Sarah Lian is acting in her very first Malaysian production in the mini-series Anak Merdeka.

Since moving to Kuala Lumpur about 10 years ago (Lian grew up mostly in Vancouver, Canada), she has been taking on predominantly English-speaking acting and hosting jobs in North America, Singapore and Hong Kong.

Anak Merdeka is a six-episode series which spans six decades, beginning in the 1950s (one episode for each decade). The personal stories of three central characters – Salleh (Remy Ishak), Boon (Elvis Chin) and Devi (Thanuja Ananthan) – are interwoven with historical events. Lian, 34, says: “This is my first foray into local dramas and it’s such a treat to be able to experience Malaysia at different eras.”

The Taiping, Perak-born beauty adds that she had to speak English, Mandarin, Hokkien and Bahasa Malaysia in Anak Merdeka in which she plays Betty, a single mum doing her best to raise Boon. “She’s a woman who has left her (old) life and taken her son with her to find a place in society again. She had to start from scratch, taking a job as a singer at a funfair,” Lian says of her character.

“I think that’s what resonated with me the most because I came to Malaysia almost 10 years ago not knowing anyone aside from a few family members. I forged a new life for myself.” Lian says it wasn’t easy being a single mum in the 1950s and admires Betty’s resilience.

“The strength and determination of any mother will always be universal regardless of which decade you live in.”

The remaining two episodes of Anak Merdeka airs Aug 30 and 31 at 9pm on Astro Prima (Ch 105), Astro Xi Yue HD (Ch 300) and Astro Vaanavil (Ch 201).