ACCORDING to Hannah Al Rashid, being a product of mixed race is both a blessing and a curse. Never mind how she looks, the internal conflict of “Who are you?” beguiles her more she says, quite dramatically, when asked about her “mongrel” background. (Her word, not mine.)
Born and raised in London to a French mother and Indonesian father, the 25-yearold considers English her mother tongue although she speaks French and Indonesian just as well. Three years ago, she decided to come to Jakarta to pursue a television career, as job prospects in London weren’t looking too good. “Also I wanted to see if I could live Asia, where my dad is from.”
After graduating from Development Studies at University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, she wanted to work with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), but that plan didn’t materialise. Meanwhile, she had done a music video with Indonesian band Yovie & Nuno, who were shooting in London, so that gave her a way into the entertainment business.
“I had a quite a few offers before but basically I explored hosting out of necessity because I was low on money. And I thought why not take on the offers I currently have. Then I started to enjoy it.”
Having gone to the Sylvia Young Theatre School in London, she has experience in drama, music and dancing. It was only in university that she became very academic. “Now I have the chance to get back into the arts scene.”
One of the paths that has recently opened up for her is a part in the upcoming Joko Anwar psychological thriller titled Modus Anomali. She starts rehearsing as soon as tomorrow.
“I am very excited about that. And I am very grateful that I am getting my break from my favourite Indonesian director. Bang Joko is my favourite person in the world. He is what every man should be like. When you meet him, he greets you with a hug and he tells you how beautiful you are. And I am like, ‘Bang, you know what, I wish all men greeted all women like that.’ He is definitely on my list of the nicest, most charming and honest people I have met in this industry. He brings out a really lovely quality in you, so I am hoping that when we start he’ll bring out some good acting in me.”
Hannah is just as excited about being a new face of Li. Like her counterpart in Hong Kong, Jason Godfrey, she loves food and travelling. She hopes with the wider scope that Li offers, Indonesia will be recognised as a place for good lifestyles and a place to visit for entertainment, food and fashion.
“I am very proud of my culture and I think Indonesia is probably the least exposed country when it comes to lifestyle. At the same time we have so much to offer. So I am very proud to bring the best of Indonesia to the rest of Asia.”
It is apparent from her energetic personality that Hannah is someone who is enjoying life very much right now. What is probably most admirable is her sense of adventure – moving all the way to Indonesia while her whole family is back in London, and only armed with the knowledge that she can do anything. “This is a very fickle industry – people get bored of you fast but I am not afraid of that. I am very passionate about what I do when I have it but I won’t limit myself to just that. I am open to any possibility.” –Mumtaj Begum