Actor, producer and entrepreneur Daniel Mananta shares with us about his view on celebrating small victories in this trying year of 2020.
Daniel Mananta has always been the very definition of “approachable”—always with a big smile that instantly lights up every room he walks in. As a man who always speaks his mind, he also won’t hesitate to act on his thoughts and ideas, even during non-ideal situations. Like in the ongoing pandemic we’re currently in, for example. Mananta believes that everything happens for a reason and that, even in the darkest moments, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Recently, DA MAN caught up with the actor, host, entrepreneuer and also one of the latest brand ambassadors for OPPO Indonesia.
DA MAN: Hi, Daniel, thank you for taking the time to answer our questions. So, first and foremost, how are you doing these days?
Daniel Mananta: Fantastic! [Laughs]
DA: The world is still in semi-quarantine and has upended the lives of so many people. How about you and your work?
DM: I’m grateful that the whole quarantine doesn’t affect my mental health. I know some of my friends are going crazy from being stuck at home or having lost their job and what not, but I feel I’m very productive, even though I’m at home. I learned new skills and I’ve sharpened my communication skills. So, yeah, thank God, I’m good.
DA: One of your earliest business ventures, DAMN! I Love Indonesia, is celebrating its 12th anniversary this year. What is the secret behind the brand’s longevity?
DM: It’s all God’s grace, man! [Laughs] The pandemic really hit us hard, but right before it started, we had a deal with a bicycle company and we also got a deal with an investor. So, we got a new cashflow injection. We were really struggling, actually. When all the malls in Indonesia closed, we don’t earn that much money and lost 90 percent of our sales. We could only hang on to our online shop and that’s not enough. So, we were really struggling. But then, because we had that deal with the bicycle company and the investor, we still survived. And I believe, that is literally God’s grace. Not because of my performance or because I’m such an amazing entrepreneur or I’m a great CEO being able to manage the company. Not at all. So, I thank God that the brand itself still exists, but it’s not because of me.
IF YOU CELEBRATE SMALL VICTORIES, SMALL BEGINNINGS AND SMALL ACHIEVEMENTS, 2020 IS ACTUALLY A START OF SOMETHING SIGNIFICANT. – DANIEL MANANTA
DA: On a more technical note, what was your strategy to survive these past few months? Especially since retail is one of the most affected segments…
DM: We had to re-strategize everything. It’s impossible to run things the way we did before the pandemic. We had to close every single store in the malls, because they didn’t make money anymore. In the end, we had to close around nine stores. We only have three stores left and one online store. And we sell on other online platforms as well. With the investment money that we have, we’re thinking about opening a new concept where people are able to not just buy DAMN! I Love Indonesia merchandise but also to experience Indonesia inside the store. So, we’re not depending on or investing in just the merchandise but way more than that. And I believe that’s just the right way to go.
DA: Tell us about your YouTube channel, Daniel Mananta Network…
DM: We released our first show called “Daniel Tetangga Kamu” which means “Daniel Your Friendly Neighbor.” It’s very funny because when people call me before it’s usually, VJ Daniel because I used to be an MTV VJ or Daniel Mananta, the Indonesian Idol host. But nowadays they call me: “Hey, it’s my neighbor, Daniel!” And I feel more relatable. I feel like they can see me as someone just another guy next door and I really enjoy that. When I launched the show, the idea behind is to talk about challenges, actually. I noticed people around me are struggling with mental illness, depression, anxiety; some of them get panic attacks. With the world that is so uncertain these days, I wondered what I could do with my influence, with my network to spread positivity, to actually create positive impact, to give people hope. So, in the end I started going around interviewing people online. I actually come to their places and start interviewing them as well. I talked about what they did when they were in that place of uncertainty, what they did when they have to battle with anxiety or depression. Some choose to forgive themselves; some choose to relax and some actually turn to God. Reading the comments on the YouTube channel actually encouraged me so much because so many people commented on how the interviews changed their lives and gave then new hope or faith that everything is going to be alright at the end.
DA: By the way, was “Daniel Tetangga Kamu” planned and shot before or during the pandemic?
DM: During the pandemic. It was unplanned; I never wanted to be a YouTuber. But, as I mentioned before, I wanted to stay productive during the pandemic, so that’s why we launched the YouTube channel. It’s the only way that I can stay productive, actually.
DA: How do you curate your guests on “Daniel Tetangga Kamu”?
DM: This is such a good question. Not a lot of people ask me this because they think I pick the guests randomly or by whatever is on the news. But it’s not like that, actually. I pray about it. Because it is a spiritual show, after all. I ask God who I should interview more and who can I interview that would be relevant to a lot of people, that could impact people’s lives. I could be in the gym and suddenly a name pops up and I’d know straight away that that’s the person I should interview. Because it’s not a religious show, I want to interview people that religious people reject. I want to become a bridge in this diverse country, so I’m interviewing people from different backgrounds and religions. I want to make sure that every human being, no matter what their background is, have this spiritual journey. We all have one thing in common: We all have to go through anxiety and we all have to go through things like shame, bitterness; and we want to learn how God’s love can lift and encourage them. I know that this concept is something that the TV stations in Indonesia would never accept and that’s the reason why I started on YouTube. I’ve been trying to sell the concept to the TV stations for the past two years they always reject me, so I might as well make I my own network; my own channel.
DA: What do you want viewers of the show take from it?
DM: I hope everybody realizes that we’re all neighbors. No matter your background, religion, skin color … we’re all neighbors and we get to love our neighbors through the podcast, the YouTube channel, the shows, because we get to see deep inside these people. We got to see way deeper into someone’s beliefs or religion. We have to see beyond that and then we will realize that he or she’s just another neighbor who needs love. Why don’t we become the extension of that love?
DA: The “Daniel Tetangga Kamu” podcast is also trending on Spotify. What is it that you love about podcasts and what are some of your favorites?
DM: I love listening to podcasts whenever I go for a run. On every single run that I do, I always listen to a podcast. I love the Craig Groeschel leadership podcast, “Your Move” by Andy Stanley. The tagline is amazing: Make Better Decisions With Fewer Regrets. I love it; it explains everything by itself. I love “Transformation Church” by Mike Todd where he blatantly talks about sex in church. And the fourth one is Steven Furtick.
DA: It has certainly not gone unnoticed that that now you’re no longer hosting one of the biggest singing competitions in Indonesia. With that in mind, what are your current long-term plans and gols for the Daniel Mananta Network?
DM: My long-term plan for the network is to make an app that will have every single show. It’s going to talk about peace, love and joy. We still need entertainment, we want to spread love and, of course, we want to have peace, to become that bridge I mentioned earlier. And then we’re going to have other shows and it’s not going to be only me. I want to have professional hosts on some of the shows on the network. So, the name Daniel Mananta Network is a good start but somewhere down the line, it will become a brand of its own. That’s what I love doing with most of my products. For example, DAMN! I Love Indonesia. I started it, but today, not many people know that I own it. People would think that it’s just another brand that supports Indonesia. The network is going into that direction.
DA: How about your filmmaking ventures? Are you working on any movie projects in the near future?
DM: We’re currently in the middle of negotiations to sell a prior movie project, “Susi Susanti: Love All,” to an online streaming service. Because now most of the cinemas are closed, I feel that we’re going to produce more stuffs for the OTT (streaming service) market. We have some other stuff in the work, too. So, we’ll see.
DA: Now that 2020 is ending, what are your plans for the rest of the year?
DM: Do you know that habit of crossing off days in calendar? I feel like 2020 is like a big cross. It feels like we didn’t do anything, it feels like it wasn’t productive. But then, if you celebrate the small victories, small beginnings and small achievements, 2020 is actually a start of something significant. For myself, because of the pandemic, the Daniel Mananta Network was created. For those who read this interview, 2020 is not over yet. You can still celebrate small beginnings; you can still see what you’ve achieved in 2020 and celebrate it. Don’t cross this year off as if you haven’t achieved anything.
And also, this year, I became a brand ambassador for OPPO Indonesia. That’s an achievement. I remember there was one night I was hanging out with my friends. We were celebrating a friend’s farewell party. We were having dinner outdoors, the lighting was dim but I had my OPPO Find X2 Pro with me, taking pictures of everyone. When we took a group photo, I asked the waiter to take the picture with my OPPO and use the night camera feature. And then my friends asked to take pictures with their phones too, so the poor waiter had to take pictures with five different phones. When we compared the results, my picture was the best out of everyone’s. They then all wanted me to share the picture and everybody ended up posting my picture taken with the OPPO Find X2 Pro on their social media account. Now we know who the winner is. Ha!
THE FASHION SHOOT IS DONE USING OPPO FIND X2 PRO
FASHION DIRECTOR Brad Homes
PHOTOGRAPHY Zaky Akbar
STYLING Safina Harys
PROJECT COORDINATOR Peter Zewet
STYLING ASSISTANT Lintang Hutami
GROOMING Dave Rio
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