Wendy Jacobs and Iman Fandi on Their BFF Relationship and Building a Bond

As the only women in Singapore’s most famous football family, they reflect on building a career, navigating fame and maintaining family connections through a strong mother-daughter bond.
Published: May 3, 2024
Iman Fandi and Wendy Jacobs Are Our May 2024 Cover Stars
Wendy wears an oversized jacket, cashmere shawl (worn as a headscarf), earrings and bracelet; Iman dons a see-through shirt with attached cowl neck scarf and drop earrings, all by LOUIS VUITTON. Photo: Wee Khim

Watching Iman Fandi and Wendy Jacobs on set is mesmerising—their confidence and synchronicity effortlessly command the camera. It’s no wonder. As a former model, South African-born Singaporean Wendy Jacobs has been in the game for years, with a successful career in the ’90s. And her daughter Iman? The apple definitely doesn’t fall far from the tree. 

Midway through our video shoot for ELLE Singapore’s social media platform, Iman instructs her mum on what to say and how to gesture. “I’ll start with this part, then you can chime in with this line,” she suggests. It’s a moment that captures the close and loving relationship between mother and daughter. “You take the lead,” Wendy responds. 

As they shoot the scene in a single take, it’s clear that Iman has inherited not just her mother’s looks but also her poise and confidence in front of the camera. Given Iman’s time creating content for her social media platforms and the fact that she has been in the public eye since a very young age, it’s no wonder that the multi-hyphenate is a natural. The roles have completely reversed, and the student has become the teacher. The seamless coordination between the two shows how much Iman has learned from her mum and, of course, her father, Singapore’s football icon, Fandi Ahmad

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Iman Fandi and Wendy Jacobs Are Our May 2024 Cover Stars
Leather jacket; cropped ribbed knit sweater, HERMÈS. Photo: Wee Khim

Of course, at 23 years old, Iman has come a long way since being a shy little girl on set with her famous family. Wendy is quick to express her pride in her daughter’s transformation. “She was a little introverted, shy, and hardly spoke to anybody, but look at her now. She has blossomed into someone so beautiful: She’s elegant, funny, quirky, with a very serious way about how she works,” she says. 

Their similarity goes beyond appearances. Friends have noticed that Wendy and Iman often share the same gestures and facial expressions. Wendy recalls that during a shoot, someone remarked on their uncanny resemblance. “Someone once said to Iman that she acts just like me in the way we move during the shoot,” she shares with a laugh. Even they are surprised at how much they move and act alike. Wendy succinctly captures it: “We move our faces more or less simultaneously”. 

Iman, too, has realised how much she and her mother share. At first, she didn’t think they had many similarities beyond the obvious. “I mean, of course, we have similarities, but nothing I could pick out,” she admits. Only when her friends pointed out certain things did Iman begin to see it. “They’d tell me we have these gestures, or facial expressions, that are quite similar, or when we pull funny faces,” she says. The more she thought about it, the more she noticed the likeness. 

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Iman Fandi and Wendy Jacobs Are Our May 2024 Cover Stars
Turtleneck sweater, LOUIS VUITTON. Silk scarf, HERMÈS. Hat, stylist’s own. Photo: Wee Khim

Iman also sees other traits they share. “We’re also quite similar in knowing what we want,” she says, acknowledging their shared sense of independence. “So I think I get that from her as well”. Despite her emerging career, Iman often looks to her mother for guidance, and Wendy takes pride in watching her daughter flourish. It’s a relationship that balances mentorship and mutual respect, with Iman quickly becoming her mother’s peer. 

It was a balmy Monday afternoon when ELLE Singapore caught up with the mother-daughter duo for our May cover shoot. Wendy, having finished her part of the shoot with photographer and friend Wee Khim, now sits relaxed. Iman is currently in front of the camera doing what she does best. 

“Honestly, I haven’t been very well these last few years,” Wendy begins, recounting her journey in the last few years. “I’ve been in hospital three times this year alone, and at times, I just can’t do anything. But I don’t let it hold me back.” 

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Iman Fandi and Wendy Jacobs Are Our May 2024 Cover Stars
On Wendy: Belted jacket, CHANEL. Headscarf, Wendy’s own. On Iman: Cropped jacket; matching culottes, earrings, CHANEL. Silk scarf, HERMÈS. Photo: Wee Khim

Although she doesn’t want to go into detail about her health struggles, Wendy reveals that she’s in the process of healing—both internally and externally. “Of course, it was hard. You can’t move and feel like your life’s going downhill. So, yes, it’s been quite an emotional and mentally challenging ride,” she lets on. 

Despite these challenges, Wendy maintains a positive outlook, crediting her family for their support. Her husband, Fandi, now the technical advisor and head coach of Malaysia Super League club Sri Pahang, often travels for work but finds time to be with her. “It’s about a one-hour flight, so he comes to help me when he can. I couldn’t do it without him,” she adds. 

As a mother of five, Wendy finds joy in her children’s achievements, referring to them as “her blessings”. Her elder sons, Irfan and Ikhsan, are building their football careers in Thailand, while Ilhan, the fourth of five siblings, is in Belgium with KMSK Deinze. Meanwhile, her youngest son, Iryan, has just enlisted for National Service. With the kids off pursuing their paths, Wendy jokes about her newfound free time. “I am having what they call ‘empty nest syndrome’,” she says with an infectious laugh. “So, every day now is a pyjama party at home. I watch Netflix, catch up on my shows, and just take it easy”. 

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Iman Fandi and Wendy Jacobs Are Our May 2024 Cover Stars
Oversized jacket, cashmere shawl (worn as a headscarf), earrings; bracelet, LOUIS VUITTON. Snood, Wendy’s own. Photo: Wee Khim

Wendy has also embraced a significant change in her appearance. Reflecting on her journey into wearing a hijab, a departure from her days of modelling swimwear and lingerie, she explains: “People ask me why I wear the hijab, and I tell them it’s a personal choice”. Her voice carries a sense of calm and inner strength as she acknowledges that her recent change might draw criticism. “People will always talk, you know? So let them. I am doing this for me; whatever happens is between me and my God.” 

Wendy brings this same sense of wisdom to her parenting. “I always tell my kids: Respect yourself, others, and elders. Things aren’t always going to go right. You can go down when you’re on top, so take small steps up the ladder. Learn a lesson with each step; don’t rush to the top. Otherwise, if you fall, you won’t know how to recover,” she advises. 

Her perspective is a blend of life lessons and personal experience, instilling in her children the value of resilience and humility. This is something that Iman, the third child and the only girl in the mix, carries with her.

For Iman, the spotlight has become more familiar, and she’s all about finding balance these days. She has a busy schedule as a singer, songwriter, model, and content creator, yet she still makes time for her family. “I think it’s important to stay connected,” she says. “I try to spend as much time as possible with my family—especially my mum—because they keep me grounded. Seeing what my mum went through and how she handled it makes me appreciate her strength.” 

Iman Fandi and Wendy Jacobs Are Our May 2024 Cover Stars
Under-piece catsuit with attached booties and hip pads (maxi dress not shown), BALENCIAGA. Photo: Wee Khim

Iman’s musical journey has also gained momentum. Last month, she co-wrote her latest single, “Leave You on Read”. “It’s a fun song, something everyone can relate to,” she says with a playful smile. She quickly clarifies that the song wasn’t specifically based on her personal life. “People always wonder if it’s about a boy or something like that. But I think it’s just a storytelling song,” she explains, emphasising her preference for music that resonates with everyone. “We can all relate to being left on read or leaving someone on read.” 

Iman describes the song’s writing process as a collaborative effort with songwriter Claudia Tan and producer Tatsuro Miller, noting the fluidity of their creative work. “Initially, I didn’t know what the story idea would be like, but we had this concept of something fun, pop, and danceable,” she says. “I love to put out music that is for everybody. It’s about creating something that everyone can vibe with, and that’s what I hope to achieve with my music.” Iman is currently working on a full album set to be released later in the year. “We’ve chosen the songs, but there might be some changes along the way. I like to keep things fresh.” 

Iman Fandi and Wendy Jacobs Are Our May 2024 Cover Stars
Sheer pussybow blouse, GUCCI. Photo: Wee Khim

With everything moving in the right direction, how does Iman handle the pitfalls of fame? “I try to stay true to myself and not let the negativity get to me. If you listen to every negative comment, you’ll never be happy,” she lets on. 

Wendy agrees and often reminds her children to focus on what truly matters and to block out the noise. “Just do what makes you happy. At the end of the day, it’s about living your life, not someone else’s,” she adds. She emphasises the importance of remembering your roots and staying grounded. “Fame is temporary; it doesn’t define you.” 

When it comes to tips for success, Wendy is a stickler for professionalism. “Never, ever be late for a shoot. Respect everyone on set, from the stylists to the helpers,” she says. “You’re there to do a job, and success in the industry requires hard work and discipline.” Thus far, these principles have guided Iman in her career and shaped her approach to work and life. “It’s about being kind and treating others how you want to be treated,” Iman explains. 

As Iman continues to rise, she does so with a solid foundation, and Wendy couldn’t be happier. “Iman has become everything I hoped she would be and more. Seeing her grow and flourish is one of the greatest rewards I could ever ask for,” she says.

Photographed by Wee Khim
Styled by Sharon Tulasidas
Make-up Wee Ming using Burberry Beauty
Hair Sean Ang using Schwarzkopff Professional & Dyson Hair
Photographer’s Assistant Ivan Teo
Stylist Assistant Josephine Ang
Producer Navin Pillay

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