MARINA JOSE: Budding actress dreams BIG
by Joanna Yap. Posted on May 20, 2012, Sunday
OVERCOMING the odds, Kuching-born Marina Jose (real name Marina Ndjoze) proved that determination and heart matters when she won over a panel of acclaimed judges and an oft-vocal audience of fans to emerge second runner up in the recent Pilih Kasih 3, a reality show helmed by famed actor and producer Rosyam Nor.
In the entertainment and media industry where good looks can often overshadow talent, this petite Sarawakian lass with a seemingly boundless supply of bubbly energy was determined to show she belonged on stage and was not going anywhere any time soon unless it was on her own terms.
Taking a chance
Even more remarkable was before auditioning for the competition, Marina had no acting experience. If not for a happy coincidence and a spur-of-the-moment decision to take a chance, Marina’s acting talents might have never made it to the small screen.
“Actually, I wanted to go for a karaoke session at tHe Spring,” the 23-year-old of mixed Bidayuh heritage laughed as she recalled how it all started.
“I saw the banner (advertising the Kuching auditions) and thought “I had to give it a try”. So when I did it and actually got through, it was like a dream come true.”
Asked had it always been her dream to get involved in the entertainment industry, the budding actress replied it wasn’t what she originally had set her sights on.
“But I just love to act. It’s my passion. The competition is a good way for me to start what I want to do with my life,” said Marina, who was back in Kuching last week for a short break after a series of photo shoots and casting calls.
Marina, whose hometown is Kampung Pisa in Krokong, Bau, discovered her affinity for acting at a very young age – around three years.
“I just loved to talk a lot! I liked to stand in front of the mirror and talk to myself, pretending to be different characters. Whenever I watched TV or movies, I would try to imagine myself as the actor or actress and try to talk like them.
“I would even get my mom’s lipstick and make up my face. I just loved it. It drove my mom up the wall, to come home from work and find her makeup missing.”
Marina took every opportunity to immerse herself in the characters she saw on TV. From watching Chinese TV serials, she even taught herself how to converse in Mandarin.
“In the house, she was the drama queen, always sensationalising small things into big things,” recalled Margare Tonek, Marina’s mother who is also an editor with The Borneo Post.
Missing makeup was just one of the many hazards of having a dramatic daughter. One time, Marina managed to persuade her mother that she had to stay home from school on the premise she was feeling quite unwell.
It was only later that Margare realised she had been had when she saw Marina getting out of bed and walking around right as rain.
However, Marina wasn’t always as friendly and confident as she is today.
As she was growing up, she found it difficult to fit in due to her mixed ethnicity. Her different physical appearance often made her the target of childhood taunts and incessant name calling by her peers.
For many years, her confidence and self-esteem was taking a beating. It wasn’t until Marina’s teenage years when she was in Form 4 that she finally made peace with how she looked.
“It wasn’t a pleasant way to grow up. But when I started to accept myself and what makes me different from others, I realised it wasn’t my looks but what was inside me,” she said, pointing out that beautiful things can come out of difficult experiences.
“By reminiscing and tapping into those emotions, it really helped me in my acting,” she added.
Margare chipped in: “I used to tell her that this would come in handy one day and to look on the bright side of things.
“You are different. You have to accept that difference. One day that difference will be useful to you.”
Marina’s personal experiences of being judged and discriminated for her looks provided much of the inspiration from which she penned her monologue for the PK3 finals about a woman obsessed with her looks. The performance blew the judges and audience away.
Margare couldn’t be more proud of her daughter and how far she has come.
“I’m happy for her. She has found her path. Anything that makes her happy is fine with me. She has discovered herself,” she said.
So what’s next after PK3?
Marina is now focusing on honing her acting skills, gaining experience and moving forward in the Malaysian entertainment industry.
She recently started shooting for a drama series written, produced and directed by actress Erma Fatima, one of the directors for PK3
Given the opportunity, Marina would also love to act in an Asian language drama or film.
However, the young actress who counts Yasmin Ahmad, Tiara Jacquelina and Nicholas Sparks among her inspirations, has also set her sights on becoming a director.
“Now is the first stage of learning for me. I have to start somewhere so I’m starting as an actress. But my goal is to be a director. I want to have my own film and production company.
“I want to produce films with a meaning message for people to learn, see and think. First Bidayuh female director would be good,” she said laughing, with a twinkle in her eye.
The budding actress who
speaks BM, English, Mandarin, Bidayuh and a smattering of Japanese, didn’t set out to be a role model but has a clear idea of what kind of person she is and wants to be.
“I want to inspire all the young people, especially those talented but have no confidence or drive or platform to show what they have,” Marina said thoughtfully.
“With the success I will make – amen! – I want to be the inspiration for them to dare to dream and move forward to get what they want.”
She felt sad some people her age group would prefer staying in courses they weren’t interested in instead of pushing forward, even though it was obvious they had talents in other areas.
“Use your talent. You have to be smart,” she urged.
“Have a vision. If you want something, go for it. It’s your will power. Be smart in choosing your path. Make positive use of your experiences.”
As for those thinking of breaking into showbiz, Marina advised them to think carefully which options were the best for them before taking the leap.
“It really depends on the individual. If they think they are ready, they can join a reality show. It’s not a bad thing to join but it’s not an easy thing either. If you do this because you want to have fun and to get into the entertainment world, I would have to say you should think twice. But if you do this because it is your passion and it’s really what you want to do, you can go for it.”
She also advised them to consider taking up related classes and courses at performing arts schools and local universities to develop their knowledge and experience, an option which she is also considering for herself in the future.
“In the long run, I would like to study directing. But for now, I want to gain as much experience as I can in acting. When the time comes, I will go back to school again,” she smiled.