By SHAH SHAMSHIRI
It was a different kind of Monday. Not manic like the famous track by Cindy Lauper but more magic after seeing how everything turned out.
You see, about a month ago when I got in touch with the manager of our first-ever cover star for this digital issue of BASKL, I requested for an 11am call-time. Simply because the location of our chosen photo studio was slightly off the beaten track.
However, as the shoot was helmed by Bustamam Mokhtar, one of Malaysia’s most respected and renowned fashion photographers, I somehow knew that our lovely star would agree.
And so it was, at 11am on a very pleasant Monday, somewhere within the nooks and cranny of Sungai Lui in Hulu Langat, Selangor, Marsha Milan Londoh arrived on set with her manager on time.
Dressed in a simple shirt and pants, she came in with a warm smile like she always does when meeting her fans and friends of the media.
Marsha who is no stranger to the Malaysian entertainment scene has been professionally involved in showbusiness for a good 18 years.
She is also a product of the country’s number one reality talent show, Akademi Fantasia. Spawned from the third season in 2005, it was also the show’s biggest cycles due to the humongous impact caused by the grand-prize winner then, Johor-born, Mawi.
Marsha who placed fourth that season, also indirectly took advantage of Mawi’s victory. As all the finalists of the reality show were signed to the same artiste management company, she was often invited to the same shows and featured in some similar promotional campaigns.
However, despite her beautiful voice and good looks, the lovely Sabahan was never really given a chance to shine. She released several singles and even a full studio album. But alas, to no avail.
“I have tried so many things ever since I graduated from AF (Akademi Fantasia) but never really achieved that level I hoped for. Once I even thought of giving up. But this is the only thing I know I can do. I don’t think I can ever work in an office and have a normal desk job,” Marsha explained with a smile as she started our interview amid hair and make-up.
Everything Marsha uttered was actually quite true. The bigger Malaysian audience only started noticing her amazing vocal prowess after her recent single ‘Cinta’ won second place and allowed her to win the Best Vocal Performance Award at the Anugerah Juara Lagu (AJL) last year.
“If only people knew the drama behind that song. After I recorded ‘Cinta’ something happened. The file of the recording got lost and the songwriters Stacy and her husband Aqim felt so bad that they wanted to return my money. But i told them, I really want that song and was willing to re-record it. Am glad I did though because it really changed my life after the AJL victories,” she murmured.
To date, the Anugerah Juara Lagu is the nation’s longest running song competition and most prestigious music awards show that acknowledges outstanding Malaysian songs and the people behind them.
“You know, I have never really won anything throughout my professional career, so that victory is something that I really cherish and treasure,” added Marsha.
Now, reborn with a whole new spirit Marsha is even more motivated to pursue and diversify her artistic career path.
Apart from singing, Marsha is also known for her acting and hosting skills. In fact, she was just featured as one of the supporting leads in the reboot of a local horror cult film from the 80’s called ‘Rahsia’.
Although Marsha’s scenes were not as many as the lead cast, her role and presence were impactful. Many may even think that acting came naturally for her.
“I am actually an accidental actor. When I started out after AF, the management company just got us whatever jobs that were out there. I remember going for my first acting gig and I didn’t even know what I was supposed to do. Was I there to sing or to act? I was simply clueless.
Then on set I was told that I would be acting. Coincidentally, the director of my first acting stint was Rashidi Ishak, who also plays my husband in the recent Rahsia film. But back then during that first acting gig, it was such a nerve-wrecking experience.
It was my first time acting and I really didn’t know how to act. And Abang Shidi was really fierce. I don’t blame him though because he was given a newbie who was just starting out. But that experience made me realise how much I love acting so I learned to develop those skills as the years passed by,” Marsha continued.
Blessed with a loving husband who supports her passion, Marsha is now her own boss.
“Yes I just started my own label and quite recently signed my first recording artiste, Fanzi Ruji. He is also a Sabahan and he has an amazing voice. There are actually so many talented artistes from Sabah but they do not have the opportunities or platforms to further showcase their talents.
I recorded a song called ‘Sumandak Sabah’ with my good friend Velvet as an experiment. I didn’t expect that it would receive such great reviews from my fellow Sabahans. So that song proved to me that Sabahans deserve more exposure. There is so much potential back there.
So now that I have the means, I would like to give back to my home state by developing more talents from Sabah. I also have my own production house and have started directing music videos!” exclaimed Marsha.
When asked what would she be doing now if she wasn’t in the arts, Marsha shared a little story.
“I attended form 6 and then initially received two other offers when I accepted the invitation to become an AF contestant. One was to become an air stewardess and another was to study music in India.
My mom really wanted me to pursue my music studies and wasn’t really keen on me joining AF. But now she is my number one fan and my worst critic. Anything I do, I am bound to ask her first. She is very supportive in that sense.
My dad however was OK with me being a stewardess or joining AF. Which I did. And the rest they say is history,” giggled Marsha
Though 18 years seem like a lifetime, the friendly star is showing no signs of giving up and we can safely say that Marsha really is marching on.
BEHIND THE SCENES OF THE BASKL COVER STAR
BASKL Cover Star : Marsha Milan
BASKL Editor : Shah Shamshiri
Co-ordination and English Text : Shah Shamshiri
Stylist : Mursh Mat Som
Make-up : Jibs Salim
Hairstylist : Shasya Balqisya
Wardrobe and Accessories: Bill Keith
Photographer : Bustamam Mokhtar, White Studio
Location: White Studio, Sungai Lui, Hulu Langat
Digital Cover Designer : Daniel Abdul Halim
Special thanks to Hafis, manager to Miss Marsha Milan.