Navigate The Malaysian Entertainment Industry With KDU’s Diploma In Entertainment Arts

Richard Chua Lian Choon, a renowned cultural academic in Asia, is one of the key architects in establishing the programme of Diploma in Entertainment Arts in KDU University College. Two Diploma in Entertainment Arts students Nurul Elfira Loy (from left) and Neeta Manishaa, hitting the ground running even before graduation.
Shery Chong Sher Yean who climbed her way to the Top 10 on the MY FM DJ competition while doing her diploma in KDU.  
There’s more than meets the eye when it comes to being a truly great performing star. One can be naturally gifted, but to go the extra mile, one needs to be cultivated to ultimately flourish and thrive at the performing stage. This is certainly what KDU’s School of Communication and Creative Arts’ Diploma in Entertainment Arts programme set out to do – educate and nurture young talents so that they may be able to navigate through the entertainment arts industry and carve a name for themselves.

In an industry where not only creativity and talent but also passion, rules, it is necessary to have like-minded educators and lecturers who are equally passionate for the industry and in molding students not to fit in, but to stand out.  At the very heart of KDU’s Diploma in Entertainment Arts programme is lecturer Richard Chua Lian Choon, a renowned cultural activist and cultural academic in Asia who hails from Singapore. As an active director and actor for monologues very much relevant in today’s living theatres and stage-play arena, Chua is instrumental in providing his student with unique perspectives towards comparative analyses of small theatres in Malaysia and Singapore, strong sound advice and contacts through his vast network established in the entertainment industry.

Chua joined KDU in 2011, and has been one of the architects and a key member in establishing this programme since its inception. “KDU University College had given me a wonderful opportunity to discover a new discipline in academia – Entertainment Arts. Today, I am proud to say that we are the sole provider of entertainment arts education in Malaysia, which makes us unique and exclusive. It was a challenging and innovative process,” said Chua.  

As a Ph.D. candidate currently awaiting the doctoral hooding ceremony at University of South Wales, United Kingdom, Chua gained his prolific experiences from the entertainment industry since 1997. He was once a radio disc jockey and subsequently a radio broadcast journalist in Singapore; had taken a role as Artistic Director for his self-founded theatre company in 2005; pursued a career in academia, first as a lecturer in performing arts and arts management in 2008 and subsequently, joined KDU as a founding lecturer for its entertainment arts programme.

Based on his professional academic achievements, Chua has been appointed as one of the five judges to the prestigious 15th ADA Drama Award 2017 selection year. The ADA Drama Award is the single most important award for Chinese theatre in Malaysia. Founded in 2001, it has since awarded and witnessed the best talents in the Chinese drama scene. Along with his fellow judges, Chua’s task will be to select the best in the Chinese performing arts industry for 2017 where the nominees will be honoured for the ADA Drama Award in 2018.

Chua also serves as a columnist in national Chinese paper Sin Chew Daily. As a Singaporean working in Malaysia, he has observed and documented the birth and progress of new Chinese drama talents both in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.

Elaborating on how KDU’s Diploma in Entertainment Arts had set itself apart and fill up the gap in Malaysian entertainment industry, Chua stated, “Many performing artistes have equipped themselves well with talent and technical skills, but not with core skills in seeking relevant employment. They take up random jobs and assignments at will while aiming for their dream professions or waiting for their big break. In KDU, both talent and employment-seeking skills are placed alongside each other. Students build their confidence in knowing that skills learnt are relevant to the industry they live with.”

While preparing students for work in today’s entertainment industry, this programme also ensures they are prepared for and exposed to a variety of roles such as singing, dancing, acting, and management skills to make them all-rounded talents. On top of these vital skills, industry professionals like Chua will teach and guide students how to brand, position and market themselves so that they may steer their own career in this highly competitive space.

Subjects that Chua lectures are varied, some of which include ‘History and Aesthetics of World Theatre’, ‘Introduction to Contemporary Film Industry’, ‘Navigating Hollywood’, ‘Entertainment Marketing’, ‘Acting/ Directing Lab’, ‘Public Speaking’, ‘Writing and Referencing Skills’, ‘Critical Thinking and Reading Skills’ and such. According to him, whilst prepping students for the local and regional entertainment industry, the programme structure will also inspire them on how to move within complicated structures of formal and informal networks in established institutions such as Hollywood.

“Take for example ‘Navigating Hollywood’ – this innovative subject aims to impart skills and sensibilities needed in order to get into ‘the good books’ of the key players in the industry,” he explained.   
According to Chua, while guiding the students to expand on existing talents and amass an impressive portfolio, there are many elements that ensure graduates ‘hit the ground running’ even before graduation. “Our unique internship placement programme will allow entertainment arts students to get first-hand experience in mingling and navigating amongst the celebrities in the Malaysian entertainment industry,” he explained.

Notable examples of KDU Entertainment Arts graduates who have seamlessly integrated into the entertainment industry include famous local actress Nurul Elfira Loy Binti Ahmad Sabri, better known by her stage name Elfira Loy; Neeta Manisha, a renowned vocalist, even while she was still studying; Shery Chong Sher Yean who climbed her way to the Top 10 spot in the MY FM DJ competition in the midst of pursuing her diploma; Jayson Puah Jia Sheng, who have landed leading roles in musicals ‘MUD: The Story of Kuala Lumpur’ and ‘Cheras: The Musical!’, upon graduation.

To Richard Chua Lian Choon, being unique is a testament to innovation. Many parallel professions could be spawned from the Diploma in Entertainment Arts programme. “As Malaysia moves towards ‘a totally developed’ country, the Malaysian entertainment industry could work with KDU University College to make our university a one-stop shop for future Malaysian talents!” he concluded.