One of Indonesian cinema’s newest rising stars, Angga Yunanda recalls his journey as an actor and talks about his dream roles
The universe works in mysterious ways and the best things in life often happen when you least expect it. And attesting to this idea is up-and-rising Indonesian actor Angga Yunanda, because that’s exactly what happened to him when he got his big break in the industry. Hearing him recount his life’s story feels like going through the flashbacks of a well-known supermodel: There’s this regular person doing regular things in real life, then suddenly comes a random person who just happens to be scouting for the next talent. The rest, as they say, is history. “Basically, luck was on my side,” says Yunanda lightly, opening up the conversation. “I was 15 years old at that time, and I met with one of the casting directors from one of the production houses in my hometown in Lombok. I got invited to join a shooting process in Jakarta and I immediately said yes. Even though I still had zero experience of being in front of camera, but when a chance comes your way, you have to grab it because it may never come again.
“The first time I landed in Jakarta, and joined a shoot, it was quite hard for me. I couldn’t imagine myself doing well in this industry because I didn’t have any experience at all,” Yunanda continues. “But fortunately, I was met by a supportive cast, crew and director who helped me and guided me throughout it all. As time went by, as I gained more and more experience, I enjoyed every moment because it also shaped me into the actor I am today.”
Yunanda made his debut in a television movie quite appropriately titled “Malu-Malu Kucing” (an Indonesian phrase which refers to somebody pretending to be shy) and since that moment, he drew more and more attention to himself. In 2018, Yunanda stepped onto the big screen for the very first time in a horror film titled “Sajen” (Offerings). Amazingly, his career became increasingly ambitious as he appeared in five titles in 2019. One of them is none other than Gina S. Noer’s directorial debut, “Dua Garis Biru” (Two Blue Stripes), which deals with teen pregnancy. The movie itself has drawn in 2.5 million viewers, making it Indonesia’s third-biggest box office hit that year. More importantly, the movie has also ignited a conversation on sex education, which is largely unheard of in Indonesia.
For his portrayal of a boy facing the consequences of his actions in this movie, Yunanda was nominated for Best Lead Actor at the 2019 Indonesian Film Festival (FFI). His co-star, Zara (formerly with idol group JKT48) was also nominated for Best Lead Actress, while the movie itself also garnered nominations for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay.
“I know that my role in ‘Dua Garis Biru’ has its good and bad sides; but still, I’ll always be grateful for all of that,” Yunanda points out. “I didn’t expect it to become such a controversy, but I enjoy it all as one of the things that’s challenging for me personally. I think the movie has its own values and it’s important to all of us, because I feel there are many things that we can take from that.”
Yunanda also shares that he’s grateful for the chance to be the lead actor in Gina S. Noer’s directorial debut. “She’s a perfectionist, and I had to go through three castings for that role,” he chuckles. “It was definitely one of the many memorable moments that I had in my career so far. And I’m also glad that I got another chance to work with her again in her second movie titled ‘Cinta Pertama, Kedua, & Ketiga’ (First, Second and Third Love), which will soon be released.
“In short, this movie is about a certain family with their ups and downs, love and so forth. It’s kind of a personal story that probably a lot of people already experienced it in real life. However, there are so many aspects in the story that are rarely portrayed in other Indonesian movies,” Yunanda continues. “My character in this movie is the youngest one in the family named Raja. Thanks to him, I learned a lot to appreciate what we have and what God has given us. It’s relatable and I feel like the movie really captures how real family life is.”
“For my role as Raja, I had to prepare extra hard,” Yunanda recounts. “I trained my voice under the direction of a vocal coach. And then—I don’t want to give away too many spoilers here—l learned how to dance as well for three months, even though my body was so stiff and I actually couldn’t dance at all in the beginning. I did a lot of research too.”
“I asked questions to the director and also to my co-stars, including the legendary Slamet Rahardjo, Ira Wibowo, Putri Marino and many more. Why? Because I’m still green compared to them and as soon as you think you know it all, you’re done,” Yunanda adds. “Long story short, I learned a lot from them. I learned about my character, about his responsibilities and the fact that it’s not that simple to become a certain character. I learned more about myself. I learned new things and discovered so much.”
As the questions turn to his experience in shooting movies during a pandemic, Yunanda explains: “Shooting movies during COVID was more challenging than expected. To top it off, it also has become more time consuming. For instance, the pre-production process of ‘Cinta Pertama, Kedua & Ketiga’ should have started in March last year. However, due to the pandemic and the transitional large-scale social restrictions (PSBB), we had to move everything back. But we continued with a much more detailed reading process through multiple Zoom meetings for months.”
Still, it was a memorable journey. “Thankfully, the entire crew and cast remained healthy,” Yunanda continues. “We always wore masks on location, maintained social distancing, did temperature checks for everybody on set and the production house went to extraordinary lengths to protect everybody. As a matter of fact, from the first day of shooting until the last, I think I was swab tested more than 12 times. It was a whole new experience for us and I hope this pandemic ends soon.”
Despite all the extra hassle—not to mention the extra risk—that he went through for the movie, Yunanda feels it was all worth it. “I can’t wait, just like everybody else on the cast, for audiences to see it,” he says. “Since the story is so relatable, we have high hopes for it and hopefully you guys will watch it with an open heart.”
When asked about his dream roles, Yunanda replied, without hesitation: “I used to want to be a psychopath or something that’s rare to do. But, having talked with and learned from so many people in the industry, it turns out that the normal, everyday characters are the ones that are really hard to pull off. Now, I just want to be a sincere and honest person with his very own character.”
In the end, even though Angga Yunanda has spent years honing his craft as an actor, he is still young. With the fire inside of him to become a better actor and his willingness to learn more and more, I think it’s safe to say that we will definitely see him more often in the near future.
PHOTOGRAPHY RAJA SIREGAR
STYLING SAFINA HARYS
STYLING ASSISTANT LINTANG HUTAMI
GROOMING NONI RICHAN
DECOR WALTZ DECOR
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