Since young, Malaysian actor-TV host Awal Ashaari has idolised local star Najip Ali.
So when he was given the chance to co-host Suria variety show Kita Gerek 2 with the 48-year-old, it was a "dream come true".
"He is one of the Singaporean celebrities I look up to. He's truly something else," Awal told The New Paper before recording two episodes of the show last week.
"I grew up watching the shows he hosted. When he offered me this opportunity and it fit into my schedule, I couldn't refuse."
Kita Gerek 2, which will also feature Suria TV personality Nurul Aini as its third host, premieres on June 17 at 8.30pm.
It celebrates the impact of music genres like pop, indie, rock and R&B on Malay pop culture, and showcases local and regional guests like Malaysian rock band Hujan, Indonesian soul-jazz act Maliq & D'Essentials and homegrown artistes like Aliff Aziz, Awi Rafael and The Zozi.
This is Awal's first stint in a local production. And the experience has been an eye-opener for the father-to-be.
"I have so much to learn from Nurul and Najip," he admitted.
"While Nurul is fluent and witty, Najip has an energy level of a person half his age. I need to keep up."
Awal also hosts How To Make It: Culinary Dreams, which airs on the Asian Food Channel (StarHub Ch 435) every Wednesday at 9pm.
In the show, he polishes his cooking skills and learns the ropes of running a food business, something that will become reality soon.
Together with his celebrity wife Scha Al-Yahya, he plans to open a bistro at The Curve shopping mall in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia.
Awal - who rates himself seven out of 10 in cooking and, according to Scha, is great at Italian cuisine - said: "Now that I'm going to be a father, I have to have a backup plan.
"My fate in this industry is uncertain and people can easily shift their attention to other newer celebrities. The business plan is my safety net."
This article was published on April 15 in The New Paper.
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