Exclusive Feature: Velove Vexia

V FOR VOLUPTUOUS. Actress Velove Vexia first turned everyone’s head when she starred in Olivia, an Indonesian TV show, as a girl disguised as her twin brother. DA MAN finds out that Velove may not be too far off from her breakthrough character: at first glance, a seemingly delicate girly girl and, at a closer look, a free soul. After all, not many other people can admit to embarrassing themselves in front of a Hollywood legend and talk deeply about Paulo Coelho afterward. By M. Berlian

Jacket by Chanel, tube top and bra Velove’s own

Velove isn’t joking when she tells us, “I have very good people skills.” We experience those skills firsthand by watching the beautiful 21-year-old chatter away with makeup artists, tease the blushing all-male photographer’s crew or jokingly steal the camera from and take pictures of the photographer.

It doesn’t take long to see why Velove is so loved, or how she’s been able to earn herself a group of such dedicated fans who call themselves “Velovers.” Bright-eyed and radiant, Velove seems to be bouncing as she makes her way around during our interview. Not only beautiful and intelligent—which she gets from her brilliant father, the superstar lawyer O. C. Kaligis—she’s also friendly and open without a hint of arrogance; something that often afflicts the famous. When asked if she thinks of herself as daddy’s little girl, she confides, “Well. Kind of.”



For the last three years, Velove has been flying back and forth from Jakarta to Los Angeles, where she studies at Santa Monica College, and, before that, to Paris, where she went to learn French. “So tiring,” she says. Not to mention, it can get a little too lonely sometimes. “I felt homesick at times,” she says. “After all, I lived alone [in my apartment in L.A.], I didn’t have my family with me. I got sad sometimes.”

Distracting herself with work doesn’t seem to be an option, even though she’s never short of job offers. “I have friends in L.A. who work as producers, or own a modeling agency, or work in a magazine. And they were always asking me to join them and whatnot,” she says. “The thing is, I have to go to casting calls and all. I have to start from zero again.” She adds too, “I have to prove myself to them and it requires hard work. It would interrupt my studies.”

Even what seemed to be an exciting offer from a Hollywood royal couldn’t shake Velove’s decision. “A friend and I were flying from L.A. to New York. We both wanted window seats, so we sat separately. My friend was sitting next to a good-looking Wall Street guy, while I sat next to this old man,” she says, laughing. “I noticed that the flight attendants were so nice to him, but I wasn’t paying too much attention. He suddenly asked me, ‘Are you an actress?’ I wanted to tell him that I’d been acting in Indonesia but I was afraid he was going to ask me where Indonesia was. So I asked him in return, ‘How about you? Are you a blogger?’ Because he was doodling with his laptop, writing stuff, so I thought he was writing on his blog!

“He then said, ‘No, actually I’m a writer. I’m also a director and producer. I asked, ‘What’s your name again?’ He just said, ‘I’m Ron.’ So I asked again, ‘What kind of movies do you make?’ He answered, “Da Vinci Code.”

That’s when she realized she had been talking to Oscar-winning director Ron Howard. “I said, ‘So you’re Ron Howard? Oh, okay.’ I was trying to be cool.” It wasn’t easy, since some of his movies are Velove’s favorites—“A Beautiful Mind, Da Vinci Code; I love them! I think Ron Howard’s such a smart director.”—but she managed to keep a straight face and just go with it. “So he gave me his phone number and told me to visit his office. But he also wanted me to move to New York, learn acting in NYU and then work for him,” she continues. “It would mean big changes for me, so I just told him that I would think about it. When I got off the plane, people came over and asked me, ‘Did you know you were sitting next to a famous director?’ I was, like, ‘Yeah,’ even though I didn’t know initially!” she says, laughing. “I was so embarrassed! ‘Are you a blogger?’ Really!?”


Scarf, as top, by Etro, shorts by Chanel


Velove does admit she gets shy a lot. “I may look so lively,” she says, “but I’m actually very shy. Especially around boys.” That’s why, she surmises, she doesn’t do well with L.A. guys. “I’m not used to their mindset, I guess,” she says. “I’m very shy and these guys, who are mostly aggressive, find this attractive. They can just blatantly say, ‘Oh, you’re so cute,’ or ‘You’re so pretty,’ or ‘I really like you. Do you want to go have some coffee and get to know each other more?’ I usually get scared and then run away. I ignore their texts, or just tell them I’m going abroad. I know they’re nice people, come from good families, have great manners. But I’m not used to a guy telling me, ‘I like you. Let’s find something to eat.’ I’m, like, ‘Wait, so are we going on a date now?’” For now, Velove doesn’t have to worry about getting hit on by L.A. guys; not only does she plan to stay in Jakarta until June, she also has someone to discourage any hopeful suitors. “I’m seeing someone. Actually, he’s a best friend. I’ve known him for a while … Haven’t discussed anything beyond that,” she says. “But, yeah. I’m seeing someone special.”

We can’t help but noticing the book on Velove’s lap, Lucia van der Post’s Things I Wish My Mother Had Told Me. “I love reading. There are a lot of things that I know now from books I’ve read,” she says. “A young woman like me doesn’t have a lot of experiences yet. So sometimes I learn from reading about other people’s mistakes and experiences. They inspire me. Like this one; I got a lot of ideas that I think will be great for my book.” When she says “My book,” Velove is actually referring to, well, her book. It’s a project she’s been working on for a couple of months. “It’s a self-improvement and guidebook,” she explains. “It will be about my experience, things I know and I really want to share with girls my age or younger.” Velove lists Brazilian novelist Paulo Coelho as one of her inspirations. “I’m not the novel-reading type. I love reading about psychology or philosophy, but most importantly about self-development,” she says. “But I think Paulo Coelho is different. There a lot of life lessons in his novels.”

Psychology seems a bit of a stretch for a girl who studies Business Management in college. “After high school, I really wasn’t sure where I was going, so I picked Business Management because I thought it could lead to wider opportunities. Although I don’t really like it now. But at least I tried!” she confides. Besides, it gives her a fresh way of seeing things. Her newfound fondness of self-dependence, for instance; she owes to her time being abroad, in Paris, particularly. “When I got there, I couldn’t speak French at all,” she says. “But I was determined I wanted to explore the world and know what’s out there. I didn’t even know anyone when I first arrived.”


Left: Leather jacket by Céline, leggings Velove’s own
Right: Scarves by Hermès



Two months after living with a homestay family, she decided to move out. “I looked for a new apartment myself. I dealt with the agent with very limited French. Opened an account in a bank where the employees couldn’t speak English,” she says. “I loved it!” L.A. offers its own kind of excitement for Velove. “The first time I’ve ever driven a car in my life was when I was in L.A.,” she says. “I have to say. It’s bothering me that, now that I’m back in Jakarta, I can’t depend on myself that much. Like, for example, I have to have a driver to drive me around,” she continues. “To be honest, I feel like my independence has been ripped away a little.”

Velove, though, resolves to let everything “go with the flow.” Same thing with her future. “I’m going to finish my book and then, hopefully, make movies,” she says. “But I can’t say or confirm anything just yet. It’s a job based on projects. And there’s always a possibility of me saying no to an offer, or me not being offered the part I want.” She concludes by revealing her tentative plans for the next two years. “I want to concentrate on working on my career right here [in Indonesia]. And even if I suddenly have the urge to go [abroad], I can just go. I’m, like, a free soul. I don’t want to be restrained. I want to follow what my heart and my mind say.”





Photographs: Arseto Adiputra
Styling: Gabriela Batti