For TV personality Dian Krishna Mukti, life is a rollercoaster of bewildering changes. Whether it be winning the 2003 Putri Indonesia [Indonesian Princess] beauty contest or hosting a variety of shows on the Metro TV news station, Dian not only holds her own in the spotlight, but she handles it with an ease, grace and cheerfulness that is rarely equaled in the field.
The 35-year old is set to tackle her biggest challenge yet by taking on contestants from throughout Southeast Asia in “The Apprentice Asia” reality TV show. Indonesian viewers can now see her exploits on the show, which premiered on the AXN Asia cable channel last week.
Dian’s long and successful television career began as a young wide-eyed girl.
“I was first inspired to get on television as a 5-year-old when I saw the anchors on the TVRI news show ‘Dunia Dalam Berita’ at 9 p.m. I knew that I wanted to be like them. I guess that childhood dream stuck,” Dian said.
But she pointed out that she did not consciously make that decision. “When I went to college I had a pre-med background, but I realized that I was not made for this. And then I went to marine biology and found that it still was not for me,” said the TV star.
“Afterwards I transferred to psychology and thought it was suitable, as it entails talking to people and sorting out their problems. But [in psychology] you only talk to people if they have problems, and they only see you if they want to be cured.”
Dian said that she was on the right track when she went to the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology to study for a graduate degree in communications.
“I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would work in TV, because I thought that I was going to work in print media. But when I came back [to Jakarta], some of my friends suggested that I give TV a try.”
Dian began her career in April 2003 at Metro TV as a program manager. But when she did get in front of the camera, it was not as a news anchor. That came later.
“I tried out and won the 2003 Putri Indonesia beauty contest in August that same year. After I came back to Metro a year later I was moved to the public relations desk because of my Putri Indonesia experience,” Dian explained.
It did not take long for her to make it clear that she wanted to start out reporting.
When Dian did begin reporting, it was in a field she least expected. “I thought that I would start in the economics, fashion or showbiz desks. Instead I was assigned as a crime reporter,” she said.
“My assignments included going to the morgue, reporting on various crimes, and noting the differences between various police stations throughout Jakarta. I even infiltrated prisons for an expose on inmates convicted of corruption and staked out [corruption] suspects.”
However, her time in that field came to an end when her profile elevated after hosting some TV programs on Metro.
Dian pointed out that the shock start to her TV career was the news desk’s way to test her resolve.
“Most beauty pageant winners would have cried and caved in with the start that I had,” she said.
“But sometimes I just have to prove them wrong and show that I am more than just a pretty face.”
The end of her stint on the crime desk led Dian to diversify in other fields. “I hosted sports news programs such as Metro Sports and the Mozaik Indonesia cultural programs. I particularly like sports, as it’s mostly free of politics or corruption, though it does get tainted by scandal. But most of the time it’s a celebration of the human spirit,” she said.
All in all, Dian pointed out that Metro was a good training ground for TV.
But a life in front of the camera was not always the place where Dian expected to end up. “I expected to get behind a camera or in the studio control room. As an Indonesian studying abroad I was in a minority, and I noticed that certain races or people get chosen to go on air,” she said.
“I ran into a similar problems when I moved to Hong Kong in 2008 with my husband. I thought that I could get a good position at an international TV station there because of my qualifications at Metro TV.”
However, reality bit in the form of stereotypes. “Though Hong Kong is in Asia, the stations there preferred a more Eurasian look, as they are perceived to be more appealing to Asian viewers.”
Due to this experience, Dian explained that her husband felt guilty for making her leave at the height of her career at Metro TV. She pointed out that when the opportunity came to make a comeback in TV through “The Apprentice Asia” she was determined to use it.
Despite being no stranger to the screen, “The Apprentice Asia” made the former anchor woman feel as if she was in over her head.
“I had no idea that the scope of “The Apprentice Asia” would be this big. Usually the scope of Indonesian TV doesn’t go beyond Southeast Asian countries like Singapore and Malaysia. But [The Apprentice Asia] is beamed as far as AXN’s reach to places like Japan, South Korea and India,” Dian said adding that the English-language production made it no easy feat.
She explained that while “The Apprentice Asia” might be reality TV, the lessons and insights she gained from it about business or life were just as useful in the real world.
“[The Apprentice Asia] has various lessons to teach participants regardless of their professional background. People nowadays are so driven by results that they forget their heart,” Dian said.
“They think that passion is when we are bent on achieving results. They do not realize that passion lies in connecting with other people, and using our work and products to better their lives.”
But playing it from the heart does not take take away from Dian’s edge in the show. Her fellow contestant, compatriot Hendy Setiono, said that she is one of the most hard nosed, competitive contestants.
Dian said that her various experiences as a Putri Indonesia ambassador, TV anchor and “The Apprentice Asia” taught her humility, and the value of not getting all those high profile accolades into her head. “My experiences taught me not to be boastful. We can be confident of our abilities, but my upbringing in Indonesia balances this and keeps me grounded.”