Wednesday October 6, 2010
Azura is one bubbly host
By AZHARIAH KAMIN
Azura Zainal is having the time of her life bringing viewers highlights of the Commonwealth Games 2010 in New Delhi.
AT the mention of Azura Zainal, one is reminded of the bubbly girl who co-hosted Disney Buzz 11 years ago. She was 18 then.
Now, Azura, 29, is still going places with her first love TV hosting. She is the commentator on the current Commonwealth Games 2010 in New Delhi, India, which is airing on Astro Arena (Astro Channel 801).
Throughout the duration of the Games, she will be presenting some of the sporting events live. There is also an hour of highlights of the games at 7am and 11am daily. And, of course, she will also be there for the live telecast of the closing ceremony at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Oct 14 starting at 9.30pm.
“I’m so excited at being involved and am extremely nervous too,” said Azura in an interview at Menara Star, Petaling Jaya, Selangor, prior to her departure for New Delhi, last Friday.
“I covered the Monsoon Cup in Terengganu in December last year. That was my first time getting involved in a sporting event, and now, with the Commonwealth Games I’m just so excited,” said Azura who did her homework by watching sports events on TV and getting to know as much as she could about the 14 events in the Games.
Astro viewers subscribing to the sports package are able to follow our athletes’ quest for glory.
“I’m even more excited despite our young age, for the fact that Astro Arena has been appointed as the host broadcaster for badminton in the Games.
“This is a major feat for the channel, only six months after its launch, and the first time that a Malaysian production crew has been tasked with the assignment since Malaysia hosted the Games in 1998.”
Azura’s excitement is understandable as she is one of the channel’s faces since its launch in April.
Azura also co-hosts Aktifpedia, a sports educational show on Arena, with AF finalist Burn.
“Through Aktifpedia, I’ve learned a lot about many sports, including the not-so-popular ones. It is a great experience and total fun doing sports, such as rowing, cricket, ice hockey, lawn bowl, capoeira, judo, karate and basketball in the show,” said Azura.
When asked how she ended up with Astro Arena, the Kuala Lumpur-born lass said the offer came from channel manager Venu Ramadass who was looking for a host.
“I remember telling him that if he was looking for a sexy, pretty young thing (as the host), then I would not be suitable for the job because I like to be out there ... getting down and dirty. I love all things extreme,” said Azura, who also dabbles in acting and singing.
In June, she played the coveted role of Gusti Puteri Retno Dumilah in Puteri Gunung Ledang The Musical (PGLM) at Live! Singapore.
The play, which was staged in English for the first time, also saw the return of Stephen Rahman-Hughes as Hang Tuah, Edwin Sumun as Sultan Mahmud and Gani Abdul Karim as Gusti Adipati.
“Acting in PGLM had been really exciting because I love dancing and singing and Datin Seri Tiara Jacquelina (who played the princess in the Malay version) was very helpful in showing me the ropes of playing Gusti Puteri in the musical,” recalled Azura.
Azura almost released her debut album six years ago when she signed up with Universal Music Malaysia. The recording deal fell through due to her hectic schedule with Disney Buzz and the change of management of the recording company.
‘’Music is in my blood and I love singing as well.”
Growing up in Klang, Selangor, as the fourth child in a family of seven, she got her first taste of singing in public when she joined the Malaysian National Choir at the age of nine.
‘’I actually wanted to dance, but my late mum insisted that I sing,” she said.
‘’I went for the audition and got a place along with my then best friend and my cousin. It was my mother who exposed me to performing, and I even got to fly to Auckland, New Zealand, with the National Choir for a show.
“We also performed with the Vienna Boys’ Choir at the King’s birthday.”
“I was 18 when my mum told me about an audition for a TV host for Disney Buzz. She encouraged me to give it a try and I succeeded.”
The rest is history as she hosted Disney Buzz for four years while the programme spread its wings to other countries in Asia.
“I’m happy with what I am doing now and it’s thanks to my mother. I guess she knew what’s good for me.
“As for now, I really want to get serious with my singing. I’m planning to attend vocal classes but I just need to find time to do it,” said Azura whose last foray into singing was the release of single Bila Mama Pakai Celana, a collaborative effort with Urban Exchange and Ruffedge in 2008.
Tune in to the Commonwealth Games 2010 on Astro Arena (Astro Channel 801) with one-hour highlights at 7am and 11am daily, plus repeats throughout the day. The Games ends on Oct 14. Also, catch Azura Zainal on Aktifpedia every Thursday at 8pm on Astro Arena.