Asmara Abigail chats with Liviani Putri about her path to becoming an actor along with her love for Italy and its culture during an exclusive photoshoot using the OPPO Reno4 Pro.
While certainly no stranger to professional photo shoots or – like just about any of us – having her photo taken using a smartphone camera, Asmara Abigail was definitely quite new to the idea of having those two combined: doing a proper photo shoot using a smartphone camera, in this case the new OPPO Reno4 Pro for a special collaboration with Prestige.
It was only natural then, that our conversation at the time also touched on what Abigail thought about the role of smartphones in her daily activities. “Since I don’t carry any other electronic device for work, most of the time I really rely on my smartphone,” she quips. “Even to read scripts.” Describing herself as more of a practical user, Abigail mentioned that, when it comes to smartphones, she usually looks for camera quality, storage space and design – features that are highlights of the OPPO Reno4 Pro used in the shoot. “It’s a lovely phone with slim and light design which reflects my personality and needs,” Abigail observes. “Perfect for daily activities and also for important events including premieres, because I always bring tiny clutch bags and it just fits.”
As the photo shoot wrapped up, we sat down to talk about what Asmara Abigail has been up to these days. I’m still busy with several projects that have been pending because of the COVID-19 pandemic,” she begins. “Slowly but surely, we are starting production. Of course, we follow proper health protocols including doing medical tests. I hope that all of us – the cast and the crew – will stay healthy. I’m also preparing for another project where I will be an associate producer. This will be exciting since it will be my first time in that position and can’t wait to put all my thoughts and ideas into the project.”
Speaking of the pandemic, Abigail was actually caught in Italy’s lockdown for four months, from March until June this year. She was there to attend Hian Tjen’s “Perfection” show for Milan Fashion Week – which turned out to become her most memorable fashion event so far. “The COVID-19 pandemic broke out right after the show ended,” Abigail recalls. “Everything was normal when we entered the venue and it felt like time just stopped. We didn’t even realize how chaotic the world became outside. After the show ended, all the guests came out wearing masks and finally we found out that the virus has just broken out in Italy.”
Of course, this story also brought forward Abigail’s passion for fashion. “I really love haute couture and Elsa Schiaparelli is my favourite designer,” she explains her sartorial preferences. “I wish I could wear it every day but that would be impossible.” Then she adds: “That’s why I’m really enjoying moments like this where I can wear designer clothes from brands like Givenchy, Valentino, Dior and many more.” As our conversation continued deeper into the fashion industry, Abigail mentions that “this year is time to change. We have to find healthier ways for our ecosystem, since fashion waste – mostly from fast fashion – is already a tremendous problem. It’s time to be more mindful before buying, or maybe we should go back again to the artisan’s era where we make clothes only when we really need them. The environment just can’t take it any longer.”
Another major part of Asamara Abigail’s journey is her ventures into the entertainment industry, with film being a passion of hers since a young age. “I was the only child until I was 12 years old and films accompanied my day. Since kindergarten I already watched Charlie Chaplin movies and the DVD rental was my go-to place when I in middle-high school as I sought out film-festival movies. Watching movies made me think that it must be great to be an actor, to have the chance to experience various lives in this life and I was really inspired.”
Abigail’s transformation into the actress she is today didn’t happen overnight, of course, and is the manifestation of endless hard work. Since she 14 years old, Abigail created her own path through modelling competitions and appeared in several commercials. While studying Fashion Business at Lasalle College Jakarta, she also tried casting for several movies but nothing came out of it. Then one of her lecturers, Danny Ismanoe, introduced her to Italian culture, which prompted her to take an Italian class at the Insitituto Italiano di Cultura Jakarta. She continued her studies by pursuing a master’s degree in Marketing and Branding for Luxury Products with a scholarship at Haute Future Fashion Academy in Milan.
From acting, I found other parts of myself that were previously undiscovered. Day by day I learn something about myself and somehow it amazes me
“Italy become my second home in this life and also my past life,” Abigail recalls with a laugh, “but I must say that Italy changed everything I knew about myself. Not just from an academic perspective because I was studying there, but also my life philosophy. La dolce vita or la vita e bella shaped my perspective in how to enjoy and appreciate the small things in life.”
After graduating cum laude and returning to Indonesia, it didn’t take a long time for Abigail to be noticed. And it was by none other than noted movie director Garin Nugroho, who offered her the starring role in “Setan Jawa” in 2015. “Of course I accepted because the maestro himself asked me in person and the movie itself is special,” Abigail says. “‘Setan Jawa’ was the first black and white, silent movie made by Indonesians. We did have ‘Loetoeng Kasaroeng’ from 1920, but it was made by a Dutch company. It was such a blessing because I think similar movies won’t be produced for a long time and I was able to work with traditional art maestros in dance and gamelan from Institute Seni Surakarta. I also visited so many interesting cities, from Jakarta, Amsterdam, Melbourne, Yogyakarta, Singapore, Solo, London, Glasgow to Berlin and Tokyo. This yearwas supposed to be in Paris, but because of the pandemic it had to be cancelled.”
For Abigail, “‘Setan Jawa’ is the door to other opportunities. I feel blessed that many people who saw my acting in the movie gradually started calling me for casting or screen tests which gave me the confidence to pursue a career as an actor.” Those other opportunities included parts in big productions such as “Gundala,” “Impetigore (Perempuan Tanah Jahanam)”, “Abracadabra” and a slew of other titles. “Of course, as an actor, it’s important to challenge ourselves with each character. Most of the projects offered to me are unique, but when it comes to accepting the offer, I must consider the script and the director. Believe it or not, every script has its own soul, a message that it wants to delivered. The energy from the people involved, especially the connection with the director, is something that can’t be explained with words. Moviemaking is a collective process where everyone involved play important roles to make it happen.”
“From acting, I found other parts of myself that were previously undiscovered. Day by day I learn something about myself and somehow it amazes me. Taking part in action movies like ‘Gundala’ made me fall in love with my character, Desti Nikita, who is sweet but talented in martial arts. In ‘Impetigore,’ acting as Ratih with her ambiguity also brings about another colour, while in the musical ‘Abracadabra’ where everything is colourful and cheerful, I could explore another side of me that I never thought of before,” explains Abigail, who, by the way, enjoys pole dancing, tango and the flamenco.
“But the best experience so far was with ‘Setan Jawa.’ Aside from it being the first movie I was ever involved in, the process included a two-week intensive workshop at Institut Seni Surakarta and learning about traditional and contemporary Javanese dance, while the acting part only took a week. I don’t have any formal education in acting; I was totally following the guidance from mas Garin. But thanks to my dancing background, I could cope with the process and was able to give a new colour that was harmonious with the other dancers. I feel like the black swan of the movie,” she laughs. “When I watched the movie for the first time, it was surprising because I couldn’t even recognise myself. But it was wonderful.” As for the future holds, Abigail shares that she really wishes to become involved in international projects, especially working with Italian movie directors. Then the fan of Giuseppe Tornatore continues: “Because for me, nothing would be more fun than working with a group of people from different countries to create something meaningful.”
THE FASHION SHOOT IS DONE USING OPPO RENO4 PRO
FASHION DIRECTION BRAD HOMES
PHOTOGRAPHER THOMAS DANES
STYLING LINTANG HUTAMI
PROJECT COORDINATOR: PETER ZEWET
MAKE-UP: ANGELIKA SAMARA (62 878) 8345 8575
HAIR: RACHEL AYU (62 812) 9357 3355
STYLING ASSISTANT: SAFINA HARYS