Being an independent individual
By Aqalili Azizan |   |  Lifestyle

In conjunction with Merdeka, we have gathered give diverse influencers who share their secrets of success and on what being Malaysian means to each of them.

Azrel Ismail
34, Actor-influencer
Instagram: @azrelismail
Followers: 534K

Starting in showbiz at a relatively late age – 29 – Azrel formerly worked in hotel management. Now he can be seen on the big (the critically-acclaimed Pulang) and small screen (the 80-episode Puteri Yang DiTukar)

How important is social media to you?

As a public figure, it’s extremely important. I find that out of the 500K followers I have on Instagram, 300K are genuine fans who keep track of what I do via social media. Besides Insta, I also use Twitter to live tweet my dramas when they are on air. Nowadays, it’s not enough for an actor just to act; he needs to know his market. And I have gotten job offers via social media as well.

When did you start being active on social media?

Four years ago. Unlike other artistes though, I prefer to do everything on my own. I don’t even have a manager. So what you see is the real me, as I handle my own social media.

How do you deal with online haters?

From experience, I have found that the best way to cope is to keep quiet. You cannot control how someone feels about you. If it’s a compliment, I always thank the person; if it’s bad, I just ignore. However, I will never disable comments. What’s your advice to those who want to follow in your footsteps? In any industry, you have to work hard and do your best. To become an outstanding influencer, you have to stand out from the pack. You have to constantly come up with creative videos and new ideas on how to market a product.

What does Merdeka mean to you?

I am so proud of being a Malaysian. Being able to celebrate Merdeka means that we have the freedom to achieve our dreams.

 

Marisa Soraya
24, influencer
Instagram: @marisasoraya
Followers: 37.1K

Arriving to our photo shoot clad in black shirt and jeans, Marisa Soraya epitomised style from head to toe, completing her look with a pair of sunglasses with gold chain. At 24, she may be the youngest in our assembled group of influencers but she already displays entrepreneurial spirit, talking excitedly about a possible fashion venture.

How important is social media to you?

For my Instagram, it’s about fashion and makeup. To be honest, I don’t post as much as I did before, but I’d like to think that my Instagram and I are the same person. In real life, I’m a very social person, and I love to meet people and to get to know about their own stories. So I wish I could add more of those elements into my Instagram.

When did you start being active on social media?

It’s a funny story about how I got started. When I was 13 or 14 I created a Facebook page called Justin Bieber Malaysia; it had 450,000 likes and I collaborated with Universal Music Malaysia. It’s crazy because we got to bring Justin Bieber to Malaysia but then the site got hacked. Since that, I talked about him in my personal account, and people started to followed me from the fan page. When I was 15, I created my own blog, and that’s how it all started.

How do you deal with online haters?

Before this, I used to have bad teeth, and I’m not exactly skinny and more towards the curvy shape. These things used to be a massive problem for me, and I wouldn’t involve myself in conversations because I felt insecure about myself. But my mum pushed me to get out of my comfort zone and to not be bothered by what other people said about me. She is definitely the one that made me become the person that I am today.

What’s your advice to those who want to follow footsteps?

My advice is just to be you and don’t look at other Instagram and try to be like them. You do what you what you like and want to do to inspire other people. You should be kind, promote good things and be yourself. Everybody is unique in their way.

What does Merdeka mean to you?

I’m just so grateful that we can unite together as one!

 

Aman Aziz
25, singer-influencer
Instagram: @amanazizofficial
Followers: 166K

The former graphic designer made his name as a finalist in popular reality singing competition Akademi Fantasia 2014, emerging as runner-up. “Initially, I tried out singing for fun. Then I began to enjoy it. I am a big believer in creating your own happy endings and if you enjoy what you do, the path to reaching your
goals becomes more fulfilling.”

How important is social media to you?

Nowadays, potential clients actually look at your numbers on Instagram before they engage you for work. That’s how important social media is!

When did you start being active on social media?

I have been on Instagram since 2015. I prefer it to Facebook as I find it easier to use, and it reaches a younger audience. For my online profile, I need to be well-groomed at all times. But when I am not work, I am totally chilled in terms of dressing.

How do you deal with online haters?

When I was a contestant on Akademi Fantasia, I was criticised on an almost weekly basis in front of two million viewers. There was a judge who said that I was in the wrong industry and that I wouldn’t make it to the semi-finals. But I proved that judge wrong by making it to the finals and almost winning the competition! Criticism in real life or online only makes me more determined to succeed!

What’s your advice to those who want to follow in your footsteps?

If you want to enter showbusiness, you have to toughen up yourself. And remember, not everyone will like you. Have the right intentions and work hard, and believe in yourself no matter what.

What does Merdeka mean to you?

Peace and freedom!

 

Arafah Edruce
34, Rapper-DJ-influencer
Instagram: @iamarabyrd
Followers: 31.2K

Arafah Edruce (known as Arabyrd) is a believer in staying true to herself. She started rapping at the age of 16 in Sarawak, as part of a collective called Kuching Connexion. Ten years ago, she widened her horizon and got into DJ industry. Two years after that, Twinkies was born, which sees her and DJ Nadia performing as a girl duo, creating their distinctive sounds for the world to hear.

How important is social media to you?

Of course, it’s essential for me because it’s more of a medium to discover music.

When did you start being active on social media?

To me, it was Friendster and Myspace back in 2003. Other than that, it’s Soundcloud and Bandcamp, which a platform that helped to push my European releases. That’s how long I have been using social media!

How do you deal with online haters?

I don’t deal with them because the only thing that I need to deal with is myself and my mind. If I have control over my mind, which is the peace that I have, nothing is going to bother me. That’s what I feel that people should do all the time. Whatever happened in your past, be present because what matters is where you are right now.

What’s your advice to those who want to follow in your footsteps?

Number one, read because knowledge is vital! For you to have content, you have to have substance; without understanding, you won’t have material. Be true to yourself and don’t care about what people think because at the end of the day, they only think of themselves. So for you to get through that, you have to think about yourself too.

What does Merdeka mean to you?

You are free from your worries, and accept who you are in the present.

 

Sean Lee Jia Ern
25, entertainer-influencer
Instagram: @seanlje
Followers: 201K

Actor, host, content creator and owner of ATAP Rooftop Café, Sean Lee Jia Ern is planning for even more success in the future. To be at this point of his life, he believes in slow but steady results. “Fame did not instantly happen for me. It was a prolonged process and that’s okay. In this industry, it is easy to be on top one day and fall the next. To maintain the top position is the hardest part but I enjoy the challenge.”

How important is social media to you?

Social media is essential to me because of the number of people I get to reach in an instance. But I hope that people would use it to spread more positive messages than negativity.

When did you start being active on social media?

I started as an actor first and then moved on to other things. Overall, I have been in the industry for five years.

How do you deal with online haters?

Funnily enough, a lot of these haters don’t bother me that much. A long time ago, I posted one video on Facebook and people criticised me because I wasted the food – it did make me flustered. But throughout the years, I learned. Things don’t bother me that much anymore as I’m improving myself and taking care of my mental, physical and emotional health. I believe in loving oneself and nothing can bring me down except me.

What’s your advice to those who want to follow in your footsteps?

Do what you want and what it feels right for you. For example, the trend right now is leaning more towards making funny videos. If you force yourself to get into it when you are not a funny person, maybe you will get a name out of it, but it wouldn’t be a long-term thing. This is a career, so you have to plan carefully, be genuine and keep on improving.

What does Merdeka mean to you?

Merdeka means independence to me. Not just for the country but personally. Not only having freedom in our ways but also the responsibility of independence. We should always be building and improving ourselves.

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