Ayushita Nugraha: Child Actor to Silver Screen Siren
One of the most recognizable names in film in Indonesia, Ayushita Nugraha has been a household name since childhood gracing both the big and small screen. Her latest movie The Gift is a love story with a twist that examines themes of forgiveness and the human ability to move forward from trying situations. On top of her acting career she’s also gained major accolades as a singer and dancer, releasing several successful solo albums over the past decade. We caught up with the multitalented Nugraha to find out how she first started out in the acting business, how she prepared for her challenging role in The Gift, and how she likes to unwind from her jampacked schedule.
You started working in showbiz at three years old, what was your first role?
Ayushita Nugraha: I started working in showbiz in TV commercials and print ads until junior high school. In seventh grade my first role was for a film called Bekisar Merah as Alissa Hassan, a girl who loved playing soccer but her coach wouldn’t let her play because she was a girl. She would have done anything to get into her school’s soccer club because she knew she was great at the game. She pretended to be a boy to get into the tournament [laughs]. Brings back a lot of memories! A year after I was nominated as Best Actress at the Indonesian Film Festival in 2004 and things have been busy ever since.
How did your acting career evolve over the years?
In 2005 I starred in my first blockbuster movie called Me vs High Heels based on a novel in Indonesia. A year later I auditioned to be in a vocal group, the producers were Melly Goeslaw and Anto Hoed, a power couple of musicians who picked me to be part of their cast. We made a movie called Bukan Bintang Biasa and the entire cast sang on the original soundtrack. From 2007 to 2009 I acted in several movies and soap operas but in 2009 I decided to pursue college simply because I had already postponed school for two years. I pushed myself to graduate on time within four years to minimize my time away from showbiz. After that I auditioned for a movie called What They Don’t Talk About When They Talk About Love directed by Mouly Surya which was nominated at Sundance Film Festival in 2013. We did the world premiere in Utah and I was very grateful to be a part of the movie because it was the first Indonesian movie to get into Sundance. That year I also made an album titled Morning Sugar as a soloist and have been fully back in show business ever since.
How did you prepare for your most recent role in The Gift?
I played Tiana, a novelist who’s very introverted and loves to live in the dark — literally. She prefers to live that way because she feels like everything she touches she damages. I personally hate being alone in the dark but in order to understand what Tiana was like I had to meditate in a room with no lights alone for a few hours a day.
There’s a message of forgiving yourself in the movie — is that something you would agree is important to do in life?
Yes, I think we all have to be grateful about everything we’ve been through whether it’s good or bad. It’s okay to not be okay! Once we can forgive ourselves life gets easier somehow.
You’ve traveled a lot for work, what are some of the most memorable locations you’ve shot in?
Switzerland, how I love it there! We went in the wintertime which was freezing but so pretty. It was quite hard to do a scene because of the cold [laughs]. I also love Japan so much and can never get enough of it. The food, the places, the fashion, the people… and in Japan everything you do is right on schedule. I love the way they work; fun yet very disciplined.
How do you relax after a shoot day?
I always make time to take a vacation with my family or friends at least two times a year. There is a love-hate relationship between me and long flights, but I can assure you the love is much bigger. I quite often have projects outside of Jakarta or Indonesia and people tell me how lucky I am to be working and on vacation at the same time but to me it feels quite different because work is still work. That’s why I always invest time to go on an actual vacation. I also love concerts, last March I went to New York to a Justin Timberlake concert. Lucky for me I picked the right date because he postponed the concert due to a snow storm on March 21. I picked March 22 so I still got a chance to see him. I just finished my latest movie Perburuan and have already planned another vacation. I can’t wait to go to the ‘The Carters – On The Run II Tour’ next week in Santa Clara.
What’s your beauty routine?
My usual routine for my skin is using moisturizer and sunblock every single day since I live in a tropical country. Once a month I make time for a facial treatment just to pamper my skin. I also love mineral water infused with lemon slices.
What’s your advice to aspiring actors?
Every project will bring you to a different level of understanding — I’m still learning today, because the business is always evolving. I try not get overwhelmed by all that. The most important thing for me is to love everything I do, because I dedicate my time and talent to the job. Do your job sincerely.
What are your favorite place to visit in Indonesia?
I love Yogyakarta, Bali, Maluku and Bangka Belitong Island. There are a lot of pretty places in Indonesia that I want to see, hopefully soon!
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