Men of the Year 2015: Ezra Zaid, Publisher & Presenter
Pushing The Right Buttons
With a prominent lawyer already in the family, Ezra Zaid felt that the household expectation for lawyers wasn’t one that he could meet and so even with a conditional scholarship to study law, he turned it down and opted instead for a degree in political science and philosophy.
Photographs by Vincent Paul Yong/Studio Verve, Outfits by Emporio Armani, Watches by Bell & Ross
After graduating overseas, Ezra returned to Malaysia armed with a tertiary education and pretty much no idea of what he wanted to do. Spurred on by his interest in books, he spearheaded ZI Publishing. “When we started, there was just a handful of independent publishers that saw the importance of publishing beyond cookbooks, educational books, religious books and romantic novels. I wanted to publish books that were more, for lack of a better word, interesting and by doing so I was changing, potentially, what Malaysian readers were comfortable with.”
After getting into trouble with authorities Ezra moved on to making videos, hosting That Effing Show, a satirical comedy of the absurdities of Malaysian social political life. Soon he got into trouble again “You start doing the math, calculating how much time you want to spend in the police station and how much time you want to spend creating stuff. These are the calculations that every creative person in the country has to make because those are the parameters that we live in. But that doesn’t mean you can’t continually figure out other creative ways to push those parameters.”
For close to five years now, Ezra has been a presenter on the Evening Edition at BFM where he tries to be an exaggeration of himself, asking the questions that we don’t usually get the answers to. “More often than not, there are many things Malaysians want to say but don’t either have the avenue or opportunity to do so; and if anything, the articles, the videos or the books I’ve published shows that if I can do it, certainly anybody else can. It’s just a matter of putting yourself out there and try to shake things up a little bit.”