Uyaina Arshad believes she was always destined to be where she is today

Uyaina Arshad was relatively unknown when she became the champion of Pengacara Nona Manis in 2015 and hosted Nona in 2016. Now, she is known as the host of Wanita Hari Ini. Still, few know that this 29-year-old from Perak has a background in law and fell in love with the arts when she was in university.

It started off as just a college activity for merits. Uyaina was studying for her law degree at University Malaya (UM) at the time. During her first year there, she signed with the university theatre group and she fell in love with being on stage.

“As a group, we started joining the Theatre Carnival, an inter-college activity. I had so much fun that I picked theatre every time for my other faculty elective course. I even studied under Erma Fatima at the Cultural Centre in UM and was in a play called Natrah,” said Uyaina.

She was a part of six productions in her four years at UM.

Looking back now as a TV show host and drama actress, Uyaina realised that she always had a passion for what she does currently and everything that she did had led up to where she is today.

“At school, I joined public speaking, storytelling and debate activities. I was always into presentations, speaking and convincing others.

“I miss theatre dearly. My university life was good because of theatre,” she said, adding that she and her friends who were in the theatre group had to go back to university a few weeks early during semester breaks for rehearsals.

“I miss acting on stage so much ... when the lights hit you and you can’t see the audience, but they can see you. It is about performance, improvising from mistakes and the sequence of a play. I miss the whole thing.”

She admits that the theatre scene in Malaysia was not doing well, even before the pandemic.

“Only a handful of my friends from the cultural centre got into the theatre industry,” she said.

“The rest of them do not know what to do with their degree”.

However, Uyaina knows how it feels to study for one thing but end up doing something else. She is a TV host with a law degree after all, and she champions the concept.

She was even once invited by Pertubuhan Alumni Rumpun Fakulti Undang-Undang Universiti Malaya to speak on the subject.

“Some think that they are stuck when they study law when in fact they can opt to do other things. There is more to it.

“Law is one of the best courses to take because it teaches you to think critically, trains you to speak publicly, polishes your public relations ability, and cultivates your problem-solving skills.

“Don’t let what you study hold you back from doing what you love to do, and that will translate into better mental health as well,” said Uyaina.

She is no stranger to criticism. From the very start, she had large shoes to fill when she took up the role as the host of Nona. No one knew her at the time and in the entertainment industry, it is tough to separate the art from the business. Influence and followers can hold more sway than talent.

Today, she still faces criticism, especially on digital platforms. However, she looks at her position as a public figure as a responsibility and how her response reflects on who she is.

So she turns to her family, especially her mother as her support system.

This was more so after she won the Putri Muslimah Asia competition in 2018, which made her a household name in Indonesia.

Nevertheless, she still meets people who have problems pronouncing her name, and the question: “How do you pronounce your name?” became one of the most tiring ones.

According to Uyaina, it is her real name and it was her mother’s idea. It is from the Arabic word for eyes, euyun.

“The thing is, people are more creative in finding ways to pronounce my name than my mum coming up with the name in the first place,” she said with a laugh.

Outside of the entertainment industry, Uyaina has started her own skincare business under the brand UA. Recently, she collaborated with another brand creating DYXY x UA.

Being a workaholic, Uyaina is always busy. But when she has some free time, she loves to watch movies, specifically movies based on true stories. When asked for recommendations, she listed Hacksaw Ridge (2016), My Way (2011), Dallas Buyers Club (2013), and Capernaum (2018) as some of her favourites.

She also shared her aspiration for making movies. Perhaps someday, as a writer, producer or even a director. But she admits that those roles will require her to study more.