If Shila Amzah were to find a magical lamp like Aladdin, the three wishes she would ask of Genie would be: to eat without getting fat, to travel around the world for free, and to always be in a state of happiness surrounded by family.
Although riding a magic carpet and getting her 3 wishes granted would be a little far-fetched, the closest she got to that was voicing Princess Jasmine for the Malay dubbed version of the live-action film, Aladdin.
Channeling her inner princess for the Disney gig was a big deal as it is, but she was also entrusted to sing all the music in the film including ‘A Whole New World’ (a duet performed with Malaysian singer Hael Husaini) and a new song called ‘Speechless’ which in Malay, is translated to ‘Dunia Baru’ and ‘Raungan Suara’ respectively.
To say that voicing Princess Jasmine was a dream come true, would be an understatement. It never once dawned on her that she would be given such an amazing opportunity.
But the gig was well-deserved. Shila, a well-known established singer in Malaysia, Hong Kong and China is one of the young female singers who’s blessed with a remarkable vocal range as good as her seniors in the industry.
“I grew up watching Aladdin, so it felt surreal to be involved in such a huge project. It was incredible and I’ll definitely mark this as one of the highlights of my career,” she said with a huge smile.
Shila, who is currently 6 months pregnant, completed all the recording and dubbing just a few months ago.
“I got called for the audition early this year, then we began recording in the studio when I was about 4 months pregnant,” she said.
To add the icing on the cake, the 29-year-old also had the the opportunity to meet Alan Menken, the man behind the magical music of Aladdin.
“This whole experience means so much to me because I know that I can share this beautiful story to my son one day,” she said.
Shila shared she immediately said yes to the role because one – it’s Disney, and two – she has long dreamt of starring in a musical.
While she has been singing practically her whole life, acting is also another hidden passion of her she always wanted to pursue.
But the right opportunity never came knocking on her door. That is, until Disney came along and offered the role of Princess Jasmine, Malay version.
Plus, she’s not one to rest on her laurels so when a challenge presents itself, she has no qualms about stepping out of her comfort zone.
It was her first time dubbing so she didn’t set any high expectations on the outcome, but she was proud to say she received the thumbs up from Aladdin fans, despite the skepticism in the beginning.
“It was quite a challenge to convince everyone how good the production was and that we had a blast while making the Malay version of Aladdin.
“But once people heard the songs in Malay, that actually convinced them to watch the Malay dubbed film,” she said.
She also dished that Malaysia was the only country lucky enough to land the opportunity of dubbing and recording the songs in Malay.
“Our friends from neighbouring countries were only given the opportunity to sing renditions of the song ‘A Whole New World’ again in English,” she said.
EVER GROWING CAREER
While she has a protruding belly that’s only growing bigger by the day, it goes the same for her career. Ever since Shila had her breakthrough moment winning Asian Wave, a singing reality show in 2012, Shila’s singing career was further heightened. She was the first and only Malay artiste to have success in Chinese-speaking countries.
She has many things to look forward to soon, both in her personal and professional life.
“I believe it’s going to be a colourful 2020 next year, I can’t wait. Things are going to be a little different now that I am going to start a family soon, but it’s going to be an amazing journey.
“I’m lucky to have a great management team who are so supportive and understanding,” she said.
She won’t waste much time after her maternity leave before going back to the grind, as fans can expect to hear 3 Mandarin singles to be released. Certainly no rest for the wicked, they say!
HIJAB & FANS
Fun fact: Shila says she has more male fans in Hong Kong and China, surprisingly. When asked her opinion on the reason behind that, she said: “I don’t know. Maybe they like my music, maybe they like the fact that I actually cover up.
“So many singers and artistes in the West are too focused on revealing their body parts as much as they could.
“Achieving success as a hijab-wearing singer taught me is that you don’t need to be sexy to win fans.
“My fans are really respectful of my religion and the fact that I can’t simply hug male fans. I appreciate that they know their boundaries around me.”
“Wearing hijab won’t stop me from doing what I love,” said Shila, who has just released a new Malay single titled ‘Tiada Dirimu’.
MODEST EID AL-FITR CELEBRATIONS
Growing up, memories of celebrating Eid al-Fitr wasn’t all too fond for Shila.
“Things were hard back then. My father’s business went through frequent ups and downs.
“Hari Raya (Eid al-Fitr) wasn’t as joyful for me. But if there is one thing I learned from that is the importance of staying grounded and humble.
“There really is no need to celebrate the festive season with such extravagance. Going through that, it makes me appreciate what I have now,” she said.
This year, Shila and her husband will jet off to the United Kingdom in the mid of June to celebrate Eid with his parents.
“My husband’s family have migrated to the UK since he was a baby so he basically grew up there,” she said.
Like any first-time parent, Shila shared she doesn’t really know what to expect about parenthood.
Juggling her hectic work schedule throughout her pregnancy is a bit of a challenge for Shila, but she is enjoying every minute of it.
After a few days of celebrating Eid, she will go for a road tour with Disney around Malaysia to promote Aladdin.
“I’m getting heavier by the day so that will be quite a challenge too when I have to work,” she said while rubbing her tummy.
“We’re so excited for this journey ahead, even though we haven’t shopped a single thing just yet for our baby! We don’t know where to start,” she said.
BORN TO SING
Shila, whose full name is NurShahila Amir Amzah may just be 29, but may very well be considered as a veteran singer, as she has been in the music scene for 19 years.
With the help of a well-known Malaysian record producer, Shila released a pop studio album titled Sha-Hila in 2005. After winning the Asian Wave in Shanghai, China in 2012, she moved on to release some mandopop singles in Hong Kong.
Her strong international presence had earned her honorofic titles such as Asia’s Sweetheart, Princess of Music and National Treasure of Malaysia.
Her gig with Aladdin may be her first major Disney collaboration, but it’s not her first. In 2009, she had the opportunity to duet with Miley Cyrus, to promote Hannah Montana for Disney. Although the two didn’t meet, they appeared in a music video together.
To date Shila has released a string of studio albums including an international discography titled ‘My Journey’, embarked on international concerts and showcases across Asian countries. She may have been in the industry for almost two decades, but she’s not stopping anytime soon.
Behind the Face of Salam
- Face of Salam : Shila Amzah
Project Manager & Co-ordinator : Shah Shamshiri
- Text: Syahirah Mokhtazar
- Editor : Ili Farhana Mohamed
Photographer: Bustamam Mokhtar, White Studio
- Graphic Designer: Asyraf Tamam
Stylist : N. Azwa
Make-up Artiste : Saidatul Nisa
- Hijab: Tattiya KL
- Long dress: Stylist’s own