SARAH LIAN STARS IN ‘ANAK MERDEKA’
Actress goes multilingual in a touching drama about pioneering Malaysians, reports DENNIS CHUA
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.