The Magic of Maya

Acting is her one true love.
Tuesday 19 November 2019
The actress, advocate and horror queen opens up to UNRESERVED in our November 2019 issue.

Maya Karin arrives at the studio inconspicuous sans a stitch of makeup and clad in a comfortable peasant blouse, jeans and ballet flats. She looks fatigued, the result of a shoot that ended at 12.30am the night before. At a glance, she could easily have been mistaken for any passerby on a weekend afternoon, and not a horror movie actress extraordinaire.

But once transformed in a makeup artist’s chair, Maya the Movie Star is unmistakable. It was almost magical, you might say. Her long, reddish brown locks coiffed into sleek waves, pout painted a vibrant red and eyes framed by long lashes, she poses, smiles and breaks into superstar mode in front of the camera.

While plenty of celebrities let fame go to their heads and feel entitled to first class treatment and the attention of adoring fans, Maya it seems, prefers the anonymity of going unnoticed in public. She is the first, however, to claim that fame hasn’t affected her in the slightest.

After a long pause and genuinely racking her brains searching for an answer as to whether stardom has changed her, she finally admits to being chided all the time for not being “dressy” enough. And is she a diva? Negative, because she knows she has a good rapport with most people in the industry.

“I like to have a laugh with the boys,” she admits. “I tease them and we hang out sometimes at the back of the trucks and take selfies and whatever. For me, we’re all in this together. We can’t be actresses or make movies without them. They need actresses to have jobs. It’s teamwork, every single department is important.”


After moving to Malaysia, her first film in 2001 was a lead role in Seri Dewi Malam, opposite popular Malaysian actor Hairie Othman. In it, she played a wife in a coma whose husband attempts to communicate with her through a psychic. The role earned her the New Popular Artiste Award at Malaysia’s Anugerah Bintang Popular Berita Harian and the Anugerah Media Hiburan that year, which led to a supporting role in the romantic film Mr. Cinderella 2.

It wasn’t until 2004 when Maya was cast in the role of a vengeful vampiric ghoul in the horror film Pontianak Harum Sundal Malam and subsequently its sequel that people really sat up and took notice. It earned her a Best Actress Award at the 49th Asia Pacific Film Festival 2004 and the film is still shown today, with something of a cult-like following, much to Maya’s amusement.

“It still gets shown every single year on all kinds of stations throughout the year. I think it’s been shown on three different stations just in the last two months alone; I do not know why!” she exclaims. Her audience clearly loves the ghostly illusion she creates with her magic.

The big news is her most recent announcement that she was in Hollywood to shoot a movie starring Donald Sutherland and Teen Wolf’s Tyler Posey middle of this year; it caused a stir in local entertainment circles. Her role in Alone, though a minor one, she admits, is very interesting; it is just one scene but it is a critical part in the movie. She plays a Malaysian scientist who has to explain what was happening and what everyone should do in that crisis situation, without giving it all away, of course.

“I didn’t prepare for it at all as I only received the fully confirmed script, dialogue and rundowns on scenes maybe 48 hours prior, and it was one scene but it was about five pages long. It was a bit stressful trying to deliver,” she confesses.

This article is an excerpt from UNRESERVED’s November’s 2019 issue from the article THE MAGIC OF MAYA

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