Richard Kyle: The Pursuit of Happiness

Richard Kyle is back for an exclusive cover shoot with Louis Vuitton and a chat about the power of online platforms and life in the middle of pandemic.

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One thing for sure, Richard Kyle is no stranger to photo shoots. However, Kyle was definitely still quite new to the idea of doing one without much in the way of direct human interaction. He admits that the situation is not easy for anyone in this world, himself included, but trying to look at the bright side of things is what keeps him going. “This unprecedented situation changed everything. It’s affected a lot of people’s lives, including yours and mine. It changed the way we think, the way we live our life, the way we move forward. And especially it makes us more aware and careful with the actions we make,” explains the Australian-born actor, presenter and model. “But we have to push through, to live life and move forward, to hope for the best and make changes in the lifestyle that actually work for the future. And more importantly, we have to count our blessings.”

For his second appearance on the cover of DA MAN, Kyle shares about life amid the continuing pandemic, the biggest challenges in maintaining a social media presence and more.

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DAMAN: Hi Richard, it’s great to have you with us again. Now that we’re halfway through 2021, how’s the year been treating you so far?
Richard Kyle: The year has treated me well so far. I mean, it’s our second year of the pandemic since last year. So, our day-to-day lifestyles has changed and, you know, we hope for the best. We’re almost halfway through the year, and let’s just say I’m surviving.

DAMAN: Let’s talk about social media. These days, how big of a role does social media play in your own life?
Richard Kyle: Definitely a big role. Everything’s going digital—from work to marketing. And everything being so easily obtainable through our smartphones makes a huge impact in our lives. Let’s just say it’s a lifestyle. So, whether we like it or not, it’s something we have to live by or live with. And the most important thing is balancing things out.

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DAMAN: You have quite a large following on social media, particularly on Instagram. How do you feel about this? What do you think are the pros and cons of being active on social media in your line of work and how does it affect your personal life?
Richard Kyle: The pros of social media are that we can use our voice and our platform to do good. We can inspire others through our social media platform. To create, to invoke other people’s emotions in a good way or bad way as well. So, the pros are that it’s within our fingertips to be able to create something amazing. But the cons are that sometimes we forget to be present while we live our reality. Like I said before, the main thing is to be able to find balance. Sometimes it’s hard to just shut off if we’re always working with our digital platform. So, people can have a glimpse of our life, but we also need to be able to live our life without that much of a lens looking at us all the time.

DAMAN: And lately, it seems that you’re active on YouTube as well. As a content creator slash actor, presenter and also a model, what’s the biggest challenge in juggling all of these passions of yours?
Richard Kyle: The biggest challenge is juggling with many different platforms at once. Now, I have clients working with me on YouTube, and I have to focus on storytelling or creating a narrative for my YouTube channel, while also handling all my other work on Instagram between shoots and projects. So, the biggest challenge is to be able to put all your effort, energy and attention to each of those channels or platforms, and do it well and do the best you can do. It makes more of a challenge when we have a bigger work desk.

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DAMAN: Still related to social media, we saw on your Instagram account you’re involved in the Jelajah Timur Plan for Indonesia. In particular, with the 1000km cycling challenge to help raise funds to create access to clean water in East Nusa Tenggara. Can you tell us more about that?
Richard Kyle: Last year, I worked together with Plan International. It’s an NGO from abroad but they have a base in Indonesia. They approached me to ask if I could help raise funds for access to clean water for two or three villages in Flores. Basically, the kids there have to walk like two or three kilometers every day with big buckets and big water bottles so they can bring it back to their village. It was mainly the girls that do this on a daily basis to fetch water for their families. It hit me hard and I thought: “Okay, I got to help out here. I got to do something.” So, I created a challenge for myself: cycle 1,000km in about 10 days, and raise as much funds as I can, so we can put all that money towards getting them access to clean water, and they don’t have to walk and go to the water reservoir every day.

DAMAN: What went through your mind once you finished the challenge?
Richard Kyle: I’m really proud because I raised up to a hundred million through my followers and my fans. And that was something I’ve never done before. I’ve never raised money for a charity and it was a big success—for me and for them as well. It was wonderful. It was like a miracle.

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DAMAN: We also saw on your Instagram account you’re also involved with the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOS Foundation) as their brand ambassador. Can you tell us more about this?
Richard Kyle: I’m a campaign awareness member for BOSF. It’s an NGO that focuses on the survival of orangutans. I’ve been working with them for over five years now and I’ve done a lot of campaigns with them. I’ve helped them raise awareness on the importance of these key species, so that our forests will survive. Because we believe, or at least I believe, that the orangutan is a key species that keeps the forests growing.

DAMAN: Why do you think it’s important to support and prioritize the foundation that cares about wildlife?
Richard Kyle: We really believe that the orangutan is an asset for Indonesia because they’re the biggest helpers in spreading seeds to keep our forest alive. We’re here to help this species survive and we believe that, obviously, without forests or rainforests, there’s no mankind. We strongly believe that to helping the orangutan survive will be a blessing for all mankind.

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DAMAN: What would you say is the most memorable experience from working with the foundation?
Richard Kyle: I think the most memorable experience for me was when we went into the forest to release the orangutans, especially the moment we opened the cage and let them out. Even though it was just a few seconds, the journey from the base camp all the way into the jungle until we get to the release site was long and hard. We endured a lot of stress and used up a lot of energy to get them to that spot, right in the middle of the rainforest. And when we let the cage up and they climbed up the trees then looked at us while seemingly wondering what’s going on—that was the most special.
Seeing the orangutans become free and seeing how they realized they were home, that’s a moment that I’ll never forget.

DAMAN: Moving on, what keeps you busy these days? Are there any projects that you’re currently working on or any upcoming projects that you can share with us?
Richard Kyle: There are many things. There’s my social media and, recently, I finished a Netflix original film that will be coming out this year. I can’t really say much, because we’re not doing the marketing yet, but that was really fun. I shot the lm with a few other talented actors in Indonesia, and that was a very fun project. And now, I have a few personal projects in Bali and also in Jakarta that I’m working on.

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DAMAN: We heard you were invited to be part of Louis Vuitton’s FW21 Virtual Show earlier this year. How was the experience for you?
Richard Kyle:: That was a really fun experience, as always. I think what’s really good about the evolution of Louis Vuitton is how with Virgil Abloh, the brand has caused such a massive impact by creating something that we can say is art. Through his designs, through his way of interpreting what fashion is. He’s stylized a genre where he mixes artists and music as well as sports. He combines everything together and creates this amazing theatrical production. Sometimes it’s almost like you’re not watching a fashion show, but you’re actually watching art.

The biggest challenge is to be able to put all your effort, energy and attention to each of those channels or platforms, and do it well and do the best you can do.

DAMAN: On a related note, of all the six looks you have been trying on for today’s photoshoot, which one is your absolute favorite?
Richard Kyle: I think the coolest look today was the red kilt with a stencil of the Louis Vuitton logo—a kind of faded monogram—on it, which you can’t really see unless you look closer. And it came with the white blazer and the airplane buttons. I think that’s the coolest look because it’s very Virgil and it’s very out there.

DAMAN: So, it’s already more than a year since this health crisis we’re in started. Can you tell us a bit about “life during a pandemic” for yourself?
Richard Kyle: There’s been ups and downs. In terms of living by yourself, it can be tough at times. So, I tend to try to keep family close and see my parents as much as I can when it’s safe to do so.

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DAMAN: What have you learned about yourself lately?
Richard Kyle: Patience. I’ve learned that being patient is the key to keep you focused on the things that make you happy. Work hard and don’t let yourself get pushed to the ground. I always try to keep a positive mind and spirit.

DAMAN: You’ve probably answered this question many times already, but what’s your philosophy of life?
Richard Kyle: My philosophy on life, even before the pandemic, is always be happy. You know, even when sad times come or you feel something very depressing is trying to take over you, I believe that keeping a positive mindset and giving out good energy is so important. I really believe that being happy is our main goal in life. So, whatever happens, no matter how many downs or how many upsets that affect you, always try to find the will and motivation to always be happy.

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DAMAN: Furthermore, if you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you be?
Richard Kyle: I think I would say Italy. Why? Because I’ve had so many great memories and experiences in Italy, from Rome to the Amal coast to Florence. And I think the vibe and the culture there is so interesting. So, I would love to go to Italy in the summer and just enjoy everything it has to o er.

DAMAN: To conclude, what is the first thing you will do when this situation is over that you cannot do right now?
Richard Kyle: I would love to bring my bike to Bangkok and cycle all the way up through Thailand to Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. If I got the chance and the time, I would love to do a three-month trip, just cycling all the way through those countries and exploring.

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