2020 is going to be Marion’s year. It may seem inconceivable to some but the young girl who became the face of urban television, fronting 8TV’s Quickie back in the day is turning 40.
“It is starting to hit me that I am turning 40,” she says. “I never really paid much attention to milestones but with my friends turning 40, I have started to think about it and I am starting to feel a little nervous. Maybe it is a self- imposed expectation over what I should be doing as marks of achievements, so I am starting to feel some trepidation.”
That she would feel anxious may seem odd to most. After all, Marion has accomplished much in her career and as a person. In her 20s, her rise as a TV presenter was swift as she helmed shows like One in a Million, The Biggest Loser, presented on Channel V and ESPN and scored a first when she became the face of E! News Asia.
On the personal front, Marion is a mother of three – Leia Rose, Lana Rose and Liam Naza. This year will also see her celebrating her 10th wedding anniversary to SM Nasarudin SM Nasimuddin, group chief executive and joint group executive chairman of the Naza Group of Companies.
“I have always wanted to be a mother,” she says. “I am so blessed to be able to find a man I want to spend the rest of my life with. By the time I was 30, I had done so much in terms of my career.”
Entering a new phase in life has, however, forced her to reflect and ask “what’s next.”
“My 20s was about me, myself and I,” she laughs. “I have been with Nasa since I was 25 so I was in a serious relationship but the focus was really on myself. In my 30s, it was about everybody else but me and I lost a lot of myself. The past two years have been not just about the kids and Nasa but also myself. I feel I am back at being Marion again.”
What we are going to see emerging is a more self-assured Marion, someone who is comfortable in her own skin.
“I used to listen to people saying that when you reach a certain age you start to feel really good about yourself. I never believed it but I feel so much better about who I am as a person. I don’t feel the need to apologise about what I lack as a person. I am just myself and I really feel that there’s nobody I need to impress.”
Now she is ready to see how she can use her position to affect society in a more positive way. Of late, Marion has observed a trend among her followers who have turned to her about feeling depressed.
“Mental health is something that I feel very strongly about,” she asserts. “I feel that social media is such a powerful tool and while it helps many people, it is also a dangerous place.”
A chance meeting with a friend on “one of those days,” led Marion to contemplate on the negative aspects of social media. Feeling stressed and looking tired, Marion was taken aback when her friend thanked her for “being real,” after she confessed that it had been a difficult day.
“She said she follow mums on social media and they make it looks so easy!” She feels like the worst mother,” Marion recalls. “But no one has it easy.”
And that definitely applies to Marion. In fact, she describes herself as being quite moody. Some days are a struggle, she admits and it is something that she was up front about even with her husband. But those are days that don’t get shared on to the public.
Moved by the encounter with her friend, Marion shared a video to remind her followers to not be influenced by what they see on social media. The response was quite overwhelming which led her to reflect on how she can use her social media presence to counter its negative effects.
The format of this is still being worked out and Marion is not one to speak unless things are certain but it looks like we might see a return to her hosting days.
“My strength has always been speaking,” she says. “I believe people are able to relate when I talk so maybe something along those lines.”
One thing is for certain, that whatever Marion chooses to do, it will have to be on her terms.
“Everything that I do now has to be real,” she says. “If I were to do something in terms of hosting, it would be something I would have to produce myself. Then I would have absolute control.”
Truth be told, Marion wasn’t certain that she wanted to announce that she was turning 40. But then she looked to many celebrities who were defying ageism.
“I looked at all these women who are 50 and rocking it, J-Lo, Jennifer Aniston, Nicole Kidman. When J-Lo came down the Versace runway in that dress she looked better than when she first debuted that dress. It wasn’t just about the way she looked, it was the confidence she had, that sense of I know myself.”
As someone who has been in the industry for more than a decade now, Marion is used to being under the scrutiny of the camera.
“I am used to seeing my face blown up to epic proportions. I am used to my skin sagging, especially after three kids. I am terrified but what else do I want besides health. I want to age as gracefully as possible.”
As she approaches her 40s, Marion is aware that by “god’s grace” she has all that she hoped for. To many it seems like she has lived a charmed life. But she stresses things have not always been easy for her. At just 21, she went through a “dark period” when she lost her father, a loss that still afflicts her today.
She is also rattled by the notion that “luck” played a part in her achievements. Quoting Oprah Winfrey who said “luck is a matter of preparation meeting opportunity,” Marion reminds that she worked and hustled to establish herself in the industry.
“I was on a plane almost every other day,” she states. “I had to be on set until 2am. On the week of my wedding, I worked until Tuesday, flew back on Wednesday and got married on Thursday. I work hard, I show up and I deliver.”
It has not been easy, she admits, but Marion stresses that she has been blessed. Now on the cusp of turning a decade, she says she “just wants to be happy.”
This story first appeared in Prestige Malaysia ‘s January 2020 issue
Photographer Aaron Lee @ Lenswork Studio
Stylist Ibnu Aswan
Make-up artist Shiyoo Too using YSL Beauty
Hair artist Shawn Yap @ Hairplay