Nurul Aini — alongside Bernice Liu and Vanessa Vanderstraaten — stars in the Ch 5 dramedy Lion Moms. The Suria star is also busy with a cooking competition and a college-set reality-comedy on Suria and has just wrapped a Suria TV movie 31Disember (31 December) where she plays Aaron Aziz’s love interest.
In Lion Moms, you play a career-minded mum juggling work and family life. As a working mum, can you relate to her struggles?
My character, Durrani, is just like myself. I’m very busy but I still want to be there for my kids. So, sometimes, I find it very hard to balance the two and the first thing that I sacrifice is my sleep [laughs].
Bernice Liu and Vanessa Vanderstraaten play your character’s besties on Lion Moms. Are you pals off-screen as well?
We’re like best friends. It’s quite amazing how the three of us can really click, even though Bernice and Vanessa are total opposites of each other. Vanessa’s very kind, humble and nice but Bernice is the bossy and bitchy one [laughs]. She’s very anal about everything. If there’s one little speck on my face, she’ll point it out. She’s the sort who’s always sarcastic but I can handle her ’cos I’m also sarcastic. Once, during a Ch 5 promo interview, I got so emotional that I started crying. And she said, “My God! You’re such a sissy!” I was like, “Well, at least I have feelings!” [laughs] And we both just walked off.
If we didn’t know better, we’d think you guys were frenemies.
Yeah, people might think we’re fighting but we’re actually not [laughs]. We call each other “idiot” sometimes, but that’s like calling each other “sayang” [laughs].
On the show, Durrani suffers from “mum guilt”. Have you experienced what she’s been through?
There was one scene where my onscreen husband (played by Firdaus Rahman) was showing Durrani pictures of him with their kid and she wasn’t in the photos. That was an emotional scene ’cos a few days before that, I was filming in KL and my husband sent me videos and photos of him with our kids in Singapore. And I wished I was in those pictures. So when I had to do that scene, the tears just came naturally. Sometimes, I feel really guilty. But I love what I do and if I were to stop doing it, I’d be at home unhappy and that wouldn’t be good for the kids.
How do your kids — son Shan Ehan, five, and daughter, Shaista Eman, three — react when they watch you on Lion Moms?
My daughter wants to be just like me. So, whenever she watches me on TV, she’ll imitate everything I say. She’ll memorise all my dialogue and say it exactly the way I do [laughs]. As for my son, he doesn’t make any comments but he’ll watch the entire show. My daughter only wants to watch my scenes. She’ll say, “I only want Mummy” so I’ll have to fast-forward to my parts [laughs].
Your kids are adorable. Do they attract a lot of attention when you’re out with them?
[Laughs] It’s very shameless to say this, but people come up to me all the time and say they want a photo with my kids and sometimes, I have to be their photographer! Sometimes, my daughter is crying and wailing but when someone asks to take a photo with her, she immediately switches to a smile [laughs]. They get a lot of photo requests, especially at events. When I’m hosting or making an appearance at an event and they’re there to watch, they’ll get surrounded by a whole group of people just wanting to take photos with them [laughs].
Your children have appeared on TV shows too. How did they get into acting?
When a producer asked me if I’d like them to be on TV, I asked my kids and they really wanted to, so I said okay. But I wouldn’t want them to get really serious into acting ’cos they’re still young and it might affect their studies. So far, all of their acting jobs are based around my schedule ’cos I want to be on set to guide them.
You co-own online fashion boutique Studiofrost and eatery Studio Cafe SG. What’s the hardest part of being a celebrity entrepreneur?
People think that because it’s a celebrity-owned café, everything’s got to be perfect [And when it isn’t] they can be so mean and anal [laughs]. So a small, little complaint can get blown out of proportion. Someone once thought my café’s food was tasteless and that person snapped a picture of it and put it up on social media. It got over 300 shares and made my café look bad. I’ve also heard people say things like, “This café is overrated ’cos it’s opened by [myself and two other Suria celebs].” But if I were any regular person, you wouldn’t say that, right? It’s almost as if it’s wrong for us to open a café [laughs].
Lion Moms airs Mon, Ch 5, 10pm; available on Catch-up TV on Toggle.sg. This interview was originally published in 12 November’s issue of 8 Days.