Adam Bakthiar & Selina Pereira On a quest

Selina Pereire

I start by getting a usually very sensitive question out of the way but I don't have to prod Selina for an answer.

"I'm going on to 30." That's ten years down the road since she was crowned Miss Malaysia.

Born of a Singhalese father and a Chinese mother she grew up in Kuala Lumpur, the eldest of three girls. She had her first taste of the limelight when she took part in a traditional costume contest at school.

"I was 13 then and I wore my mother's wedding cheong-sum. I enjoyed being all dolled up." That probably fuelled the desire to become a model but her parents were strict. They wanted her to acquire a skill she could fall back on. So she enrolled in a college for a secretarial course and she walked away with her certificate and a beauty title on graduation night.

Then it was on to a secretarial post at a hotel and once again, she left with a title under her belt this time it was Miss Regent. By then, she had enrolled in a modelling course and it was only natural that she went on to bigger and better things for one, the Miss Malaysia pageant.

That was her dream and she had to try. Being the last contestant to sign up she was very conscious of the other girls sizing her up. Everyone being a rival, it was a formidable situation. Fortunately for Selina there were some contestants who were extremely nice and they have remained friends.

"Every girl was treated as if they had already won and we were accorded special treatment," she recalls. "We had our pictures in the newspapers and at 19 it felt good being recognized."

However, she was not confident of capturing the title. Having signed up late everything was a chaos and a rush. Her gown was still being sewn on the night of the final and she had to be content with her hair stylist doing her make up.

When she was announced the winner, her dad was at home sitting by the TV eagerly awaiting the news and he was a proud man that night. Unfortunately her mother had passed away.

"All the other girls had their families with them but there I was with my designer and my hair stylist three odd people standing backstage," she says. I can see from her eyes how vivid the memory is.

The years have been kind to Selina and trust me, the screen doesn't do her justice. She is ravishing. And she laughs easily. Throughout the chat she insists, amidst a flurry of gestures, that she's an extremely boring person.

She still accepts invitations to officiate at functions and as she candidly puts it, "As long as there is demand I will supply."

After her year of reign she went back to modelling until Gold Quest, the glitzy gameshow aired on Metrovision, came along. It so happened that she was getting bored and was looking for options.

"When my casting house asked me to go for the audition I thought it was a wasteof time," she says. "But when I was chosen as a co-host I was like a jumping bean around the house. I thought about it because I didn't want to give up my privacy but the money was a big help to decide."

And off she goes on a fit of chuckles.

She met anchor man, Adam, on the set and they were groomed for their roles.

"It wasn't easy," says Selina. "You had to be aware of your body language and although you know what that is, you don't practise it. Suddenly it's a big thing. Then there are certain words that you can't say like 'Oh, my God' or something a little less define."

I am wondering that it must take supreme effort on her part to restrain those very active hands of hers while she's on a show.

Selina and Adam had done a commercial together in the past but it still took them a while to be comfortable working with each other. On top of that they had to work at breakneck speed to shoot 36 shows within a month.

"But I wouldn't have wanted it any other way," says Selina. "It would have been more nerve-wrecking if we had to do it a little at a time."

She knows that she is often compared with Vanna White of Wheel of Fortune fame and she's quite irritated about it because her role is much more demanding than Vanna's.

"She hardly speaks but I do and there is no scripting too. I also have to count on the spot. I was watching her the other day and thinking if my life were like hers, wouldn't it be a breeze. I would just have to look pretty and trot up and down. The only thing we're emulating from Wheel of Fortune is the costumes, the glitz. And except for the clothes I'm very much myself when I'm on the show."

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