(File pix) Lisa Surihani (centre) with youth participants during the announcement of her appointment as Unicef ambassador. Pix by Nurul Syazana Rose Razman

WHEN Lisa Surihani walks into the Marmalade Cafe in Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur, wearing just a black t-shirt and jeans, her glow is unmistakeable.

Her skin looks fresh and dewy and her hair falls in soft, glossy waves. Wearing a fitted Unicef t-shirt which shows off her baby bump, she looks happy and contented with husband Yusry Abdul Halim by her side.

She is also thrilled to be Unicef’s new national ambassador in Malaysia, an appointment which was announced on Feb 21.


The award-winning actress, model and host is looking forward to the birth of her second child while being a busy mum to toddler Yahaira Leanne.

It’s an exciting but challenging period in her life, given her multiple roles as wife, mother, actress and now, child rights advocate.

“I salute full-time working mums. Honestly, I don’t know how they do it. I have the luxury of a more flexible schedule compared to a 9 to 5 job but still, everything calls for time management,” says Lisa.

Since becoming a wife and mother, her priorities have changed. Family always comes first and the luxury of doing something when one wants to is no longer possible.

But Lisa takes this as part and parcel of being a wife and mum. Time spent with her daughter is very important and she cherishes every special moment.

She also feels blessed to have her mum and a household helper assist in managing things on the home front.

These days, taking on acting projects means negotiating a routine and schedule that will allow her to not be away for too long from her child.

She’s thankful that the people she works with in film or television and even at Unicef understand and appreciate that she’s an actress and celebrity but also a mother.

“Every job that I take on nowadays requires a kind of budi bicara (discussion) with the client so we can work out a schedule that’s good for me because time with my child is so important.”

Lisa, who started doing television commercials when she was just 11, went on to land many commercials with big brands including Marigold, Garnier, Digi and Sony.

She has also been very active in telemovies and dramas and acted in top grossing local films such as Ombak Rindu.

She has bagged many awards for her film performances including the best actress award (film) at the Anugerah Skrin 2015.

She also made her mark in theatre through Tun Dr Siti Hasmah The Musical and P. Ramlee The Musical.


Lisa, who married Yusri in 2012 and welcomed her first child in 2015, says her little daughter is too young to appreciate the fact that there’s going to be a new addition to the family.

“I don’t know whether she fully understands that there’s a bun in the oven but when I say baby, she always kisses my tummy. She’s a real sweetheart.”

As with any mother who is having a second child, Lisa believes it’s important to make sure the older sibling doesn’t feel left out once the new baby arrives.

As parents, she and Yusry want to ensure that Yahaira feels secure and confident and excited about her new sibling.

And even though her motherhood duties will soon double, Lisa believes it’s important for every mum to set aside some time for themselves to relax and unwind.

She understands that it can be difficult for mums to leave the house when they are full-time caregivers, but there are pampering services like manicures, pedicures and massages which can be done right in one’s home these days.

“I think this me-time is so important. As women, we tend to put everyone else first. It’s in our genes and comes naturally to us but in order to perform our daily routine well, balance is important,” says Lisa, who has the top number of followers on social media among Malay artistes.

Her involvement with Unicef is also something Lisa is extremely proud of. She believes it will be a great learning experience for her.

In her capacity as national ambassador, Lisa will be involved in promoting and advancing the rights of children in Malaysia and globally through Unicef’s various initiatives and campaigns.

Her support will include efforts to eliminate all types of violence and abuse against children, integration of children with disabilities into public life, promoting the safer use of the internet and early childhood education.

Issues such as child safety, education for all, cyber bullying and sexual exploitation of children will be among the many causes she will be addressing.

Lisa says promoting and creating awareness about children’s rights is something she has always been passionate about. She believes in it and is completely committed to the cause.

”When I was in school, it was one of my dreams to be part of Unicef so it’s really amazing to be offered this opportunity. As a mother, it’s also very satisfying and inspiring to be involved in advocating for the rights of children.”

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