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Taking that big leap

FROM starring in commercials to becoming a recognised telemovie and theatre actress, Siti Saleha Mohd Baharom has constantly evolved where her career is concerned.

She has long created her own identity, beyond just being the sister of Sam, the lead singer of popular rock band Bunkface.

Chilling at home while waiting for the conditional movement control order (CMCO) restrictions to be lifted, she said: “We were in the midst of shooting before the MCO was announced. Now I am at home. We were shooting for the second season of the drama 7 Hari Mencintaimu that was supposed to come out during the Ramadan month. So now I am wondering if it will be aired during next year’s Ramadan.

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“I am okay with being at home, surprisingly. I am with my family here and it is all good. After this, I am going to return to my shoot and do what I do best and keep myself busy.”

Siti has been in the limelight since she was a teenager.

“I started with commercials when I was 14. Acting never crossed my mind until I got this one job that got this started. When I went for casting, I did not know it was for this acting job, I thought it was for a commercial. Then I landed the main role (in the TV series 5 Jingga) and that is how it all started, I never planned to be an actress before that.”

When she was shooting for the series, she realised she liked what she was doing. “I improved with experience, and here I am today. Still improving myself.”

She has done TV dramas, tele- films, feature films and also theatre.

“I am happy doing it all. I am actually thankful that I have the guts to do theatre. I have actress friends who say they can’t do it and have stage fright. I guess I like the push, I like the challenge. Being in Malaysia, you just want to explore everything. I am thankful for all the offers that I have had in the past.

“I think it is a good balance. You want to do drama, you want to do films. There are actors who just focus on films, and there are those who want to do all of it.”

When asked if she and her brother share notes about life in the limelight, Siti says: “When we first started out, we went in different directions. Then he had his big break. We weren’t as close back then as siblings. He was the big brother telling me to always be careful because this industry can be nasty sometimes.”

Siti said that her brother did not really guide her career-wise, but he always looked out for her.

“A lot of people have asked me if the two of us were going to do an album together. We are like, no. It wouldn’t work.”

Siti adds that directing has always been at the back of her mind. She even took an online class conducted by Khairul Azri (director of the 2016 drama film Pekak).

“He basically taught us how he started, how he writes and how he directs. So it has always been at the back of my mind to write. Is there a formula, is there an essence? He said he gets his ideas in really chaotic and loud settings. I was surprised because some people prefer to be in isolation, and ideas would come. I am just trying to explore all of that.”

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Despite Khairul telling her she probably knew everything he was going to teach in the class, she still wanted to take part because she wanted to be inspired.

Siti also believes that streaming services have helped boost the entertainment industry here.

“Everything is moving to digital. When I did the TV series Black last year, that was my first TV series on a streaming service. I didn’t think it would be such a success.

“All my directors advised me that digital is where we are heading. I have a couple of movies on Netflix, and iflix has been approaching me. I think it is great for the market. At least the industry is not dying.”

When asked to name the actors who inspire her, Siti says: “I like Elly Suriaty, Fauziah Ahmad Daud, Nam Rom. I have had the opportunity to work with all of them. I was nervous initially, but it was a good experience.”

Siti also had the chance to work with actress and director Erma Fatimah, but when the production house changed directors, she ended up being directed by someone else.

“I am looking forward to working with her and actors like Eman Manan [in future]. I attended an acting class by Fauziah Ahmad Daud and she told me I had a lot to learn,” Siti said.

“It is good to not stick to my comfort zone. I know I have a lot to improve on.

“As an actor, if you don’t improve your acting skills, you become stagnant. By joining acting classes you learn techniques on how to colour your characters more. So that was pretty fun with Kak Ogy.”

When asked if she planned to expand her career beyond Malaysia, Siti says she has yet to try her luck or get an agent.

“Of course wanting to get into Hollywood has always been there, but it comes down to connections and luck. If there is a chance I would like to take it. We will see.”


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