WORDS BY HIRANMAYII AWLI MOHANAN
PHOTO BY PINOGRAPHY
Che Puan Juliana Evans’s career in the entertainment industry was written in the stars. She appeared in photo and video shoots as young as a 10-month-old infant and naturally, developed a passion for the craft as a young girl. She is armed with a degree in Film, Video and Media Studies from Western Michigan University and proceeded to further her studies at the New York Film Academy to improve her craft. Today, she adds entrepreneur and mother to a beautiful baby girl to her resume. We chat with the stunning and humble Juliana Evans to find out her favourite Raya memory, motherhood and her possibly starting a baby clothing line.
ABOUT HER FORAY INTO THE ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY
What inspired your foray into the entertainment industry?
Thanks to my parents, I’ve been exposed to photo and video shoots as early as 10 months old. So as I grew up, I kept doing more and more commercials and became comfortable, which subsequently developed my passion for acting and being in front of the camera. I knew as a little girl that this would be my career path when I finished school.
It has definitely given me a deeper knowledge in film production, broadcasting and acting. I’ve applied the knowledge I gained into various work that have come my way. I don’t use the same acting method that I practised when I was 18, the methods I use are different now.
What is your process in preparing for a role?
When I prepare for a character, the process is relatively more intense in the sense that I get in depth with the character I’m portraying, using the techniques that I studied in college.
I’ve gotten back into directing as of late and have done a couple of public service announcement (PSA) videos. I was made Join Jade Ambassador for the year 2020 by the Stanford Asian Liver Centre in the United States. We made a video together with my baby, to cultivate awareness about vaccinating babies for hepatitis B. It was fun! I’m doing directing as a hobby now because I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself. I find that in regards to doing something you love, you want to do it wholeheartedly, without putting pressure on yourself — pressure takes the fun out of things. I also have plans in the near future to direct or produce short films and a couple of shows. I have produced a couple of pilot shows and my dream is to produce my own talk show someday.
THE HARI RAYA AIDILFITRI FESTIVITIES
What do you look forward to most about Raya?
What I look forward to the most during Raya is the Raya spirit embodied by everyone celebrating and its culture. It’s absolutely amazing.
What does the first day of Raya look like in your household?
We would wake up in the morning and I ensure that we have our favourite Raya dishes prepared and served on the table. Lemang, ketupat and rendang are the staples, of course. We would also blast Raya songs in our house like the legendary Sudirman’s to get into the Raya spirit. That’s how we usually celebrate Raya. This year though, it might be a little different because we have an 11-month-old baby. It’s going to be a lot more fun celebrating with the little one so I’m really looking forward to it.
Can you tell us three essential items that you carry in your bag during Raya open house visits and why?
Firstly, it would be hand sanitiser because my hands would be dirty from nibbling on all the kuih Raya, so I need it to clean my hands. Secondly, sa casual change of clothes because given our Malaysian weather, I would most likely be sweating after visiting two to three houses. Last but not least, I would have sampul Raya because most of the little kids would be expecting duit Raya.
Do you practise any Raya traditions passed down from your parents?
Besides stuffing my face with Raya food and playing fireworks with my cousins and family, our tradition includes lining up in front of the family elders, including my grandparents and uncles and aunties to salam them and get duit Raya. That has always been a tradition in my family and a lot of fun.
What is your favourite Raya memory? Do you mind sharing it with us?
I have too many fond memories of Raya to name just one. We always went to my mum’s kampung in Bagan Datuk, Perak. Being a city girl, every year I got to experience and assimilate into the kampung culture — it’s a different experience altogether and it was always fun.
What are your must-have dishes for Aidilfitri?
Definitely lemang, ketupat, rendang and lontong, also known as lodeh.
Any outfit themes for Raya?
This year would be our first Raya festivities with our newborn daughter, so it’s going to be so much fun to coordinate our outfits. I haven’t thought of a theme, but one thing is for sure, we’re definitely wearing matching outfits.
In 2019, you gave birth to beautiful baby Mily. How has the journey of motherhood been so far?
Motherhood has been so good, so far. We are immensely blessed with our baby and I just love seeing her developments every day — how her face changes, getting bigger and growing up. She’s so interesting to me and I love watching her grow every single day. It is an amazing feeling and I can’t stress how blessed I am to be in this stage of life right now.
Besides being an actress, TV host and mother, you’ve added entrepreneur to your belt of achievements. What prompted you to start Jevans Jewelry?
When I wanted to start a business, I first asked myself what was my passion that I wanted to share with everyone? I believe that if you sell something that is an extension of you and something you love, people are more likely to relate to that and working would be fun. I have always had an interest in jewellery making. When I was a little girl, I would modify and customise my own jewellery so it only made sense that I would create a jewellery business. I have a natural fondness and connection with stones such as crystals, so I combined my passion and my fondness for stones to create a jewellery brand that is authentic and represents me. I’m happy to be able to sell things that I love.
Will you consider starting a baby clothing line?
Yes, I would definitely consider developing a baby clothing line — it is among my interests. We’re actually in the midst of planning collaborations with local infant clothing businesses to support them. Before this, it had never crossed my mind to start a baby line but now that I am a mother, I’m definitely interested and can’t wait for these collaborations to bear fruit.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
In five years, I’m hoping to see myself as a happy mother and wife who has a happy family, surrounded by a lot of positivity. Hopefully, we’ll have another two or three kids in five years, Insha Allah. I hope to be happy in my career as well, directing a few movies and producing shows.
In your opinion, how has Covid-19 affected the entertainment industry?
It has definitely affected a lot of shooting schedules. During the start of the MCO, there were a few productions that were filming Raya programmes, and they couldn’t complete the shoot which then affected the entire show and production. It was meant to be a special Raya program, but since they could only shoot half- way through, they’re unable to produce it for Ramadan and Raya. I feel that this year will see a decrease in Raya shows. It is a Malaysian tradition, especially in the entertainment industry to show great dramas and telemovies on Raya. In my opinion, we’ll definitely see less of these movies and shows this year.
Finally, how has Covid-19 affected your lifestyle and what have you learned from it?
There is certainly a lot to learn from this pandemic and MCO, especially how we tend to take things for granted. I think people are now more appreciative of the things they have, family, time, self and life itself. It’s time for people to take a step back from chasing worldly materials and the pandemic serves as a good learning curve. In terms of my lifestyle, I have been enjoying the MCO which came as a blessing in disguise for a new mum like me. This pandemic has given me time to constantly be with my baby, tend to her and observe her growth every day. I have really enjoyed being with my husband, my baby and my family during this time.