Actress Emma Maembong was nervous about the release of her new film Kimchi Untuk Awak. The romantic comedy directed by Michael Ang sees Emma, 25, taking on the role of student Bella. Her character would eventually get involved with corporate figure Danial Lee (Aiman Hakim) and the two start a love-hate relationship.
Emma shared that during filming in South Korea, she was feeling insecure about her looks.
“I had a nasty breakout on my face. Plus, I felt that I’ve put on weight. I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to get into character because I was worried about my look,” Emma said at an interview in Kuala Lumpur.
Emma has reasons for her insecurities as Kimchi Untuk Awak is her first outing on the big screen in the leading role. The film also marks a new phase in the career of the Irish-Malay actress who has made a name for herself on popular TV dramas like Jodoh Sebelah Pintu, Projek Memikat Suami and Isteri Separuh Masa.
She cemented her status as a TV darling when she won the Anugerah Bintang Popular for Most Popular TV Actress last year. “I do feel that appearance is important. It has a lot to do with how you feel in whatever setting. When I don’t feel comfortable, I wouldn’t be able to be myself,” she said.
Thankfully, Emma had the support of co-star Aiman and director Ang who assured her that she was doing OK. She also wanted to make sure that she can do justice to the character Bella.
“I like this character because I can relate to her. She’s the happy-go-lucky average girl. She’s a little mischiveous because she’s the youngest in the family,” Emma revealed.
Emma learned to make kimchi and also wore a hanbok, a traditional Korean dress in the film. It was eye-opening experience for an actress who learned that it was important to immerse herself in the tradition of others. “The locals in South Korea gave us compliments. They were happy to see us there, experiencing their culture.”
Learning to improve herself is also another thing that matters to the actress. Despite the insecurities that stemmed from her looks, Emma is a professional on set.
Ang is notorious for being outspoken and blunt when it comes to criticism. But Emma has no problems working with the opinionated director. In fact, Emma will be working with Ang again in an upcoming horror movie.
“That’s why I love working with Michael. He’s the type who will give you constructive criticism. He might be harsh but he will also guide you until he sees an improvement in you.”
If you have the guts to tell Emma that her acting needs some work, the actress won’t take any offence. She said she’s not the type to be upset when it comes to criticism about her work.
“I would listen to the criticisms carefully. Then go home and watch myself (to see if the criticisms are called for). I learn to see where I can improve.”
Emma, who is often cast as the sweet-natured girl, wants to prove that she is capable of different roles.
“I’ve been in the industry for four years and I have not received any offers to play a villain. It’s something I’ve been wanting to do. I like to challenge myself.”