Text and Interview Pamela Choo Photography Ikie Make-up Ee Ee Hair Ckay Liow Styling Voon Wei Art Direction Mils Gan and Voon Wei Videography Felix Khu
The one and only — Sheena Liam. An unmistakeable beauty and never without her charm, the model once graced CLEO’s cover and has since modelled for huge brands across the world. This model lives a busy life but would rather stay in bed (so she tells us!). She’s our very own Malaysian that has gone global — she is everywhere, travels a lot, but always comes back to her roots (Malaysia is her home, “100% always and forever”).
Falling in love, getting married while #supportinglocal and becoming an accidental artist has launched Sheena back onto our radar as she met us in between flying (she was in Malaysia for a hot minute before setting off!) to talk about love, marriage and her two careers.
She is also an embroidery artist and features her work on Instagram under the handle Times New Romance that has attracted 250k followers. At this #TeamCLEO exclusive shoot the model showed us her best angles, how she eased into married life with Ernest Zacharevic, and opened up about her most sentimental items.
Congrats on getting married! What was the preparation for it like?
Super hectic, we had two [weddings]. One in his [home] country and another in Malaysia. Added on the task of shipping people to each country. But I’m glad we did it and I wouldn’t have done it any other way because we had all our friends and family with us through it all.
We noticed that you consulted Malaysian designer, Celest Thoi, to design your wedding dress as well as a local Malaysian online clothing store, Doublewoot for your bridesmaids dresses. Can you tell us why it’s important to you to support local designers?
It’s so important because it’s not like we are short of talent, just opportunities. I think although we can look outside the country for inspiration, we mustn’t look down on local talents.
Has life been different since getting married?
Not really — things have always come naturally to us and so is our arrangement now. People expect marriage to be a life-changing thing, but honestly we’ve always held the same commitment to each other with or without the ring and fancy dress.
“It’s so important [to support Malaysian talents] because it’s not like we are short of talent, just opportunities. And I think although we can look outside the country for inspiration we mustn’t look down on local talents.”
Where and how did you celebrate your honeymoon?
We haven’t done it because there honestly is no time. We took a lot of time off for the weddings. I think the both of us just really want to get back to work ASAP.
We love looking at your embroidery art. Have you approached it differently since your work became more widely noticed?
Not really. It was never my implicit intention to achieve fame and fortune through my embroideries. I just wanted to do something with my free time. And I don’t feel anything has changed.
Would you consider doing your embroidery in colour?
When I started embroidering I wanted to challenge myself and step out of the norm. So I avoided the conventional — colours, flowers and pretty scenery. I’m always open to trying out different and new things. In time I probably will.
We see on Instagram that you’re travelling all over the world! Where are you currently based?
I’m not really sure. I still have my agencies in Paris and New York. My husband is Lithuanian, and works everywhere. I’m Malaysian and work at the mercy of my agencies. So it’s hard to say, we’re nomads.
Do you still consider Malaysia your home?
100% always and forever.
If you weren’t a model, what career do you think you’d pursue?
I could do anything really. Sometimes I think about it a lot, I’d be happy anything I did.
What is empowerment to you?
Empowerment can mean equal rights for all people. To live in a judgment-free society where we are not judged based on our skin colour, our gender, our sexual orientation and our financial status.
Can you share with us how you get ready for a shoot?
Just a shower and off to the team of stylists, makeup artists, creative directors and photographers to do their magic.
What is your favourite holiday destination?
Netflix in bed, Skyping my friends from bed, eating in bed. I’d never leave the bed if I didn’t have to pay bills.
“When I started embroidering I wanted to challenge myself and step out of the norm. So I avoided the conventional — colours, flowers and pretty scenery. I’m always open to trying out different and new things. In time I probably will.”
What is the best beauty tip/trick that you know?
The best beauty tip or trick I know is probably to just be comfortable in your own skin. ‘Cause when you’re accepting of how you are, all your flaws and who you look like, you’re the most beautiful.
What are five things you must bring along with you while you’re travelling? Any sentimental items?
I would probably bring some photos of my friends and family. It’s really hard to be away from them for extended periods of time. Other than that, my denim, I love my denim. I always have comfortable sports shoes, I always have a good kick-ass red lipstick, a nice dress in case of formal functions, and that’s it.
What would you say is your favourite memory ever?
My favourite memory ever would probably be when I got my first dog when I was 10 [years old]. I begged years and years and years for my parents to let me have a dog. They were pretty worried about cleanliness and whether or not I’d be responsible. So when they finally caved, it was the best day ever.
“Empowerment can mean equal rights for all people. To live in a judgment-free society where we are not judged based on our skin colour, our gender, our sexual orientation and our financial status.”
What’s your favourite way to unwind?
My favourite way to unwind would be just staying in bed, until like 7pm [laughs].
What is one thing people don’t know about you?
The one thing people probably don’t know about me is that I love karaoke and it’s like the only thing I do, 24 hours a day [laughs]. I karaoke every day.
What does a day in your life look like?
There’s no real consistency in my day-to-day life. It depends on where I am. I usually wake up late if I’m not working. Breakfast, chill out, read a book, embroider, that’s it.
Check out the behind-the-scenes and our rapid fire Q&A with Sheena here!