Jump! Actor-model takes on Commando airborne training2SG (NS) Iswan Ismail thought taking part in a new reality series on SAF challenges would be pretty basic – the actor-model ended up getting a taste of the Commandos' airborne training!
// Story by Koh Eng Beng
// Photos by Kenneth Lin & courtesy of 2SG (NS) Iswan
When he was first approached to take part in the new military-themed reality show CAMOKAKIS: Whole Lot Fall In, 2SG (NS) Iswan Ismail was told that he would be taking on Basic Military Training (BMT) challenges.
"Easy lah! Go for range only, so I said 'yes'," recalled the freelance actor and model. A former BMT platoon sergeant during his Full-Time National Serviceman (NSF) days, he felt it would be a walk in the park.
But a week later, the TV producer dropped the bombshell news: You'll be going for the Commandos' Basic Airborne Training instead!
"Can I say 'no' now?" he recalled his reaction with a laugh. "My worry was the parachute jump. At that point of time, I was thinking that we needed to do a solo jump!"
Thankfully, it turned out that the two celebrity teams were actually competing for a chance to do a tandem jump with a Commando from the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF).
CAMOKAKIS: Whole Lot Fall In is a 13-episode series where celebrity guests like 2SG (NS) Iswan battle it out in a series of SAF-related challenges.
"The thing that scared me the most was that I had to jump off the platform on my own," said 2SG (NS) Iswan. "It's not like somebody will push you; you really have to force yourself to jump off."
So how did he fare? Catch the episode to find out!
The Commando instructors were extremely serious during training, said 2SG (NS) Iswan.
"The producer told us that this is a TV show so we need to make it fun. But every time I smiled or laughed, I kena push-up!
"The encik later explained that because we're doing the real jump and actual training, we needed to take it seriously because there were elements of danger."
Make mission impossible happen
His greatest takeaway from the airborne training? Overcoming his fear of heights. "Don't let your fear stop you from going for something that seems impossible," said 2SG (NS) Iswan.
The 34-year-old has always lived by this mantra. This can be seen from his seemingly impossible journey in becoming a TV star across the causeway.
For two years, from 2018 to early 2020, he was juggling between his day job as a business consultant and his acting gigs in both Singapore and Malaysia.
He would fly back and forth between both countries almost every week, and wake up at 3am or 4am to finish his corporate work.
"During the breaks, while others were reading their scripts, I would be doing work on my laptop," he recalled.
It was all worth it as his acting career took off – 2SG (NS) Iswan was nominated as one of the top 5 most popular new male actors in the 2019 Anugerah Bintang Popular Berita Harian, a prestigious annual award in Malaysia.
Dedicated platoon sergeant
Reminiscing on his NSF days, 2SG (NS) Iswan said one of his key takeaways from NS was learning to make friends and work well with people from different backgrounds.
As a BMT platoon sergeant, he led recruits from different educational and family backgrounds as well as those with difficult circumstances. For example, a few of them had taken part in gang activities previously.
"What I treasured the most is the bond with them. After passing out from BMT, they would invite me for their outings," he said.
"Over the course of the years, I realised they're not bad people. They have their own personalities, (but) they all want to achieve the same goal (as all of us), which is to do their best (in life)," he added.
Catch CAMOKAKIS: Whole Lot Fall In on Channel 5 and online on meWATCH.