Uyaina Arshad, Soaring High
Ooo-yai-na. That’s how you pronounce her name, in case you were wondering. In Arabic, Uyaina is a name for girls with big, beautiful eyes. Indeed, her eyes are big and beautiful.
The young lass is a budding artist, as she humbly calls herself. A TV host and an actress from Malaysia, her name is fast on the rise in neighboring country Indonesia too, having landed hosting gigs for popular entertainment TV shows.
Her rise from obscure to the mainstream was pretty quick after winning a reality search competition in Malaysia called ‘Nona Manis’ back in 2015.
Since then, she was entrusted to helm a long-running magazine show called ‘Nona,’ previously hosted by notable names in Malaysia’s broadcasting and entertainment industry.
“I had some big shoes to fill,” said Uyaina with a smile. But she did it despite naysayers doubting her capabilities to measure up to the big names before her.
Things got busier for Uyaina when she scored another hosting gig with a women talk show called ‘Wanita Hari Ini,’ this time joining a few other personalities on the show as co-hosts.
Young, ambitious and hard-working, Uyaina was destined for great things. But her rollercoaster ride was just about to begin.
After two years of helming ‘Nona,’ Uyaina parted ways with the show, as another Malaysian personality, actress Mira Filzah was chosen to replace her.
It was then when she had her first taste of the ups and downs of the media industry. Despite her experience in helming the highly acclaimed show, the first few months after she bid goodbye to the show were the hardest.
“For the first time, I didn’t have any backup plans so I was quite lost on what to do,” she said.
She did however still have her ‘Wanita Hari Ini’ gig, but being the ambitious person that she is, Uyaina went for various auditions and casting for other shows but unfortunately, luck wasn’t on her side. The spotlight on Uyaina started to fade.
“The thing about being the host of ‘Nona’ is that you are immediately being put on a pedestal as a TV host – due to the long-running success of the show – so people sort of thought I had to ‘downgrade’ myself by going to all these auditions, kind of like starting new all over again.
“But I went for auditions to try something new because landing the hosting gig with ‘Nona’ after winning ‘Nona Manis’ didn’t allow me to explore the entertainment industry,” she said.
Though resigning from the show was a risky and hard decision to make, she took the plunge for it.
“I told myself, it’s better that I make a mistake now when I’m still young than later.
“What made it easier for me to make my decision was the fact that I hated editing. As a broadcast journalist, you are in charge of your stories A-Z.
“Editing was not my expertise nor my passion. When you do something without passion, it doesn’t become enjoyable. It was a real challenge because I had to learn everything from scratch and absorb the editing skills like a sponge whereas my background was not even in communications, I studied law. Hosting, on the other hand, I have no problem with that. I love it,” she said.
“So those few months was a rough patch but going through that had matured me. I turned my attitude from negative to positive and realized that rizq comes from Him, not from anyone else.
“It was truly a blessing in disguise because if I still had Nona to host, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to spread my wings in Indonesia,” she said with a smile.
A STAR IS BORN
In May 2018, Uyaina entered a beauty pageant for Muslim women in Indonesia called Puteri Muslimah, fought off the charms of 18 other contestants from six countries and walked away with the winning title.
After winning the pageant, Uyaina was offered a job to host a TV Ramadan programme. You could say she made history as she became the first-ever Malaysian TV host to land a hosting gig in Indonesia’s huge media industry.
“From that programme, my career kicked off in Indonesia just like that. I was offered to act in sinetrons (TV dramas) too.
Some of the programmes that she was offered to host were broadcasted on a regional level as it included participants from other Asian countries, but Uyaina received offers to host TV programmes solely for the Indonesian market only as well.
She has since hosted ‘Akademi Sahur Asia,’ ‘Lida Dangdut Asia’ (Lida), ‘Dangdut Academy Asia’ (Season 4) and is currently busy with two programmes ‘Dangdut Academy Asia’ (Season 5) and ‘Golden Memories.’
“For that, I feel so proud because it’s as though they welcomed me as one of them. The media industry in Indonesia is incredibly competitive and fast-paced so you need to always be on top of your game.
“To be called, again and again, that means I must’ve done something right. The kind of recognition that Indonesian fans give celebrities is beyond what I could’ve imagined. It’s crazy – in a good way of course!
“Imagine this – I went to Indonesia with one bag and I came back with four because fans all over gifted me so many presents. They look up to artistes there – it’s kind of the same treatment Koreans give to their beloved K-pop stars,” she said.
“Initially I was shocked because frankly speaking, I’m just a host and not a singer or an actress but that didn’t matter to them,” she added.
“The beautiful thing about showbiz in Indonesia is that they welcome diversity and they love to spice things up by diversifying their content and talents.
“The creative departments are creative because they deliver fresh new content every day. They dig up information about the participants on the shows and then it’s our job as hosts to deliver it to the audience,” she said.
Of course, one of the greatest challenges for Uyaina, in the beginning, would be the language barrier.
There are many similarities between the Malaysian and Indonesian language but there are notable differences as well such as the spelling, pronunciation, and use of vocabulary.
“I struggled at first just to understand the language, what more the jokes bantered on set,” she said.
But Uyaina is a fast learner and started to get the hang of it soon enough.
If she could sum up a word to describe her experience so far, it would be ‘liberating’.
“Every time I see the stage on set, I get this adrenaline rush. What I learned about hosting live shows in Indonesia is that I always have to know how to gauge the audience.
“Spontaneity wins big with the audience. There was one time I had to rap! Imagine having to rap live in front of an audience, that’s one of the few things I will never forget because I’m no rapper!” she said with a laugh.
“Compared to Malaysia, the population is far bigger of course so you can anticipate the viewership and ratings for these entertainment shows – it’s crazy high. That’s a lot of people watching you. It can get nerve-wracking,” she said.
Not only does Uyaina feel incredibly blessed to land hosting gigs in Indonesia, but the co-hosts that she worked with are considered the crème de la crème of TV hosts in Indonesia.
“My experience working with the media industry there is liberating because it really does pulls me out of my comfort zone. I discovered things about myself that I didn’t even know I could do. I’ve learned so much and I’m so grateful for every opportunity,” she said.
In the midst of paving her way to success, Uyaina at the age of 26, experienced a health scare that changed her outlook on life.
Back in April, she was diagnosed with two heart problems; Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) and another that causes leakage when the heart pumps blood.
What led to that discovery was when she fainted at home one day.
“I have been working hard throughout the months leading to my health care. I was filming a drama series, hosting shows in Malaysia and Indonesia. Going back and forth between my hectic schedule finally took a toll on my health.
“The night before I fainted, I felt extremely tired, it was like I ran 20 rounds on the field was panting in my own house when I hadn’t done any physical activity. That was how lethargic I was.
“The next morning, I was due to host a live show but I fainted. My brother brought me to a hospital and they discovered that my ECG (electrocardiography) heartrate was over 200.
“It was then that they sent me to the cardiac ward. In my head, I was like, cardiac ward? This must be serious.
“When the cardiologist came to see me, she came with a piece of paper, a pen, and a scanning machine. She scanned me and then she began to explain what was going on with my body.
“As she was talking, I started to zone out because it didn’t occur to me that she was talking about MY heart. It didn’t register at all in my mind.
“At one point, she stopped and asked if I was okay. She said this is your heart we are discussing. Only then it hit me and that was when I broke down.
“I was devastated, I mean I’m still so young with a budding career so of course, I was sad. What more seeing my mother cry, it made me cry even harder.
“This is one of the most life-changing moments which made me view life differently and made me appreciate my life more.
“Now, health comes first. For as long as I control my stress and stick to a healthy diet and lifestyle, then I should be okay.
“Being an adrenaline junkie, it saddens me that I can no longer partake in activities like sky diving, bungee jumping or even ride on roller coasters. But then I reminded myself – it’s either the activities or my heart that I want to prioritize.
“I can opt for surgery to get rid of SVT, but to go through surgery, I would need ample time to rest. As for the other condition, the doctors are trying to delay it for as long as they could.
“For now, as long as I stick to a healthy lifestyle and eat my medications, I should be fine,” she said.
“As hard as it was, it was a wake-up call for me to not take life for granted. I have learned the hard way how important it is to eat on time and get enough rest.
“I’m lucky to have a strong support system around me. My motivation to move forward with my life is my mother. She is my biggest drive since my father passed away when I was 5.
“She never remarried and raised my siblings and I as a single mother,” said Uyaina.
All these life lessons had taught Uyaina to never give up and soldier on, come what may. We should always be kind, for everyone we meet is fighting their own battles.
Behind the Face of Salam
- Face of Salam : Uyaina Arshad
Project Manager & Co-ordinator : Shah Shamshiri
- Text: Syahirah Mokhtazar
- Editor: Ili Farhana
Photographer: Bustamam Mokhtar, White Studio
- Graphic Designer: Asyraf Tamam
- Art Direction: Helmi Anuar & Zura Ahmad
Stylist: Zura Ahmad
- Hijab Stylist: Zura Ahmad
Make-up Artiste : Jib Salim
- Cobalt blue scarf: Ameerazaini
- Blouse, pants, faux fur jacket: Zalora
- Hairband: Stylist’s own
- White platform shoes: Uyaina’s own
- Platinum scarf: Ameerazaini
- Dress & pants: Blancheur
- Tutu abaya: THREAD