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She gracefully moves her body to the left and the right, akin to a svelte ballerina complete with the neat bun. All the while, Luna Maya’s expressive gaze never once left the mirror as the camera snaps from behind her lace-covered back to capture the best shots. Jeremy Thomas, in the background, is waving goodbyes as he swiftly exits the studio to continue a productive day at yet another meeting. Jeremy and Luna are synonymous within the Indonesian entertainment industry, having started their careers as models, he in the early 1990s and she in the early 2000s, before making it big as actors. With their active involvement in front and behind movies and soap operas, each star stands bright in their memorable roles across different genres. 

Both have also worked together in several titles, such as Sabrina in 2018 and The Rebels in 2019. While the former is a horror flick filmed in Indonesia, the latter is a family drama filmed in the UK with Jeremy behind the camera. No matter the many hats he has worn over an illustrious career of 23 years, Jeremy emphasizes the importance of not losing yourself in the process. “I always strive to give the best out of myself,” he says. “The showbiz world is unlike any other. People come and go at the speed of light, and the cutthroat environment sees many dreams go up in smoke. It is important to define who we are, and our differences make us stand out from all the rest.”

Likewise, Luna has learned to know herself better and harness the potentials inside to make a lasting mark. “Do not lose sight of your goal due to insecurities,” she says. “In the entertainment industry, a strong personality would stand out; you also have to know how to carry yourself in different situations and be an adaptable coworker to those around you.” She further explains that, behind it all, work ethic is key to creating the best results. “Remember to love your work and what you do from the heart. Have a commitment, focus and discipline, trust in the process and be willing to work hard.” 

The desire and drive to commit and express themselves in totality through this art form have set both actors into a class of their own as content creators. “The audience will demand to see something they like, but we do not have to follow their requests all the time,” Luna says. “We have to make the best art from our point of view, which they will come to appreciate.” Adding to her point, Jeremy says that no one should compromise on quality. “When we create good quality contents, I believe the audience would come to enjoy our creations and thus set the standards. Likewise, when the contents are of not-so-good quality, the audience would digest them and grow to normalize that standard. As a content-maker and -provider, by creating quality products, we educate the audience and market.” 

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However, as a producer and director himself, Jeremy also has to balance creative vision with investors who sometimes only seek short-term profit. “Whatever content we make in the showbiz industry, it should be well-thought-out to have medium- to long-term benefits.” A few examples of forward-thinking entertainment industries he mentions include Hollywood and Bollywood, utilizing their soft power as diplomacy tools. “Indonesia should be on its way, as well. We have to start thinking about content-making beyond as a way to entertain,” Jeremy says. “Each content has EVA, or economy value-added, which means embedding important points we want the global audience to understand. As such, our showbiz industry would grow bigger, and there would be chain reactions in other industries as a result.”

In terms of global competitiveness, both he and Luna agree that our Indonesian cultures are priceless assets. Luna, for example, had recently started TS Media with fellow artists to talk about lifestyle, sports, hobbies, travel and culinary. The latter two topics are particularly enlightening and entertaining in promoting the richness and beauty of the country.  “At first, it was just something casual we did as part of our expertise and passion. However, viewers love our creations, so we are planning to add more segments such as finance,” she says. Jeremy had recently made the Jelajah Indonesia programme on his YouTube to introduce local experiences and destinations he enjoyed with his daughter. “The next generation should know about our intangible assets both as a potential revenue stream and as our cultural identity to protect,” he says. 

Their expansion to the digital platform is nothing new since the world is already going digital for the past few decades. Although Indonesia still has largely untapped digital opportunities across different sectors, the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has helped accelerate growth. One example is OTT services, which offer convenience to access stream television and film contents digitally at a low price. As most movie theatres across the country are still closed, content-makers have launched many new releases on local OTT services: Vidio, GoPlay, Mola TV and FirstMedia X, to name a few.  “In this way, the entertainment industry and those whose livelihood depends on it could survive,” Luna says. “Going digital is another way to remain relevant in the competitive showbiz industry, to go get new opportunities and learn in new areas.”

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Besides including existing contents from a diverse list of production houses in different countries, a few services also create original local contents. “With this new medium to utilize, the content’s quality needs to be continually improved to compete globally. We have the capacity and creativity to reach this level of competitiveness,” Jeremy says. “However, our market’s potential is undercapitalized and under-monetized. There are many factors beyond big budgets to create a good quality production—we need the talents to execute it well.” 

Under their mentorships, new crops in the showbiz world will always thrive to become the next big stars. Besides often seen in the thick of discussions with fellow actors both younger and older, Jeremy passes all the knowledge to his children. Valerie and Axel happen to share their father’s penchant for the creative business. Meanwhile, Luna is one of the judges at Indonesia’s Top Model—a field now seeing a resurgence and new appreciation for local talents on par with their regional counterparts. Although the pandemic might have changed the entertainment industry, these two talents make sure they are positive impacts resounding globally for posterity.

Photography by Andrew Octaviano (Clockwise Pictures) | Concept and Styling by Clairice Halim

This story appears in the April 2021 issue of Tatler Indonesia. Read our e-magazine and their full story here.