As Diana Danielle, 25, walked to a table full of reporters for her interview, she was complimented for looking elegant in a dress by local label Kree. Her outward appearance belied how she really felt about being made-up for a photo shoot.
“I’m trying not to be so awkward because I don’t usually dress up like this,” she said at the interview session in Kuala Lumpur.
The event was organised by the Malaysian Entertainment Reporters Association (Wham) for 29th Malaysia Film Festival (FFM) hopefuls to meet the press.
Diana also confessed to not wanting to feel too optimistic about getting a nomination. This year’s FFM nominees was not announced ahead of time so hopefuls were expected to wait until awards night to find out.
“I’ve been nominated before and I didn’t win. So I’ve learned not to expect so much because I don’t want to feel disappointed.
“But it’s hard especially when people keep saying that you’re going to get nominated and then you get your hopes up,” she said earnestly.
Diana was widely expected to score an acting nod for her role as Nina, a spirited young woman who goes against her father’s plan to marry her off to an influential family in U-Wei Haji Saari’s period piece Hanyut.
The film was shot when Diana was 18 but was only released in local cinemas last year.
In 2015, Diana announced that she was taking a break from showbiz to focus on motherhood. She is married to actor Farid Kamil and together they have two children, four-year-old Muhammad and one-year-old Aurora.
“If I do get it, then it would make for a good story because I just recently started acting full-time again (laughs).”
Well, Diana not only scored a nomination in the Best Supporting Actress category at the FFM awards on Sept 23, she actually won the award beating actresses like Fazura (J Revolusi) and Nadiya Nisaa (Redha).
However, she was not present at the event. As a meaningful gesture, her mum Norsiah Ramli and two children accepted the award on her behalf.
Husband Farid was especially proud of her win.
“I remember jumping like crazy when I heard the news. I first saw Hanyut when it premiered in Jakarta, Indonesia back in 2014 and I loved her character in the movie. Since then, I’ve always known that she was going to win,” he said.
Choosing Her Projects Wisely
Now that Diana is back in the game again, she wants to be more selective. She admits having children means putting their needs as priority.
“It’s important for me to know that (the project I am taking on is) worth having to leave my children in the morning,” she said.
And when she does have to leave home for work, Diana makes it clear to her children, especially Muhammad. “I tell him that this is how mummy and daddy make money. It’s all about financial survival.”
Diana will be starring in TV series Coffee Prince, the much talked-about adaptation of a popular Korean drama of the same name. The local version is directed by Michael Ang and Diana plays co-star Fattah Amin’s girlfriend.
“It’s an interesting process. We can’t do some of the romantic elements like in the original to cater to our own culture and sensitivities. Fans also have a certain expectation on how the show should look like.
“Of course the Korean production had a massive budget but the situation is not the same for us. I can see how making the show is a big challenge for Michael,” said Diana.
She will also be hosting a travelogue for Discovery Channel. The show follows Diana as she travels across Malaysia with guests from India and China.
“I prepared for this by reading a lot about the places that I’m visiting. I try to get a sense of what the place has to offer,” she said.
Dealing With Negativity
Diana was raised by a single mother and she started acting at 15 as a way to support her family.
She has a zen-like approach to negativity, something she credits to having to learn to be an adult at a young age.
Despite widespread criticism on a sexy photo spread in the past as well as a recent gossip about her marriage, Diana is not one to lash out at anyone.
“I try not to take things personally. I understand why people react negatively to some things as it could just be them turning on their survival mode.
“Plus I’m in the entertainment industry. People care about what you have to say. So, whatever you do, it has to be politically correct and socially acceptable. It’s not easy of course but you will learn to walk that thin line.”
Diana uses her celebrity influence to talk about motherhood. She has opened up about suffering from post-partum depression and struggling with being a working mum.
“I thought I was just ranting a lot about what it’s like to be a woman (on social media). Then I get messages from a lot of women who said thank you for showing a different side of motherhood, especially from a celebrity mum.”