growing up. After completing her Bachelor's Degree in Mass Communication, she did a string of odd jobs related to her field before she realised she wanted to chase after her dream of being an actress.

What made you pursue acting?

During my A-levels, I was going through a break-up and at the time my friend advised me to distract myself by going for theatre auditions since I've always been fascinated with films and stage performances but never had the guts to do so. But attending those workshops really helped take my mind off negative things around me and I've never regretted it since.

What does it feel like knowing you acted in Taiping Adagio, a film showcased at the Cannes Film Festival?

It was my first feature film and even though I had a small role in it, it still felt good knowing that I was part of a group of people representing the industry in Malaysia to well-known film producers and critics at one of the most prestigious film events abroad. It has certainly put Malaysia on the map at the Cannes Film Festival.

How do you prepare yourself for an audition?

Every audition means different roles. With that being said, doing research beforehand is a must. Prepare and equip yourself with everything there is to know so you won't be caught off-guard. Other than that, there's actually nothing else to do besides relaxing and being your genuine self.

Eating and resting well is also important because television or film roles require you to have more energy than usual whereas indie films are more laidback and soft.

How do you get into character for each role?

It helps to understand what your director wants from you. For example, before filming Girl from Sumatra, the director actually gave me a film to watch and told me to observe how the actors portray their roles and to improve myself.

Other times, I was given the opportunity to daydream and fully immerse myself in the character by thinking what would I do and how would I act if I was in that same situation.

What do you think makes you stand out from your fellow peers?

Firstly, I think it's an added advantage that I speak three languages as it has really got me a lot of roles in different projects. Besides that, I've also been told that I have a specific look that many are looking for in an actress. I realised that I'm also easy to work with and the key is to be humble.

Was there a time during filming that you felt really uncomfortable?

That actually happened once when I was filming with a partner that I have no chemistry with but I had to fake it to get the job done and stay professional as an actress. Other than that, theatre actually brought out another side of me, making me comfortable in my own skin. Ever since then, I've become fearless to pretty much any scenario that was thrown my way.

What advice would you give other aspiring actors?

Go to acting classes or workshops and don't just think about getting that instant fame without putting any effort or hard work into it. Acting isn't as easy as it seems. Not everyone is born a star.

You acted in Samudera that won the Malaysian International Film Festival Shortfilm Competition. What role did you play?

In Samudera, I played the lead role as a maid named 'Siti' who accidentally drowned her employer's baby and had to decide whether to stay and face the consequences or to run away with her daughter. There wasn't much pressure I'd say as filming was easy-going for me.

However, during the last day of filming my focus was disturbed and all I could think about was going home to sleep as I was exhausted from travelling to three different film locations.

Would you be writing or directing a movie or short film in the near future?

I've had some experience in writing and directing theatre but nothing with films yet. When the time comes, it would be great to be able to dive into that and develop something of my own.