Oka Antara is a well known Indonesian actor, he had won at least four awards including Best Supporting Actor for his movie The Crescent Moon. Born a Balinese, he lived in New York in his younger years, and came back to Indonesia to pursue a music career. He did release a Hip Hop/ R&B album that opened up his road to host MTV Jamz. Not too long after that he started to do acting, and fell in love with it to this day. He now stars in movies like Killers, Foxtrot Six as well as Brata, a crime thriller web series to name a few. We would love to catch up with how he is today, so we met him for an up close and personal talk.

Text: Cheryl Marella Photos courtesy of: Oka Antara


As a Balinese descent, do you remember any stories or experience about your area (Karang Asem)? The only distinct memory I had was that every time my family and I went to Bali, we weren’t allowed to stay in the city. We had to go straight to our village from the moment we landed at the airport. And man.. the road to my village was painful. There were no bypass back then, so the trip consists of a 4-5 hour drive non stop in a cramped up mini van. Just when you thought you got through the long hour drive, the car had to stop at the very end of the asphalt concrete road. So we had to reach the village by walking a few kilometers further. But this was in the 80’s. Ever since they built a bypass that cuts through the mountain and saved 3 hour, coming home is always something I look forward to.

Being born in Jakarta, and grew up in New York, did your parents ever teach you about Balinese cultures? No. But they did sent me to sunday school in which I learned the basic teachings of Hinduism. If yes, what do you think is the most crucial thing (could be a religious view, history, culture, etc.) that you still hold dear to this day? That there is only one God. I know it’s nothing for any other religion to believe in this. But as a Hindu, I often get exposed to alot of different Hindu teachings that offers many deities. For example, Hindus in India never heard of Sang Hyang Widhi. That term is only believed by a Hindu sect in Bali called Hindu Dharma. We believe God as the one and only. That’s what I believe in.

How proud are you, being a Balinese male who became one of the best actors in Indonesia? I am super proud to represent the place where I come from. How did you break free from the stereotype that Balinese don’t leave the island? My dad has never let any of his children live in Bali. So technically I have never left Bali if i have never lived there. Hehe. But I thought about living in Bali once I’m done with the industry. What’s your favourite staycation place in Bali? Definitely my home in Karangasem, now that we have a shortcut to get there. My house in Renon, also Ubud area, mainly because they have beautiful hotels and restaurants there.

the culture issue


September & october 2019

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