Iskandar Shah

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Age: 25
Occupation: TV Host
Instagram: @iskandarshahzulkifli

Student. Actor. Host. Iskandar wears different hats, and he does a pretty good job of managing all of them. He may have stumbled into the world of entertainment, but his subsequent success was nothing accidental.

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Suit jacket, $157, ASOS. Crew-neck tee, $49, The Authority. Chain necklace, model’s own.

He does it all, and then some

Iskandar’s schedule is not for the faint of heart. An events management student at Kaplan Singapore, he’s also a freelance actor and newly-minted travel host. As of this interview, his packed daily schedule includes interning at an events company in the morning, going for classes in the afternoon, and shooting late into the night. He tries to maintain a work-life balance by allocating a holiday after a jam-packed period. More recently, he took two weeks off to visit Athens.

 

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He never thought he would be in front of the camera  

“I was completely blindsided. I used to work in digital film audio, and I was on set for a Malay film drama,” he remembers. “I was just coiling wires when someone approached me and suggested I try out for a talent search.” Back then, he had just completed national service. And then he thought, “Do I want to settle for something easy or make a big thing out of this?” He decided to just go for it, and has been acting for four years.

While he loves acting, rejection was hard going

Iskandar grew into a love of acting (“you can be whoever you want to be”), but the biggest challenge was handling the rejection. At the height of a particularly stressful period, he tipped the scales at 90kg. “When I was heavy, even waking up was difficult. And I was only 24!” A friend who was a personal trainer began working with him, and after a little over a year of hard work, he now stands at 71kg.

Hosting was a new but necessary challenge

It took five trips to the production house before he landed the gig of being Swap Kerja 3’s new host. The travel show will take him around six countries, and Iskandar will be shooting till July. As much as he loves acting, this pragmatic student wants to be known for his versatility. “After I’ve done and tried everything that I can, I’ll go back behind the scenes.” Even his diploma was meant to be a safe backup plan if his career in the media industry doesn’t pan out.

 

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His Tinder name was “Chanandler Bong”

While dating apps aren’t for him (“After matching, I zone out. I don’t know what to say!”), his Tinder name was ‘Chanandler Bong’, a bungled version of Chandler Bing from Friends. “I love Friends, and Chandler is my favourite character. He’s unpredictable and gives relief and a spark to intense scenes. And I think that’s also what you need in life.”

Keanu Reeves is his perennial man crush

“I admire him for both professional and personal aspects,” Iskandar explains. “He’s an A-lister, but you can still see him on the subway, being himself.” Pointing out that Keanu has lost some important people in his life (namely his ex-girlfriend and his stillborn baby), he admires the actor’s positive approach to life. His favourite Keanu film? The Matrix.

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