What started as an audition for Malaysian Idol in 2004 turned out to be the smartest career move ever made for Awal Ashaari. The television exposure opened doors to him in years to come: from hosting Malaysia’s own reality singing competition One in a Million in 2006, to several acting projects that included Surga Cinta, Kahit Isang Saglit and Janji Pulang. The entertainment industry has changed significantly since he entered it more than 10 years ago. From the days of having to go for auditions and working with analogue to now where everything is digital. It was when he received a job offer via MySpace that Awal began to realise the kinds of opportunities that the digital world accorded. Today, with 3.7 million followers and being one half of the power couple Schawal, with his wife Scha Alyahya, it would seem that Awal certainly had the foresight to take advantage of the medium in steering his career.
What, in your opinion, has given you longevity in the industry?
I don’t usually listen to what people say, even if they say that it is not right for me. I would rather go through it myself and if the outcome is bad, then at least you will learn from it.
How do you think things have changed for “newcomers” who hope to work in the entertainment industry, in comparison to back then when you were a newcomer yourself?
There are more opportunities now because as a celebrity you can manage your future by doing stuff on your own. In the past, you have to wait till your producer calls. Now, if you don’t have anything you can create hype on social media, which will put you back on the radar. Before, if you were off the radar, you couldn’t do anything to get back into the radar. Something greater has to happen.
What is your takeaway, having worked in with analogue to now where everything is digital, seeing the transition between the former and latter eras?
All I knew back then was that I wanted to be on TV. I’ve tried many things: modeling, acting, even singing, because it was the most “possible” way to get you to where you wanted to be. Akademi Fantasia, Malaysian
Idol, One In A Million, Bintang RTM… You name it I have done it, and I got kicked out of all of them! At
one point, you think your world is crashing but you take bits and pieces to make yourself a stronger person. Now if netizens talk bad about me, people criticise me, I always have this weapon because I have been through a lot. I am not just going to let them bring me down because I went through a lot to get to this position. It made me stronger and built me for the entertainment industry.