IN 2007, Iman Corinne Adrienne lived in a house in Hulu Langat, Selangor with 40 cats and four dogs. Most of them were rescue animals.
“I am one of those people who doesn’t believe in buying pets,” says 42-year-old Iman, who made her acting debut 20 years ago in the local English-language indie film Spinning Gasing under the direction of Teck Tan.
“I always empathised with animals that were not cared for. I have never showed this part of me in public, except for occasional posts on my social media.
“Some of the animals came to my house on their own accord, because they could smell it was an animal haven.”
She remembers one occasion where a Tibetan Mastiff (a large breed of dog) appeared in front of her house. Later, she discovered the previous owner had rather heartlessly abandoned the dog when it grew too big for them to handle.
She took the dog under her wing, and even managed to find better home for it.
She is extremely glad that her son Noah, who is now 11, spent his early years growing up alongside these beautiful animals, which indirectly encouraged him to become an animal lover like just like his mum.
Sadly, in 2011, she had to move out from her house in Ulu Langat and return to Kuala Lumpur, forcing her to give away all the animals – except for one dog, named Milu.
“I rescued Milu when I found him as a puppy with a broken foot on the roadside,” she says.
“He was the only pet I owned.”
But last year, everything changed. Just before the outbreak of Covid-19, a cat turned up on her doorstep, weak and hungry. She took it in, and slowly the cat has become a new addition to her family.
“Her name is Lily,” Iman says.
Her love for the dogs and cats soon grew to a love for the environment and wildlife as well. From 2016 to 2018, she purposely took a break from acting.
She attached herself to several nature-themed projects and documentaries, taking on roles as a host, producer and director.
“I was incredibly lucky to have worked on these projects,“ she says.
Coincidentally, all her projects were all shot in Sabah. Every time she visited Sabah, she learned something new about wildlife, which made her more passionate about the issues close to her heart.
One of the projects she is particularly fond of was a 2017 travel documentary called The Rainforest Heroes of Sabah which she directed and co-hosted with actor Bront Palarae.
She remembers a segment in the documentary where they went to The Borneo Rhino Alliance in Tabin Wildlife Reserve, which at the time housed the last three Sumatran Rhinos in Malaysia, Puntong, Kertam and Iman.
“The last I heard all of them had died,” she said.
“Apparently we could be the last people to film them together before their demise. I was proud to have met them.
“Sumatran Rhinos are a dying species. I heard the Indonesian government is taking some initiatives to save their own Sumatran Rhinos, and I hope they will be successful in their efforts.”
She believes our rainforests make Malaysia unique, and can attract travellers from all around the world.
“If we neglect our rainforests now, then our future generations will have to live in [a deforested] Malaysia, and we would lose out on tourism,“ she says.
She suggests that more schoolchildren should be given the opportunity to experience Malaysia’s natural resources for themselves, and indirectly this profound experience will create more awareness within them to protect our ecosystem.
Where her acting career is concerned, she recently finished shooting two films. The first one is called Air Force the Movie under the direction of Zulkarnian Azhar, while the other is Police Evo 3 under the direction Syafiq Yusof.
“I am not at liberty to discuss my roles at the moment,” she says with a laugh.