Indonesian-Thai acting sensation Chicco Jerikho is probably one of the few people that successfully turned a childhood obsession into a professional career in show business. By Refa Koetin
“To be honest, I wanted to be a pilot before I wanted to be an actor, because I’m a fan of Superman and I wanted to be able to fly like him,” Chicco tells DA MAN while chuckling briefly after being asked to explain his dreams as a child. Although he didn’t quite make it to be a pilot, the 27-year-old model and actor pursued his other childhood dream of being in the movies.
“My father is a huge fan of the movies. I’m talking real films like Godfather, Star Wars, Superman, Star Trek and everything else in between. I picked up his passion right away, and I love any and all films.” Explaining his heartfelt obsession for movies, Chicco went on, “I believe that every movie ever made had a certain value. A message. I had always appreciated what these movies are trying to tell us.” His favorite actor is Al Pacino. When asked why, with a hearty laugh, he replies, “because I’m Al PaChicco!”
The dream begins
Chicco Jerikho Jarumilinal was born in Jakarta in 1984. His father is a Thai businessman, Chana Jarumilinal, his mother, Deby, is Indonesian of Batak heritage. The name “Chicco” means “man” and was given to him by his mother. His grandfather bestowed upon him the name “Jerikho” after the ancient Wall of Jericho.
As he grew older, Chicco got familiar with the real world—school and other teenage stuff—and the path to fulfilling his childhood dream seemed to slowly fade away. That is, until the year 2000, when his chance came. Being the athletic and good-looking teenager that he was, Chicco won first place in a cover boy competition that year hosted by a popular teenage magazine, and went on to be shot as the magazine’s cover boy. With his face on the cover of the nationwide magazine, the young model was encouraged to keep pursuing the dream.
Chicco went on to participate in commercials, therefore improving his experience in the industry. He also learned firsthand that rejection is part of the deal. “I remember there was this part for a boxer in a certain TV film. I was very excited about it and I really want to get the part, but I didn’t. I was disappointed back then.” Taught to be tough and not whine about small things, Chicco endured and refused to linger on one rejection.
While keeping himself focused on finishing school, Chicco kept doing commercials and played small roles on numerous films whenever he could before his big break came in 2007. He was offered a lead role in a 2007 TV series titled Cinta Bunga. Facing this new challenge, the 179-centimer tall young actor had to get himself accustomed to the routine. “I had longer lines to memorize, a bigger environment to work and familiarize with and a deeper character to develop. These are some of the challenges I faced, but I happily powered through them, and I actually had fun doing so.”
When asked about a personal quality that he gave credit to for his success, Chicco explained, “I believe in never feeling content about myself. No matter how good I am at something, there’s always room for improvement. I want to keep pushing myself to try harder, see farther and achieve greater.” With that kind of attitude, perhaps nothing can stop him. Following his big TV gig hit, Chicco started playing more roles both in television as well as big-screen movies. His leading role in TV series included those in the sequel Cinta Bunga 2 and Bayu Cinta Luna in 2009 and Sinar and Taxi in 2010, the year in which he won the 13th Panasonic-Gobel Award for Favorite Actor.
About the award, Chicco recalls, “It was a feeling like none other. I knew I was getting better, but I didn’t expect to win, especially because most of the other nominees were far more experienced. I was speechless that day.”
His television work in 2011—Cahaya Cinta (Light of Love) and Aishiteru (Japanese for ‘I Love You’)—further improved his experience and acting prowess. “In 2011, I won an award for the ‘Sexiest Male.’ The other nominees were Irfan Bachdim and more experienced actors, so again, I didn’t expect to win, but I did. Like always, as much as I’m thrilled, I try to keep my feet on the ground because I know there’s so much room for improvement.” And this evidenced by the fact that despite his many achievements, Chicco is always looking to join acting classes and lessons to improve his skills.
Aside from that down-to-earth, always-grow approach, Chicco explained what else he does to improve himself. Since he has had to play so many different characters on so many different sets, Chicco likes to observe people. “My mentors have taught me to observe people, any kind of people, and to see how they do things. This has helped me a lot in growing into my characters, since most of them tend to be normal people.” Whether at the malls, restaurants, airports or other public places, Chicco likes to take some time to pick up how regular people do their regular business. What happens if someone caught him looking, we ask. “I play dumb. What else is there to do?” He says with a casual laugh.
Although he still has a lot ahead of him at 27 years of age, Chicco is starting to ‘play’ more mature roles in real life. “I recently realized that I need to organize my time better. I’m constantly trying to manage my schedule better so that I can work with maximum efficiency.” Realizing one’s weakness is not always easy, but Chicco is willing to work on his weaknesses to improve himself.
Relationship-wise, he is currently going steady with girlfriend Laudya Chintya Bella, a beautiful actress whom he worked with—and later fell in love—in his first big TV show, the aforementioned Cinta Bunga. Being an extremely busy actor/actress couple, Chicco and Bella must make an extra effort to be with each other. “We’re getting pretty good at utilizing small time windows. It’s hard to explain, but my point is that we do our best to spend time with each other. This includes during filming breaks, off days, after-hours and so on.”
We asked if he thought this is the real thing and whether he’ll be looking to tie the knot soon, and he replied, “I’m extremely comfortable with Bella. She can be a friend, confidante, sister and so much more. She knows how to handle me and I’m grateful to have her as my girlfriend. I can tell you that we’re definitely going there,” while adding, “If everything goes well, and if God wills it, yes, I’d love for us to walk the ‘golden mile’ by then.”
Aside from working with his girlfriend on a new TV series—title of which is still being kept secret—Chicco is currently busy managing his other endeavor. In planning for the future, Chicco is branching out in business, specifically, the culinary world. The soft opening for his Thai food restaurant was in May 2011 and he’s already planning on establishing a branch. “It’s been going really well. We have our own Thai chef who is a friend of my father, and we’re currently trying to decide whether we should open another one in Bali.”
Photographs: Robin Alfian
Styling: Gabriela Batti