By Alverdtekoster Anyap And Nura Valentiana
WHO would have thought that one can be successful in acting while being a lawyer and a businesswoman, also studying at the same time?
Dee Dee A’inee Peter is a 27-year-old lawyer turned actress who has already starred in many dramas and films after she started her acting career in 2020, and has achieved much success and recognition for her talents.
She worked at a law firm in Kuala Lumpur for less than a year when the pandemic hit the country and everything stopped.
“We were still working at the firm but they cut our salary by almost 50 per cent. Definitely I would not be able to survive in KL.
“So, my parents told me to move back and I did. Coming home, I did not know what I was going to do. This was before I decided to work with my father who is also a lawyer.
“Then, somebody texted me and asked if I want to go to an audition for a series they were shooting for TVS, which is Tilit-Tilit Cinta. The series has been streaming on Netflix, the first for Sarawak.
“I went for the audition and somehow got the part for the drama and the rest is history. I think everything kind of fell into place for me,” she said.
Dee Dee also revealed how her family reacted to her decision to pursue acting. At first, her parents and her grandmother were doubtful.
“My grandmother was asking if I am still a lawyer, and I told her that I was. However, the world now requires you to have other skills.
“My parents were also questioning me about my acting career but I told them to trust me, trust the process. I knew what I wanted to go for and that it will not just stop there,” she said.
As an actress , there were a lot of references that helped her hone her talent in the industry especially actresses in big films from Hollywood.
“At the international level, the actress who inspired me to pursue acting is Sarah Paulson. I have seen her movies and how she acted, it was so impressive to me.
“I love watching movies and to see them acting, bringing out the heavy emotions to make scenes like in real life situation, that is why I watch movies and also some series a lot,” she said.
“For example, in the movie of A Quite Place, the scene when the woman was about to give birth in the bathtub and then the creature came in – that has been actually one of my most turned to reference when I’m bringing in emotions that are heavy and very difficult to portray,” she added.
Dee Dee said to make film scenes seem real and to get into character, a lot of work has to be done beforehand.
She said that she always tries to put herself into the shoes of the character she plays and create an imagination as if she herself is in the situation in the movies.
“I put myself in the shoes of the character and I just imagine what it would be like and what emotions I should bring in the situation, how I should act and I just let it come out naturally.
“I think for me, as an actress, a lot of research needs to be done before getting in front of the camera.
“I am the kind of person that always has references and do much research so that I can perform better, in addition to making the scene successful,” said Dee Dee.
The petite lawyer who graduated from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) is currently doing her Master’s Degree in Putra Business School.
She is also the chief marketing officer in a local production and marketing company, 21 Ways Sdn Bhd.
It sounds impossible for her to work full time as a lawyer and juggle her career with acting and taking care of her company while studying at the same time.
Well, it is hard, she said, but not as hard as what people have said it will be.
“It takes a lot of discipline such as putting aside what is unnecessary.
“For example, if my friends invite me to go out for dinner, I can make time for dinner. But anything after that, such as drinking and so on, I will have to say no.
“So, I plan my time according to priority. I keep my 9-to-5 job normal. I come home, go to the gym or whatever, just to kind of release some tension.
“I either go to the gym or have dinner with my friends or family. If I don’t feel physical enough to work out, I’ll watch a short series and then take my dinner with my family before returning to work,” she said.
However, she pointed out that she tries not to overstretch herself.
She noted that weekdays are all work, weekends for study– her weekends are fully reserved for her classes and assignments.
She stressed that most people do not realise how they can utilise their time in a day wisely.
“How many ever realise how much time have they spent on their phones?
“For example, scrolling the TikTok app at 6pm after work. Then next thing you know it’s already 12am. That’s a six-hour gap.
“That gap, we can use for bed. Or do other meaningful stuff,” she added.
Having said that, Dee Dee claimed to have different personas in each undertaking. It can get overwhelming, she said, but once she sees the benefits and rewards, this goes away.
“I guess it’s like having a baby. Going through the pain and the moment you look at the child, you’ll be asking like, are you mine? Oh I am in love.
“(And) what’s stopping us? There are a lot of people doing different things in life. If they can do it, why can’t we?” she said.
Growing up in a family who own a law firm, she said it was a very conflicting decision to make between law and business.
She grew up wanting to be a lawyer, but as she grew older, she fell in love with entrepreneurship.
Dee Dee regarded pursuing her business master’s degree as one of the best decisions she has ever made.
“Doing my Master’s has let me meet so many people and they help me so much.
“I saw what they did, I learn from their mistakes and experiences. And it gave me the opportunity to actually join a lot of events and competitions.
“I also met people with crazy experiences during one of the competitions I participated in which was in Thailand.
“We didn’t win but they gave us really good advice,” Dee Dee said.
Being around those kinds of people, she said, lets her see things differently.
She started to see everything around her as an opportunity.
She added that there are so many problems in the world with so many solutions, which means there are so many potential markets to tap.
Dee Dee noted that there is so much to do in future and she saw many options that she just wants to explore.
“I planned my whole life to be a lawyer and somehow I ended up, one foot at somewhere else.
“And I’m prospering in the area. I can’t decide now on what I’m going to do. I’ve always had this belief that if I just sincerely put 100 per cent in everything, it would grow.
“I am giving my all and everything that I do. And I believe that things tend to work themselves out the way they should,” she said.
The budding star believes the local entertainment industry has a promising future and that Sarawak is already on the right track.
She said the State government is very supportive towards the shift to digitalisation, and that is something that is not very prominent in other areas.
The establishment of the local TV station, TVS, has opened up numerous doors for many people, including her, who unexpectedly established a business as a result of her acting profession.
“Because of the company that we have now, we are giving opportunities to new talent to come out and explore what they can do.
“And giving this medium to these people to train themselves and to learn whatnot, you are indirectly allowing more to come,” she said.
There are numerous workshops and seminars regarding the industry, Dee Dee said, which are free for all interested individuals to join.
Apart from programmes offered, she said more could be done such as providing a creative space for talents to explore their skills and learn how to use the right instruments.
“It would be great to have just a creative place apart from TEGAS village. Just a creative space so that people can use cameras for instance, and equipment.
“People who cannot afford to purchase such equipment can come and play as well as be taught by others. They must be trained and groomed from the roots up.
“Especially those small businesses who are budding, it would be great to have it.
“Imagine having this creative space where they are able to experiment on their own and take their own product photos. It may not be a topnotch but it is something,” she added.
“The motto that I live by both personally and professionally is to live unapologetically free,” she said.
“I will not apologise for how strict I am with my work. I will not apologise for prioritising me. I will never apologise for putting me and my family first.
“Because that is what I should do and what pushes me,” she stressed.
On a personal level, Dee Dee said she will not apologise if she ever needs a break, or if she feels like she deserves something.
“How I want to spend my money, how I spend my time is entirely up to me,” she added.
“I truly don’t care if people say I’m showing off. So what? I worked hard for it. Why shouldn’t I? It motivates me.
“She said the best advice for starting a career is to just start. She added that one should have no second guesses or any buts or excuses, because at the end of the day, everyone has 24 hours.
“Be hungry. Go out and get it. Don’t just talk about it, do it.
“You may fail, and it doesn’t matter because if you fail, you learn. And you apply it to the next one.
“You practice, try, keep going,” she advised.