Are you an actor, trainer, teacher?
I’m an actor.
Did you pursue acting or stumble upon it by accident?
I’ve loved acting ever since I watched TV shows and movies. The first movie I watched was a Bollywood film called Dil Wale Dulhania Le Jayenge starring Shah Rukh Khan. At that instant, I knew acting was for me and I was made for it.
Then, I pursued acting at my cousin’s wedding. His best friend was an actor from Suria. When I saw him reading scripts, I told him I was interested in acting. He offered to give my name to one of the directors at Suria. Soon, I got a call from the senior director and debuted as a doctor.
That’s how it all began. I remember not knowing where to stand and discovering that I had to be mic’d up. When the director told me to just act as a doctor and talk to the patient, I spoke in English knowing that my voice wouldn’t be recorded. I didn’t realise he could hear me! Thankfully, I made it and he called me in for more.
Were you also going to be a good actor?
Yes, I never doubted becoming a good actor. Many of us don’t believe we should pursue something we’re good in. Like I’m a good singer but I don’t pursue a singing career because I don’t believe I’m that good at singing. It’s better to not have doubts and just go for it.
What do you value most?
I value time the most. Love, peace, discipline can be built over time. But the time is NOW to do something.
If I could have a super power, I would like to be teleported everywhere at one go and help many people. This is what I like to do – helping people. I feel fortunate to have so much that I want to dedicate myself to helping others.
With proper time management, life will be well-balanced. I want to spend time with my loved ones now, not when I’m old and retired. I also want to enjoy quality time in my prime.
What do you absolutely detest?
I hate rude people, they were never tolerated when I grew up. If I said something rude to anyone, objects would start flying in my direction immediately! In some cultures, you are taught to respect your elders, but I was taught to respect everyone, young and old.
If you could only make one of the following happen, which would it be and why?
- Help the poor with success and money
- Achieve global gender equality
- Turn damaged children into emotionally healthy, all rounded individuals
I choose the first one, help the poor. Last year, I started Reach Out Project to gather donations. With provisions from my father’s office, I packed the basic groceries a family would need for a month. My friends and I then drove around Tampines and donated the items to 30 needy families. We also gave each household a red packet. Some were sickly, elderly people with no financial means to get treatment.
If I had the fame and money, I would do all I can to get all interested parties to contribute more and grow the project. There’s just a lot of poverty right here at home, which so many of us are unaware of.
How do people find out about Reach Out?
They can find out from YouTube:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cCSgCKgFBL0
How is someone smart, attractive and funny like you still single?
(Laughs) Like everyone, I have my preferences. But when it comes to the girl, I freeze! Instead of using my wit to make her laugh and get her interested, I ask her all the wrong questions and turn her away.
I also have a fair share of girls who are attracted to me, but I don’t toy with their feelings. Right now, being single doesn’t affect me in any way because a relationship would mean investing time in that special someone. I’m good spending time on all the things I have in my life right now.
What are your views on commitment and marriage?
Marriage is all about timing. When you are ready to commit, you are emotionally and financially stable. But marriage has become more of a joke these days. Couples splurge on their weddings and then split up. They could have saved all that money and enjoyed the marriage!
This is because money is important. Couples cannot stay happy if they run out of money. They must be able to take on all the responsibilities of a marriage before walking into one, and be able to withstand all the challenges that come their way. For that to happen, it must have the right timing.
What are your views on looks?
I think looks play a part in everything, and it always helps to look the part.
I could say that my looks work for me because agents have found me through Instagram. Sometimes, my looks also work against me. Like when I’m dressed to kill with a group of friends. When I get all the attention, they get jealous and I have to deal with that too.
As far as acting goes, my mixed background works against me. For instance, some TV stations won’t take me because they want Malay looking actors. Some say I look Indian but I don’t sound Indian, so I don’t get the roles either.
If you could tell your 13 year old self something valuable, what would that be?
Firstly, lose weight and keep fit. Secondly, play, have more fun because you are still young. Everything is not about studies. Make more friends, learn how to interact with people. Although I was in the Express stream and didn’t do well in my studies, I would not go back and tell my 13 year old self to study harder.
How would you describe yourself in three words?
Humorous, dedicated, passionate.
Tell us about the movie you’re working on?
It’s a drama called Verdict, based on the pro-bono services in Singapore. I’m playing a Bangladeshi construction worker who’s wrongly convicted, and had to learn Bengali in just three weeks! It really tested my acting when I had to emote in a language I didn’t understand. This is probably my most challenging role to date.
Did you identify with the character you played?
As an actor, I don’t combine the real me with the character I’m playing. Even if a character is very relatable, I see myself as the character I’m playing, and leave the real Zam behind.
What advice do you have for young aspiring actors?
Do your homework, read as much as you can, knock on many doors, work hard for what you want, accept rejection and keep going. With everything you do, you will learn something from it. Otherwise it is pointless.
If you could produce a movie, what would it be?
I would produce a movie about myself and get Shah Rukh Khan to play me (laughs)! It will show a side of myself the world never got the chance to see – my vulnerabilities, life challenges and sacrifices. It will also showcase the Reach Out Project.
Tell us your biggest challenges.
The biggest challenges are related to time. When I have too many jobs as an actor, I feel stressed that I can’t do it all. Because of this, I also have to sacrifice time with family and friends.
If I have a lot to do in a day, I will make it a point to show up, even if it is only for a short while. It’s not about how long I’m there for, but the presence that matters. Of course, there are times when I can’t be present and that’s something I can do very little about.
Despite the good and bad times, life is ultimately fair. It is about how we lead our lives that makes the difference. When life gets tough, we can change it. Instead of envying other people, just compete with yourself and be happy with the choices you make.
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