Last year, actor Muhammad Arif Adam Mohamed Fadlee, better known as Adam Lee, achieved his biggest success yet. He walked away with the Best New Popular Artist award at the 32nd Anugerah Bintang Popular Berita Harian.
“I never dreamed of becoming an actor,” says 26-year-old Adam.
“I wanted to be a teacher.”
But things did not go as planned. The moment he finished high school, he became a fitness instructor. He had a client who kept saying he should utilise his good looks, and enter the entertainment industry.
Adam says: “But I was not interested in the suggestion. I knew nothing about acting.”
However, his client began taking him to entertainment functions, and at age 18, Adam landed his first acting role.
“I never took acting seriously,” he says.
“I thought it was a way for me to earn some extra money, and then, I would just disappear. Some people have done that.”
But slowly, he fell in love with his new career, and began churning out some critically-acclaimed performances.
“The job of an actor is never easy,” he says.
“You have to wait for hours on set. The waiting is a hassle. But I enjoyed the process of getting into the skin of my character.”
He decided to continue acting. In fact, in 10 years’ time, he hopes to become a TV and film director, and run his very own production house.
“There is saying that when you love what you do, you never have to work a day in your life,” he says.
He says that his favourite performance out of all the shows he has starred in was in the television series Budak Tebing, which aired last year. He plays a young man called Ariff who spends some years in a juvenile facility after committing a murder as a teenager.
When he is released, Ariff returns to his village and tries to reconnect with his estranged mother.
He says: “The script and my role were something different. It was not the typical love story you usually find in television series.”
One of the methods he uses to improve his acting skills is by observing the performances of other actors. One actor he loves to watch is Hong Kong superstar Stephen Chow.
He says: “His performances always look natural, and I hope to emulate his style.”
Another actor he admires is the award-winning Bront Palarae.
“He has the power to make his characters believable,” says Adam.
One director he would love to work with in future is the well-known TV director Along Kamaruddin.
He says: “I heard he is very strict on the set, and expects discipline from his cast. But he always brings out the best from his actors, and I want to learn from the best.”
Despite his achievements, some detractors claim his popularity is solely due to his looks, and not his talent. However, Adam refuses to let such opinions hold him back.
“You have to face the fact that not everyone is going to love you, and you cannot stop people from talking bad about you,” he says.
“Everyone is entitled to their opinion. What I am certain about is that I do not want to rely on my looks alone.”
Regarding the issue of his private life, Adam has been extremely frank about his relationship with 22-year-old actress Sweet Qismina. This is a change from the attitude of most of his peers, who prefer to hide their relationship.
Adam says: “Falling in love is a good thing, and I really do not see the point of hiding a good thing from the media and my fans.
“It takes a lot of energy to hide a relationship. The worst thing you can do is lie [and say] that you are still single, and later, when they catch you with your girlfriend in the public, it will far more embarrassing.”
When he wanted to tell the world about his relationship with Sweet Qismina, some parties dissuaded him.
“They kept saying I would lose some of my female fans if they found out that I was in a relationship,” he says.
“If my fans leave me just because I am in relationship, it simply means they were not my true fans in the first place. A true fan will stick with you, no matter what.”
He and Sweet Qismina have been going steady for almost two years. One wonders if marriage is on the cards.
He says: “I plan to get married after I turn 30. Right now, my focus is on building my career and my portfolio.”
He hopes to get his career “on solid ground” before thinking of tying the knot.
When he is not working, you will find him toning up his body in the gym and indulging in Muay Thai.
“I love the aggressiveness of Muay Thai,” he says.
He recently picked up a surprising new hobby – catching lobsters.
“Fishing for lobsters allows me to get close to nature,” he says.
“When you are close to nature, it is good for your soul.”