Teuku Wisnu, the star of the ever-popular television drama series Cinta Fitri tells DA MAN about his past and how an auto accident turned him from a regular schoolboy from Aceh into a nationally famous actor. By Refa Koetin
According to believers in “fate,” we have completely no control over our lives. Although Teuku Wisnu didn’t openly express an opinion either way on that, the thriving actor seems to believe that fate is what led him to be the famous actor that he is today.
Teuku came to the capital city with the intention of enrolling in a well-known university. He never had any inclination or interest in assuming a career in the entertainment industry whatsoever. “Until one day,” Teuku recalls, “I was driving with a cousin in his car. We were just fooling around as we usually would. I guess I wasn’t paying attention to the road, because then the car I was driving crashed into another car and the front of my cousin’s car was messed up pretty badly.” Teuku explained that the repair bills amounted to Rp 2 million, which was out of reach for him at that time.
“I didn’t know what to do. I obviously didn’t have that kind of money on me, and asking my parents back home for help was out of the question, because we’re not exactly rich. I had to pay for the damages somehow.” Teuku realized he had to get a job. He was trying to decide whether to become a waiter, bartender or a variety of manual jobs when a friend gave him some advice he initially thought was absurd. “Auditioning? No. I get stage fright. I get nervous. I’ll never be able to pass an audition,” he remembers saying.
Realizing that it was probably the only way for him to make money without dropping out of college, the anxious Teuku decided to participate in sinetron auditions. His fears, however, were legitimate. “My first auditions were terrible. I did get nervous. I couldn’t even memorize the words to say my lines. Nobody would offer me a good role. At that rate, how was I ever going to repay my debt?”
Turning around misfortune
Teuku had no experience or basic knowledge of acting, but pressing financial needs forced him to keep doing auditions. His perseverance finally paid off when he was offered a role in a group of sinetron episodes. “It was a cameo role, nothing big. In fact, the next several roles I got after that were merely small, insignificant roles, but it didn’t matter to me. I had something to go on and I gave my all on each and every one of those jobs.”
Eventually, his natural talent and potential were spotted by a certain movie director who then offered him a role as one of the main characters in a 2005 romantic comedy
entitled Gue Kapok Jatuh Cinta (Sick of Falling in Love). “We worked with an acting coach on the set. I also got to know my four counterparts in the movie very closely, who turned out to be real nice and helpful people. I started feeling like I was getting ‘in tune’ to show business. I got to know lots of people in the entertainment industry and, eventually, the movie was a success.”
Following his debut as a movie actor, Teuku was flooded with offers for commercials. But his big break came when he was offered a leading role in Cinta Fitri (Fitri’s Love) a seven-season sinetron drama with more than 1,000 episodes and counting.
As one can imagine, the world of show business can be particularly harsh for newcomers. This is something that Teuku experienced when he was just starting out in the sinetrons playing small roles. “I was definitely discriminated against. More than once, when we are about to shoot our scene, the assistant director would rudely yell at me (and others playing small roles), ‘You. We’re shooting. Go. Now!’ And then later the same guy would politely come up to the lead actor and ask, ‘Sorry to bother you, sir, but we’re going to start shooting soon.’ So I could see the gap was really there.”
That was not all for Teuku. He had other hurdles while doing some of his big-screen movies. Some directors tended to underestimate a lot of actors who started out in sinetron. “It was no different for me. I had to work really hard to show them my potential, something that was not easy to do, especially when the people you worked with had already judged you in a negative way.”
How did he handle it? “I just happen to be the type of person that does not wilt under pressure. Instead, I see these obstacles as challenges, a chance to show those people what I’m capable of.” Instead of feeling disheartened, the obstacles that he faced fueled his determination and will to be better than before.
Although he got into the showbiz industry by accident (literally), the 12th Panasonic Awards’ Best Actor ended up loving what he did and is now a very well-respected Indonesian actor who has also taken quite a liking to singing and presenting.
Teuku is currently in a relationship with Shireen Sungkar, his counterpart in Cinta Fitri. Although they work on the same set, they usually try to set aside some time outside of work to spend time together. “Our relationship is going pretty well. We connect and we understand each other, and apart from the occasional disagreement on smaller things, I can say that we are a happy couple.”
Being mostly a dramatic actor, Teuku draws his inspiration from one of the best actors in the world, Leonardo DiCaprio. “He is, I think, on a whole different level—a very versatile actor who is comfortable acting out any role given to him. I have to admit that sometimes I mimic his expressions and interpret his emotions into my own when I’m on the set.” Being an avid fan of DiCaprio as early as his 1993 movie titled What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Teuku found him to be one of the most inspirational actors he had ever seen.
Once chosen as the ambassador for the BNN (National Narcotics Board), the advancing actor shares his social concerns on the amount of drug abusers among celebrities and other people alike, “It’s important for people to realize the dangers of drug abuse. As a public figure myself, I’m doing all I can to show the public that staying away from illegal narcotics is the best way to live your life.” Teuku is actively helping others battle drug abuse by participating in public talks and maintaining a good example himself.
The future is full of opportunities for Teuku Wisnu. This year, he’ll be doing his thesis, “and hopefully I’ll finish college shortly thereafter.” With regard to his showbiz career, Teuku is very much looking to further his career more on the big screen. “Season 7 is the last for Cinta Fitri. Although I can’t go into details, I have a few projects laid out in front of me and hopefully I’ll be getting into more movies in the future.”
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