Twists in Fate On the Road to Fame
She’s young and beautiful with a career as a model and actress, but if you think Laura Basuki planned any of this, you would be quite wrong.
When reflecting on her life over coffee, the 24-year-old describes her humble beginnings.
“I didn’t think I had the talent. Even when I was a teenager I didn’t want to be a model, I didn’t want to be an actress. I thought it was bull,” she said with a laugh.
But fate had an unexpected path in store for her.
Laura is now juggling a successful acting career with various modeling stints and hosting events. Her third film, “Di Timur Matahari” (“East of the Sun”) will premiere tonight.
In the film she plays Vina, the wife of a Papuan architect whose brother is killed in the region. When they both leave Jakarta for isolated Papua, the change in place and people help transform Vina from a fussy metropolitan Jakartan to a more modest and easygoing woman.
Laura said she didn’t hesitate to take the role.
“It was one of my dreams to play in a children’s movie, so this was my opportunity,” she said.
“It was also my first time going to Papua, so I could feel what Vina felt.”
Shooting for more than a month in the province’s isolated mountain ranges was indeed a different experience for Laura.
“We only had clean water every seven days, so I didn’t take a bath for a whole week. I could only use a wet cloth [to clean myself],” she said with a laugh.
“For my hair I used mineral water, and it was so expensive. One bottle was Rp 15,000 [$1.60], and my hair is quite long, so I had to use five to 10 bottles.”
Drawing parallels with her character, you could say the back-to-basics environment changed Laura, too.
“This movie was about moral experience,” she said. “I had to learn to share everything. There were only two bathrooms for 50 people. We shared food, we had to wash our own clothes.
“I’m now more grateful for what I have. When I got back to [Jakarta], I was like ‘Oh my God, a mall and air-conditioning!’ ”
Born to an Indonesian father and a Vietnamese mother, Laura said she was forced by her mother, who saw her talent, to start modeling as a teenager — something Laura is now very grateful for.
“She forced me into modeling school so I could learn to walk in high heels,” she said with a smile, admitting that she preferred to wear flats when she isn’t working.
Her initial teenage plan to become a doctor quickly changed when fashion designer Bijan Wanaatmadja put her in his 2006 bridal fashion show.
Having graced many women’s and lifestyle magazines since, Laura said that “modeling is now my dream.”
A few of her modeling gigs include Bijan, Coca-Cola, Clean & Clear and Vaseline, though she said she had already lost count of all her jobs.
When prominent filmmaker Nia Dinata cast Laura in the 2008 film, “Gara-gara Bola” (“Because of Football”), her acting career began.
Laura said she had spent only a month at acting school, so it was a total surprise when she snatched two awards, Best Newcomer and Favorite Newcomer, at the 2009 Indonesian Movie Awards.
“I never had any dreams of winning a trophy or even worked toward it,” she said. “I just try to do my best in everything. A trophy is just a bonus for me.
“When I won, I thought, ‘Wow, they appreciate my acting. Now I want to do this to become better, to learn to be better.’ ”
That is exactly what Laura did. Her second film, “Tiga Hati, Dua Dunia, Satu Cinta” (“Three Hearts, Two Worlds, One Love”) received seven awards out of 14 nominations at the 2010 Indonesian Film Festival.
Asked whether her talent came through practice or was something she was born with, her answer was simple and straightforward.
“I think everyone has talent to be an actress or actor. Every day we are doing this, we are talking, we are learning from each other — that’s part of acting,” she said.
“Maybe talent is only 20 percent, luck is 50 percent and the rest is practice and experience.”
Given her success, it is surprising that Laura considers acting “only a hobby,” but nonetheless she appreciates the knowledge she gains from it.
“For me, being an actress means I can dig deeper into what I’m working on. What else can I feel? How deep can I feel? I can dig into everything,” she said.
“Sometimes I don’t know what else I can do until I try it. I could never be furious in real life, but for a role I might have to be. And sometimes I get amazed, like ‘Really, I can do that?’ ”
Laura said crying on set was easy for her, but laughing could be difficult.
“Every time I do the crying scene, I read the dialogue first several times, and I get the feeling and then I cry,” she said. “But in a laughing scene, when you’re tired, your eyes can tell you are faking it.”
Asked whether she imagines something tragic happening in order to cry, she said she tried to stay in character and often had a hard time letting go of the role.
“And that’s why sometimes when the cameras stop, I cannot stop crying or being angry, because I already have it deep in my heart. Every time the camera stops, I always cry for almost half an hour or an hour.”
Still, when she eventually goes home, she has much to be happy about. When asked to describe the best part of her life, her answer came quickly.
“My married life, of course,” she said. “I never thought I would get married so young, but I’m happy with my life now.”
She has been married for almost a year now to businessman Leo Sanjaya.
“I feel happier being married because I found the right person,” she said. “I love him more every day.”
So where does the actress plan to go from here?
“I never have a target for anything in my career. No goals, ever,” she said.
“I’m not the type of goal person, because what happens when you have a target and you don’t achieve it? When I don’t achieve my goal, I become really sad and want to give it all up, so I prefer to just to go with the flow.”