It was kismet. Actor Hisyam Hamid couldn’t have been more perfect for his latest role as a firefighter on the now airing Astro series, Abang Bomba I Love You.
After all, the 31-year-old Singaporean was a firefighter for eight years before becoming a full-time actor.
“I asked the producers what the title of the show was and they said ‘Abang Bomba …’ Before they could even finish saying the title, I said, ‘Yes! I want to do it. Don’t give it to anyone else,” recalls Hisyam enthusiastically on being offered the role.
Hisyam started his firefighting career in 2006 at 21. “I was in national service for two years and I was posted to be a fireman. I liked the job so I signed on and became an officer,” he shares.
A few years earlier, Hisyam, who describes himself as a “shy kid” growing up, discovered acting after a friend persuaded him to join an acting workshop when he was 18. The experience led to many part-time acting jobs which he took up well into his firefighting days.
Fast forward to 2011, Hisyam landed a part in the Malaysian and Singaporean-produced Cut Amirah, introducing him to producers and scriptwriters from Malaysia.
One of his earliest roles in Malaysia was in the hit TV3 drama series Ariana Rose. The 2013 show was so well-received, viewers started taking notice of Hisyam, giving him enough traction to leave his job as a firefighter and make the move fromacross the causeway.
Over the years, Hisyam has gradually solidified his name in the local showbiz scene, playing lead roles in high-profile projects Memori Cinta Suraya and Isteri Vs Tunang.
But looking back, it hasn’t been an easy journey. Hisyam, who is married with two children, remembers starting a family around the same time he just became a firefighter.
“Being married at such a young age and being married (at 21 years old) before entering the entertainment industry, it keeps you grounded. We went through a lot together even before all this came along. So we’re prepared in a way,” he says.
1. What are some of the most memorable moments in the eight years you spent as a firefighter?
There are many cases where the elderly die alone and no one knows about it until two to three days later when the smell starts to develop.
It’s quite sad to see. What if it’s our parents or someone related to us? Those kinds of things affect me.
When it comes to dangerous situations, there was the Pulau Bukom fire incident.
Pulau Bukom is home to an oil refinery so basically the tanks and gas chambers are all there. It went on fire because of a gas leakage.
There was a minor explosion which caused three fire engines to completely burn.
I wasn’t a part of that team. I was with the firefighting team that came later to help with the explosion and the three fire engines that caught fire.
2. With so much experience as a firefighter, did you have to prepare much for Abang Bomba I Love You?
To prepare myself for this job, I actually started training and working out. One of the producers said, “But Hisyam, we don’t need you to go shirtless.”
It’s not about that, it’s not to be buff. I want to get back my fitness because I know there would be scenes where I have to put on the firefighter’s breathing apparatus set, and that weighs about 20kg and you have to do a lot of physical stuff.
So, I started jogging and going to the gym about a month before. I engaged a personal trainer to help me.
3. You devoted 15 months to film a 137-episode soap opera, Memori Cinta Suraya, last year. Were you hesitant to sign on to such a time-consuming project?
Some people were saying, “Why did you take up this show? You are new and you should build your name first?”
The main reason why I did the show was the prospect of Memori Cinta Suraya being picked up by countries worldwide. It’s a new opportunity for me. I want spread my wings.
Right now, it’s being aired in Kazakhstan and I have people from Kazakhstan messaging me. And with so many episodes, they’ll remember you.
4. You’re not the most romantic person. Is it true you proposed to your wife with a tab from a soft drink can?
(Laughs) I was 21 and I had been with her for two years before that. My mum has been telling me, “If you love her then just get married.” One day, she was at my mum’s place – everyone was there, my grandparents too – and the idea just came.
I said, “Let’s get married.” It was totally unromantic. She said, “Are you serious?” I was drinking a can of soft drink and I peeled off the tab and I told her to take this temporarily while I get her a ring.
It becomes memorable and funny when I think back, although it’s not romantic.
5. What are the challenges of starting a family at such a young age?
It was very difficult financially when we started. I had just started working as a fireman then. But our families helped lighten the load, buying us a fridge and washing machine. A year later, my wife got pregnant. It felt like reality giving me a tight slap on the face. I cannot continue living like this, so I started pursuing my diploma while working as a firefighter.
I told myself, by the time my child turns five, I want to have a degree. My colleagues were like, “How do you do this? You’re working, acting and studying.”
It came to a point where my wife was going into labour and I was doing my assignment by her bedside. My files were scattered all overthe bed. I had an assignment due and by hook or by crook, I had to finish it and I had to accompany her, so I had to do it.