Our own Charlie's Angels

In her flowing white dress, Malaysian actress and model Daniella Sya looks like a true lady and comes across as feminine and gentle.

But in reality, this woman can put up a tough fight.

Four years ago, she took up silat gayung, a type of traditional Malay martial arts.

Sya, who stars in the new Channel 5 crime drama series Mata Mata told The New Paper at a press conference on Wednesday: "I use it in fighting choreography sometimes back in Malaysia. I hope I never have to use it in real life.

"I took it up to improve my motor skills. I love dancing and, to me, it incorporates that and martial arts as well."

In Mata Mata, which premieres on Aug 9 after the National Day Parade, Sya, 24, plays police officer Tan Siew Lan from the first Women Constabulary in Singapore. Her character takes on the job because of domestic problems and a need to fend for her brother and son.

The series, the first of three seasons, is set in the 1950s and 1960s and is loosely based on true events.

The main characters are three female police officers played by Sya, Suria actress Nadiah M. Din and beauty queen and singer Cheryl Wee.

Similar roles

Playing a police officer is nothing new for Sya, who is often offered similar roles in Malaysia.

She typically also plays more feminine characters.

"Siew Lan is like a marrying of two of my character stereotypes," she said.

But that did not make playing the role a breeze.

She said: "Every character is very different and Siew Lan comes from a different background, which I had to truly understand," she said.

Sya said that her nationality does not get in the way of her role in the historical series.

"It doesn't matter where you come from, it is still a very important part in history. I feel lucky (to get the role), but scared as well."

This is not her first Singapore production. She played a supporting role in the local drama series Keong Saik Street.

Sya, who quit her radio presenter job in Malaysia to go into acting, hopes that Mata Mata won't be her last project here.

The actress has been based here since March for filming of the show and is still considering what her next project will be.

She said: "It feels amazing that I get to work in a different country. I am lucky to venture out when I'm still in my 20s. We'll see where it goes from here."

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