LEADING MAN. Boy William gets real with DAMAN as he models the Louis Vuitton fall/winter 2018 pre-collection in Singapore
Monogram denim jacket; monogram regular jeans
Actor, VJ and rapper Boy William has a way of talking that makes you feel at ease. Unlike in typical celebrity stories you hear, the 26-year-old star effortlessly makes a sincere connection. It’s almost as if you’re speaking to an old friend. And during our photo shoot in Singapore with Louis Vuitton, he was like this to everyone else in the team, too.
In our two-day trip, DAMAN got to know more about his on-screen persona and social media image—or if there’s any of that at all. He also enthusiastically spoke about his a new movie out this month. Read on.
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DAMAN: What’s in a name?
Boy William: Boy William is a stage name. It started off with Twitter. I wanted to make a Twitter account with my real name William Hartanto, but then I couldn’t register with the username I wanted because somebody else has that name. I didn’t want to add a number either so simply I changed it to Boy William. The rest is history.
DAMAN: It kind of sounds like a rapper’s name, actually.
Boy William: [Laughs] Yes, it does! Which is good because I like rap music. I love Cardi B and Migos right now.
DAMAN: If you weren’t an actor, what would you be doing now?
Boy William: Growing up I always wanted to be a pilot, a race car driver, a dentist. My dream keeps on changing—even today. If I were not an actor now, I’d be a businessman for sure.
DAMAN: What’s the most fulfilling part of your job?
Boy William: I get to explore places that I’ve never explored before. I get to explore a lot of different places, meet a lot of new people and do business with a lot of new people. Each day I learn by doing things I’d never thought I’d do.
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DAMAN: Is this something you’ve always wanted to do?
Boy William: Yes, I’ve always wanted to be known for something I’m good at. Everybody wants to be recognized, no? I wanted this life to have a purpose.
DAMAN: Are there other things you enjoy doing while you’re off-cam?
Boy William: I don’t see myself as the stereotypical celebrity. I was brought up in a family where I have to go to school, earn a degree, get a job and hustle hard. I have a YouTube show. I create content. I hire people. I sell brands. I pitch to brands myself and put them on my show. Normally, there are sales people doing that but I am hands-on doing marketing myself. If you think some celebrities are dumb and lazy, think twice. Not all people are like that.
DAMAN: Speaking of your YouTube show, how did it come about?
Boy William: The idea is a copy from James Corden, plain and simple. Not going to lie, I am an honest guy. What makes it different, of course, is I feature my Indonesian friends. James Corden sings a lot; in my show we talk a lot. We gossip. What people don’t get to see on TV, we speak about it in my car. There are going to be more shows that I’m going to be doing other than the carpool one. My aim is to turn my YouTube channel into something like a television station. I’m not there to show my daily life on a vlog; I am there to make content.
DAMAN: What is the most remarkable episode from your YouTube show?
Boy William: There was this episode with Jodi from “Indonesian Idol.” That one trended so quickly because she’s one of the most famous Indonesian Idol contestants. There was also another one with VJ Daniel Mananta. He kissed me on the cheek and it trended. People were saying we were lovers. I didn’t mind though.
DAMAN: What’s a typical day for Boy William like?
Boy William: I work, work, work, work, work pretty much every single day. I am not the type who likes vacations. Sure, I like going on trips, but then I get bored after a while. I get so agitated, I constantly need to work. My last proper vacation was in Los Angeles December last year with my family and girlfriend.
DAMAN: Ah, yes. Girlfriend. How long have you guys been dating?
Boy William: Approximately two years. I’d like to think it’s a serious relationship.
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DAMAN: Is this going to progress to something else?
Boy William: We never know. [Laughs] I don’t know, only God knows. I am aiming towards that, of course.
DAMAN: Your newest movie is coming out this month. Can you tell us about it?
Boy William: The movie is called “Dimsum Martabak.” It’s a story about love against culture clash. It’s about a Chinese-Indonesian who has fallen in love with a native Indonesian and how the couple conquers it all. It’s a typical love story that some people are probably going through right now.
I’m playing with my longtime friend Ayu Ting Ting. I knew her before she became famous; even before I was in the business. We promised each other one day when we’re successful we should do a movie together, and finally this happened.
DAMAN: Social media. How does one amass 1.5 million followers? What’s the strategy?
Boy William: For social media, I simply build a connection with people who are following me. I want them to know what’s going on with my life—but not all of it. I still like to keep a bit of myself private.
DAMAN: How important is it to you?
Boy William: It’s very important. Nowadays, it’s in everybody’s hand, it’s all in our phone. The news gets out in just a click of a button. In a day, I spend about four hours on social media.
DAMAN: What’s the absolute craziest comment a fan has ever left on your social media account?
Boy William: There are a lot—sexual ones too! You know what? It’s funny how when there’s so much online love, you kind of skip through that. But when there’s one hateful comment, you stop and read it.
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DAMAN: And what’s the most hateful comment you saw?
Boy William: Oh, there are a lot! Like: “Oh you keep speaking in English. This is Indonesia. Get deported. Go back to your mainland in China.”
DAMAN: Social media tips. Can you give us some of your best ones?
Boy William: Two different people have two different ways. Some people want to be the role model. Or some people keep it real. You can be the Cardi B–the cool, I-don’t-give-a-damn kind of person. Choose your image.
DAMAN: What’s your style?
Boy William: Simple. But I still look good, though. I wear joggers, sweaters and sneakers most of the time. I am not a fashionable guy but as long as I don’t look scruffy in front of a person, I’m cool with that.
DAMAN: Is there something about Boy William that we don’t know about?
Boy William: There are a lot of people who don’t know this but I am shy. [Laughs] For real. I am very easy going and I can blend in easily, but I am the type of guy who prefers to stay at home and watch videos in my room, sit by the pool, have drinks with a friend. Typical Libra. But I can be perfectly social in situations.
DAMAN: How long do you think will Boy William keep doing what he does?
Boy William: Longevity is hard because there are a lot of people coming into the business. Being a celebrity is not as easy as people think. You just got to keep fighting, keep hustling. Nowadays, you can’t just be an artist; you have to have the business mindset. You got to know how to play your cards right.
DAMAN: Where do we see Boy William in five to ten years from now?
Boy William: Probably somewhere with a family. I hope to still be doing something on screen, but for sure I’ll be a businessman of some sort.
DAMAN: What message would you like to say to your younger self?
Boy William: Don’t worry. Relax. Have fun.
DAMAN: How does one become, for lack of a better word, a Boy William?
Boy William: I don’t think anybody should become anybody else they’re not. I idolize VJ Daniel; I always wanted to be like him. And then I came to realize that nobody is the same—that I am not going to be, I will never be, the next Daniel. Why? He’s in his own league. He’s doing what he’s good at. There’s only one Daniel in this world but I can be the first Boy William. And I think if you want to be like Boy William, work hard. But, be the first you.
DAMAN: You think good attitude also plays a major role in your career?
Boy William: Hell, yeah! You have to have good attitude—all the time. You have to be professional. You need to know when to say thank you. Don’t think you’re the s–t. Never let fame get to your head.
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