Young, bright and talented are a few of the words that best describe 17-year-old actress Maudy Ayunda.
Considering her age, she has enjoyed many rare opportunities including playing the lead role in prominent films, such as renowned filmmaker Hanung Bramantyo’s most recent flick, Perahu Kertas (Paper Boat).
The film was split into two series and is based on Dewi “Dee” Lestari pop novel of the same title. It sees Maudy brushing shoulders with award winning actor Reza Rahardian as well as rising star Adipati Dolken.
Maudy said the book happened to be among the first Indonesian novels she had ever read.
As a British International School graduate, Maudy had been exposed to a lot of English literature and not so many Indonesian novels. This was until her mother bought her Perahu Kertas and Ayat-Ayat Cinta (Verses of Love) by Habiburrahman El Shirazy.
“Perahu Kertas is a light novel, but it is not too light. I love parts that talk about Keenan,” she said about the character played by Adipati.
Maudy said in terms of appearance, she is very girly but not overly feminine, which is in contrast to the style of her character. Whereas in Perahu Kertas, Kugy loves to wear jeans and loose tops such as flannel shirts, Maudy wears a cute silver mini dress with matching high heels for the interview. Playing a character that is far removed from her own personality is a challenge she will happily take.
“I feel very lucky. Every opportunity can just slip away if we do not take it. I believe that an opportunity may not come around twice, so I will definitely snatch it,” she said.
For the role of Kugy, Hanung asked his assistant director to accompany Maudy around Jakarta on public transport to help her understand the character she would be portraying. It was the first time she had traveled by public minivan, public bus, Transjakarta, bajaj (three-wheeled taxi), electric-powered train or KRL.
“I was a bit shocked. I took the Kopaja public bus but it did not move for 15 minutes,” she said. “This waiting may reduce productivity in the country as it makes the passengers tired and in a bad mood, affecting their performance at work.”
This movie was not her first. The slender teenager’s first role was when she was 11 years old and Miles Film held a casting at her school for the film Untuk Rena (For Rena), directed by Riri Reza. The 2003 film told the story of Rena and some other children who live in an orphanage. Maudy was offered the lead role.
“The shooting session was held during the holiday. My mom and I agreed that it was a big opportunity,” she says.
Since then, the path to big screen productions opened up to her and many more offers came her way.
In 2006, Maudy starred in Sang Pemimpi (The Dreamer), which was based on Andrea Hirata’s novel with the same title. Her other screen credits include Rumah Tanpa Jendela (A House without a Window), Tendangan Dari Langit (Kick from the Sky) and Malaikat Tanpa Sayap (Angel without Wings).
Maudy said that she has learnt to act through a hands-on method; learning by doing. During her elementary school years, she was involved in musical dramas and at Senior High School, theater. In addition to acting, singing is Maudy’s other talent. She launched her first album Panggil Aku (Call Me) last year and just for fun, also uses YouTube to post videos of herself singing.
“I have been in love with singing since I was a kid, but the first opportunity I had was acting,” said the girl, who also sings the catchy Perahu Kertas soundtrack. When asked whether she would eventually focus on either acting or singing, Maudy said she could not decide as they both give her completely different pleasure and also support each other.
Her biggest challenge at the moment is balancing between school and her two passions; she found this especially taxing during her senior high school year and had to limit social activities with her friends and after school.
“I do not know whether that decision will benefit me for the next couples of years. I can’t foresee the result, but I am happy as long as I can make my youth more productive,” said the young actress, who beamed with happiness when some of her friends said hello during the interview.
Maudy, who admitted that she is an ambitious student, said she has been accepted as a student of Columbia University in New York City to study economics and politics.
Although she has graduated from high school this year, her mother will only allow her to begin the academic year in September 2013 as she feels she is too young.
“I am very excited about studying abroad. I am not afraid because it’s still a year away. Besides, my parents will visit me frequently,” she said, adding that she will stay at a relative’s house during her time there.
She is passionate about developing a comprehensive understanding of economics and politics and has plans
to become a businesswoman after graduation. “I want to open a business in Jakarta or become involved in individual social work.”