In their first interview together, fashionista Kim Raymond and filmmaker Zahir Omar reveal their individual journeys of discovery and talk about what parents are and the continuation of a relationship in this new era.
Mother Icon & Style
As Kim Raymond walks around for our photoshoot, always so trendy in her comfy yet chic style, her megawatt smile immediately lights up the room.
A familiar face to stylists, makeup artists and photographers in the fashion industry, Kim greets everyone as old friends who are reunited again. So what is it that makes Kim so easily lovable to many? Lucky for us, she talks about what her life values ââand childhood as an intermediate child, growing up in Subang, taught her as an adult and a mother.
âI was actually a very good girl in a normal household. Not a problem and certainly hasn’t experienced Middle Child Syndrome, âshe laughs, admitting that being the only girl with older and younger brothers probably hasn’t deprived her of it. attention from his beloved parents.
When his father, Dato ‘Sri Jeffrey, executive chairman and general manager of OEM Autoseats Malaysia, was busy building his empire for his family, his mother spent a lot of time caring for Kim and his brothers.
Always having her nose in a book, Kim quickly discovered her love for fashion like most women do, but right after high school her father suggested that she put her brain to use with something more stimulating like this. IT, an exponentially growing sector. at the time.
âI really tried. But it was rather difficult and I realized that it was not my vocation, âsays Kim.
Finally pursuing her passion, Kim ventured into studying Fashion Design at the University of Limkokwing and Marketing and Management at Raffles College for a 360-degree approach to perfecting herself for the industry she loves. so much.
âEver since I was a kid I wanted to be able to design, but I really got into the business side,â Kim shares.
“It made me think that maybe I didn’t have to stick only to fashion, but also to other industries,” she adds.
In addition to her previous style stints and being a regular face at fashion events, Kim had also collaborated on a shoe collaboration with local shoe brand Merrack & Co and opened a restaurant with her brother. The latter business closed after a while, but the experience Kim had gained from participating in it was invaluable.
His next project – in progress – is his 4-year-old daughter, Skylar, from her previous marriage to local actor Keith Foo.
âWhen I had Skylar, life changed. At one point, I stopped going out for events, just to prioritize it, âKim says.
Being a mother opened a new, defining chapter for Kim. Choosing to devote her time to raising Skylar is something she is most proud of.
âMotherhood is everything to me. I believe a lot of other moms need to hear this. The dynamics of success have now evolved into what you believe to be your true calling, not just the pursuit of monetary gains, âKim shares.
Father and filmmaker
Zahir Omar comes across as the fun guy you would like to have in your circle of friends. Constantly making jokes and making the room laugh, it’s no wonder Kim is smiling all the time.
The boy from Bangsar remembers how very different the area was as a child. It was in the early stages of development to be an oil palm and rubber plantation.
Coming from a family heavily involved in cinema, Zahir’s father worked in advertising as an art director while his mother was a makeup artist. Together, they then launched OM Films, the âOâ for his father Omar, and âMâ for Maureen, his mother.
âYou could say that since the day I was born, I’ve always been on set,â Zahir says.
Since he was a troublemaker in school, his usual punishment was cleaning all the equipment in the studio surrounded by bright lights and cameras, which made him love the industry more. Despite this, Zahir’s father advised him against following in his footsteps. However, still the rebel, Zahir did just that.
âI went to college but decided it wasn’t my thing. So I went my own way and ended up working for the late Yasmin Ahmad as the second deputy director, âZahir explains.
Working on the 2005 film âSepetâ was truly an eye-opening experience for Zahir. In a time when there was no social media, he remembers a particular time when he had to travel to Ipoh to cast 200 people for the film.
“Being in a movie wasn’t really a big thing to do at the time, so we had to go around town to find all these people and explain the movie to them one by one!” Zahir said.
The culturally significant feature film has met with great success both locally and internationally, and Zahir cheekily reveals that he also managed to make his film debut as a VCD salesman in one short scene as well.
Fast track until 2007, Zahir tried his luck by joining the BMW Shorties competition. His film ultimately won, giving him funding that allowed him to make another film.
âI still remember. The theme was ‘Mobility’ and so me being me, I defied the quota and made my movie about a dead guy who had the ability to move. It was for fun, but it is won! exclaims Zahir.
Subsequently, Zahir spent 11 years honing his skills in Indonesia. This gave him the chance to be recognized as a full-fledged Indonesian director where there was constant work for him.
âI’ve always told myself that if you want to grow up, you have to be in uncharted territory,â Zahir explains.
It was in 2018 when he finally got home to do “Fly By Night”. The neo-noir thriller that featured a multicultural cast in Kuala Lumpur was predominantly in Mandarin.
Although it did not achieve blockbuster status, the film received excellent reviews for its new take on what a local film could be and premiered at the Busan Film Festival in South Korea. .
âBeing of mixed Malaysian-Chinese parentage, the concept felt natural to me. I wanted to carve out the layers of race, class status, nationality. I don’t see that much in Malaysian films, âreveals Zahir, who thinks there is a large diaspora of Malaysian talent who find success elsewhere in the world but at home.
As the father of two young daughters – Zoe (11) and Nyla (8) – with his ex-partner, Zahir spends a lot of time watching movies with his children, and part of the fun is discussing what ‘they think after. Could he raise a new generation of female directors? Only time will tell. For now, being a good dad and co-parenting with their mom is an important foundation. Forging stronger bonds with them, especially during lockdowns, has been a great opportunity for them as a family.
âThey are great kids and yes we watch a lot of movies together. They’re going to be big movie buffs for sure, âZahir says.
MEETING OF THE TWO WORLDS
It was during an audition for Zahir’s “Fly By Night” that Kim and Zahir first met, but the brief meeting was soon forgotten.
âI was actually really busy that day, and when we first started dating Kim reminded me of that moment years ago when she was there and said I looked stuck. So I apologized to her, âZahir laughs.
Since then, only two years ago, the couple met again through mutual friends and began to forge a friendship.
âWe enjoyed each other’s company and talking to each other. We discovered that we have a lot of similarities, especially the fact that we both have our own children, âsays Kim.
âTo have someone like Zahir who understands my role is great. It is not easy to find someone who is not selfish and I am grateful that they are very generous, âshe adds.
Individually, Kim and Zahir are both great examples of what co-parenting with their former partners should and could be. Managing a good family relationship for their children is a testament to the fact that a basic family is not the only acceptable type of family, especially nowadays the best type of family is what you make of it.
Read the full cover story in Prestige Malaysiaâs October 2021 issue. Read the full e-mag for free on Magzter.Â