Exclusive Daniel Mananta Interview on DA MAN

Former MTV veejay Daniel Mananta sits down with DA MAN, sharing stories of his earlier days before his talent was recognized by the entertainment industry and of his recent expansion in that particular territory. By Refa Koetin

Photographs: Arseto Adiputra
Styling: Peter Zewet

Many young people have a difficult time going through their teenage life, particularly in terms of school and coping with the quest to obtain a personal identity, and Daniel was no exception.

Being an energetic and livelier youth than any other kids his age, he was named “class weirdo” on more than one occasion.

“I was always full of energy, and I would always greet my friends in that way too. I would go like, ‘Hey, what’s up, man!’ in a somewhat unusually loud and merry tone, sometimes shaking their hands or patting them on the back, then, of course, they would say ‘oh, stop trying to act so cool, man.’ I didn’t care. That is just how I am.”

There was even a certain point in his high school and university life where he would carry a tape recorder his father got him as a birthday present everywhere and start playing presenter.

“That’s what I used to do with that recorder. I’d come up to my friends and, as usual, with my loud and lively tone, ask them stuff like, ‘hey, what do you think of the weather today?’ or ‘how are you doing today?’ Of course, most of them would just go, ‘bugger off’ or ‘f*** off, man.’”

Even as he told us the story, his voice was on high volume, seemingly out of sheer excitement and a joy for life.

But those things his peers found goofy was discovered to be raw talent by the talent scouts of MTV. His audacity to just come up to people and talk to them, regardless of how negative their response might be, showed how much confidence he had.

His loud and lively conversational method was a sign of how good of a communicator he is. To make a long story short, Daniel Mananta became a prominent figure on MTV Indonesia, for eight years until he recently stepped away from that and into other ventures.

Damn Inc. on the rise
What really drove him to have this kind of personality? “I think life is a gift, and I believe each time I can see my friends, my fans, or whoever for that matter, those too are gifts. I did the things that I did because I was merely expressing my gratefulness and how much I appreciate my life and the opportunity to have others in it.”

This kind of attitude goes a long way for Daniel.

In 2008, he started developing an idea of creating his own clothing brand, and now, barely three years after, Daniel Mananta has established DAMN! I love Indonesia (a brand of clothes and accessories), and is becoming an established entrepreneur, spawning something bigger called Damn Inc.

So what is Damn Inc.? “Basically, we’re building what we call a mega-entertainment nation. We’re trying to make Damn Inc. an entertainment mogul in Indonesia. That’s our goal and vision for the future.”

The three divisions that make up Damn Inc. so far are DA Music Nation, DA Models Nation and DA Movie Nation. All three divisions will be under the direct supervision of Daniel himself and his two main partners.

Being the most solid division so far among the other three, DA Models Nation has already secured 20-plus models with excellent potential.

“I have this friend who is usually very critical in judging models, but when my friend saw our lineup of models, he went like ‘my gosh, where did you get all these models?’ So yeah, we are very excited with our model agency.”

DA Music Nation is about building an established music label that promotes primarily Asian talent. Already they are collaborating with a prominent Korean music writer/businessman to do something big in Jakarta together with DA Music Nation.

When asked in detail, Daniel chuckles loudly and apologizes, “Oh, if only I could go into details! I’m very sorry.”

Nonetheless, he adds that the movie division is coming along with a focus on unique talents. “For now, we are hiring movie script and screenplay writers and the like, in order to promote them to the movie distributors.”

DA Movie Nation is meant to be the bridge that links those creative out-of-the-box thinkers with the actual movie producers.

“We pretty much want to be the agent for every entertainment talent out there, including the young and up-and-coming ones. And heck, we even have our eyes set on a few talented cameramen.”

Coping with the responsibility
“When they first see this whole thing I’m running, people always say, ‘are you crazy, man?’, but I thought, ‘no, I AM doing this.’” Daniel has always managed his time well despite incredibly tight schedules over the years, so running something of this magnitude definitely requires him to tap into his adept time-management skills.

“This whole thing is not easy, that much I admit. Technically, we’re totally ready to publicly launch Damn Inc., but so far the only media I’m allowing to write about it is DA MAN!”

Daniel told DA MAN that, technically, they are about ready to launch and go public about Damn Inc., but they want to be absolutely sure they have a solid foundation in order to achieve their goals and visions.

“Due to my not-so-positive past, I actually have an issue regarding self-esteem.” As revealed earlier, Daniel was not the most popular dude in school. This kind of past gave him a sense of insecurity in terms of the future. “I’m constantly thinking ahead.

I never stop thinking about what I’m going to do in the future and this drives the creative side of my brain to constantly find ways to improve myself and my life.”

In addition to this progressive way of thinking, he has another personal quality that he owes his success to. “There’s a saying that if you want something really bad, just let it go and it will come to you. I don’t mean to sound religious and all, but if my mind wants something, I just try to do my best and let God handle the rest.”

Other than that, his confidence—without being cocky, of course—also played a major role. “I also think, hey, if friggin’ Al Pacino or Robert De Niro could make it as they are, that’s it, I can make it just as well!”

True enough, when asked if there was something in his life that he wished he’d done differently, the enigmatic actor-presenter-model-businessman resolutely replies, “I live my life without regrets. I’m always grateful and I have nothing that I regret.”

Then he followed up with a chuckle, “Except maybe that I haven’t gotten married yet.”

To see the full feature with full-size images, click here to get the DA MAN February/March 2011 issue.