The Jakarta Post
This year is a busy year for actress Jelita 'Acha' Septriasa with a handful of film projects lined up.
Following the success of 99 Cahaya di Langit Eropa (Ninety-nine Lights in the European Sky) and its sequel, both of which she starred in, she has taken up the offer to star in another follow-up.
The film, Bulan Terbelah di Langit Amerika (Moon Divided in America's Sky), tells about the experience of a Muslim couple in the aftermath of the 9/11 tragedy in the US.
Acha, who will share the screen with actor Abimana Aryasatya, will start filming in New York, Washington and San Francisco in October this year.
'I am excited to work with director Rizal Mantovani, who has a tremendous track record. As the film speaks about 9/11, he will employ some CGI to portray that attacks,' she said.
Stepping into the entertainment industry 11 years ago through a teenage beauty pageant, Acha has now become one of the most sought-after actresses in the country.
With her Citra Award ' a local equivalent of the Oscar ' and roles in more than 25 commercially successful movies, she is even rumored to be the highest paid actress in the country, something that she humbly played down as mere gossip.
She said she was starting to get better pay after starring in Love back in 2007, the time when the rumor started. 'I received Rp 250 million [US$18,700] and above [per film] in 2010, although the gossip had started before that. I guess [the gossip] becomes some sort of a prayer,' the 25-year-old said.
The glitzy acting career, she said, is just a fragment of her larger dream. She is preparing to take steps toward becoming a film director and entrepreneur ' aside from taking roles in more exciting film projects.
Before taking part in prominent film projects, Acha was considered typecast for teenage flicks following the success of her romantic film Heart, in which she shared the screen with Nirina Zubir and Irwansyah.
The film was a huge hit in Indonesia and Malaysia while the songs on its soundtrack, some of which were performed by Acha, became the anthems of many teenagers.
At the peak of her career, she left to study mass communications at Limkokwing University in Malaysia to live up her parents' expectation for her to further her studies.
Her studies, she said, were far from smooth, especially the first two years, but she had the full support of her parents. Her father even moved to Malaysia. After four years, she graduated and took home the Best Student with Leadership Award.
Back home in Indonesia, her stardom shines brighter. In 2012, she won a Citra award for her role in Monty Tiwa's Test Pack: You're My Baby.
Some of her films are ready to hit the screen and she has been personally picked by novelist Aditya Mulya ' the writer of Test Pack ' to portray a mother of three in the upcoming film Sabtu Bersama Bapak (Saturday with Father), which he penned.
Apart from filming Bulan Terbelah in the US, she will also film Sabtu Bersama Bapak in Denmark and then go to the UK to film two other movies.
Despite her tight schedule, Acha hoped she would have a chance to realize her long-time dream of running a beauty-related business and becoming a film director.
Her directorial debut in the short film Firasat (Premonition), part of the omnibus film Aku Cinta Kamu (I Love You), won a Maya Award, an annual award initiated by Indonesian online film enthusiasts.
Acha is writing The Getaway, which is set to be her first feature project, but it has been put on hold because of her acting schedule.
'Many investors have also asked when I can turn the script into a film. But frankly, being an actress is better, in terms of the payment and time,' Acha said.
'There are many acting jobs being offered, so I feel it's not the right time yet to let go of the acting world.'
Despite having to put her directing plans on hold, she wants to give back to the industry that helped her grow by establishing an acting course.
'I want to give back what I have achieved these years. By nurturing new talents, I can refresh my knowledge while I continue acting: something like what has been done by actress Meryl Streep, who lectures at Yale University.'