Cinta Laura Kiehl: A Force for Change

Cinta Laura Kiehl returns as DA MAN Darling for the third time and chats with Riga Ramadhan about music, women empowerment and much more.


Outfit by Fendi

Since the last time we met with Cinta Laura Kiehl, which is a good three years ago—give or take, the Indonesian-German actress and singer has moved forward quite a bit. When I asked her what some the biggest changes were since she last appeared on the magazine, she begins with the usual “Wow, there’s a lot of them” but then continued with: “So, I made Jakarta my base again in July 2019, after having lived in the U.S. for eight years.” Kiehl then continues: “I also released two singles in the past seven months, titled ‘Vida’ and ‘Caliente’ and I went to Korea and Malaysia to perform there.”

Speaking about her singles, there’s something slightly different in terms her musicality. Kiehl admits that this time, she brought with her a number of genres aren’t exactly common in Indonesia—from reggaetón which is basically pop-Latin music to Baile Funk from Brazil and also Afropop or African-pop. “‘Vida’ is essentially a pop track, but it’s definitely influenced by reggaetón, which is why if you listen to the music arrangement, you can hear the Latin influence,” she reveals. “‘Vida’ is also a Spanish word that means ‘life.’ And with my first track after having essentially stepped away from the music industry for seven years, I just want people to celebrate life.”

Outfit by Fendi

Surprisingly, there’s more to this than meets the eye. Kiehl explains that she also wants to empower women with her new songs through her style and the lyrics. “With both ‘Vida’ and ‘Caliente,’ I’m trying to empower women,” she elaborates. “With Vida, as you can see from the music video, I showcased so many different looks, just to show women that you don’t have to be scared with being who you are. If you’re a classy woman, embrace that. If you’re edgy, embrace that. If you’re sexy, embrace that. And whatever it is, embrace who you really are. Don’t let people tell you what to wear and how to present yourself. You should be proud of who you are.”

On the other hand, “Caliente” is much more emotional. Not only is this the first song she’s ever written, it also touches on toxic relationships. “‘Caliente’—which means hot in Spanish—is a metaphor for a hot, passionate but destructive relationship,” Kiehl points out. “So, I’m trying to empower women through ‘Caliente’ by telling them: ‘Hey, if you’re in a bad and toxic relationship, don’t sacrifice yourself. Don’t allow yourself to be that unhappy. At the end of the day, in order to be happy, you need to make your own happiness. If that means leaving a person that’s dragging you down or destroying your life, then you have to be strong and let it go. You’re going to realize that life is a lot better without them.’”

Outfit by La Perla

Empowering lyrics isn’t the only things new in Kiehl’s career, as, last year, she was appointed as Ambassador of Anti-violence Against Women and Children by the Indonesian Ministry of Women Empowerment and Child Protection. She notes how it’s very important for her, in her position as such an ambassador, to create awareness throughout the country about how women and children can seek help when they’re subject to injustice. As an example, Kiehl cites the infamous case of Baiq Nuril, who was sentenced to jail for recording a phone call with her boss to prove he was sexually harassing her.

“I noticed that was there were many cases such as Baiq Nuril’s, where she was harassed by a co-worker or colleague, and instead of the perpetrator being arrested, she was put in jail for three months, which I think it’s absurd and preposterous,” Kiehl exclaims. “I just came to realize how women’s rights in this country still needs to grow.”

Outfit by Michael Kors

Still, she acknowledges that it will take time for things to get done. “Right now, we’re still at the start of our journey. I can’t say that in the next year or two or even five years I can make any tremendous changes in this country,” Kiehl continues. “The best thing I can do right now is to create awareness and change the bad paradigms prevalent in this country. What is unfortunate is the fact that a lot of women and children in this country are afraid to report what happened to them.”

It is, indeed, a sorry state of affairs. “When women and children are the victims of abuse, they tend to keep it to themselves, because there’s a stigma attached to them and sometimes, it is the victims who feel embarrassed. Sometimes they are scared of what people might think of them. And that is something that we have to eliminate from people’s way of thinking,” Kiehl says. “We have to teach everyone that the victim is never, ever at fault. It’s the perpetrator who has issues—whether that’s mental, physical or whatever. It’s always the perpetrator’s fault. The victim has every right to report what has happened to them and to seek—and then attain—justice. Nobody deserves to live in fear, nobody deserves trauma.”

Outfit by La Perla

Kiehl, has evidently cultivated a great passion for women’s rights as well as the protection of children. To that end, she is more than ready to share and brainstorm strategies or solutions in order for Indonesia to grow. “First we have to start with the mindset of the people, because it’s not something that we can change overnight,” she elaborates. “It takes time for people to really understand something like this and that’s why the solution I have to that problem is by, I think, teaching kids at a young age what gender equality is and what it means to attain justice for themselves; what it means to be a victim, what it means to be a perpetrator. Basically, it is all about teaching children from a young age that you should never be afraid to report the injustice that has happened to you, because it’s your right as a human being to seek and ask for help.”

Interestingly, Kiehl also reveals that this is not a new Cinta Laura, but instead the real Cinta Laura. She constantly reminds people about this and tries to be the best role model possible in order to become a positive influence. It might sound a bit clichéd, but so far it has worked for her. In hindsight, it also made Kiehl’s answer to my question about her goals for the rest of 2020 a lot cleared. “I hope that people can see how much I grown. Because in my teenage years, when I was singing or doing various TV shows and movies, all those things were dictated by my management or label,” she assets. “The reason why my work is so different now is because I have full authority over everything I do.”

Outfit by La Perla

She then maintains that she is currently really happy in life—and grateful. “For the first time in my life, I’m proud of my work. Because it’s completely mine, it showcases my true personality and who I really am. I think,” Kiehl said in closing, “that’s important as an artist.”

Outfit by Saint Laurent


Outfit by Fendi
Outfit by Fendi


HAIRDO Rangga Yusuf
STYLING INTERN Lebrina Stephanie Yesayas
LOCATION The Gunawarman Hotel