Canberra has a movie star in its midst.
Ngunnawal actress and model Sadia Nabila stars in Bangladeshi action thriller Mission Extreme which has its worldwide release on Friday.
The University of Canberra IT graduate has lived in the national capital for almost a decade but has managed to maintain her acting career back in her home country of Bangladesh.
"I finished my career but loved Canberra so much I didn't want to leave," she said.
"I feel so blessed to live in Australia, even though I love my home country."
The Canberra release of the movie is on Saturday at Hoyts Belconnen.
"I'm really excited about it," she said. "I'll be watching it with friends, family."
Sadia was approached to appear in her first movie, the 2018 Bollywood film Pareshaan Parinda, after coming first runner-up in the Miss India Worldwide pageant in 2017.
She stars as a police officer in Mission Extreme, about a crack police unit fighting the "invisible enemy" of terrorism.
The film is directed by real-life police chief Sunny Sawar and was shot in Bangladesh and Dubai in 2019 and 2020, its cinema release delayed until now by COVID.
It's a follow-on from Dhaka Attack, which was inspired by the real-life Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime unit of Dhaka Metropolitan Police. And Sadia has already filmed the sequel to Mission Extreme.
"The thing that makes it so exciting is that it does come from real life. Eighty per cent of the incidents come from real life," Sadia said of Mission Extreme.
Sadia was only 16 when she arrived in Canberra to join her brother Muhammed Rahman who owns the Yellow Bridge business supporting people with disabilities.
She studied at CIT before enrolling at UC. Now a dual citizen, she works with her brother, finding the work rewarding.
COVID saw other film projects cancelled but now with some travel restrictions easing, she is hopeful of more movie work in the future.
The daughter of a salon owner and army officer who raised her to pursue whatever career she wanted, Sadia said she had felt backlash from more traditional elements of her small town in Bangladesh and routinely had to remove hate comments on her social media.
"The society I come from, the culture and the background don't always support women to follow their hearts or dreams, sometimes women will be raised to get married and look after their husbands and in-laws," she said.
"While growing up, I have seen many women both in my family and neighbourhoods sacrifice or to give up easily on their dreams just because society didn't allow women to do what they wanted. I still get many hate comments and messages on social media because of the work I do, or just because I decided to work in media, following my heart.
"I dreamt of becoming an actress since I was a little girl and I think now I can finally say that I really am living my dream. I want the same for all those little girls out there who want to follow their hearts, I want to be a voice for them.
"I want them to know it's okay to dream big, it's okay to listen to your heart."
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