She is highly sought after on Suria and is a household name among Malay TV viewers here.
But six months ago, bubbly actress-host Syirah Jusni was ready to give up and leave the industry.
"The reality is that being a freelance artist in Singapore is hard. I have to be realistic.
"On the one hand, I love what I do, but on the other, it doesn't pay all the bills," said the 26-year-old, who plays a bridezilla named Norleena who marries Fauzie Laily's character in Channel 5's new drama Tanglin.
Syirah's dilemma arose because she needs to support her family.
While her mother works as a trainer with telecommunications company Singtel, her father has been suffering from kidney failure for the past 26 years.
"My priorities have changed and I realise that I have to let go of some things I love to do for my family," said the Anugerah Skrin 2010 winner.
She started looking for jobs as an events or tour guide.
Shortly after, she was invited to audition for Tanglin.
Syirah, who said that she has bad luck when it comes to auditions, did not have high hopes, but landed the role.
It is her first major role in a local English production.
Asked if she is anything like her Tanglin character, she said with a laugh: "I think I will be a bridezilla, but only when it comes down to planning my future wedding with my sister, who will have a large role to play in it. We are both egotistical.
"I think Ashmi is going to be a groomzilla, if there is such a thing," she joked.
She is referring to her local actor-boyfriend of two years, Ashmi Roslan, 34, whom she met on the set of Malay drama Bingit, where they played a couple.
The couple have talked about marriage, but have not set a date.
"When I landed this role, I told him to give me time to focus on the drama. Maybe the wedding will happen late next year or the following year, if all goes well," she said.
M'sian TV industry is cut-throat world
Since breaking into the Malaysian TV industry in 2011, home-grown actress Elfaeza Ul Haq has established quite a name for herself across the Causeway.
She landed roles in dramas like Cinta Qaseh (Qaseh's Love) and Adam Dan Hawa (Adam And Eve).
The 30-year-old follows in the footsteps of Singapore actors Aaron Aziz, Adi Putra, Erwin Shah Dawson and Shah Iskandar, all of whom have made inroads in the Malaysian entertainment scene.
But Elfaeza, who plays Syirah Jusni's highly motivated single older sister in Tanglin, stressed that the cut-throat industry is no walk in the park.
"If you think the environment is competitive in Singapore, it is 10 times more competitive there. I still feel belittled sometimes," she said.
The pressure is amplified, she said, because of her gender.
"I'm 30 and I'm competing with younger girls who are 16, 18 years old.
"These days, they take on lead roles and they have youth on their side. Plus, they lack experience and talent so they will command less money.
"There are so many factors working against you and they will eat you up if you are not strong enough."
When the going gets tough, Elfaeza chooses not to depend on others.
"It's a dog-eat-dog world where you look after yourself. When times are hard, of course (us Singaporeans in Malaysia) will have each other's back and will help each other out.
"But we take care of ourselves and protect Singapore's name at the same time," she said.
For five years, Elfaeza was absent from the small screen here until she landed a lead role in Malay drama Danny The Series last year, opposite popular Malaysian actor Sharnaaz Ahmad.
For her role as a mother of an autistic girl, she clinched her first Pesta Perdana win this year for Best Actress in a Leading Role - Drama Series.
It was also her first nomination in the biennial local Malay awards ceremony after 12 years in the industry.
She said: "I'll be blunt - winning an award here does not guarantee that you get more jobs or become more popular.
"I appreciate the fact that after so long, my hard work is being recognised. It was more the feeling of getting a gift from your friends in the industry and sharing it with them."
This article was first published on June 10, 2015.
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