Find­ing her iden­tity

> Diana Danielle talks about her con­nec­tion with the con­flicted Nina, a piv­otal char­ac­ter she plays in U-Wei Haji Shaari’s lat­est movie, Hanyut

The Sun (Malaysia) - - ENTERTAINMENT -

most of my [life] in Malaysia,” says the mother-of-two, who is mar­ried to tal­ented ac­tor Farid Kamil. “There is noth­ing Amer­i­can about me, ex­cept for my blood. I am a Malay at heart and I be­lieve Nina feels the same way too.” In Hanyut, Nina falls in love with a Malay man, to the dis­ap­proval of her Dutch fa­ther. But Nina chooses to go against his wishes, for the sake of love. “I’m a ro­man­tic at heart and I [see] that qual­ity in her,” says Diana. She points out that Nina’s fa­ther is not a per­fect man, and has done ter­ri­ble things to her and her mother. “It is ad­mirable for Nina to for­give her fa­ther and love him de­spite his flaws,” she says. Yet Nina her­self is far from per­fect. “She has a lack of con­trol over her life and her des­tiny,” Diana says.

In one scene, Nina bids good­bye to her fa­ther be­fore leav­ing him.

The scene has spe­cial mean­ing for Diana. Her par­ents di­vorced when she was a child, and she has not seen her fa­ther since.

“I never got to say good­bye to my dad,” Diana says.

“When Nina says good­bye, I [felt] as though I [was] say­ing good­bye to my dad, too.”

Ini­tially, Diana wanted to be an ac­tress be­cause she thought that once she be­came fa­mous, it would be eas­ier for her fa­ther to find her.

Even­tu­ally, she was forced to ac­cept that he was never go­ing to be a part of her life.

“It was at that point that I re­alised I [had to] be­come an ac­tress [for my own sake],” she says.

She says she har­bours no anger to­wards her fa­ther, and if he comes knock­ing at her door, she would calmly ac­cept him with open arms.

“I am not go­ing to judge my fa­ther,” she says.

“I feel no­body gets into a re­la­tion­ship and has chil­dren with the aim of aban­don­ing them.”

Diana adds that she nearly missed her chance to play Nina in Hanyut when di­rec­tor U-Wei Haji Shaari was hold­ing ex­ten­sive au­di­tions for the role.

“A lot of young ac­tresses were dy­ing to work un­der U-Wei,” Diana says.

“I was only 18 [then]. I was a strug­gling ac­tress and a new­comer. I was cer­tain that he would not choose me over a well­known [ac­tress].”

Diana de­cided not to at­tend any au­di­tions. She re­gret­ted her de­ci­sion al­most im­me­di­ately.

For­tu­nately for her, U-Wei did not find a suit­able ac­tress and Diana was able to visit him, and suc­ceeded in au­di­tion­ing for the role then.

Diana ad­mit­ted feel­ing in­tim­i­dated be­ing a part of Hanyut, be­cause the film has many ca­pa­ble re­gional ac­tors in the cast, from award-win­ning Malaysian ac­tor Khalid Salleh, to the late In­done­sian vet­eran Alex Ko­mang.

“I have to make sure my per­for­mance is not be­low par,” she said.

Her favourite mem­o­ries from the film shoot re­volve around the poignant scenes she shares with Sofia Jane, an ac­tress she ad­mires greatly. Sofia plays Nina’s mother Mem Pu­tih.

Diana de­scribes Sofia as a won­der­ful co-star who helped her to de­liver her scenes more con­vinc­ingly.

“Sofia is so beau­ti­ful that she looks like my daugh­ter, and I looked like her mother,” she says with a laugh.

Some peo­ple have re­marked that Diana closely re­sem­bles Sofia.

“I have asked U-Wei if he chose me [for the role] solely be­cause I look like Sofia,” Diana says.

“U-Wei is not the kind of man who will give you a straight an­swer. So, I just stopped ask­ing him [why].”

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