There was a time when the television used to dictate the way one’s day is spent. That was certainly true during the glory days of local TV station TV3. In today’s digital world, it is hard to imagine a time when millions would tune in to watch the news but that’s what happened when Puan Sri Normala Samsudin presented the evening news, Buletin Utama. Sunday afternoons too often revolved around Nona, which she presented weekly. That meant a lot of families were forced to have lunch at home as the women gathered round the TV for their weekly “meeting” with Normala.
“I didn’t feel I was popular,” she says. “I was just focused on the job of delivering the news to viewers, so it was a culture shock to me.”
It was after she stopped flying as a stewardess that Normala entertained the idea of working at a television station. She auditioned at RTM but was turned down, leaving her quite geram. It was when she won the TV3 competition Pengacara Jemputan Nona that her broadcasting career was launched.
“I felt very insecure because I wasn’t from a mass communication or journalism background but I learnt a lot. My Bahasa Malaysia was good and I was able to write good scripts.”
Over the years, Normala went on to host various programmes on the channel – Seulas Pinang, Warna-Warna Malaysia, Wanita Hari Ini, Malaysia Hari Ini eventually becoming the face of Nona and a coveted spot as one of the presenters of Buletin Utama.
As a presenter you need to learn a lot, every day, whatever error you make, you just proceed and try to do your best.Puan Sri Normala Samsudin
Of the various programmes, she enjoyed Warna-Warna Malaysia as it allowed her to travel across the country. It also suited Normala’s sporty nature as it required a lot of physical activity. This set her apart from the other female presenters at the time. The crew often talked about a “hand-gliding scene” during which Normala landed and immediately started talking to the camera, proof of her professionalism.
But it is Nona which she holds dear to her heart as it allowed her to speak to women all across the country on a range of issues from current affairs to entrepreneurship to fashion.
“What we wanted to show women at the time was that although we are soft, we can also be tough.”
Off-camera, Normala was known to be an absolute professional in terms of her craft, while at the same also a friendly face to those around her, setting a perfect example to other aspiring women of television.
To young women today, she advises, “Be positive in anything that you do. Never think negative of other people. Do good.”