Women of substance


The Bella Awards 2013 honours women from all walks of life for their contributions to society, writes Loong Wai Ting

MAHATMA Gandhi once said: “Woman is the companion of man, gifted with equal mental capacities.”

Echoing his words is the late American actress, Loretta Young, who said: “A charming woman doesn’t follow the crowd. She is herself.”

On the local front, successful women such as celebrity hairstylist Winnie Loo, actresses Datin Seri Tiara Jacquelina and Datuk Seri Michelle Yeoh and philanthropist Datuk Ruby Khong have all made the nation proud. Their sacrifices to society, and setting a good example for the younger generation, deserve recognition.

The Bella Awards 2013 (tomorrow, Royale Chulan Hotel Kuala Lumpur) is the first women’s awards show to honour women from all walks of life in the country. Initiated by ntv7, it is supported and endorsed by the Ministry Of Women, Family And Community Development.

Local television personalities — Elaine Daly, Daphne Iking, Vanessa Chong and Hans Isaac — will be hosting the inaugural event.

“I am extremely excited and nervous at the same time. Preparations are hectic with interviews, photo shoots and promotional activities all happening at the same time. But I have only one thing in mind — for it to be a success,” said Elaine in a recent email interview. “I look forward to hosting such a prestigious awards show, the first of its kind here. I’m also looking forward to the night of glitz and glamour.”

Calling “everyday woman” as her source of inspiration in many ways, Elaine said she had many personal favourites for the awards but remained tight-lipped on their names.

Kuala Lumpur-born Elaine has acted in Getting Together, Private Eye and Buddies as well as Apa Dosaku (based on the life of her grandaunt, Sybil Kathigasu, the Eurasian nurse who supported the Resistance during the Japanese Occupation). The former Miss Malaysia Universe 2003 who co-hosted The Breakfast Show with Daphne (she left in 2011), Deborah Henry and Sasha Saidin is also a qualified law practitioner.

Elaine talked about her latest projects. “I’ve just directed my first short film, Inspektor Mastura, which I also co-wrote. It’s an initiative by Kakiseni, Garang Pictures and Big Eyes Productions. It will be screened on March 8 in conjunction with International Women’s Day,” she said.

“Reversing my role from actress to director was extremely challenging at first but it was a wonderful experience. I’ve just done the last bit of editing (the film).”

Daphne, who started off as TV3’s Ringgit Sense co-host, quickly became a familiar face on local television for her quick wit and lively personality. The current main host of women’s talk show, Bella, said it is an honour to be working with the rest of the awards hosts.

“I’ve been a part of Bella from the beginning and it’s very exciting to be part of this awards show now. This is something close to my heart. Bella Awards is really special and it’s great to be in it.”

Daphne said she was happy for the women who made it to the nomination list. “Most of the nominees are personal friends. I’ve had the honour of interviewing some of them too, and I find them really inspiring. I don’t have a particular favourite but I wish them good luck and congratulations for being nominated!” she said, adding that her mother, Naili Juliah is her role model as she is “the kindest, wisest and most sincere soul I’ve ever known.”

Meanwhile, Vanessa Chong, one half of The Amazing Race Asia season two runners-up, thinks the awards is a great way to give back to women who have given so much to others.

Vanessa, who sometimes co-hosts Bella, said: “The talk show has inspired viewers through various topics. I am looking forward to hosting the awards show with Daphne and Elaine. We don’t always get to share the screen together. It will be great to see who (nominees and celebrities) brings their glam to the red carpet.”

The oldest of six siblings (Pamela, Daniel, Ian, Sean and Akademi Fantasia I winner Vince), Vanessa hopes the awards will continue to be given out in years to come. “Although it (awards) will only take place biennially, I hope there will be more categories in future. It’s good that there is a platform that gives women the acknowledgment they deserve,” she said.

Naming her mother and Oprah Winfrey as her idols she said she will be busy setting up a business with Pamela, later this year. On her message to young fans who look up to her as their idol, she said: “Love yourself first and you will be able to love others. Always be independent and believe you can achieve your dreams if you put in the effort and, most importantly, believe in yourself. Have drive in your life and you will be surprised at what you can accomplish.”

Hans is looking forward to hosting the awards show too. “I am feeling extremely excited. I don’t host live shows often,” he said. The actor, producer and director has appeared in numerous movies including Buli Balik (for which he won Best Supporting Actor at the 19th Malaysia Film Festival), Cuci, Baik Punya Cilok and Hanya Kawan.

His upcoming directorial effort, Lawak Ke Der 2 is due to be released on March 7. He plays a gangster in another new movie, Langgar, which will be released on April 11. Hans is also in the midst of preparing for his role in the upcoming Nota, with Maya Karin, in Kuching.

“Right now, lots of fittings (costumes for Bella Awards) are going on. I need to make sure that I am well rested and fit. I am also trying to write some jokes which I hope won’t fall flat on that night,” he quips.

Besides women recipients, men will also be acknowledged with a Bella Mars Award for their contributions to women and society in general. The highest award for that night will be The Bella Award. Four new categories — Bella On-Screen Award, Bella On-Stage Award, Bella Sports Award and Bella Radio Award — were recently added to the previous seven categories. Unlike the other categories, the newly-announced categories will be based on public voting.
International artistes performing including Irish singer Ronan Keating and Indonesian pop diva Rossa, Indonesia’s Marcell Siahaan and Maliq & D’ Essentials. Local artistes Joe Flizzow, Mizz Nina, Gary Chaw, Darren Ashley and new girl band The Impatient Sisters are expected to grace the event too.

Watch the Bella Awards live tomorrow at 9pm on ntv7. Meanwhile, the Red Carpet show will start at 8.30pm. There will also be live streaming on www.ntv7.com.my/bellaawards


(From left) Elaine, Daphne and Vanessa are hosting the first ever Bella Awards 2013.

Daphne wants to congratulate all the nominees of Bella Awards, most of whom are her personal friends.

Elaine is looking forward to the glitz and glamour.

Vanessa says the Bella Awards is a great platform to give women their deserved recognition.

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