She was thrust into the limelight when she hosted and acted in various prominent Suria productions. Indeed, actress-host Nurul Aini, 36, has come a long way since those days ― she can even boast roles in both Mediacorp Channel 5 and Channel 8 television productions.
Nurul may have fans from every age and race, thanks to her TV roles, but to her two kids, she is like any other mum out there. “They do not have any reaction (when they see me on screen). I think they don’t really care much about it, and call it my ‘work’,” she chuckles.
She states, “A lion mum is a mother who devotes 25 hours in a day to her children, and her children only. Everything they do is for their kids. They have no social life, and they are never happy until their kids score a perfect 100.”
“I’ve learnt that when you have kids, time is never enough! I need 48 hours to fulfil all that I want to do ― my work, spend time with my kids and husband.”
Married to property agent Sofian Roslan, the couple are parents to Shaista Eman, 6, and Shan Ehan, 8. Since the siblings have such a close age gap, you’d expect the two to be at each other’s throats most of the time. Nurul herself had steeled herself to handle that.
But against expectations, this hasn’t been the case. “Ever since they were babies, I was prepared for the sibling rivalry, but that didn’t happen. I think this is because my son is very understanding, and always gives in to his sister!”
So, are there similarities between Nurul’s real- and reel-life characters? SmartParents has deets…
Lion Mums will soon be back for another season! You played a workaholic-perfectionist mum in season 1. Has anything changed?
Do you share the same views as your character from the show?
I think that there is a little bit of me in Durrani, perhaps when it comes to wanting to do everything by myself. I am not as kiasu as her though, and I don’t push my children that hard. I am a lot more fun compared to Durrani!
What do you bring from your own experiences as a mum into this role?
Whatever is happening in Lion Mums is exactly what I am going through now! My son is in Primary Two, and he goes through what Nabilah is going through, like the spelling tests and other challenges. I also send my kids for enrichment classes.
What has being a parent taught you?
My life revolves around my kids ― everything I do is for them. I work hard to provide them with a good future, I sleep less than five hours almost daily because I want to spend whatever little time I have with them. My schedule can be very tight on some days, but I will always make sure to wake up at 6.30am the next day to send my son to school, no matter how late I reach home the previous night. That 10-minute walk to school is so precious to me.
How different is your parenting style from your husband’s?
My husband is the disciplinarian while I am the easy-going one. I am more fun than their dad [laughs]. My kids know that if they want to buy something, it is mummy that they should approach. My husband will ask them 1,001 questions before buying anything for them.
So, how do the both of you discipline your kids?
It is not that hard because we agree with each other a lot. Once, I hit my son when he lied to me. Right after, I went to my room, called my husband and started crying. He came home and talked to my son. My husband is very fierce with them, and when he says “no TV”, he really means it.
This is what both of us practise. When we tell them that they will be punished for not doing something, we really carry out the punishment, so that our kids will know that we are not just saying it to scare them.
It was so nerve-wracking during the balloting. My heart was in my throat and every time they called out someone else’s name, I wanted to punch someone [laughs].
How do you divide your attention between your two kids?
Both of them require different kinds of attention. My daughter loves to play and imitate us a lot while my son loves to read and talk about nature and animals. Shaista hangs around me all the time when I’m home just to watch what I do. It’s fun having her around because she observes what I do and then imitates ― this is how I spend time with her. As for my son, our reading sessions at night is our time together... He will ask me questions or tell me stories about what happened during the day.
Who do you think your kids take after? You or your husband?
My daughter’s behaviour is totally me [chuckles]! She is very animated and a lot of people tells me she is exactly like me, which is weird because I was super timid and quiet when I was her age. I followed my mum everywhere, too, just like Shaista does. My son is more reserved, like my husband.
How is parenting a boy and girl different?
Both my kids are so different. They are worlds apart in terms of personality and behaviour. My son is easier to talk to and he listens to my husband and I, while my daughter is more challenging. She “acts” well, so sometimes we don’t know if she is telling the truth or not. She is the one whom we need to watch.
Your son entered Primary school this year ― how is he coping in the new environment so far?
He loved Primary One, and is coping well so far! He was made class monitor, so I am a proud Lion Mum [laughs].
How did you get through the stressful balloting period?
Oh my, it was exactly like a scene in Lion Mums’ Season 1! It was so nerve-wracking during the balloting. My heart was in my throat and every time they called out someone else’s name, I wanted to punch someone [laughs]. My husband and I were at the edge of our seats from the start, and Shan’s name only got called towards the end. I almost cried.
Filming is tough, with irregular filming timings... How do you juggle work and family?
Wow, this is a question I get all the time. I’m a working mum and being in this industry, a lot of my time is spent on the set. When I am home, I get hands-on with my kids. I will spend time with them until I have to put them to bed. When I have a later call time (we have 5am call times sometimes), I will wake up at 6.30am to ensure that I get to walk my son to school in the morning. Afterwards I will go for a run, then send my daughter to school. When I am busy, that is the only time I get to spend with them, so I really treasure those few minutes. I have mum guilt all the time. Just a few nights ago, I cried when I came home and saw that Shan had made an origami for me with the message “I miss you mummy”. I always feel like I am never enough for them. Always.
So then when you are filming, who takes care of your kids?
My helper! And my husband, who ferries them to and from school. He is a property agent, so his timing is more flexible than mine.
Just a few nights ago, I cried when I came home and saw that Shan had made an origami for me with the message “I miss you mummy”. I always feel like I am never enough for them.
Both your kids have acted in shows before. Will you support them if they want to become actors in the future?
Yes! I want them to do what they love. I won’t stop them if they want to become actors, but I still want them to study for as long as they can before going into the entertainment industry. If they do end up joining the industry, I hope that they can bring something different to it.
What is the most important quality you wish to impart to your kids?
Always be humble, that is what my mum tells me. Treat everyone equally, and always think positive of others.
So, any plans for baby #3?
YES. We wanted to try for baby number three right after we wrapped Lion Mums, but I got an offer to do a Suria series, so we will have to push it to later.
Who is your role model in life?
My mum. After having two kids myself, I wonder how my mum brought all four (I have three other siblings) of us up single-handedly. She sacrificed a lot for us and never complained.
Okay, last one! Complete the following sentences…
I cannot live without…the Internet!
My bag always has…my power bank, wallet and my makeup pouch.
If I could talk to my younger self, I would tell her to…take care of her skin from young [laughs]! I only started taking care of my skin two years ago.
If I could have a superpower, I would choose to…be able to pause time.
This interview has been edited for clarity.
Look out for the third season of Lion Mums on Channel 5 from 22 April to 9 September 2019.
Photos: Nurul Aini
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