Twenty-year-old Indonesian top model, Kimmy Jayanti, talks to DA MAN about things that give her pleasure in our exclusive fashion shoot and interview. By M.Berlian
When she met up with DA MAN recently, Kimmy Jayanti had just returned to Jakarta after spending four days and three nights in Macau. Her visit to the Sin City of Asia was more like an adventure, rather than a vacation, if only because she flew there all by herself and spent most of her time exploring local attractions or observing people. “I love going to exciting places. I love history and I want to learn about what made those places,” begins Kimmy. “For instance, Macau used to be occupied by Portugal, so that’s why it has Portuguese as its second language, or why it has these really hot Portuguese bartenders,” she says, chuckling. “Also, the old buildings there are just so cool!” she continues, while letting out an excited howl.
And there you have it, Kimmy at large. It’s true that she’s just as wacky as the crazy color-dyed pixie-cut hair she’s famous for: She doesn’t just laugh but rather cackles with her mouth open, she whoops hysterically when she gets enthusiastic about things (which happens a lot), walks around the shoot location half-naked and only stops flailing when she’s already in front of the camera. Yet, she’s still happy to sit down and geek about an ancient building. “[The real] Kimmy is not as crazy as you think. She’s not as wild as her appearance suggests,” she says. “I’m only glamorous on the runway or at the photo shoot. Once I’m back to the real life, I would be the Kimmy who eats at street stalls, hangs with friends, winds down with a drink.”
Once you get to know her well, Kimmy is just a normal 20-something, who happens to be a high-earning model and backpacking junkie. “I want to see things I haven’t seen and are beautiful,” she says of her travel addiction. “It gives me pleasure. My job is indeed priceless, but what I do to spend what I earn from working and being able to visit places because of it; that’s even more priceless. For example, if I work for a whole week, the money I earn will be used to travel somewhere. I’m not the type who would waste it all on shopping.” But when the opportunity arises, she’s not the one to give it away. “I walked into the casino in Macau with 10,000 Macanese pataca (Macau currency) and left with 50,000!” she says, guffawing. She ended up exiting the country with a few pairs of new Jimmy Choos.
It wasn’t the only time Kimmy found great luck on her side. Her first venture into modeling, in fact, happened with a bit of luck as well. She was still a 14-year-old schoolgirl in Medan, her hometown, when fate came calling. “One time, I was on my way home from school and a man on a motorcycle came up to me,” she says. “I think he saw that I was tall for a 14-year-old, so he asked, ‘Hey, do you want to be a model?’ I was, like, ‘Who are you?’” Although the man, who turned out to be working for an agency, freaked her out a little, Kimmy couldn’t get his offer out of her head and told her mother about it. Her mother unexpectedly encouraged her to go for it. With her mother’s blessing, Kimmy participated in a local modeling competition, which she won. As luck would have it, one of the judges of the competition happened to be Keke Harun, a renowned top model and owner of one of the biggest modeling agencies in the country. “She told me to go to Jakarta, but I said no,” she says. “But finally, when I was 16, I decided to leave for Jakarta. I told my mom that I would see how things would be like for two months. So l left. And I haven’t returned yet.”
With dark olive skin and an in-your-face personality, it’s hard to imagine Kimmy as someone whose presence would ever go unnoticed. But her first year saw her struggling for the spotlight. “I wanted to be different among my fellow models. I wanted to be beautiful in my own way, without having others feel like I was their competitor. So I decided to cut off my hair,” she says. “But it was hard at first, because most people were already attached to the idea of models having to have long hair. I wanted to convince them, ‘This is happening!’ So if they offered me a job but wanted me to put on a wig, I would refuse right away.” Her stubbornness paid off when celebrated stylist Michael Pondaag took his chance on her. From then on, things have fallen into place nicely for her. Her dark skin and blonde hair (previously dyed platinum, gray and purple), which used to be deal breakers, are now hot commodities.
Of her success, Kimmy says, ‘’I didn’t expect anything. I am just me. I’m comfortable this way. If you don’t like it, whatever.” She continues, “I think it’s good to be who you are. I know I wasn’t born blonde, but I feel like [with it] I’ve finally found my identity.”
If the modeling awards Kimmy has been getting are any indication, it seems everyone is loving her new identity as well. For three years in a row, she was honored as the best model of the year by a popular female magazine. When an event in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia required top model representatives from all around Asia, she was the one they called to represent Indonesia. And those don’t even cover the half of everything she’s gotten thus far. “I deserve them!” she says. “Because of the things I have sacrificed to be different from the rest, my dedication to work, the chemistry I build with and how I embrace clients, my working manner; not everyone can have them. Also it’s because of the way I care about my work, especially when compared to some other models, who couldn’t care less about what they do.”
For someone who never intended to be a model (as a kid, she wanted to be a policewoman), Kimmy does care about modeling very much. “The first time I was on the runway, I remember telling myself, ‘I actually like this. I like walking on the catwalk, being the center of attention, being adored,’” she says. “And I’m the type of person, who, once I decide to do something, I have to love it. So, with modeling, I have decided to love it. It, for me, is pleasure. I mean, to be able to wear a Givenchy or Versace dress on a photo shoot; it’s pleasure! It’s something I cannot get anywhere else.” Kimmy isn’t exaggerating when she talks about having to sacrifice a lot of things. First off, her hair. “I have to bleach my hair once a month,” she says. “And it hurts. There are scars on my scalp now. But this is the risk that I’m taking.”
And then, there’s still the wrath of the boyfriend. “Yeah, he sometimes gets mad about me taking sexy pictures. But I would tell him, ‘Honey, I know what I’m doing.’” Her plea works. It doesn’t hurt that she’s dating someone who is, “a gentleman,” “a businessman [who] I know would take a good care of me” and “a good guy.” She adds, “I’ve been dating since I was 15. I don’t want to play games anymore. I’m done with bad boys.”
When it comes to her future, Kimmy says, “I’m not ambitious. But I do have plans.” Those plans include a part in a movie, a follow-up to her Indonesian Movie Awards-nominated role in I Know What You Did on Facebook. Though not sure what kind of movie she wants to be in next, she knows she wants to play someone who is entirely different from her personality. “I want to prove to everyone that I have an even bigger capacity as an actor.”
She’s more sure-footed about the other plans. Her studies, for example. After choosing modeling over school, she’s ready to go back to class this September, majoring in Fashion Business, which should support her other plan: to launch her own fashion brand. “I’ve been designing my own clothes because I just don’t want to be the same with everyone else,” she says. Not a part of her near future, though, is leaving Jakarta. “I haven’t had any plan to work overseas,” she says. Although she won’t mind residing in London, once she gets a chance. “I love Agyness Deyn,” she says, mentioning the London-based supermodel, with whom Kimmy has often been compared. Of this, she comments, “I am inspired by her, but I’m not her.”
Kimmy may not have superstar ambitions, but a girl can dream. “London, Paris, New York; I think all models want to be there. It would be awesome if I could be photographed for Vogue. Maybe I’d get to meet Anna Wintour,” she says dreamily. “I can be Kimmy Summour.” DA
Styling: Gabriela Batti