Liyana Jasmay, Little Miss Dynamite

Liyana Jasmay may be small in stature, but she is definitely not short on personality and talent. At a glance, she could easily pass off as someone who’s in their early 20s. But she is in fact, 31 and is a proud wife and mother-of-two. She is also an actress, singer, filmmaker and, producer.

Liyana is one of the many petite powerhouse celebrities in Malaysia. But she is one of the few who had an early headstart to her career as a child actress, having landed her first acting role in 1997 when she was just 9.

Being young and beautiful wasn’t the only thing that helped  Liyana solidify her presence in showbiz, it is also her sharp intelligence, and humility that propelled her to success.

Since then she slowly made herself a household name in the Malaysian entertainment scene after landing roles on the small and silver screen.

Today she graces the cover of SalamToday, as the fourth Face of Salam.

The SalamToday team sat down for an exclusive interview with the artiste and was delightfully amused by the stories she shared about her career which has spanned over two decades.

THE REALITY

Showbiz may look all glitzy and glamorous (well, it is) but anyone who works in showbiz will tell you that it’s not all fun and games. This is something Liyana concurs with.

“Showbiz is hard.  Having been in the industry since I was 9 – I’ve witnessed a lot of things that happened before me,” she said.

But good or bad, witnessing the reality of how showbiz works at such an early age, served as life lessons for Liyana.

In a way, it prepped her to not get carried away with the highs of celebrity life. Keeping herself grounded even after all these years was crucial for her. But she also had her family to thank for always pulling her feet back to the ground, when she needed them to.

“When you’re young and have money, you’ll feel on top of the world and feel entitled to do absolutely anything you want.

“If I didn’t have my parents discipline my finances and refrain me from spending my money on a whim, I would’ve been out of control.

“I really have to thank them for being not only my support system but for keeping me in tune with reality,” she emphasises.

“Had my father not stopped me from spending all my money back then, I wouldn’t have the money to fall back on for the inevitable rainy days,” she adds.

Indeed, parents know best. There came a point in time in her career over the last few years when she didn’t receive any acting job offers.

“For two to three years, I was depressed. I didn’t understand why nobody offered me any jobs.”

“I thought to myself – did I need to change my appearance? What was it that the industry wanted? I felt like I was not good enough. It got to a point where I told my mother I didn’t want to pursue this career anymore.”

 

THE EPIPHANY

It was then that her dad had a sudden realisation. Why not Liyana create opportunities for herself, instead of waiting for others to give it to her?

“He was right. Life is all about creating opportunities. So I stopped waiting and started working towards achieving my dreams.”

Soon, with the help of her father, Liyana and her sister had their own production studio up and running, called the Mermaid Studios.

It was a blessing in disguise for Liyana, who then adds another profession to her resume. On top of being an actress and singer, she now also a producer and a filmmaker.

But then came another challenge to build her name as one of the country’s movers and shakers.

“Our journey to produce things on our own was not too easy either.

“I’ve had many people doubt our capabilities, but there were some who helped us along the way,” she says.

The most recent film she produced was called ‘Bella & Jamie’, which is a lighthearted story that centres on two best friends, Bella and Jamie, who are about to become stepsisters as Jamie’s father intends to marry Bella’s mother.

But things quickly turn sour when Jamie discovers that Bella is secretly dating her ex-boyfriend, breaking the girl code. This kind of plot feels familiar to the plots of iconic teen movies from the West that have starred Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, Hilary Duff and Lindsay Lohan for example.

The film wasn’t an overly huge success, but she is thankful for the experience, as it helps to better her as a filmmaker and producer in the future.

To date, Liyana can proudly say she has produced more than 20 dramas, films, telemovies and shows. With her burning passion and dynamite spirit, best believe she’ll only be doing so much more than that in the coming years.

INSPIRING OTHERS

Not too long ago, Liyana had produced and hosted a lifestyle travelogue series called ‘Hijab Journey.’ It focused on finding and talking to Muslim women all over the world who are able to share their stories behind their journey in wearing hijab.

“I wanted to inspire others by sharing stories from women all over the world. I didn’t want to preach through this show, I wanted to share and inspire.

“We all know the fundamentals of Islam which is to pray five times for example. So this wasn’t a show for that, it’s a show to inspire others,” she says.

Another upcoming show she is currently working on is aptly called  ‘#Imnotperfect.’

“This is where the show will focus on heart-to-heart conversations with women where they discuss  the notion of being perfect. What does it mean to be perfect?

“I wanted to produce this show to inspire others as well. It will be shown on our YouTube channel ‘Mermaid Studios’, soon.”

 

THE ADVICE

If Liyana had one piece of advice to the youth who aspire to work in showbiz one day, it would be to prioritise on their education first.

“Don’t ditch your education. Get a degree, a diploma or attend short courses.

“Never stop learning. Feed your knowledge through reading. Be updated with what’s happening around the world.

“If you have a passion for film, for example, watch all types of films. Do things wholeheartedly, with the blessing of your parents of course.”

 

RAMADAN & AIDILFITRI

Life is definitely busy with this working mother-of-two. But this Ramadan, she intends to tone down on work and focus on spending time with family.

“I love this wonderful month, but it’s also a reminder that time flies really fast! It feels like we just welcomed the previous Ramadan so recently. It makes you realise that life is so short.

“But anyhow, Ramadan is a beautiful period to focus on what’s important  – family, religion. I love breaking fast with my family, it’s what I look forward to most.

“Aidilfitri for me is extremely festive and fun but it’s also a time for forgiveness. As we get older, we realise that Aidilfitri is not just about us anymore, it’s about our kids, it’s about our parents.

“It’s a wonderful time to really take a step back from our busy lives and spend quality time with loved ones.”

Behind the Face of Salam

  • Face of Salam : Liyana Jasmay
    Project Manager & Co-ordinator : Shah Shamshiri
  • Text: Syahirah Mokhtazar
  • Editor : Ili Farhana Mohamed
    Photographer: Bustamam Mokhtar, White Studio
  • Graphic Designer: Asyraf Tamam
    Stylist : Faizal Harun Nasution
    Make-up Artiste : Saidatul Nisa
    Wardrobe : Neonate
  • Accessories: Stylist’s own