Trio does Brunei proud at World Championships of Performing Arts held in Hollywood
Hollywood, United States - Brunei Darussalam has been placed on the map thanks to the varied talents of Maria Grace Koh (Eia), Fakhrul Razi and Kevin Lo, who as a team represented the Sultanate on the world stage of the entertainment industry, and successfully clinched 14 medals (seven gold and seven silver) at the World Championships of Performing Arts held in Hollywood, United States.
The result was announced yesterday following days of intense competition.
In addition to individual honours, the Brunei team also took the 'Team Spirit Award' after receiving the most votes and beating participants from 43 other countries.
Famed local entertainer, Fakhrul Razi, received a gold medal for his grand finals performance and another gold medal in the RnB/Jazz, Original Work and Open category. His original song 'Senyuman Gelapmu' was the overall winner in the original work category.
Fakhrul, who has earned himself two scholarships in acting and dancing, also secured silver medals in the Pop and Broadway categories.
Meanwhile, Kevin Lo, a comical stage actor, bagged gold medals in the classical, comedy, dramatic and open categories, and he was also named overall champion for seniors in the classical, comedy and dramatic categories.
Kevin's achievement has earned him two scholarships: a New York Conservatory of Dramatic Arts for US$10,000, and a full scholarship to Janet Alhanti's acting class in Hollywood.
Kevin was also presented with a medal for being a pleasant, easy-to-work-with performer.
Meanwhile, Maria Grace Koh, the former national swimmer turned singer, won five silver medals in the following categories: Broadway, Contemporary, Original Work ('You' which she composed), Pop and RnB/Jazz.
Speaking of her journey and experience in Hollywood, she said, "It has been such an honour representing Brunei at such a prestigious event. I've met the most amazing people in the industry and made the best of friends.
"A few of the highlights would have to be the bootcamps where I got to have master classes with the best of the best of mentors, the 'go-sees' where I got to meet agents/managers/label owners/producers, and, of course, cheering my teammates on!
"I am so incredibly proud of Fakhrul and Kevin. They have really made Brunei proud by achieving everything that they have, and we have surely put Brunei on the map.
"We were invited to sit in the very front row (VIP section) during the finals, and were also invited to the all-exclusive VIP party, where we got to meet the top industry people in Hollywood and worldwide," she said.
"I am very, very happy with my achievements... having competed against 43 countries and some very stiff competition. Five silvers and an Industry Award, I hope I've done our nation proud!
"It has somewhat made me feel nostalgic; what with all the medals 'cling-clanging' like at all of the swimming competitions that I've been to. But, there is something different about the feeling here. I really feel like I belong and this is what I'm meant to be doing.
"I have been lucky to meet with six producers/ label owners, and I will be in deeper discussion with some of them very soon.
"I would also like to thank the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports as well as Brunei Tourism and Armtrix for their support I also want to thank everyone - my family, especially my mum who has come with me all the way here and been an amazing support system, and to all my friends who have been rooting for me and the team the whole way.
"And, of course, none of this would have been possible without the best team manager and director in the world, Jeffrey Cadayong. He has pushed us to our limits and has believed in us from the very beginning.
"I also want to thank my vocal coaches Babes Conde and Teacher Marietta for all of the tough love. I wouldn't have been able to achieve what I have without them."
"Thank you so much Brunei for supporting us. Let's show the world what we have to offer... Brunei Yakin!!!!" an enthusiastic Maria exclaimed.
Meanwhile, Kevin noted, "When a performer focuses not on winning but on ways of creating real works of art, therein lies the moment where thought ends and creativity begins.
"This was one of the things I learned during my time at the World Championships of Performing Arts 2013.
"My intention from the beginning was always to do my very best with what I got so that we could properly measure where we Bruneians stood on the world stage when it comes to performing arts and in my case, the craft of acting.
"From the experience, we would then be able to estimate how much more we would need to develop our craft before we are able to join the front runners of the industry.
"I am grateful that I was lucky enough to win a few gold medals, a few champions of the world division awards, and two scholarships to study acting with the best from New York and Hollywood.
"The experience of competition has given me much more than just medals and awards. It anchored in me a proud sense of unity, trust and compassion towards my fellow Bruneian team mates Fakhrul Razi and Maria Grace Koh whose unwavering enthusiasm and enormous talent inspired and continues to inspire me and to be proud of myself as an artist of Brunei Darussalam.
"None of this would have been possible if it were not for the spectacular efforts of Jeffrey Cadayong, our Brunei national director, who selected us and believed in our talent and our dreams.
"I would also like to thank Rachael Malai Sarah Talbot, Macy Yeong and Bryn Lo for their tremendous efforts in developing my acting skills and for believing in me."
With regard to what his favourite moment was, he said, "When Brunei Darussalam won the prestigious 'Team Spirit Award' at the awards ceremony."
Also sharing his experience was Fakhrul, who expressed his gratitude for the support they had received.
"I did the best that I could and may this be just the beginning of a productive adventure for the creative industry of Brunei."
The Brunei team also conveyed its appreciation to Vocal Coach Marietta Shannen Tsen, Rachel Malai Ali and Rachel Talbot, as well as Musical Arranger Muhd Syarif bin Pg Hj Baharuddin, and the sponsors - the Ministry of Culture Youth and Sports, Brunei Tourism, Armtrix Enterprise, Laily's Bridal Shop and Fizzy Fire Apparel.
Jeffrey Cadayong from Prismworks Sdn Bhd, which is the licensed national director of the World Championships of Performing Arts in Brunei Darussalam, also shared his thoughts, saying, "At first, most of the delegates didn't have an idea as to where Brunei was. The three delegates were great representatives of Brunei because through them, people were able to learn where Brunei actually is.
"I guess the organisers were very impressed with Brunei, especially the love we got from you back home through social media. We won the 'Team Spirit Award,' with the organisers voting -for who they thought was very active during the competition, easy to work with and who they thought would be good to have in the industry.
"The organisers and the delegates from other countries were so impressed with how, for such a small nation, the level of performing arts is on par with the best."