Zulkifli Ariffin; born and raised in Taiping and grew up practically as an only child, as both sisters and brother had left for Kuala Lumpur by the time he was 7 years old. As a child, he was known as the ringleader among kids his age and had several followers whom he regards as his close friends until today. Never the mischievous boy, he is well liked by the neighbours.
Zul moved to Kuala Lumpur after his SPM examination (equivalent to GCSE) to join his siblings and took up several jobs as a means to sustain himself as he developed a taste for finer things in life since he was young. He worked as a barista at Dome Café while doing TV and print commercials. He then went on to take up training as a fashion model and started taking part in a few fashion shows in the city.
He was accepted to UiTM (Mara Institute of Technology University) to major in Fine Art & Graphic Design at its Malacca campus. In close to two years there, he made regular trips back to Kuala Lumpur to shoot commercials and participate in fashion shows.
His foray into acting was rather accidental. One day while having late night ‘teh tarik’ (favourite local drink, tea with milk) session with some friends, he was approached by a production crew on whether he would be interested to act in drama. He played a small role as a doctor and that was when the acting bug bit him. Not long after, he decided to quit studying to concentrate on acting. Since young, he has always loved movies. The characters, the people, the storyline and the whole production process fascinated him. As part of his preparations or rather ‘study’ for his newly chosen career, he read books and studied characters of his favourite actors, studied the plots and storylines and the behind the scenes efforts by the entire production.
In late 2011, he starred in the first joint venture between two studio giants in Malaysia – Astro Shaw and Grand Brilliance, entitled “Penanggal” (a Malayan vampire), where he was cast the role of a supporting actor. The film was released at the end of 2013 and for Festival Filem Malaysia 2014 (Malaysian Film Festival) he was nominated and won the “Pelakon Harapan Lelaki” (Best Newcomer Actor) award.
After almost five years in the industry, he was finally catapulted to star status for his role as ‘Captain Zill Faezrul’ in the drama ‘Rindu Awak 200%’ (Miss You 200%) which aired over local free-to-air channel TV3 (under Media Prima Group) and garnered the highest rating at 4.4 million viewership in year 2014.
His role in Rindu Awak also led him to win the Most Popular Actor Award at the MeleTOP Awards as well as two awards for Anugerah Bintang Popular, a popularity awards held yearly. He was also awarded the Artiste of the Month Award by a local entertainment programme, Hlive, for the month of April 2015.