Women of Substance: Umatiana Lingam

Umatiana Lingam

Sometime earlier this year, Uma and I caught up again after losing touch for several years. During our in-depth conversations, I invited her to be a part of my collection of ‘ Women of Substance ’ and she cordially accepted. I realized during the shoot that we hadn’t lost our ‘groove’ working as a team and she was a blast to work with. 

I got to know Uma as the new model in town in the 1990’s and we had the pleasure of working together on several campaigns, advertisements, and photo shoots through the years. She is always the perfectionist, blending her professionalism and ardent desire to give me the best shots; it’s always a very relaxed and fun atmosphere and we always get our ‘hero’ shots. 

She tells me she never intended to go into modelling. She came from a conservative background and it was only when she was approached by modelling agents that she decided to give it a go out of curiosity. As it turned out, one of her best supporters and agent then was Datin Tiara Jacqualina as she is known today. She encouraged Uma who is of Indian and Chinese parentage to represent Malaysia in an international beauty contest. After that she had countless opportunities to work as a talent for TV commercials, print advertisements, calendars and as brand ambassadors. Her work also brought her to foreign locations for shoots. 

She was the main talent for the following brands: L’Oreal Make-up, Oil of Olay Skin Care, Revlon, Palmolive, Rejoice, Max Factor and countless others. She tells me she is grateful for these experiences as she met so many colourful people from so many different backgrounds that enriched her life.

Nowadays, Uma runs her own fitness classes and is involved in the Health & Beauty industry which she holds dear to her heart. She says she loves all things of beauty, whether it is decorating spaces for special clients or coaching her students who are mostly expatriates. She feels privileged to be able to be of service always. 

Her advice to new models is to allow their own unique qualities to shine through and have healthy and amiable relationships with the people they work with. She also said that new models should understand that this is just a part of their journey in life. Enjoy the beauty in it, the friends they make and the experiences that will be uniquely theirs forever.