Ac­tress goes mul­ti­lin­gual in a touch­ing drama about pi­o­neer­ing Malaysians, re­ports DEN­NIS CHUA

New Straits Times - - Entertainment -

MULTI-tal­ented Sarah Lian has ap­peared in dra­mas and hosted awards, but her most chal­leng­ing role is her first pa­tri­otic drama this Merdeka, which features her speak­ing four lan­guages.

From Aug 26 to 31, view­ers can catch her in the six-episode Anak Merdeka on As­tro Prima.

In it, Lian plays a pi­o­neer­ing sin­gle mother named Betty, who is a long-suf­fer­ing mi­grant.

The mul­ti­lin­gual artiste who speaks flu­ent English, Malay and Hokkien, will be speak­ing in a fourth lan­guage — Malaysian Man­darin — in the drama. For the role, she had to take a week-long course in Malaysian Man­darin.

“It’s re­fresh­ing to play a gritty, young mother es­pe­cially since I’ve of­ten been cast in ‘hot chick’ roles. Best of all, I get to speak in four lan­guages — a per­sonal record!” said the Taip­ing-born 34-year-old model at As­tro’s Ne­garaku Cam­paign in Kuala Lumpur re­cently.

Star­ring Elvis Chin, Remy Ishak and Thanuja Anan­than, Anak Merdeka is co-di­rected by Shamyl Othman, Matt Lai, Aziz M. Os­man and Kabir Bha­tia.

Lian, whose mother tongue is Hokkien, learnt Man­darin dur­ing her teens in Van­cou­ver, Canada. She, how­ever, ad­mit­ted that Malaysian Man­darin is “a lot dif­fer­ent” from Man­darin in China or Canada.

“Malaysian Man­darin has ab­sorbed in­flu­ences from Malay and south­ern Chi­nese di­alects.

“Our di­rec­tor, Shamyl Othman, had me un­dergo a lan­guage class, and I en­joyed it. My par­ents have al­ways en­cour­aged me to be mul­ti­lin­gual. It is a chal­lenge but know­ing and speak­ing other lan­guages is a bonus, which will be use­ful when I spread my wings glob­ally,” said Lian who to date, has starred in United States, Hong Kong and Sin­ga­porean dra­mas, most no­tably es­pi­onage se­ries Covert Af­fairs.

This fash­ion com­mu­ni­ca­tions grad­u­ate from Ry­er­son Univer­sity in Toronto, Canada, said she ad­mired Betty as she rep­re­sented her ances­tors in a re­al­is­tic man­ner.

“Betty is like my great grand­par­ents who had to work hard to sup­port their fam­i­lies dur­ing Bri­tish rule and lived through the ter­ri­fy­ing time of the Ja­panese Oc­cu­pa­tion,” she said.

Lian views Betty as a “true Malaysian” for be­friend­ing ev­ery­one re­gard­less of their eth­nic­ity.

“Not only does she make friends across eth­nic di­vides, she also learns about their cus­toms and cul­tures, and mas­ters their lan­guages fast.”

Lian’s next project is ro­man­tic com­edy Get Hard, di­rected by Chan Wai Cheong.

“That will be in De­cem­ber, and it’s a hi­lar­i­ous look at Malaysian life,” she said, adding that Ola Bola’s JC Chee would be her costar in this pro­duc­tion.


Artiste Sarah Lian has starred in United States, Hong Kong and Sin­ga­porean dra­mas.

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