Maria Selena talks about basketball, her career so far and what lies ahead for her

BEING ALIVE – Maria Selena chats with DAMAN’s Ricky Ronaldo about her life journey and the beliefs she stood by to go through it

Assuming that there is only one reason why Maria Selena is as she is now—a winner of the 2011 Miss Indonesia pageant, a former professional basketball player, a presenter, a host, an actress and an avid traveler—it would probably be her modus operandi: Stepping outside her comfort zone. After all, this too is the reason why she agreed to do the photo shoot.

Outfit by Alexander McQueen

Before it began, she revealed that she is actually very uncomfortable having her picture taken and that she rarely accepts request for photo shoots. “If it’s for a video or for a moving picture like presenting, I have no problem with that. I’m confident,” Selena clarifies. “But if it’s for a photo, like a still picture, that’s something else.”

Coming from a former beauty queen, this took me quite by surprise. But, as is usually the case, there was a story behind it. As it turns out, she was not the one who enrolled herself to the pageant; it was her mom’s decision. “Honestly, I was not aware about the pageant itself,” she says on joining the competition. “So, at first it was like a shock therapy, I got to catch up on a lot of things.” A year after she won, she represented Indonesia at the 2012 Miss Universe pageant, where, even though she lost, she got into the Top 10 for  Best National Costume.

Outfit by Prada

Reflecting on her time there, Selena points out that she had no regrets. “I grew from my failure, by not winning at all,” she emphasizes. “And I think that’s not a big deal for me because it’s only the beginning.” She mentions her confidence spiraled up and that she gained lot of experience and life lessons whilst at the pageant. “I thought that if that’s not the way, maybe I would not be here. So, no regrets, actually.”

Indeed, stepping out of her comfort zone has proven to be a most effective way of life, whether it’s joining Miss Indonesia or doing extreme sports like jet ski. (For the latter, by the way, she was taught by her friend Aero Aswar, who is also featured in this issue.) “I love challenges,” she says with a laugh. “Many things in life can be a challenge and I like it. If there are no challenges, I don’t feel alive and I can’t improve. It’s all about comfort zones and I don’t really like that.”

Dress by Roland Mouret

When she decided to pursue her dream of at least fifteen years to become a professional basketball player, this too was her logic. Right after her reign as Miss Indonesia ended, she played for various pro-clubs, including Surabaya Fever and Merah Putih Predators in Jakarta. But looking back, Selena acknowledges that it was quite a difficult time for her to juggle her basketball career with her other commitments. “I was having trouble with my schedule,” the LeBron James fan exclaims. “I train twice a day, like, at 6AM. Meanwhile I have a TV shoot at 12 till 2AM. So, I only have 3 hours of sleep every day and I ended up puking a lot on court.” Topping it all off, Selena was also doing her final thesis at the Bandung Institute of Technology, whereas her shoots were in Jakarta and her basketball team is in Surabaya.

“So, I decided to retire from the pro-league because I have different priorities at work,” Selena explains. “In my work it’s not possible to play with the schedule. I work late, I travel a lot, so there’s no time to practice and to build chemistry with my team.” Right now, her line of work brings her ever deeper into the entertainment industry with hosting, TV presenting, news casting and doing traveling programs for commercials.

How about acting? “Maybe in two or three years,” she replies, “because I’m very selective when taking a role.” See, Selena had only acted once before, in the 2014 movie “Danau Hitam,” where she starred alongside her friends Nadine Chandrawinata and Ganindra Bimo. “I have to dig up my abilities in acting so that the passion can shine through,” she continues. “If I have no passion in it, then the result won’t be satisfying.”

Dress by Miu Miu

Looking forward, Selena expresses her interest in taking on movie roles that are challenging and out of her comfort zone, like drama or action where she gets to be bolder and more expressive. On a grander scale, Selena mentions that in five years she would have another degree, her own business and, most of all, kids. “I love kids! Maybe I’ll adopt one,” she exclaims, before adding: “My love life is not actually a big deal for me.” She admits later that she is currently seeing someone, but that she prefers to keep things private.

“Five years from now, I’m hoping I’ll be as happy as I am now,” she says in closing. “You don’t have to wait for something to get better, for big things to come, for a job or a lot of money to be happy. You just be happy cause the way you are.” It is, as she put herself, being happy without a reason, because, in her own words, “if you’re happy, then the reason will come.”