Appreciation for the arts

By YK Hong

Tunku Elana Khyra opens up about her passions in life, from discovering artwork to empowering young women.

Last November, Tunku Elana Khyra was invited to Asia’s inaugural Festival de Cannes Film Week in K11 MUSEA, Hong Kong. She was the sole Malaysian to grace the film festival.

As Chief Marketing Manager at the MAA Group and social media influencer (with over 40K followers on Instagram), Tunku Elana, 28, has extensive experience in marketing and branding.

She is also a volunteer and trustee at the Budimas Charitable Foundation, a charity that supports underprivileged children in Malaysia, a governor at St. John’s International School and head of marketing at Pusat Tuisyen Kasturi. She is passionate about empowering young women and making education more accessible to Malaysia’s youth.

What is your passion in life?

From starting up my own kindergarten to managing the marketing of Pusat Tuisyen Kasturi, I’m passionate about nurturing youth as compassionate leaders with positive characters and values. As a voracious
reader, I hope to empower others to also take ownership of their self-development and learning so that they can build a bright future for themselves.

What are the notable projects you’ve worked on?

I’m a devoted volunteer and trustee at the Budimas Charitable Foundation, a charity that helps underprivileged and orphaned children in Malaysia to get education, food, and shelter that they deserve. I’ve had the pleasure of working with many of the children at one of our orphanages and helping them gain confidence and better understand themselves through our workshops. I’m also grateful to have spoken on a panel this past year organised by Thought- Full, a social enterprise that supports those struggling with mental health.

How was your experience being invited to the Festival de Cannes Film Week?

I feel honoured and excited to be the first Malaysian invited to Asia’s inaugural Cannes Film Week held in K11 MUSEA. It’s a valuable opportunity to be able to connect with international movie elites. An amazing speech was given by Adrian Cheng (founder of K11 Group and Executive Vice-Chairman of New World Development) and Thierry Frémaux (General Delegate of the Festival de Cannes) about the movie industry and their appreciation for the people and producers that go into making these genres of films. I particularly liked what he said – If you go local, you’ll go universal.

What does this opportunity mean to you?

It’s a once in a lifetime chance to connect, meet and share ideas with like-minded film enthusiasts, creatives and industry influencers. Gaining knowledge from seasoned professionals is truly rewarding, especially for someone like me who’s involved in the education line. It’s rare to have international and local filmmakers, actors and actresses in the same place at once. I truly hope that there will be more festivals celebrating arts and culture.

What are the top things to recommend to K11 MUSEA visitors?

L’Ecole was one of the standout experiences I had. The team of people did a great job departing knowledge about these very ornate, gorgeous art deco vanity cases. You wouldn’t expect to see an artistic exhibition of such scale, especially in a retail complex, so that was really amazing for me. Art was everywhere at K11 MUSEA. It was like walking through an open art exhibit with lots of graffiti, colours and intricate structures. As an artist myself, I liked how there was such an appreciation for art throughout the whole complex. Every floor had something unique – I saw these glass boxes with terrariums in it too. You could just spend the whole day here wandering around with your friends and you’ll find something unique and exciting.

Everyone should check out the Oculus and the Opera Theatre right after the main entrance. It’s something that takes your breath away at first glance. It emulates a galaxy of creativity where you could see wave-like structures and little LED lights in the shape of balls that really feel like the building is attuned with nature.

You visited the Nature Discovery Park at K11 MUSEA. What did you like about it?

A place like Hong Kong is very dense and there are many buildings in a very small area which means there isn’t a lot of green space. It’s amazing that Adrian has dedicated a floor to an urban sustainable farm. You can go up there, see butterflies in the morning, rent your own plot of land and see the plants grow. I think the more you spend time in nature and integrate with it, the more you’ll come to respect and appreciate it for all the food that the world gives us.

Is there any way to describe K11 MUSEA to Malaysians?

If I had to explain it, I would describe it as a complex where you can spend the day doing all sorts of different activities from being in nature to shopping to dining to experiencing beautiful artwork. The whole place feels very “other-worldly”, like you’re being transported into the future.

Who do you think would appreciate K11 MUSEA?

I would say the modern millennial; because I think we have a fascination with the arts and things that are beautiful. If you wanted to stroll around and get inspiration for your next artwork, this would be a good place to wander around. I believe that the things you produce are a product of what you surround yourself with. I think it appeals to those who have a thirst for wonder.

Are there any last words that you’d like to add?

It’s almost like a Pan’s Labyrinth because you can almost lose yourself and find something different every time. I have an obsession with lighting, and like how different lighting can instil a different kind of mood. I appreciate that there were people from so many different industries that were able to complete this whole look.

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