It all started when Kilafairy followed her mum to a TV set one day. Her mother, popular 1980s singer Rohana Jalil, was paying a visit to her friend, celebrity chef Jaafar Onn, who was filming on the set.
“While waiting for her, a cameraman asked me to stand in front of the camera to mark something,” she recalls the beginnings of her showbiz career.
“As it was a KRU production, that tape was brought back to KRU Studios. I think abang Norman (Abdul Halim) saw the tape and asked, ‘Who’s this girl?’ He then asked me to come in and film an episode of a musical drama.”
Shortly after, the then 18-year-old signed with KRU Studios for a year where she starred in her first film, the 2011 horror flick, Karak.
Kilafairy says she never thought of pursuing a showbiz career until that fateful day actually, although she often sang at corporate dinners.
“I didn’t plan to be in this industry at all, I wanted to be a businesswoman,” says the now 24-year-old who has a degree in fashion marketing and management.
Since then, Kilafairy, whose real name is Syakila Nisa Jahangir Khan, has starred in numerous drama series such as Saiful Nita and Cinta Agra. Recently, she’s been getting more attention for her musical talents too.
After recording Warna Cinta, the Bahasa Malaysia-language version of Gerua – which is featured on the 2015 Bollywood film, Dilwale – Shah Rukh Khan, who stars in the film alongside Kajol, tweeted: “Thank u sounds good.”
“Even with just those four words, my life is complete,” says a grateful Kilafairy in an interview with Star2 at Menara Star, Petaling Jaya. “It means he took the time to listen to it.”
Discover more about Kilafairy as she shares about her new single, Setia, the meaning behind her unique name and growing up with a famous mum.
1. There’s an interesting story behind your stage name, Kilafairy. Tell us about it.
Since I was five, I was crazy about Peter Pan. Up until I was 14, I would wait for Peter Pan to come to my window so much so that my dad built a bench for me by the window.
My sister called me Tinkerbell at first. I told her, “I’m not Tinkerbell. No, Peter hates her.” So she called me Kilafairy. (“Kila” is taken from her name Syakila and “fairy” from the fairytale which sees its protagonist interacting with faeries and other mythical creatures.)
From then on, even at school, all my friends called me Kilafairy. When I entered the industry, I didn’t want to use my full name as I wanted to have a bit of privacy. So my friend suggested I go with Kilafairy.
2. What are your musical influences and how did you come to record Setia?
I love R&B, hip-hop and soul music. I was born a universal listener. I listened to all kinds of music as a kid, but R&B just caught me.
The lyrics and how they sing it … they sing it from the soul. I love Beyonce, Jhene Aiko, Travis Scott, Jeremih and Usher.
I wanted my first single to be R&B but as we’re trying to get into the market, it’s hard to sell R&B here. Setia is a ballad and I love ballads too. Even my mum says I should do ballads as it suits me.
We’re taking baby steps towards R&B, you’ll hear some R&B in my singles in the future.
3. You have a telemovie coming up where you spoke in the Kelantan dialect. What was that like?
Mek Kelate is about these three friends trying to open a business. I play like the big sister to these two other girls. They’re from Kelantan and they’re trying to sell Kelantanese food in Kuala Lumpur. And so we have to speak Kelantanese.
My dad is from a part of Terengganu nearing the border of Kelantan. My cousins speak Kelantanese. I can too, but not as good as my dad. I have a bit of foundation in it so it wasn’t too difficult.
4. Do you see having a famous mum as an advantage or a disadvantage to your career?
It’s both. The disadvantage is people think that I got into this industry because of my mum, that they don’t know that I’ve been working very hard.
But I focus more on the positive side, which is, I get to learn a lot (from my mother) compared to other artistes who are new, who may not know how the industry works or how to interact with the media.
I’ve gotten comments from senior reporters who have said that I am able to speak and mingle well with them.
5. What qualities do you look for in your dream man?
Someone who doesn’t smoke. Someone who respects his elders. Someone who’s funny, a gentleman and manly – like a mixture of Thor and Iron Man (laughs). Thor is manly and gentlemanly but not funny. Iron Man is funny and a gentleman.