Beyond the silver screen
Irwansyah talks about his entertainment career and becoming an entrepreneur.
Irwansyah is an Indonesian businessman/ actor/singer who still looks as fine as he did way back in 2006 for the movie Heart, which propelled him to much fame in the region. With 9.9M followers on Instagram today, he remains very much a much-sought after celebrity.
The actor who flew in from Jakarta to Kuala Lumpur to attend Lord’s Tailor 45th anniversary in November, looked dashing as one of the ambassadors for the bespoke tailoring establishment, along with Aaron Aziz, Arja Lee and Wak Doyok.
“I’m more inclined towards a casual, street style. But for formal events and movie launches, I usually opt for suits,” he shared with Pursuit in a private interview and photoshoot. “I have known Lord’s Tailor since 2007, and I love how its suits fit me so well. It’s stylish, and the cutting is fabulous. Although I have tried many other suits from various other tailors over the years, the best option for me is still Lord’s Tailor.”
Irwansyah also has a soft spot for Malaysia: “I haven’t yet explored many of the provinces in Indonesia, but I think I have already visited all 14 states in Malaysia, many of which were promotional visits for movies or dramas.”
The 35-year-old star started his journey in the entertainment industry, acting in commercials in 2001. A year after, he received roles for Sinetron (Indonesian soap operas or telenovas), in 2005, he began acting for the big screen.
But, 2006 was the year when Irwansyah really became a movie star and a singer. Heart was one of the highest-grossing Indonesian movies of 2006, and he played the lead role or Farel, and also sang on the film’s soundtrack, including the solo Pecinta Wanita and the duet Heart. The album went double platinum. This was certainly a milestone for Irwansyah, as he’d longed for such success right from the start.
Then following in his father’s footsteps, he began to widen his horizons and ventured into entrepreneurship in 2011. The production house R1 Pictures was his first company. Now, he owns three other businesses and is still on the lookout for more opportunities.
When you look back at your acting career during the Heart era, what are some of your best memories?
I often feel like it was one year’s worth of shooting, although in reality it took only two months. The shooting was on location at a village, and it seemed like endless days out in nature. After the filming ended, I couldn’t seem to get out of Farel’s character, and my mother was a bit worried about me (laughs). It was because I had been in character for almost four months. Even today, people still recognise me as Farel, from the film, and I have been blessed by it.
How did you start to get into acting?
It all started in 2001 with commercials. To be honest, during the early stages, my acting wasn’t great, but to improve I learnt from the seniors. I would ask them for tips and tricks to improve my own acting. Then I met Indonesian director Hanny R. Saputra while making Heart. He trained me. From what I remember, it was a crazy experience – every day I would do the script reading non-stop, in the morning with Nirina Zubir, and with Acha Septriasa during the evening.
We shot the film in two months, and I gained a lot of valuable experience from acting in that movie. My skills slowly started to improve after that, and I appeared more natural on the big screen.
You started in the entertainment industry as an actor first, then singer and later transitioned into entrepreneurship. Can you tell us more about your businesses?
I have three. Jannah Corp is a Food and Beverages business, and we sell a variety of cakes from different brands. Right now we own 10 different shops around Indonesia, including in Medan, Bandung and Yogyakarta.
Jannah Tour and Travel is a travel agency that provides Umrah and Halal trip packages. Besides me, there are seven other Indonesian artists that I have hired to be ambassadors including my wife Zaskia Sungkar, Shireen Sungkar, Prilly Latuconsina, Irfan Hakim, Ricky Harun, Herfiza Novianti and Teuku Wisnu.
Halwawater.co or Halal Water is a mineral water business through which we educate people about the proper etiquette of drinking water according to the Islamic Sunnah – the right way to sit, which hand to use etc.
I miss singing. Last month, I even asked a friend in Malaysia: “What if Acha (Acha Septriasa, his costar in Heart) and I do a concert together here, would it be okay?” I also suggested we start looking out for sponsors but all of this is just a plan. I haven’t even spoken to Acha about this idea yet (laugh). Hopefully, it will work out soon!
You and Zaskia Sungkar have been married since 2011. What keeps the love alive and what do you enjoy about being married?
In a few months, we will celebrate our 9th anniversary! I have learnt a lot from being married. I used to be childish and very egoistic. We are both from the same industry so often it has been a bit of a rollercoaster ride. Both of us have changed a lot along the way, and though we often go back and forth on issues, we always return to our faith, which is the centre of all we do. If one of us loses our way, or ventures too far off from our path, the other pulls us back. My wife has made me a much stronger person.
What was it like to work with each other?
There have been several businesses that we partnered up for. But we also pursue our own ventures. My wife owns a fashion brand called Zaskia Sungkar in Jakarta.
Like anyone else, there are challenges and also advantages when we work together.
What’s on the horizon for you? New movie or album?
InsyaAllah I will feature in an Indonesian film next year, but I can’t reveal any information since the details are still being finalised. And the same for drama! As for the business side, I’m planning to dive into the tea business.