From Mambau to Hollywood
Comedian and TV host Nabil Ahmad says his Oscars experience has changed him for the better, writes Syahirah Mokhtazar
WHEN Nabil Ahmad attended the 89th Academy Awards for HBO in Hollywood earlier this year, he had the privilege of interviewing an array of A-list celebrities on the red carpet. Although each interview deserves a story of its own, some clearly stood out more than others.
Nabil jokes that Salma Hayek had said that he looks like her future husband. “Seems like I have another reason to go back to Hollywood!” he says, with a laugh.
On a more serious note, the comedian recalls advice given to him by Datuk Jackie Chan, when asked about how the actor made it to Hollywood. “Jackie says you don’t have to chase Hollywood. If you do good in your country, Hollywood will come to you. Those words really touched me and motivate me to be better in my career,” says Nabil.
The former dispatch boy-turnedcomedian and now TV host has come a long way since winning Raja Lawak Season
2 back in 2008. “I never thought my career would lead me from Mambau, Negri Sembilan to the red carpet at the Oscars in Hollywood,” he says.
“I am proud of myself because I know where I began. People associate Raja
Lawak comedians with those incapable of speaking English well, so when I was selected to represent HBO at the Oscars, my friends in the industry were so proud of me. I’m very thankful for that.”
TIME TO BE ON TIME
Nabil did not only bring back a moneycan’t-buy-experience from the Oscars, he also observed how Hollywood executed the prestigious event so efficiently. “People were extremely efficient and punctual. In the world of production, be it for TV, film or a big event like this, punctuality is crucial.
“The event started and ended on time. When they said TV host Ryan Seacrest would be walking on the red carpet at 11am, the red carpet would be cleared for him to walk at 11am sharp. I think this is something we lack in our entertainment industry. Because of what I experienced, I have learnt to be punctual as well. If you tell me my call time is at 9am, I will be there at 9am,” he says.
Fans of Nabil can catch him on HBO Sentral, a TV show that serves as a fun, interactive guide to Hollywood movies and awardwinning HBO Originals showcased on Astro.
Now into its Season 4, Nabil took over from actress Lisa Surihani, who was the show’s host in Season 1. “I’m excited to be back to offer viewers at home more interactive content. We’ve got games, contests, guests artistes and so much more.
“It’s challenging since I have to host in both Malay and English.”
Prior to the Oscars, the 34-year-old says he took up English language classes. “My mother is an English teacher. But since she teaches at a kindergarten, my English was rather on the same level as kindergarten kids!
“Realising how expensive the classes were becoming, I decided to then just communicate in English with my daughter, who learns to speak it well from school.”
His Oscars stint has certainly given him more confidence. Nabil reveals that he recently started his own production house, Nabil Production, with a few friends who are in the industry. “My first production, a sitcom titled Bus Setop, will air on Astro Warna on June 1,” he says, of the company established six months ago.
“Working behind the camera is my longterm career plan, as I wouldn’t want to stay in the limelight for too long,” says Nabil, before adding, “I believe that you should stop before people stop you.”
But he’s not retiring anytime soon. Although he admits that he’s a little nervous to show everyone his debut project from his production house, he is very thankful to have been given the chance by Astro to show what he can do behind the camera.
“When you’re in this field, you have to be smart because there will always be someone better than you.”
“You should start venturing into something else so people still recognise your name.”
The 13 half-hour episodes of Bus Setop will feature a slew of stars including Sherry Al-Hadad, Ebby Yus, Angah Raja Lawak and Ippo Hafiz. Expect some cool guest artistes as well, such as rocker Datuk Ahmad Azhar Othman (Awie) and actress Nabila Huda.
“I am more confident venturing into different things now. After conquering the red carpet at the Oscars, I feel like I can do anything. This is Nabil reinvented, this is Nabil 2.0,” he says, flashing his megawatt smile.
Nabil has come a long way since winning Raja Lawak Season 2 back in 2008.