Mizz Nina, Soul Purpose
A pair of uber cool black-and-white striped platform sneakers by Nike X COMME des GARCONS neatly placed outside the studio where this interview was held immediately caught our eye when we arrived.
She’s here, we said to ourselves. As we walked in, there she was sitting comfortably in her chair, just about to begin hair hijab and make-up.
She is Shazrina Azman also known as Mizz Nina, a Malaysian musician, singer-songwriter, fashion designer, host, humanitarian, and co-founder of an Islamic lifestyle channel called DOPStv.
Warm hellos and how are yous were exchanged, and after strutting her best poses for the camera through two outfit changes, we found ourselves chilling by the sofa like a bunch of old friends catching up on life.
Unable to resist our urge to ask her about those super cool Nike kicks (some shoe models aren’t available in Malaysia), Mizz Nina happily shared it was a purchase from Singapore.
“I love sneakers and I have a thing for collaborative shoes by designers. The most recent one I bought was a pair of shoes by Raf Simons in collaboration with Adidas,” she said.
“I only wear heels when need be, and even if I do it will be 2-3 inches high. If it’s 6-inches, I’ll be experiencing back aches, so it’s usually just sneakers and flats for me,” she chuckled.
Mizz Nina’s choice of shoe says a lot about her. If anything, comfort comes first but that doesn’t mean style has to be compromised. Her self-expression through fashion reflects that she’s unique and contemporary but she balances it out with modesty.
Mizz Nina is a widely known personality in Malaysia. Her presence in the local showbiz goes way back. Hip-hop was her world back then, when she started off as a member of a Malaysian hip-hop group called Teh Tarik Crew in 1999.
In 2007, the group disbanded to pursue solo careers and this is where Mizz Nina’s career further heightened when she landed collaborations with international singers such as Colby O Donis, Theo Martins, Jay Park and even Flo Rida.
She has performed throughout many concert events in and out of Malaysia. When Pitbull performed live in Malaysia back in 2011, she was the opening act. Safe to say, Mizz Nina was a strong force in the hip-hop arena.
In July 1st 2011, Mizz Nina married the love of her life, Noh Salleh who happens to be the frontman of a Malaysian indie rock band called Hujan. After performing the Hajj with her husband in 2013, Mizz Nina sported a modest image, a stark contrast to her previous image. This sparked curiosity among the media of course, which led to finding herself in the centre of headlines among various media outlets. People were curious, but above all, happy for her.
FINDING THE PURPOSE
Mizz Nina’s ‘hijrah’ or transformation was certainly not overnight. It was actually a slow process, which she took on day by day.
“People think that when you want to change you have to take a 180 degree turn tomorrow. But it’s not like that. Real change has to come from the gut, when you realise that you need to change how you live.
“I thought I was going to die. I said if I don’t change myself, I’m not going to live. I had to get to that point in order to have the strength to change.
“People don’t really know the Mizz Nina during the era of Teh Tarik Crew and such. In those days we didn’t have social media.
“The things that we did – astaghfirullahalazim! During the 90s, getting into the club scene when I was 16 – you can imagine the kind of lifestyle I was living.
“It was all about going to the club with the boys, getting into this addictive kind of lifestyle with things that are bad for me – bad for my body, bad for my relationship. It was a whole other zone of darkness beforehand,” she said.
“Going through that (I call it the wonder years), what kind of pushed me out of it was that I was really depressed.
“Again, I thought to myself that if I don’t change my lifestyle, I’m going to die – I was hurting my family and my friends.
“I slowly moved away from that addictive attitude.
“But before that in 2004, I was already trying to kick away those bad habits and make myself a better human being. For me, my ‘hijrah’ (transformation) truly started there.
“I was able to take away those addictions and kick away those toxic relationships. That for me was ‘hijrah’ already. It wasn’t an Islamic one, but it was a move towards being better. I was just trying to be a better human.
“Then my brother passed away in 2007 and that was when I really realised that I cannot live this YOLO (you only live once) life anymore,” she said.
“I started asking questions like what is my purpose in life and why am I here? There’s definitely something bigger than this.
“It was a huge calamity for my family and me. But somehow rather, this calamity brought me closer to Allah and it got me asking those important questions like what is our purpose and what happens to us when we die,” she said.
“I started to (again) let go of the toxicity in my life. It’s a whole process,” she said.
“Because of the slow process, and because I went through so much pain and struggle, I found that my motivation is pain.
“Through this pain I was able to find myself. I was able to find my purpose and I was able to really grow from deep inside, from the very pure intention that I really wanted to change.
“I didn’t do if for anyone, I had to for myself. In those moments of pain and struggle, my heart was calling out to Allah.
“Even though I wasn’t aware that I was looking for Him and that I needed Him, my heart was talking to Him regardless of whether I realised it. Allah SWT saved me so many times throughout this period of my life.
“I was clear of all my toxicity especially when I got married to Noh, alhamdulillah,” she said with a laugh.
“It was him who encouraged me to pray, and it was him who asked me to wear the hijab. He was a huge good influence in my life,” she said.
“Steadfast is all about soldiering on. When I think about death and the pain that I’ve been through and all the times He had saved me, all these things give me that strength to remain steadfast.
“It’s also a frame of mind – realising that I am nothing without Allah SWT,” she said.
“I know that if I rely upon Allah, His strength, His power, then I am able to do everything that I want to do.”
For someone whose personal life often becomes the main topic of interest among the public, Mizz Nina admits it wasn’t always easy to stay positive in the beginning.
“I used to live my life pleasing people all the time. During my transformation I realised it’s not about pleasing people, it’s about pleasing Allah.
“Now, when people start giving me negative comments it doesn’t bother me so much because I know I’m not trying to please them.
“This frame of mind is not an easy place to get you. It’s easy for me to navigate now because I now have the strength to simply brush it off.
“I do take constructive criticism though. I welcome it with an open mind.
“But all these negative self-talks, that’s a hard one. I think being in the limelight sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do,” she said.
Mizz Nina shared that through her process of change, a lot of people (friends) stayed in her life, I still keep in touch with people from the music industry but there are people who just strayed away.
“Friends come and go and I’m OK with that. After a long time, I’m OK with losing friends. I’m OK with being by myself. I’m OK with having just a handful of friends. I’m happy with that,” she said.
“True friends will always be there – you don’t have to see each other all the time,” she added.
Wearing the hijab was always an experimental thing for Mizz Nina before she decided to fully don it.
“One day I went out with a hijab just to see if people recognize me. No one did and I thought that was pretty cool.
It was during Hajj that she experience a moment of realisation that she needed to keep the hijab on.
“There was one time I had to hand over some things to a male family friend. I went out of the room without the hijab and immediately felt like something didn’t feel right.
“I realised, oh my gosh he shouldn’t be seeing me without a hijab on! I felt naked.
“That moment, I realised I’m ready to keep it on,” she said.
“I told myself I wanted to be a better Muslim, somebody who submits completely to Allah. If Allah wants me to wear the hijab then I will wear it for him, not for anybody else,” she added.
Admittedly there are some sisters in Islam who after awhile, have doubts about keeping the headscarf on. Alhamdulillah for Mizz Nina, she soldiered on and remained steadfast.
“If you set your intentions right and you’re doing it for the right reasons, which is for Allah then Allah will give you that strength to keep on wearing it.”
Being able to perform the Hajj while still young is something Mizz Nina is thankful for. For her, it was truly a life-changing experience.
“Hajj was definitely a time when I realised what does it mean to be a Muslim when you are surrounded by high spirituality in Mecca and Madina.
“Everyone is seeking forgiveness from Allah and you see people crying, it’s just such an indescribable feeling.
“It was life-changing. I thought to myself that when I come back to Malaysia I don’t want to be the same Nina anymore,” she said.
“I would definitely encourage people to go for hajj as early as possible. If you have the means to go, then go.”
These days, if she isn’t bogged down with classes for Quranic studies, Mizz Nina will find time to work on her projects.
Besides managing DOPStv, she shared that she has other ongoing projects in the works too.
“I’m on the move most of the time. A lot of things are coming out in 2020, one that includes an Islamic app.
“I actually signed up for a writing coaching programme called ‘Release’ by Naima Roberts. She will be my coach and I’ve also got an accountability coach when it comes to writing and they will guide me throughout the whole way.
“Basically, they empower women to be able to tell their story. At the end of the day these stories have a bigger purpose.
“My motivation is – if I die tomorrow, what would I want to tell people?”
Perhaps we can all learn something from the life story of Mizz Nina – that with Allah’s mercy, we still have time to find our purpose and earn His blessings.
Behind the Face of Salam
- Face of Salam : Mizz Nina
Project Manager & Co-ordinator : Shah Shamshiri
- Text: Syahirah Mokhtazar
- Editor: Ili Farhana
Photographer: Bustamam Mokhtar, White Studio
- Graphic Designer: Asyraf Tamam
Stylist: Zura Ahmad
- Hijab Stylist: Zura Ahmad
Make-up Artiste : Saidatulnisa Aminuddin
- Fuchsia dress: Syomirizwa Gupta
- Net scarf: THREAD.
- Platinum abaya: Blancheur
- Floral blazer: Syomirizwa Gupta
- Jacquard jacket: Blancheur
- Oversized blue jacket: Syomirizwa Gupta
- Black inner headscarf: Blancheur
- Head accessory: Fenty Puma by Rihanna (owned by Mizz Nina)
- Sneakers: Nike x COMME des GARCONS (owned by Mizz Nina)