Navigating acting and business, Daffa Wardhana is a rising star not only with great talents, but also a passion for social activism
Becoming a prominent figure in the entertainment industry is a big childhood dream for quite a lot of people. A wonderful life surrounded by cameras and filled with filming opportunities has never failed to spark the imagination–and this certainly rings true to Daffa Wardhana, a 1998-born young star. A graduate of the United World College of South East Asia in Singapore and the University of Melbourne in Australia, he studied finance before entering the entertainment industry in Indonesia—a decision that has opened led to many great opportunities and later catapulted him to stardom.
The industry itself has never been foreign to Wardhana. His mother, Marini Zumarnis, is an actress and has been in the industry since the ’90s. Millennials and those from Generation X probably know her for her iconic role as a fairy godmother in the “Bidadari” series. “She was really busy when I was young because when she had that role in ‘Bidadari,’ it was towards the peak of her career,” Wardhana recalls. “We had more privileges, of course, but at the same time, I didn’t get to see my mom that often. I knew she was working for me, my education and so on, so definitely I supported her.”
Surrounded by leading figures in this field, young Wardhana became curious about the entertainment world, yet managed to prioritize his studies. His interest in acting was once again sparked when he joined a theatre club during his college years. ” When I was in college, I did a bit of theatre back in Melbourne and I really enjoyed it.” he says. Wardhana was also a committee member of Indonesian Film Festival in 2018, which exposed him to the breadth and width of Indonesian films and allowed him to learn more not only about Indonesian culture, but also the country’s social and political issues.
Wardhana is currently cast in the 2022 web series titled “Married with Senior,” marking his debut as an actor. The series successfully hit one point seven million views in three days, making it quite the achievement. “Married with Senior” paved the way for him to work with big names including Cut Mini, Nugie, Niniek L. Karim and Shenina Cinnamon. “It was a very beautiful experience just being able to work with them, to see how they really care about their work,” Wardhana shares. In the series, he plays Firdan, a genius wordsmith who lives in a slum. “My character is quite different from what I’m like in my day- to-day life,” he notes. “But I was grateful to be able to learn.”
Besides acting, Wardhana and his team have produced a short film titled “Denyut” and submitted it to a film festival. Shot in a forest, “Denyut” illustrates how human beings are tied to social media, yet lack connection with the environment. “The main character is a vlogger and he wants to delve into nature for the sake of content. He picks up trash but he doesn’t really care–he just does it for content.” Wardhana elaborates. Unsurprisingly, there were challenges throughout the filming process. “First of all, budgeting.” he admits with a chuckle. He also mentions the weather and technical aspects like the movie durations as some of the other challenges he had to tackle. “The film we need to submit can only be 15 to 25 minutes long,” he explains. “Therefore, we had to creatively manage the flow of the story. My respect for filmmakers has definitely grown.”
When asked which he prefers more between producing and acting, Wardhana confidently chose the latter. “Definitely acting. I can learn more about human psychology that way,” he confesses. He also mentions that being an actor allows him to speak out on matters that he feels important. To develop his acting skills, Wardhana can look up to many of his seniors, but he knows that he can learn from the best—his mother. The lessons he learned from his mother goes beyond acting skills; he also learns to be a good human being. “She always tells me about maintaining my behavior at all times,” Wardhana elaborates. “She also taught me about maintaining good relationships with people, not being late to work appointments and taking care of—while also developing more empathy for— other people.”
“WHY DON’T WE CREATE A PLATFORM FOR TODAY’S YOUTH AND INVITE PROMINENT GUESTS WHO ARE BIG IN WHAT THEY DO? WE WANT TO LEARN FROM THEM AND SHARE THEIR KNOWLEDGE”
Another area of interest that involves the young actor is how, with the vast development of technology and the Internet, more and more celebrities have dived into YouTube. Wardhana is no exception. Together with his best friends since primary school, he created 7an, a podcast channel that has featured quite a few notable guests, including the likes of singer and actress Bunga Citra Lestari, veteran actor Reza Rahadian and one of Indonesia’s most celebrated film directors, Joko Anwar. “We have a network and we’re curious. So, we thought, why don’t we create a platform for today’s youth and invite prominent guests who are big in what they do? That’s our main vision,” he explains. “We want to learn from them and share their knowledge.”
Speaking about business, in 2020 he joined forces with a friend to embark on a new journey. Fusing their combined business skills and culinary knowledge, they created Pizza Bambino’s Deep Dish. “We introduced pizza that’s quite different from what you normally find,” says Wardhana. “There are challenges along the way, but that was the initial idea of the business.” Pizza, however, is not the only business that Wardhana manages. Inspired by his love for sports, he has created his own clothing brand, Sigga Activewear. Furthermore, the brand is not just all about sports, as it also presents itself as a movement to save the environment. “There’s a supplier than can make sportswear items out of recycled materials— recycled polyester made out of plastic. I think one shirt can save around 32 bottles of plastic,” he points out.
On that note, Wardhana shows great interest in social activism. He recently joined Sekolah Relawan to volunteer in the NGO’s activities as he’s fascinated by their vision. “I joined them for lunch and entertain children with special needs,” he says. “Seeing them and listening to their stories helps me become more grateful for my own life. Hopefully, in the future, I can do more collaborations.” One such joint effort is something he planned for his birthday this year: A collaboration with education activists in Mollo, East Nusa Tenggara, to help raise funds for the children living there. “The kids don’t have shoes and proper bags, and sometimes their teachers don’t come to school. But the kids show huge enthusiasm to learn,” he elaborates. “Thankfully, I was able to raise about 250 kilograms worth of goods.”
Despite his hectic schedule, Wardhana is still able to set aside some time for sports. The 23-year-old actor trains in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and plays football and basketball. “Now I’m more into jiu-jitsu and football,” he notes. At the end of our conversation, Wardhana expresses his biggest hope: To be more involved in film, especially the ones through which he can speak about social issues in Indonesia. “I want to become one of the great actors in the country, hopefully like Reza Rahadian,” he adds. “Also, I’d like to get into action movies. Who knows? I can be like Joe Taslim and Iko Uwais.”
PHOTOGRAPHER EANDARU KUSUMAATMAJA
STYLIST SAFINA HARYS
STYLING ASSISTANT BAGOES ABYOSO
GROOMING GEODE DINAR F.
PHOTOGRAPHY ASSISTANT AHMAD SALIM BARRY
DIGITAL IMAGING ARTIST METODIUS ARFANTYO
LOCATION ORO ITALIAN RESTAURANT AND LOUNGE
JL KEMANG RAYA NO 2H, JAKARTA SELATAN
+62 819 0566 3420
SHARE THIS ARTICLE