Intelligent, persistent and extremely talented, Iqbaal Ramadhan shares his thoughts on acting, mental health and more. Prestige chats with the charming actor.
The saying that time flies when you’re having fun definitely fits Iqbaal Ramadhan’s story. So far, this young actor has been in the entertainment industry for a decade, but he loves every minute of it. Actually, he never really struggled with finding balance between his personal life and professional responsibilities because he has always been able to set clear boundaries between the two. Having been in the industry since a young age trained him to do so. Besides being a competent navigator of life, he also has charm to spare. No wonder that fans adore him.
Hi, Iqbaal, thank you for having us. How are you these days?
I am very blessed at the moment. Despite what’s happening outside, I have been trying to acknowledge my privilege for being able to stay at home. Other than that, I have been keeping myself busy with my hobbies. I see this as a break from work to be honest, and so far, I am very much fancying my leisure time.
By the way, congratulations on the success of Ali & Ratu-Ratu Queens. Do you still remember how you felt when the film finally launched?
It was very shocking, to be fair. I wasn’t really expecting anything when it came out. The production finished about a year and a half ago, so I kind of lost track of what I felt at that time, though I knew I was very happy knowing the movie finally aired through Netflix. And, call it coincidence, but it came out right when the lockdown was imposed in Jakarta, so more people can watch it, which is great.
We learned that the movie’s producer, Muhammad Zaidy, automatically thought of you for the role of Ali. Do you know why? And how did it make you feel?
I think it was the fact that he knew I lived abroad in the States by myself, too, just like what Ali did in the movie. I guess it makes it easier for him to imagine Ali in me? As for me, it was very pleasant to have the idea of Ali within, as well. We sort of share the same struggles.
What was the most challenging part of playing the role of Ali and how do you put yourself in his shoes?
His maturity is way beyond his age, and it was something I needed to balance out with his innocence and the longing for affection from a loved one. So, in a sense, this makes Ali a very mature but also impulsive 19-year-old kid.
If we’re not mistaken, Ali & Ratu-Ratu Queens originally had a 2020 release planned. How do you keep your spirits and hopes up while waiting?
I always believe that art will always find its audience. It’s a long, well-thought-of process for ARRQ to finally find where it belongs. I just knew that one day the movie will get the recognition it deserves and safe to say we’re very happy where the movie is going recently.
As someone who started his entertainment career early on, when was the moment that you realized it can either make or break you?
Now that you ask, it was probably when I played in Dilan 1990. I received a lot of backlash since day one. But to be honest, I couldn’t care less. I mean, I was a reader too, I loved the characters and I was happy with what I see on the screen.
Do you ever feel that you’re missing out on your childhood by working from a young age?
Surely. But I also receive things kids my age don’t get, you get what I mean? I think it’s a natural thing. It’s the tension of opposites, I reckon. I don’t regret anything and I am very grateful and blessed to be where I am right now. I just hope I can inspire kids the way I was inspired when I was a kid.
“I am in no position to tell my audience that they’re going to be all right. But
I can tell them that I feel the same struggle and I hope it makes them feel they’re
What do you love most from being in the entertainment industry?
I learn a lot, all the time. I love talking to people, learning new things and being amazed by things or opinions I haven’t heard of from my colleagues and other people. I also love the fact that I am privileged to create this sort of shared experience, be it movies or my music, with a lot of people who come from different backgrounds and whatnot for the same purpose: to be entertained. I think that’s very cool.
You are of one the personas included in the second edition of Nadya Hutagalung’s book, Walk With Me. Can you share with us how you get involved on the project?
It started with Didit Hadiprasetyo, who I believe is the one in charge of publishing the book. We met in New York and had a bit of a chat. Around that time, Nadya wanted to reissue her book and brought up the topic of emotional wellbeing, which I am very much invested in. So, Didit reached out to my manager. The sharing session felt organic. Almost like a therapy session with Nadya every time we had a Zoom call. I just shared my experience and how I coped with things, then she told me about her point of view.
When did you personally realize the importance of emotional wellbeing?
About five-six years ago? When I was in high school, we had this counsellor who was open to talk to anytime the students needed. It was very much like the “guru BP” in Indonesian schools. The only difference is that the students were much more open about how they actually felt. Hearing how open and vulnerable my friends can be really made me think about how I never listened to myself. Ever since, I have been learning to be more honest with myself. It’s hard, but it’s worth it.
Do you struggle with finding balance between your personal and professional life?
Not really, to be honest. I can always make a distinction between the two. I guess I was trained do so since I was a kid. I also never want to mix the two and let everything be consumed by other people. How will I live if I don’t get a piece of myself for myself?
How would you encourage people to talk about their mental health and emotional well-being?
You see, this is very tricky. I am 21 years old and what do I know about how to take care of a person’s emotional well-being? My generation is very accustomed to these topics yet it is harder for us to really act upon it. It’s very easy to tell people what to do while you subconsciously leave very little space for yourself to actually apply those changes inside you. And I feel that, along with other kids my age, I am in no position to tell my audience that they’re going to be all right. But I can tell them that I feel the same struggle and I hope it makes them feel they’re not alone.
What are your hopes for the people that read your story in Walk With Me?
That in this pandemic, there’s very little we can react to, especially with regards to the things we can’t control. What we can change is what’s within us, and it is very important to look after ourselves. I would argue it is as important as taking care of your physical health. I get that we all share the same experience, but we react to it differently. That’s why kindness is crucial and be compassionate to one another is the least we can do.
With everything that has happened over the past year, has anything changed with you?
I listened to myself more. I respect what my body says even more. I give myself time to think, reflect and react to certain emotions and let it goes through rather than neglect it. I learnt to be empathetic, which is a thing I think my generation is lacking – I know I’ll get a lot of hate for this, but let’s be real. I learn that things take time and the world doesn’t revolve around you. So, do your thing, be compassionate and don’t be a prick. We’re all trying here.
Tell us about your next project, Mencuri Raden Saleh…
I am very excited for this project. It has been going on for a while and to have finally started pre-production feels amazing. I can’t say much right now, but be sure you have eyes peeled for new updates. This one is going to be a hit for sure.
What’s your next goal in life?
For movies, I am focusing on my role in Mencuri Raden Saleh. I’m very very excited to work on it. In music, I am trying to get back to my roots: making music that I grew up listening to and sonics that made me who I am today. Personal life wise, I want to be the light and joy for the people around me. I want to make sure they know they are loved by me. I am bad at telling people this I just wish the feel it.