With several feature films behind her, 18-year-old film star lives her dream of becoming an actress but also continues to study to develop her craft
Saray Sakana emotes while shooting a scene as a young factory worker in the film Palace of Dreams. "I like to act sad the best," says the 18-year-old actress, a rising star in Cambodian cinema.
SINCE being talent-spotted at a "pretty girl and boy" beauty contest two years ago, 18-year-old Cambodian actress Saray Sakana's star has been on the rise.
Having just wrapped Palace of Dreams, a 90-minute "edutainment" movie about the dangers of HIV produced by the BBC World Service Trust, Saray Sakana has built up an impressive body of work in a short time.
"I have always wanted to be a movie star since I was a young girl," Saray Sakana said.
Due for release in October, the movie Heart Talk, a thriller from Khmer Mekong Films about three female broadcasters at a hip but troubled Phnom Penh radio station, was the first film Saray Sakana acted in. With no formal acting training, it was a case of on-the-job training.
"The first time I acted I felt embarrassed and shocked, but just a short time after I could perform more smoothly. I have never studied how to be an actress, and I think I can do it because I love it and it comes naturally to me," she said. "I was taught by the producers and older actors what to do and what not to do."
A serious approach
Saray Sakana said she likes to perform in many different genres but prefers acting in serious dramas.
"I can act in all kinds of stories and perform many different emotions ... but I like to act sad the best. I also like watching my own performance because I want to know how I perform in order to improve myself," she said.
In Palace of Dreams, which will be shown in Cambodian cinemas and on television as well as used in extensive outreach programs around the country, Saray Sakana portrays a factory worker from a poor family who goes to work in a nightclub in Phnom Penh in order to find more money to help her family.
"I like this movie very much because I can educate youth through this movie," she said. "The story is educating youth about HIV/Aids, which is a good thing."
Saray Sakana also sings and has recently returned from performing in France, her first time singing abroad. She also has plans to go to America, but doesn't expect to be a performer for the rest of her life.
I watch Hollywood movies because it can help me to improve my performances.
"I like being an actress while I am still young and pretty," she said. "When I'm older, I will stop performing and if I can I would like to open a shop. I don't want to be an actress forever."
Busy with acting, she says "sometimes I don't have enough time to sleep", but she still finds time to pursue other interests.
"When I have spare time, I usually read books and watch Hollywood movies because it can help me to improve my performances. I like to see the older actresses perform and sometimes I copy some techniques, to do as they do. But I also have my own style," she said. "I also study English and like visiting Sihanoukville when I get the chance."
Saray Sakana, who is building a large fan base, said she was proud to be involved in the domestic movie industry. "I hope to be successful as an actress. I am so happy and proud that I have become a movie star as I have wished for this since I was young."