Exclusive Feature: Shareefa Daanish

AGENT OF CHANCE. After her award-winning turn as a psychotic villain in the horror movie Rumah Dara, Indonesian actress and model Shareefa Daanish is taking on a new challenge — running a new restaurant and seeing where life takes her. By M. Berlian

Maxi skirt and bracelets by Kate Spade

In the Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald writes, “Thirty—the promise of a decade of loneliness, a thinning list of single men to know, a thinning briefcase of enthusiasm, thinning hair.”  It is a sentiment held by many, so you would think that it would scare the living daylights out of someone whose professions had included modeling and acting — someone like Shareefa Daanish, who turned 30 last June. But the newly-turned restaurateur simply can’t be bothered by any of it. Daanish, as she’s usually called, celebrated her 30th birthday in the city of Banjarmasin. The capital of the province of South Borneo, Banjarmasin is the place Daanish calls home now.

Throughout her lifetime, she’s had quite a few other homes. First, there’s was her birthplace of London, England. In Indonesia, she’s lived in two of the biggest cities in the country: Bandung, where she grew up, and Jakarta, where she stayed to pursue her modeling and acting career. Compared to her previous domiciles, Banjarmasin might be a lot less glamorous and lively. But Daanish, who lives there with her mother, sees the city as a land of opportunities. “I noticed that people in Banjarmasin don’t like to cook, they prefer eating out,” she says. With that in mind, Daanish and her mother decided to open a restaurant. Serving Sundanese food, the restaurant is joined by a next door coffee shop and a family karaoke on the upper floor.

Bikini by Niconico Mare

Daanish does admit to missing her friends in Jakarta. And at times, she says that Banjarmasin can be too quiet for her liking, she’ll hop a plane to the much louder island of Bali every month. Daanish, though, is determined to make a go of it in Banjarmasin. “We know that this city has huge prospects. My mother works there, and we got this great building [that we turned into the restaurant],” says Daanish. “We spotted a chance to really create a business.”

Chances are… 
Daanish didn’t just spot a chance – she took it by the scruff of its neck. This seems to be a habit of hers, as we came to learn. Her modeling career, for example, began when she was offered a chance to walk the runway. “A friend who owned a modeling agency saw that I was tall enough,” she says, “and she said that I should give [being a catwalk model] a try.” So she leapt at the opportunity. It turned out to be the decision that changed her life. “I then met a quite wellknown choreographer in Bandung, who consistently gave me modeling jobs.”

Swimsuit by Niconico Mare

Next came an offer from an advertising agency in Jakart to be in the TV commercial for a beauty product. Not long afterwards, she joined one of the city’s modeling agencies. “And that was it,” she says. “I had to go back and forth between Bandung and Jakarta. I was still in college at that time.” Chances seem to keep presenting themselves. Certainly not one to let them slip away, Daanish has been rewarded big time for it. She found her calling as an actor after she took on her first movie role in a horror flick, Di Sini Ada Setan (There’s a Demon in Here; 2004). “ That’s when I realized that I love acting,” he said.

For the next few years, she appeared in a number of movies in various genresm including the romantic comedy Lovely Luna in 2004, the drama Pesan dari Surga (A Message from Heaven) in 2006, and comedy, D. O. (Drop Out) in 2008. “I don’t want to be typecast,” she said of her acting choices Her biggest reward, though, came in the form of the Best Actress Award at the 2009 Puchon International Fantastic Festival (PiFan) in Bucheon, South Korea. Daanish won the award for her role as the villain Dara in the gore movie Rumah Dara (Dara’s House). “I didn’t even know they were going to give out the awards that night. They only told me to wear something nice because there was going to be a formal event,” she recalls. “And then suddenly they announced, ‘The best actress is from Indonesia!’ So, I was, like, ‘Uhh?’ I was confused and happy at the same time.”

Bikini by Niconico Mare

Go with the flow
But Rumah Dara came out three years ago. Yotu see, Daanish has decided to take a break from acting, if only just for the moment. “If I do get offered a role that I think fits me well, why not? I currently want to concentrate on managing my restaurant, though,” she says, all the while denying rumors of a Rumah Dara sequel. Also on hold is her plan to enroll herself in an acting school. “I mean, I always planned on doing that, but the reality is, if I go back to school, I have to leave my work. I have new responsibilities here [in the restaurant], so I have to postpone that plan for now. Maybe next time. If I have the opportunity and time to spare, then why not?”

Making more movies is indeed on her list of ‘things she still wants to do now that she’s reached 30,’ along with getting married and traveling the world. But she’s not in any rush. “I’ll just go with the flow,” she says. Reaching 30, apparently, hasn’t given her an early mid-life crisis at all. “I actually feel more relaxed now. I just take things as they come.” Judging by past experience, ‘things’ should come sooner or later. When they do, we’re pretty sure she’ll be more than ready for them.



Photographs: Yann Bean
Styling: Gabriela Batti