#ROGUESTORIES - Sarah Lian, Actress, Host, Entrepreneur
Sarah Lian is a vivacious globetrotter. She’s lively and unabashedly honest, owning a hectic schedule and a wildly ambitious attitude. An actress, tv host, entrepreneur, and brand ambassador, we caught up with her for a profile as she was in transit, just arriving in Hanoi for a quick vacation from her hectic life.
Early on, Sarah knew she wanted to be an actress. Having grown up in Vancouver, studying in Toronto, and eventually migrating to Malaysia, she found success quickly. Voted FHM’s #1 most wanted in 2008, Sarah was set for a global stage. Here’s how she does it every day, one step at a time:

There’s a huge focus on looks, aesthetics, body type in your industry. What keeps you sane, balanced, and healthy in the right way?

You have to have a great mindset from the inside. Everything else spills out from that – if it’s little things like feeling fat, you have to go work out and do something about that feeling. The industry focuses a lot on looks. I’ve done things like laser treatments to clear up my skin, and teeth whitening, so I do little things that I know will get me to the next level. But when it comes to extreme changes like plastic surgery or work on your face, I veer away from it. It’s not who I am. I know there are a lot of other people that have different opinions.

You have to fix yourself first. People try to fix what’s outside because they can’t repair what’s inside. In this industry there’s so much insecurity and competitiveness. You always wonder what your next job is, your next paycheck, or even your next day is going to look like…it can be scary.

“You have to fix yourself first. People try to fix what’s outside because they can’t repair what’s inside.”

I saw that you had a cover for Cosmetic Surgery & Beauty magazine, and you were very candid about the topic. You approached it with a lot of tact, and kept it neutral for the reader to decide.

It’s such a personal decision. You never know why people do what they do. You can’t just assume that your decision is someone else’s. It’s not for me to decide for what people should or should not do, but I know for me at this time there’s things that I don’t feel I need to do, because I’m happy.

“You never know why people do what they do. You can’t just assume that your decision is someone else’s.”

As a general fear, there’s a lot of talk around ageism. How do you create longevity on how to age gracefully?

You really have to be yourself, as cliché as that sounds. There’s no one else that’s going to be like you. It’s funny because before I was 30 I didn’t really pay much attention. Afterward, I felt “old”, but it’s really about taking care of yourself. Eating good food, drinking lots of water, tons of sunscreen, and taking care of your skin. Not that I’m trying to sell this, but I did laser treatments to address my acne scarring when I was in my early 20s and teenage years, and doing that made me look a lot younger than I ever imagined. It’s just about sustaining who you are, and being conscious of how you take care of yourself.

What do you do that takes care of your body?

I work out and exercise. It keeps me young, gives me energy, and keeps me functioning. I read an article ages ago about what happens when you stop exercising. Even if you’re not incredibly regular, take a brisk walk. Instead of taking public transit, stop a little bit ahead of where you’re going, and do a little walk to your destination.

More on your job – it’s not just about getting in front of a camera and delivering lines. You have a lot of hosting experience, how do you deliver who you are on camera?

It’s the impression you leave people with. A host isn’t about being you, it’s about what you’re hosting – if it’s a product, show, person, competition. It’s ironic…even though you want to leave an impression, you don’t want to leave so much of a mark that they only remember you. There are so many good hosts out there – in Asia, speaking great English is an asset. When you watch a host, you should want to be their friend, to be able to connect with them. Some hosts have an ego or bravado…to me it’s about being in people’s homes and have them enjoy your presence.

“It’s the impression you leave people with. A host isn’t about being you, it’s about what you’re hosting”

#ROGUESTORIES - Sarah Lian, Actress, Host, Entrepreneur

You touched on the Asian market. You were there for a number of years, returned to North America, and ultimately decided to go back to Malaysia. What specific opportunities are out there?

I came back to Toronto for about three years before I decided to move back. It was when I turned 30, and even though they say that age is just a number, it was almost like that quarter life crisis feeling. I thought about things like how I didn’t have a home, or a car. I wasn’t grounded anywhere because I was flying constantly. I felt completely lost. I knew I wanted a good career, and I found that if I was going to be in Canada I would be going through more barriers of entry, whereas in Asia it felt more direct with producers and networks. It’s a different level of playing field out in Asia. The access to opportunities is quicker.

#ROGUESTORIES - Sarah Lian, Actress, Host, Entrepreneur

You have a business angle to everything you do – you have a talent management company. Why was this important for you to have control of both sides?

It was more to legitimize my income – at the end of the day, you’re a freelancer. If I am able to funnel my work into a business, to not just help myself but to help other people, it really made it worthwhile. I have business partners in production and public relations, and it really enabled me to better help other talent.

Your social media presence houses tons of excitement, and you’re constantly traveling. What is the reality of your life when you’re relaxed and finding moments to turn off?

In the moments when I’m not wearing makeup and no one sees me, it’s the perfect time to be me. Whether or not I like it, the moment I step out in public people would know who I am and I feel like I need to be “on”. When I’m at home, I’m just me and I like that.

I’ve been experimenting with how much I share online. People that follow me have an interest in my life, and I try to do what I can to give what I can. When I share more honest and genuine moments, people seem to appreciate it most. The more authentic you are, the more vulnerable you are. And that’s beautiful.

“The more authentic you are, the more vulnerable you are. And that’s beautiful.”

I spotted somewhere that you said money may not have taken you down the right path always. How do you see money playing into your decision making?

I wrote that article on my blog, about finding value. I meet a lot of young, aspiring talent (models, actors), and they hit a bit of fame and have this warped sense of what they’re worth. I’ve always looked at my career as chasing opportunity vs. chasing money. I feel like I could have been “richer” by now, but I wanted my reputation to speak for itself. That’s what value means to me – to be able to work in multiple markets and countries, because I had done the ground work and clients and partners know I do good work.

What does longevity look like to you in terms of what you want to do next?

My next step is working in more countries, and doing projects that are more than I would have imagined. I would love to do more acting and films. I would love to help more people gain access to being in the industry.


Follow Sarah Lian on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and her official website.

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