getting to know malaysians


Samantha Schubert           play it again
"Are you comfortable there?" I ask her.

"Oh, I am absolutely fine here," she says, shifting her body a little.

For some reason, the slight shift seems even less comfortable to me now. But the calm reflected by her nicely made-up face tells me that she was ready to go. There was no sign of impatience, as we wait for the rain to subside to allow us to have a photo shoot outside. We are on the bed, I must say now, only because the bed was the only place there for us to sit down comfortably.

In a flowing red dress, with a wide golden chain liken to those worn by ancient Egyptian princess around her neck, and her shoulder-length hair pulled up in a bun, Sam (permission was granted to call her Sam) is looking her best. She's lost quite a bit of weight after contracting dengue fever just a year ago, her frame appearing much smaller than I ever expected after seeing her photos when she won the 1991/92 Miss Malaysia-World pageant and seeing her in a cameo role with Maggie Cheung in Police Story 3.

Samantha SchubertShe's also appeared in a cameo role in Red Scorpion 2, numerous local theatre productions and television commercials, beginning with the one which shot her into the public eye - the Nescafe ad.

But right now, she's sitting on the bed playing Samantha Schubert.

"I am a very boring person, I have nothing to say," she jumps in, not waiting for me to come out with any archetypal reporter's questions.

Oops, I think I am in trouble. "Well, then, I have nothing to write about you except that quote that you just gave me," I say.

"No, no," she says, laughing somewhat playfully.

Okay, okay, let's settle down. "Let's start with a few preliminary questions," I say, trying to re-direct the status of the interview.

But Sam wouldn't allow it. She surges ahead again, accompanied with yet another playful laugh. "Who are you?"

I was catching up with her now. "Ya, that sounds like a great question. Who are you?"

"Who's Samantha Schubert besides the actor, the model?" I ask.

A slight pause, then, a murmur. "Gosh, even I don't know," she says, followed by another long pause.

"What do you want to know - which department?"

For the first time that night, Samantha hesitated a little. Then I knew, she was human. A fun-loving human at that. I guess I had to be reminded of that, since celebrities today are so often portrayed without the human edge.

She takes a subtle deep breath, and brought her posture upright. She does not seem disquiet, having gotten used to the media attention she has been getting since her rise to stardom. She talks about life candidly, and assuredly, reflecting a sense of self that's quite established.

Speaking to Sam, I discover several things:

Beneath Sam the actor and the model, she is a dancer at heart. Beneath Sam the woman, is an individual who can't say enough about her mother's love and encouragement ("if it wasn't for her, I don't think I would be where I am today. She's a big part of my life. She supports me 150 percent. She's there when I need her, and she's also there when I don't need her. She's the best mum I could ask for.") Beneath Samantha Schubert the person, is a soul who's looking to do her best with whatever she has - be it her talents, her looks, or her struggle to be better, to be a class above.

That is one reason she will be leaving for England later this month to take up a new challenge. "I want to see how far I can go," she said. "I want to do this for myself."

"It may sound selfish, but I really think it is important for me to do it for myself. It is something I need to do - to see how far I can really go."

"If it doesn't work, it doesn't work. If it happens, then, great."

She shifts a little again, appearing more relaxed as the rain pushed on. She must be thinking of what lies ahead, in the next two or three years of her life. At the tail of this month, she will take a couple of months off to take it easy, to signify the beginning of a much thought about peregrination of sorts.

In the coming months, her main path will fork into many different ones, the size and the coordinates bordering the unknown. She will meet talent agents and show business contacts - for television, theatre, Broadway, movies and commercial opportunities - beginning with London, then Edinburgh, followed by New York and possibly, Los Angeles. Samantha is taking this one leap that may take her to the next or even, the highest level of the entertainment business.Samantha Schubert

It could also take her no where. Just like her two previous business trips to Los Angeles which she deems "slightly unsuccessful."

But she's not flinching. "I just want to give it a shot," Samantha says, her expression calm enough to convince me that the pressure of success may be there, but it is not even near the top of the priority list. "I have got a lot of paths that I can go down. I have done the dancing path, so let's see what's next. If one fails, I will go on to try another."

Even LA "I would like to try to conquer it again," she says.

"A lot of it is luck, and timing, and who you know, and contacts. If luck is on my side, hopefully in two years, it will be great."

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