Anugerah Pilihan Online 2016 (APO2016) was truly meant to represent the voice of the fans. When the awards show was introduced in March, there were over 120,000 personalities to choose from to make the list of nominees. Fans cast their votes and narrowed down the list to top five names for 17 categories.
At the APO2016 awards night on April 30, the fans had the final say. APO2016 is the first “people’s choice awards” by Star Media Group, jointly organised by the group’s Bahasa Malaysia-language portal mStar Online and Suria FM.
mStar Online executive editor Rozaid Abdul Rahman shared that he’s happy with the warm reception APO2016 received. “I was just targeting around 400,000 online votes; this went beyond my expectation,” he said commenting on the 775,161 votes APO2016 garnered in total. A majority of the votes went to rock band Akim & The Majistret who bested industry heavyweights like Datuk Siti Nurhaliza, Zizan Razak and Ayda Jebat to take home the evening’s biggest title, APO2016 Ultimate Celebrity.
The band won the award based on the most online votes received across all categories contested at the event.
“The veteran artistes are the ones who inspired us to form Akim & The Majistret actually,” said lead vocalist Akim Ahmad, who could not attend the event, in a separate interview.
Asked if he felt pressured by the title “Ultimate Celebrity”, Akim, 25, responded: “Having that pressure forces us to think more creatively and also brings us closer together as a band.”
His bandmates Zimi (guitairist) and Safwan Hasnan (drummer) were at the event in Angkasapuri Kuala Lumpur to receive the award. They also won Online Choice Group.
“This honour was a complete surprise for us. When we started this band, we took a huge risk because some of us are members of other groups. Akim & The Majistret is our second attempt at making a name for ourselves in the industry. We’re happy to say that it has paid off and we have the fans to thank,” Safwan said.
For Mia Ahmad, who won Best Online Choice Actress and Dnars Choice Most Elegant Female, bagging the two trophies also came as a surprise, especially since her Instagram account was hacked twice in the lead-up to APO2016.
The 28-year-old actress originally had 1.3 million Instagram followers before the account was hacked. She then started a second account which drew about 10,000 followers within a week. That account was also hacked. She created her most recent account with 6,000 followers a day before the award ceremony.
While Mia admitted there were times she felt like shutting down her Instagram account for good, she values the importance of social media. “The second time (I got hacked), I felt like I needed a break. I felt bothered by it because that’s part of my work. But I realised I can’t. The reason why my name has been on the rise is because of these social media followers. I can’t just quit like that.”
Mia, who rose to prominence after playing the lead role in the TV drama Hati Perempuan last year, added the incident had cost her quite a bit in terms of promoting her dramas and landing sponsorship deals.
Despite it all, Mia said she’s grateful to her fans for the win. “This is my first award after being in the industry for over a year. I see this as an appreciation from my fans. In return, I will work harder.”
It’s a winning combination for the Hati Perempuan lead actors as Mia’s co-star Saharul Ridzwan emerged as another big winner of the night.
The 27-year-old actor beat established names such as Aaron Aziz, Shaheizy Sam, Adi Putra and Zizan for the Best Online Choice Actor title.
“I don’t feel like I’m at their level yet,” said Saharul humbly. “They’re all my idols. There’s a lot more I need to learn in order to be in the same league as them.” Saharul first came into the spotlight through the 2013 series Love You Mr Arrogant.
After having his popularity solidified through his wins at APO2016, Saharul now has his eyes set on gaining recognition for his acting chops.
Saharul, who was also named Dnars Choice Most Handsome Male, showed up at the award show with a newly shaved head as part of his preparation for an upcoming role. “I don’t want to be stereotyped. Like (Shaheizy) Sam, I want to be able to play different characters,” he said.
While newcomers seemed to be dominating the various award categories at APO2016, Datuk Siti Nurhaliza, who just celebrated her 20th year in the industry recently, remains a force to be reckoned with.
Star2.com reached out for a comment from the singer, who could not attend the awards. “My wins at APO are because of the hard work of my loyal fans,” said the 37-year-old who won Best Online Choice Female Singer and Fashion Icon.
“I’m someone who is receptive to the changes in the industry. As my fans are changing with the current trends, I have to follow. And I adapt this to my music and performances,” she explained on being able to stay fresh and relevant.
Meanwhile, singer Hazama Azmi was reflective about his win as Choice Male Singer. Since coming off as Akademi Fantasia S9 champion in 2011, Hazama said he has never won any of the awards he was nominated for. APO2016 is his first win.
He was backstage when his name was announced and apparently, was unaware of it. “I did not expect this at all. I feel blessed,” he said.
Results aside, the event which aired on TV2 featured a slew of memorable performances.
Hosted by Adibah Noor, Baki Zainal and Awal Ashaari, APO2016 saw actors Adi Putra and Amar Baharin singing on stage for the first time. Local rock queen Ella treated fans to her signature hits before roping in Ayda Jebat for an impromptu duet. Dayang Nurfaizah performed a touching tribute to her mentor, the late composer Datuk Adnan Abu Hassan, who died in March. Dayang later joined Hazama and rapper Aman-Ra for the performance of Suria FM original song Bangkit.
There were other surprises that night too, particularly for Ayda and radio presenter Radin Amir Affendy. Both went home with the Most Glamorous Fashion awards for embodying the event’s Glam Digital theme. They went home with a RM1,888 cash prize each. Radin hopes to see more events like APO2016 in the future.
“It’s a very inclusive event. You’ve got personalities from entertainment, sports and social media here. Plus, fans play a major role in deciding the results via online votes, which are based on how much interaction these personalities have with their fans. That’s the way of the future. I think APO2016 is on its way to pioneering an award show like no other.”