If you are a Cambodian pop culture expert, you would already have heard the good news involving the Kingdom’s beloved host, motivational speaker, activist and celebrity Sovathana Neang, fondly known as DJ Nana. The 33-year-old, who has never shied away from social media, has recently announced her pregnancy on her Facebook page, a year after tying the knot with long-time partner Panharath Hak. In the spirit of feeling the love this Valentine’s Day, Anith Adilah Othman gets up close and personal with the media personality.
GT2: Could you tell us a little bit about your own love story?
DJ Nana: My husband, Panha, and I met at university in 2009 and I was the one who was into him first. I am the type of person who has no problem saying how I really feel. Before me, Panha had never had a girlfriend so I caught him by surprise when I confessed. It took him a while but we continued to hang out and then soon enough, he said he felt the same way too. We were together for 10 years before we decided to get married last year. Now, we are expecting our first-born.
GT2: As a public figure, all eyes are on you. Is that stressful and how do you manage to keep a happy and healthy relationship going?
DJ Nana: My personal life motto has been “do not care about what others think”. Of course, if I wanted to scrutinise each comment my fans or other people made, I would not have been able to keep it together. I learned to prioritise my own feelings and the feelings of others who are important to me. With my husband, I think we have a good relationship because we sort of grew up together and we went through different life phases together, so we understand each other really well. Relationships take a lot of hard work; they are not easy. The key to keeping both sides happy is by agreeing to disagree – in other words, compromise.
GT2: How important is compromise in a relationship?
DJ Nana: Very important. Especially for someone like me. I am the kind of person who knows exactly what I want, what I like or dislike and I am pretty vocal about it. There are times where our opinions clash but in those moments, Panha and I will choose to agree to disagree.
GT2: With a hectic schedule, how do you maintain a balance between personal and professional life?
DJ Nana: It is not easy but we make it work. Coming from a family who has seen hardships, I knew I had to work hard to be successful. I am blessed now with many job offers but at the same time, I am also blessed with a husband who is willing to be a team player. We create our own moments out of the time we have together. For instance, we spend a lot of time in the car. So Panha, who is a huge music fan, shares all these fun facts about music while driving. Meanwhile, I love to read and he doesn’t, so sometimes I read to him as we travel to say, a shooting location.
GT2: As a couple, who do you look up to?
DJ Nana: Firstly, both our parents. I would say Panha’s family is a bit more disciplinarian while mine is more chill, so we take the positive aspects from both sides and try to incorporate them into our own relationship. For instance, I think his parents did a wonderful job at raising sons, so if our child happens to be a boy, I would want to follow their parenting style. We try to assess positive qualities in almost every couple that we meet because let’s face it, every one of us is still learning and we can always be better.
GT2: What are your thoughts on Valentine’s Day?
DJ Nana: I think we should celebrate love every day, not just with your partner but also with other people who are important to us – like our family, parents or friends. If you want to celebrate Valentine’s Day, you should be able to as long as you stay true to yourself.
GT2: How do you feel about the controversy surrounding the Valentine’s Day celebration in Cambodia?
DJ Nana: I think the concern is mostly related to teenagers having pre-marital sex. While I believe that people should be able to express themselves the way they want to, I also would like to emphasise that every action comes with its consequence. For teenage girls, for instance, I want to say you are not expected to prove your worth to anyone. No one can stop you from having sexual intercourse but get yourself educated first, learn all there is about sex so you can make an informed decision when the time comes.
GT2: Is Valentine’s Day something that you and husband would celebrate? If yes, will this year’s celebration be different, as you are currently pregnant?
DJ Nana: Both yes and no actually (laughs). We do this thing where we celebrate the monthly anniversary – or “monthversary” – of our relationship and it happens to fall on the 14th of each month. So because of that, we sort of celebrate Valentine’s Day. But it’s nothing fancy, we might just wish each other a happy Valentine’s Day either first thing in the morning or before we go to bed.