THIS YEAR has proven to be a lucky one for 17-year-old actress Bella Dowanna, who was born in Ipoh and raised in Kuala Lumpur.
The young lass churned out a convincing performance as a rape victim in the horror film M4M4 under the direction of Eyra Rahman which was shown in cinemas in early February.
The following month, she produced another mesmerising performance in the 13-episode TV series Budak Tebing under the direction of Feroz Kader, which focuses on the lives of a group of young friends. The critics and the audience could not stop showering her with praise.
She started her entertainment career at the tender age of six, when she appeared in several advertisements. When she was nine years old, she appeared in her first telefilm called Begitulah Sayang under the direction of Ahmad Idham. Her career took off and since then, she has appeared in numerous television shows.
Some child artistes in Hollywood have complained that they hated every moment of their stardom and felt their childhood years were stolen.
But that is not the case with her.
“My parents made sure I did not neglect my studies,” she says.
“I got the chance to go to school and mingle with kids of my own age. My childhood was not stolen from me.”
In fact she cherishes her experiences, and is extremely grateful for every moment in her career.
She says: “I get to meet and talk to the artistes that I used to see on television. I get to share screen time with them. How many kids can say that?”
She was jumping with joy when she got the chance to act opposite actress Nabila Huda, who plays her mother in M4m4.
“I really admire her,” she says.
“You can put her in any role, and she will play it convincingly.”
One actor whom she would really love to work with in future is the award-winning actor Bront Palarae.
“Like Nabila, he is also a versatile actor, and will always shine in any role you put him in.
“I aspire to be a versatile actor, just like them.”
Another actor she would love to share the screen with is Indonesian actor Randy Pangalila.
“I had a big crush on him when I was young,” she says.
She cites her gripping role in M4M4 as the most challenging of her career.
“My character has to go through a series of depressions after her rape, and I am grateful that my director Eyra Rahman helped me to get under the skin of my character,” she says.
This is not the first time she has worked with Eyra. She also worked with the female director in a television series called Cemburu Seorang Perempuan last year.
“I would love to work with her again,” Bella says.
“She is very strict with her actors and is very direct with her comments. But what I like about her is that she will help her actors to understand their characters.
“She will play music on the set to create a mood for the actor to get into their character.”
Her dream role is to play a shady character, someone whom the audience would love to hate.
She says: “So far all my characters have been ‘good girls’. I believe I can show a different side of me to the audience through a ‘negative’ role.”
When asked what advice she would give to youngsters who are just making their mark in the entertainment industry, she says: “You cannot enter the entertainment industry and expect to be famous instantly. My success did not happen overnight. I have been in the industry since I was six years old.
“I have been [continually] learning and never lost my focus throughout the years. You have to learn to be patient before you can enjoy the fruits of your labour.”
Her childhood dream was to be a pilot.
“These days with the pandemic, you cannot fly anywhere,” she joked.
After completing Form Five, she hopes to study for a degree in something related to business.
“I will never abandon my studies,” she says.
“I want to pursue my acting career after my studies. If my acting career fails to take off, then I will have a paper qualification to fall back upon.”
Her father Halim Mohd Said, 55, is the manager for a golf club, while her mother, Khadjijatul Nain, 44, is a housewife who also manages her career. She has two younger siblings, 16-year-old Sarah Dowanna Halim and 11-year-old Habiel Lutfillah Durrani.
Interestingly, her youngest sibling Habiel is following in her footsteps as a child artiste. Who knows – perhaps someday in the future, both siblings might share a moment onscreen?