ONE TO WATCH. It’s not easy to pin down the appeal of presenter, actor and soon-to-be singer Deva Mahenra. Gabriela Yosefina sheds the layer after layer of the multitalented bachelor
For someone who has just turned 24 this year, Deva Mahenra doesn’t talk like most of his peers. On the day of the photo shoot, he enters the room coolly—fresh faced from a morning television taping session. Once the conversation rolls, he has his words tactfully chosen, his sentences almost perfectly structured and his emotions carefully filtered. Even at some caught-off-guard moments, he still exercises his controlled poise, embodying the perfect presenter that he is. The well-regimented self-control is reflected on his strict daily schedule: getting up at six, off to live-tape his program until mid-day, then filming for an ongoing sitcom for four to five days a week. On the weekends, he does more live-taping sessions for the TV program.
As if that’s not enough, the April 19-born has a singing project in the pipeline. Mahenra shows little to no sign of exhaustion going through such a busy schedule, week after week, regardless. Is this what he had prepped himself up for from the beginning? “I didn’t think that I would do all these things in the industry. Initially, my goal was to be a singer, especially after participating in the ‘Indonesian Idol’ and making it into the big 40. I believed that it must have meant something to be chosen out of thousands of aspiring singers. Look, I didn’t even know how to sing—I actually joined the audition to learn as much as I could,” Mahenra says. “Life then took different turns when my pursuit to be a singer didn’t really work out. When opportunity came knocking, I decided to enter the world of acting and presenting. And you know what? For me, passion is something you find in the middle of the journey. Passion is about finding your identity. And at this moment, I really enjoy acting and presenting. I really enjoy being someone who does multiple gigs in the entertainment industry.”
PLAYING SLANK’S ABDEE NEGARA
Mahenra made his big break into the movie industry by playing the role of Abdee Negara in “Slank Nggak Ada Matinya” (Slank Never Dies). The character was loosely based on the real life of Abdee Negara, the Slank band’s guitarist. Despite the huge popularity of the band, there was apparently almost no video documentation highlighting Negara’s life. That didn’t curb Mahenra’s determination, and instead he went through all the troubles to get under the skin of the character. “I have to admit that physically I am so much different from him,” says the young artist, “I think I got the role mainly because I can mimic his way of talking, with dialect.” For all the seriousness, Mahenra keeps the chat light by telling his side of the story. “When I met Abdee, I didn’t ask how he looked like when he was angry or what he did when he was thinking. Instead, we discussed the songs he was listening to or the books he read. I observed the unconscious gestures he made, and that is probably why Abdee felt wellrepresented when the movie was out.”
Outfit by Aigner
“If you ask me who I look up to, my answer would be: myself in another ten years.”
SITCOMS AND OTHER ACTS
For the sitcom he is working on, the darkhaired actor employs a similar observational method. Titled “Tetangga Masa Gitu” (What’s with the Neighbor), Mahenra plays a newlywed living next to another couple who have been married for many years. The Makassar-born bachelor often reaches out to his married friends, for the sake of research. “One thing for sure, they are not aware of me observing them,” he grins cheekily, “The thing with newlyweds is actually simple. They are still romantic and sweet to each other. They act as if they are still dating.”
Mahenra gushes more about the findings he has gathered, before, all of a sudden, pausing to shed an observation specifically on his career, on a bigger scope. “Acting can actually be done through different media,” he claims, “Singers are also actors because they have to work their vocal and act on stage. Presenters are also actors because they have to face the camera, create conversation, and watch their gesture.” Mahenra throws a retrospective glance and concludes, “That is why I want to do everything, not because I want to be seen as having a multitalented persona, but because those different aspects of entertainment correlate, intersect, and support each other.” Across the multiple creative spectrums, there is one principle he faithfully adheres to: being original.
Outfit by Emporio Armani
“In whatever I am doing, I will always try to be myself,” Mahenra embeds, “It comes from some advice I received some time ago, that I would not be able to make it if I pretended to be someone else. So if you ask me who I look up to, my answer would be: myself in another ten years.” Oddly enough, that sentence doesn’t bite the ear with any trace of arrogance, but only pure determination. “In ten years I hope to continue growing, creating and developing something new. Whatever it is I am doing, I want it to get positive response from others.” When it comes to crediting what contribute to his success, Mahenra looks back to his days in Papua, “In junior high school, I became the youngest radio DJ. In high school, I got a chance to be in a band as a drummer and then developed my singing talent. That being said, all of my ability and knowledge are early-on seeded and nurtured in Papua.” Today, Mahenra does not forget to give back, “There is this non-profit initiative called Buku untuk Papua (Books for Papua). We gather books from many areas and then send them to the children in various Papua regions. This is probably one of the ways I can give back to the place that raised me and will always be a part of me.”
Watch The behind-the-scenes video of the photo shoot
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