Dato’ Michelle Yeoh is arguably Malaysia’s biggest and most successful movie export. She first gained stardom appearing alongside international action star Jackie Chan, in the highly-acclaimed 1992 film The Police Story 3. In fact, the tough-as-nut Dato’ Michelle is only one of a handful of female stars whom Jackie lets do her own stunts.
Since that stint, she has appeared in several big-budget Hong Kong and Hollywood films, notably Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, The Mummy 3, Memoirs of a Geisha and Babylon A.D., just to name a few. Another notable highlight of Dato’ Michelle’s movie career was playing a Bond girl alongside Pierce Brosnan, in Tomorrow Never Dies.
Shyne and Ashanti recorded his theme song and he has been mentioned countless times on shows like The Sopranos and Gossip Girl. When your name has become a rap staple with everyone from Lil’ Kim to Jay-Z giving you a mention, that’s when you know you’ve made it big. Dato’ Jimmy Choo has become such a towering figure in the world of luxury footwear that the mere mention of ‘Choos’ incites gleeful looks from women the world over.
Born in Penang the son of a shoemaker, Choo crafted his first pair when he was only 11 years old. He graduated from the London College of Fashion in 1983 and opened his own shoe shop in Hackney three years later. He quickly became known for his fabulous designs.
By the time British Vogue came knocking at his door in 1988, Choo had already honed his craft. The fashion mag gave the designer an 8 page spread, prominently featuring Choo's collection. Everyone suddenly wanted a pair of Jimmy Choos: fashionistas, celebrities and even royalty. The Queen of Denmark is a loyal client of his and so was the late Princess Diana.
Although Choo sold his 50% stake in the eponymous brand by 2001, it had already made a mint and turned him into a household name by that time. He is still probably the most talked about Malaysian out there and we're huge fans of Uncle Jimmy and his ‘Choos’
Malaysia’s premier diva has been steadily conquering the international market over the past 20 years and continues to do so. She was one of the first Malaysian recording artists to break the Indonesian market and she even won the Indonesian BASF award for Best Female Artist in 1986, which was never before won by a non-Indonesian. Majid also has a wide following in Japan and remains the first and only Malaysian artist to successfully infiltrate the Japanese market.
Dubbed Malaysia's Queen of Jazz, Majid has collaborated with some of the world’s best musicians, including American bassist Nathan East and Japanese violinist Aska Kaneko. In 1996, Majid performed a sold out show at the Royalty Theatre in London’s West End. She later returned to London that same year to perform at the jazz Mecca of music, Ronnie Scott’s. In recent years, Sheila Majid has continued to be one of the most notable Malaysian names in music.
While we think Sheila leans more to pop than jazz, there's no denying the beauty in her phrasing and the way her instrument moves with ease around a melody. She is, indeed, a national treasure.
Ling was discovered first in a small fashion show, and a Tiger Beer commercial gave her some success in Malaysia. After just a year of modelling on home ground, she went to New York where she was snapped up by one of the most influential modelling agencies in the world, IMG.
Since then Ling has worked with the world’s top designers including Karl Lagerfeld, Jean Paul Gaultier, Valentino and Donna Karan. She has been photographed by giants like Mario Testino (for a Gucci campaign), Patrick Demarchlier and Richard Avedon.
Ling has also appeared in every major fashion magazine you can think of, from Vogue to Elle. She even popped up in an episode of “Sex and the City” as herself and was featured in a George Michael music video for the track “Fast Love”.
Tyra may ask her girls if they, "Wanna be on top?" But none of even Banks' recruits have achieved the level of success Ling has in high-fashion. Meet the world's new top model!
Malaysia’s most well-loved supermodel, Amber Chia, began her modelling career at the age of 17. The modest-but-gorgeous Amber gained international stardom after she won the 2004 Guess Watches Timeless Beauty Contest – a global model search for a Guess Watch brand ambassador. Amber made Malaysia proud by becoming the first Asian model to win a top global, professional modelling contest.
The win kick-started Amber’s blossoming career. She was named Model of the Year by the Malaysian International Fashion Awards in 2004 and 2005. She became the ambassador for brands like Sony and L’Oreal, starred in several local and regional movies and she also created Malaysia's first modelling reality show "I Wanna Be A Model". Do we see a Malaysian Tyra Banks in the making?
Nicholas Teo is making us proud 2,000 miles away from home. Teo was only 21 when he won the Astro Talent Quest in 2002. He got his recording career off the ground with First Album in 2004. Thanks to his vocal skills and boyish charm, the album sold more than 30,000 copies in Taiwan alone within a month of its release – a feat that could rival some of Taiwan’s biggest pop stars.
Due to his rising popularity, Nicholas was roped in to star in the highly-rated Taiwanese drama “Smiling Pasta” – a move that put him on the map internationally. He has become Malaysia’s biggest export in the Chinese entertainment market, going further than any local pop star has in the past. And to think it all started on Wah Lai Toi.
DATO’ SITI NURHALIZA
If someone were to ask who Malaysia’s biggest pop singer is, only one name would come to mind: Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza. Dato’ Siti started out as a talented youngster who caught the attention of the public when she won the 1995 RTM Juara Bintang competition at the tender age of 16.
She got her first international accolade when she won the ‘Gold Award’ in the 1999 Shanghai Music Festival. That same year she won the South Pacific International Song and Singing Competition. In 2004, the much-loved songstress made history when she became the first non-Chinese entertainer invited to perform at the 15th Golden Melody Awards in Taiwan, singing a duet with Wang Lee-hom.
Aside from being a Malaysian artist with one of the biggest followings in Indonesia, in 2005, Dato’ Siti held a successful solo concert at the Royal Albert Hall in London, with the British media dubbing her ‘Asia’s Celine Dion’.
Malaysia continues their love affair with the pop diva as she plans to release another album, later this year. We look forward to more from Dato' Siti Nurhaliza.
DATUK DR. SHEIKH MUSZAPHAR SHUKOR
This Malaysian didn’t just make it on the international front. His achievements took him out of this world. Literally! He is the first Malaysian man to make it into space. Not only that, he was the first Muslim to have observed Ramadhan in space as well as celebrate Eid out of the earth’s atmosphere.
On October 10th, 2007, Datuk Dr. Sheikh Muszaphar, an orthopaedic surgeon by profession, blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan for a voyage to the International Space Station with two other astronauts from Russia and the USA. He spent nine days in the space station where he conducted a series of scientific experiments. While he was in space, Datuk Dr. Sheikh Muszaphar celebrated Hari Raya in true blue Malaysian fashion, by sharing satay and Raya cookies with his fellow astronauts.
As far as famous Malaysians go, it'll be hard to top that. Datuk, you did us proud!
Nicol David is the first squash player to have won the World Junior title twice (1999 and 2001) under the tutelage of Richard Glanfield. She remained the only female squash player to have achieved this, until Raneem El Weleil emulated David's feat by winning her second World Junior Championship in 2007. Nicol moved inexorably up the senior rankings to become a fixture in the top flight. At a very young age, she has been invited to carry the Olympic torch for Malaysia during the build up to the Athens Olympics in 2004 and being appointed as National Goodwill Ambassador for Malaysia.
Nicol David's other notable achievements include the Asian squash championship, which she won with a record of six times (in 1998, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2008). She also held a 13-month, 51-match winning streak, from March 2006 to April 2007 when she finally lost to Natalie Grinham in the final of the 2007 Seoul Open. In today's standard of professional squash, which is regarded by many as being much more competitive than what it was decades ago, having a winning streak comparable to this is an achievement not easily obtainable.
Nicol has risen in name after her near total dominance of the game in recent years. The former Malaysian Prime Minister Dato' Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, a fellow Penangite, quipped once that David is "now more famous than me". Considering her young age, she is expected to remain the top female player in the game for a while to come.
As a singles player, Lee was again ranked first worldwide on August 21, 2008. He is the third Malaysian men's singles shuttler after Rashid Sidek and Roslin Hashim to achieve such a ranking (since official rankings were first kept in the 1980s), and is the only Malaysian shuttler to hold the ranking for more than two weeks.
Lee has won many international badminton titles in his career, including nine Super Series titles. However, despite his status among the world elite, Lee has only managed to capture bronze (in 2005) at the BWF World Championships and has never won the prestigious All England Open. Lee has also been unable to lead Malaysia to victory in the highly coveted biennial Thomas Cup (men's international team championship), despite his number one rankings during the 2006 and 2008 events.
He was born in Kelantan of the Kuala Krai district on 11 June 1961. Toi left his native Malaysia at the age of eighteen, and via Toronto, landed in New York a year later. There he attended Parsons School of Design and apprenticed with Mary Jane Marcasiano and Ronaldus Shamask. In 1989, with a modest collection of bright sarongs, strong suits and regal dresses, he opened his own atelier. Instantly, the personable, affable and remarkable Toi made a name for himself among fashion’s elite.
In 1991 Toi won the Mouton-Cadet Young Designers Award, surprising many considering the competition he faced that day. His most recent award of distinction was presented by New York City Public Advocate Mark J. Green for Toi’s artistic contributions and achievements. In March 1997, Toi was awarded a knighthood by the Sultan of Malaysia. Mr. Toi is also a recipient of The International Center in New York's Award of Excellence.
Cheryline Lim (born 10 March 1983 in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia) also known as Che'Nelle is a R&B singer-songwriter and producer signed to Virgin Records America. Her father is a Malaysian-born Chinese, and her mother is a mixed of Indian and Dutch heritage.
Her debut album Things Happen for a Reason was released on 25 September 2007 in Japan and 29 October 2007 in Australia. The first single from this album was "I Fell in Love with the DJ" featuring reggae artist Cham. The song was also produced in Bahasa Malaysia with the title of "DJ yang Ku Puja".
Guy Sebastian was born in Klang, Malaysia on the 26th of October 1981. In May 2003 he successfully auditioned for Australian Idol, singing Stevie Wonder's "Ribbon in the Sky". Sebastian progressed through the Idol series establishing a strong fanbase and praise from the judges, who often made reference to his afro hairstyle which became a focal point of his image. He was declared the winner on November 19. The final was the most popular program broadcast in Australia during 2003, and the second most popular non-sporting broadcast in Australian television history.
Sebastian also had some success overseas with his first release reaching #1 in New Zealand, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines and Indonesia. His success outside Australia is most evident in New Zealand, where his first single "Angels Brought Me Here" was accredited platinum. It spent 3 weeks at #1, and remained in the NZ Top 50 chart for 22 weeks during 2003/2004.
Michael Wong, born August 30, 1970, is a Malaysian Chinese singer and composer. Wong began his singing career in a duo with Victor Wong. The pair had attained notable success in Taiwan, but in a mutual agreement the two split in 2000. Wong has released five solo albums, the third being his breakthrough album Fairy Tale. He also enjoys success as an actor in Chinese dramas and movies.
After releasing two solo albums on his own, his fans had to wait another two years before Wong finally launched his much-anticipated album, Fairytale (Tong Hua). The first single from this album, Fairy Tale, Wong wrote and composed by himself. Wong, who is more of a composer and hardly wrote lyrics, asked about 30 lyricists for suggestions for this particular song. After finally adding a finishing touch to the song with lyrics he wrote himself, he then left it to be arranged and produced by the experienced Japanese producer Taichi Nakamura. After rejecting the first few songs he short-listed himself for the album with his sense of perfection, Wong eventually re-selected some songs himself and finally rooted for his ten favourite songs to be cut into the album, of which six were co-written by himself. His two years of hard work finally paid off when this album immediately attained success, and is critically acclaimed to be Wong's best-selling album yet.
Pop Shuvit is a Malaysian independent rap-rock band. Comprising Moots (vocals), JD (guitars), AJ (bass), Rudy (drums) and UNO (turntables), the band who got its name from a skateboarding trick of almost the same name began making waves in the local music scene in late 2001 and since then, has had 4 successful releases under their belt and gained a sizable fanbase in Asia notably in Malaysia, Japan, Thailand and Singapore. Known for their adrenaline-packed live shows and eclectic blend of hip hop and rock, Pop Shuvit are being touted as Asia’s leading Hip Hop Rock band.
The success of their releases in Japan led to Pop Shuvit touring the land of the rising sun in 2005 to support their second release, Here & Now, leading to one of the most successful and talked about headlining tours for any Malaysian rock band. The album was a hard-hitting social commentary of urban culture and spurred hits like Old Skool Rocka and Journey, with the latter earning the band the #1 Song of the year on the Malaysian English Top Ten for 2005 and “Best Rock Act” at the inaugural Hitz.fm Malaysian English Top Ten Awards 2005.
Zee Avi (born Izyan Alirahman, also known as KokoKaina; b. 1986) is a Malaysian singer-songwriter, guitarist, and ukulele player. She was born in Miri, Sarawak, on the island of Borneo. She moved to Kuala Lumpur when she was 12. She studied fashion design at American InterContinental University in London.
Zee originally posted a video of her first song on YouTube because one of her friends had missed her first performance in Kuala Lumpur, so she created a video on YouTube for him to watch. He convinced Zee to leave the video up, and soon she received positive feedback, which inspired her to put more videos on YouTube. After she was featured on YouTube, she was discovered by Patrick Keeler of The Raconteurs, who passed the link to Ian Montone, manager of the White Stripes, Shins, Raconteurs and more. He passed her music on to Emmett Malloy and she was signed by Brushfire Records, which is partly owned by Jack Johnson. Her song "No Christmas For Me" is featured on Brushfire Records's 2008 Christmas album This Warm December: A Brushfire Holiday. Her single "Bitter Heart" was first to become available on the US iTunes store, and her full self-titled debut album was released on May 19, 2009. On the day of her album's release, YouTube featured her on the front page in Spotlight: Music Tuesday. In June - August 2009, she toured the United States with Pete Yorn. The final concert on her first U.S. tour was at the Music Box at the Henry Fonda theater in Hollywood on August 27, 2009.
Shayna Zaid’s unique vibe and signature sound encompasses many culturally diverse influences stemming from her childhood in Malaysia to her coming of age in the United States. Shayna’s soulful voice is unmistakable; powerful yet tender, strong yet sweet, and mature beyond her years.
From her childhood days of acting, dancing and singing in live theater and performance events, entering and winning a stream of singing and art competitions, and gracing the TV screen in numerous advertisements, Shayna has delivered her creative talents in a variety of venues.
Mohd Azizulhasni B. Awang (born 5 January 1988) is a Malaysian track cyclist. Azizulhasni, was the winner of gold medals in the keirin and 200m sprint events at the Asian Track Championships in April 2008. He was a flag bearer for Malaysian team at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. He was the highest placed Asian cyclist at the Olympics, finishing eighth in the keirin. He is among 2012 London Olympics gold medal prospects. In 2009, Azizul became the overall winner of the Keirin event in the 2008–2009 World Cup after obtaining two gold medals. Azizul became the first Malaysian to win a medal at the UCI Track Cycling World Championships, when he won silver in the men's sprint event at the 2009 World Championships in Pruszków, Poland. He is referred to as Azizul the pocket rocket due to his small stature.
So did i missed another most famous Malaysian?
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