Now that you’ve donned the hijab, how do you maintain your style?
Diversity comes in many forms and is unique to your experiences and environment. In a nutshell, what is diversity to you?
To me, diversity is being able to adapt to things outside of our comfort zone, be it an environment, a situation, people, or even fashion! It’s something we need to learn from, adapt, and embody in ourselves.
Raising your children in an ethnically-diverse home is very interesting. Were there times you felt it was challenging to educate your children/your husband about your culture and values?
I am Malay-Javanese, my husband is French, and my kids are super rojak! I think it’s beautiful that my children are born into a diverse home. They are able to broaden their knowledge, learn to adapt and appreciate other cultures and religions, and open their eyes to bigger things in life. I always believe that we have to respect one another in our house. We have so many differences that if we don’t adapt to each other, we won’t be able to live under the same roof!
How do you create a modest look yet retain aspects of chic and sophistication?
People always ask me, “Hey Nadia, now that you’ve donned the hijab, how do you maintain your style?” Being sophisticated and chic does not mean we need to show off our skin or hair. The most important thing is never to constrain myself – being modest doesn’t mean I can’t wear sleeveless tops. I can just pair it with some inner or outerwear. I also constantly update myself with the current trends and fashion. I love following fashion Instagram profiles and websites to see how others style themselves. I especially love the styles of Beyoncé, Janelle Monáe, and Jennifer Lopez.
What are some of your favourite ways to stay stylish and modest?
Before I wore my hijab, I loved wearing earrings. Now, I still put on earrings by styling my shawl in a sophisticated turban instead. I also love wearing exuberant colours, and bohemian prints.
How does your personality influence the way you dress?
Having a loud and extroverted personality, I don’t dress within my comfort zone. I’m always exploring something cool and colourful! Although I’m very open to picking vibrant and loud colours, there are days when I feel comfortable wearing neutral colours. Limiting ourselves to just a certain design or colour can get boring. We only live once, so try everything!
What are some advice or tips you would share about always being camera-ready?
You have to be yourself. You don’t have to put up a certain character that isn’t you. Another tip: Always carry a face mist with you, so you’ll always have a fresh glow for the camera!
We’ve seen you on the screens, big and small! How was your journey towards becoming a host and actress?
I started stage acting when I was 5, and hosting on television when I was 11. I remember juggling my acting, hosting, and schooling. After my ‘O’ Levels, I studied acting in Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, and ever since then, I’ve never stopped taking projects from Mediacorp. I got my first big acting project after I graduated, which was an international 20-episode drama, The Kitchen Musical. Last year, I also hosted the National Day Parade, and a number of beauty shows. I’ve been acting and hosting literally all my life, so that’s why I’m very comfortable in front of the camera.
How do you juggle between being a mother and your career?
It’s really not easy. Being a mother is a 24-hour job, and it’s a whole lot more difficult than my career! You have to be there constantly to educate and support them. Learning how to prioritise, and having support from my family is really important as well. I take things slow, do one thing at a time, I don’t rush, I don’t stress myself. If there are things I’m not capable of doing, I’ll be honest with my client, production team or my colleagues. Normally, before I get involved in a production, I lay my terms and priorities down on the table and make sure they know where I’m coming from.
What are some challenges you faced along your career journey? How did you overcome them to get to where you are now?
Unfortunately, in this industry, you don’t always know whom you can trust. More often than not, you tend to be surrounded by people who value fame over friendship. I overcome this by focusing on my work and staying true to myself.
What is a personal mantra that you live by?
“The more you give, the more you get.” Giving, in any form, whether it be a smile or a helping hand, eventually comes back to you in an abundance of happiness and wealth. I’ve always lived by this mantra.
I remember first applying this mantra to my life when I lost my father in 2007. It was an extremely tough period for me. We were in the midst of our ‘O’ Levels when he passed away. Having a positive mantra definitely helped me because I knew I had a long way to go, and I needed to be strong for my mom, my family, and myself.
If you could give some encouragement to those who are still figuring out their life, what would that be?
We should never take things for granted, and always believe that every day is a day we should be grateful for. Live life to the fullest. It doesn’t matter how many times you fall, what’s important is that you get up stronger than before. Be kind, respect other people, and love one another. When these three come together, we’ll be able to live a harmonious life.
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Beat the stereotypes and embraces the differences. Find out more about our celebration about diversity in our community from our interview series: