Top 10 Famous Malaysians

Who are the ten most famous Malaysian celebrities

While Malaysia is a relatively small country, the nation has produced its fine share of well-known and talented people. They are leaders in their own fields, ranging from the arts to entertainment to sports. They have inspired many young Malaysians to achieve the status and success they have already gained. Here is a list of these inspiring Malaysians:

Dato’ Michelle Yeoh

In the world of entertainment, Dato’ Michelle Yeoh is definitely Malaysia’s most successful movie star. Her career began in Hong Kong when she starred alongside Jackie Chan in The Police Story 3, a critical and successful movie which was released in 1992. Dato’ Michelle impressed Jackie so much that she is among the handful of stars that he would allow to do their own stunts. Since then, she has appeared in both Hong Kong and Hollywood films.

It is safe to say that appearing as a Bond girl in the James Bond film, Tomorrow Never Dies, alongside Pierce Brosnan elevated her status not only as an action star but it also proved she could take on Hollywood as well. Notable movies she has appeared in includes the highly acclaimed Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Memoirs of a Geisha, The Mummy 3 and Babylon A.D. Indeed an impressive list for a girl who hailed from the small town of Ipoh.

Dato’ Michelle has proved time and time again that she has the acting skills to take on dramatic roles and has broken the stereotype that Asians are limited to only action roles.

Amber Chia

Amber Chia is a supermodel and is undoubtedly the most well-known in recent history. She began her modelling career at the age of 17 and gained international recognition when she won the Guess Watches Timeless Beauty Contest in 2004. This contest was a search for models from across the globe in hopes of finding a brand ambassador for Guess Watches. Amber is not only the first Malaysian to win the contest but also the first Asian to do so.

Her win in the professional modelling contest jump started her fashion career. In 2004 and 2005, she was named the Model of the Year by the Malaysian International Fashion Awards. Since then, she has also become ambassadors for brands which include L’Oreal and Sony. She has even created her own modelling reality show, I Wanna Be a Model.

Dato’ Jimmy Choo, OBE

When you have a theme song and that song was recorded by Ashanti, you know you have made it. When people like Jay-Z and Lil’ Kim mentions your name too, there is definitely something right in what you are doing. Jimmy Choo is not your ordinary shoemaker. His name is synonymous with luxury footwear and women all around the world would do just about anything to own a pair designed by him.

He was born in Penang to a shoemaker and at the age of 11 years old, he had already crafted his very first shoe. He went to London to study and in 1983, he graduated from the London College of Fashion. Three years later, he opened his shoe shop in Hackney. His designs quickly established himself as an up-and-coming shoe designer and when British Vogue expressed desire to feature him in their publication, his career as a shoe designer took off. The magazine gave him a record 8-page spread where he featured his collection and from then on, Jimmy Choos have become the sought-after footwear of the rich and famous. From ordinary people to celebrities and even royalty, people from all walks of life desire a pair of Jimmy Choos. Even the late Princess Diana was a loyal client of his.

In the fashion world, there is definitely no Malaysian who can compare to Jimmy Choo. He is probably the most talked about Malaysian out there today. The UK has even recognised his contributions to the fashion and shoe industry by conferring him an Order of the British Empire (OBE).

Nicholas Teo

He made it big not in Malaysia but in another Asian country, Taiwan. Nicholas won the Astro Talent Quest competition in 2002 at the age of 21. Two years later, his career as a recording artiste took off when he released his first album. With his boyish good looks and vocal skills to match, the album was largely successful in Taiwan where it sold 30,000 copies in the first month of its release, an accomplishment which rivaled some of the more established names in Taiwan.

His popularity also helped him secure a role in the Taiwanese drama “Smiling Pasta” which was highly rated, further cementing his career as a star. Without a doubt, Nicholas is the best example of being Malaysia’s best export to the Chinese entertainment industry.

Ling Tan

The name and face may not be familiar to you but Ling Tan has indeed made it big in the world of international modelling. Ling has an Asian face desired by many big brands and agencies. She first appeared in a relatively small fashion show before a commercial with Tiger Beer provided her with some success in the local market. She then went to New York and was quickly snapped up by one of the most famous modelling agencies in the world, IMG.

Name a designer and most probably Ling would have already worked with them. Just to give you an idea, Ling has worked with Donna Karen, Karl Lagerfeld, Valentino and Jean Paul Gaultier, all of which need no introduction. On the other hands are names less familiar such as Richard Avedon, Mario Testino and Patrick Demarchlier but these are geniuses in the world of photography that have worked with Ling.

Besides doing runways and photo shoots, Ling has also been featured in reputable fashion publications such as Elle and Vogue, appeared in an episode of Sex and the City as herself as well as the George Michael’s music video “Fast Love”.

Sheila Majid

Over the past two decades, Sheila Majid has been slowly but surely dominating the international market. The country’s premier diva was the first ever Malaysian to successfully penetrate the Indonesian market and in 1986, she won the Indonesian BASF award in the category of Best Female Artist, a truly remarkable accomplishment as the award was never won by a non-Indonesian before. Besides Indonesia, Sheila Majid also has a strong following in Japan and still remains the only Malaysian recording artist to do so.

She has been given the nickname the Queen of Jazz and has collaborated with some of the world’s best musicians, including the Japanese violinist Aska Koneko and the American bassist Nathan East. In 1996, she performed a sold out concert at the Royalty Theatre in London’s West End and later the same year, she returned to perform at the jazz Mecca of music where Aretha Franklin and Stevie Wonder had once performed too.

Nicol David

Dato’ Nicole David is a professional female squash player who is currently ranked no.1 in the world. She is the first Asian female to hold this title and has won a record of 6 World Championship titles in 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011. She has also added the British Open title to her cap for 3 times in 2005, 2006 and 2006.

Nicol has also been honored with the Order of Merit (Darjah Bakti) in conjunction with Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin’s birthday. She was the first ever recipient of this title which was established way back in 1975. In 2004, Nicol was invited to carry Malaysia’s Olympic torch during the build-up to the games in Athens and also in the same year, she was appointed as the UNDP National Goodwill Ambassador for Malaysia. Nicol is definitely a sports icon and inspires many young Malaysians to achieve the success she has achieved thus far.

Lee Chong Wei

Lee’s career as a badminton player began when he was discovered by Misbun Sidek, a former national badminton player turn coach. At the young age of 17, he was drafted into the national squad. Lee is a professional badminton player and was the first ever Malaysian to reach the finals of the men’s singles category in the 1996 Olympic games, being the first to end the medal drought since then. The achievement in the Olympic Games earned him the title of Datuk where the Malaysian Prime Minister, Dato’ Sri Najib Tun Razak, described Lee as a national hero. Lee also has other accolades other badminton players yearn for – two All-England championships titles.

Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza

In terms of star power, no one can take that title away from Dato’ Siti. She started her career by joining the reality singing competition, RTM Juara Bintang, where she won the title in 1995 at the age of 16. Aside from making waves on home ground, her talent has taken her to other countries where she continues to awe and inspire. She held a very successful solo concert in 2005 in London at the Royal Albert Hall where the media dubbed her as the Celine Dion of Asia.

Datuk Dr Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor

He takes the coveted title as being the first Malaysian to go into outer space but that’s not all. He was the first Muslim to observe Ramadhan while in space. The historical journey took place on October 10th 2007 where he blasted off with two other astronauts from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to the International Space Station. During his nine days on the space station, he performed various scientific tests and experiments. Upon his return to earth, he has participated in space research programs and organized various motivational talks with the intention to relay to the younger generation that working towards your dreams do make it come true.

23 comments on Top 10 Famous Malaysians

  1. Slurp
    6 years ago
    December 13, 2014 at 3:28 am

    why are models in this list?… Models do not have any talent but are born with beautiful features… should the list be starting with Dato Nicol David….who has worked hard and has won the Women’s World Squash Championship a record 8 times!!!

    • Gunasingam
      5 years ago
      June 30, 2016 at 5:11 am

      Yes, I’m thinking about it too. Only in Malaysia, simply easier can getting top name if they are models. So stupid…. No any scientist in Malaysia on top list !

  2. Sarman
    6 years ago
    January 8, 2015 at 6:37 pm

    siti nurhaliza should be ranked number 2…amber chia and ling tan out of this talent..modelling only..should be replaced to ziana zain one of the Malaysia’s greatest singer.. she won voice of asia in kazakstan and asia pop queen in japan..Thailand and Singapore media list her top 5 best singer Asia..she was ever famous around asia..

  3. yuki
    6 years ago
    March 2, 2015 at 9:13 am

    the last person should not be in this list. I don’t think he is well known overseas.

  4. Chua
    5 years ago
    February 26, 2016 at 1:27 pm

    Only Jimmy Choo and Michelle Yeoh the rest NO

  5. Yuna
    5 years ago
    May 16, 2016 at 10:34 am

    Jacqueline Victor should be on this list too. Malaysia isn’t made of Chinese and Malays only.

  6. xxx
    5 years ago
    May 31, 2016 at 1:13 pm


  7. joan
    5 years ago
    August 9, 2016 at 2:13 am


  8. Shay
    5 years ago
    August 14, 2016 at 10:15 am

    I like how everyone is relating talent to fame. People need to understand that fame is not relative to talent.

  9. prashant
    3 years ago
    February 5, 2018 at 8:52 am

    NIcole David is my favorite player . I think there are many famous personalities in Malaysia .

  10. Subhu
    3 years ago
    February 19, 2018 at 7:04 am

    Jimmy Choo & Amber Chis is my favorite. 🙂

  11. Danny
    3 years ago
    April 12, 2018 at 7:25 am

    Amber Chia is my favourite model. She is a best modelling actress.

    • JOE
      12 months ago
      March 9, 2020 at 6:47 am

      This is amazing and I same agree with you!

  12. shariff
    2 years ago
    January 14, 2019 at 9:06 am

    siti nurhaliza???where on earth can she be in this list…apart from singing she is not multi talented…she cant act…let alone composed a song…M Nasir should be in this list….

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