The Artist: An Interview with Sherina
1. Hai Sherina, can you share us the story on how you get into the entertainment business in the first place?
It all started when I was around 7 years old taking vocal lessons in "Bina Seni Suara". The founder of the school, late Elfa Secioria, amazing musician, had a stock of children’s songs and when he saw me singing in one of the school shows, he went to my family, told them about his project, and wanted me to record the vocals. After we released the album, we made music videos that were all directed by Riri Riza and Mira Lesmana. This sparked their idea to create a children's musical movie: Petualangan Sherina. I was really lucky to be involved in such a good production and received direction from the people I admire. Most of the time it did not feel like I was working, it just felt like I was playing around, doing something I enjoyed very much; singing and dancing.
2. You started being involved in the creative industry, as an artist, at such a young age, how easy and difficult was it managing your time as a young artist and as a youngster in Jakarta?
I guess I owe it all to my mother. When I started out, she managed everything. She made sure that I would always have a good balance of experiences in the creative sector, and still get my schoolwork done. Thanks to her, it was never a big hassle for me. My involvement in the creative industry was never considered a ‘job’ by my parents, they were against that very idea. They made sure that school would always be the number one focus. Anything entertainment related offers were filtered carefully by my mom. She selected projects that she thought would bring good values for my future, making sure that the objective of my activities in the creative industry was never mainly about the money, but about gaining valuable learning experiences. Lastly, I was raised to always be responsible for the choices I take, this to me is one of the most important lessons my parents have taught me.
3. Our theme in this edition is about youth and independence. In regard to your personal experience, how do you define independence (and freedom) in your time being a young artist?
In my opinion, a country has truly reached independence when it no longer lingers on ‘political correctness’. As an artist in Indonesia, political correctness refrains me to completely embrace a comprehensive independence. Political correctness is like a cancer to growth, a cancer to progress. And, progress is something that you gain from being in the state of independence. We must identify ourselves to those elements of progress, and not easily be shaken by sentiments. When we are stuck in the push and pulls of sentiments, everything becomes filtered and censored, to safeguard the so-called socio-political appropriateness. This, in consequence will mask the truth. I for one fully support truth and candor. I feel like it's becoming more impossible to express our opinions fully without the fear of absurd accusations (and worst-case scenario, incarceration unfortunately). People are overly sensitive and are normalizing these sentiments. When we start normalizing sentiments, we fail to see "what can be done" to fix the TRUE issues.
4. How much freedom did you have as a young artist in Indonesia?
It depends on how you define freedom. There’s always going to be that limiting factor with any kind of situations. It differs depending on the person's idea of wellbeing. I always try to express all of my thoughts and opinions through creativity. Quite often, they are limited by the social norm of constructed political correctness. To me, this was and still is something that limits my freedom as an artist in Indonesia.
5. You have given our country a great name locally and regionally, among your many achievements, is your feature at the ‘One Young World Summit’ in 2011. Was there any established support system to facilitate you as a young artist, then, to manage these achievements? And even, fallbacks?
I'm not very familiar with all the different established support systems provided by the government. My family was my support system, in terms of managing and selecting activities.
6. Today, you are an established young artist. How is the situation of creative industry different then, to how it is now?
The main difference is of course the existence of: Social Media. People then, must struggle quite a lot to gain communication with their audience. But now, with the help of social media, everything is quite instant and easily viral. Just a simple click on your feed can connect you to a wider audience. Just look at Rich Chigga! He's awesome.
7. As we celebrate our 72nd years of independence and 18 years of celebrating the campaign to improve the situation of young people, what do you really want to see provided to youth in accordance to matters on freedom?
Freedom of speech, it’s the core of everything!
8. Do you have any suggestions for youngsters who want to get involved in the creative industry?
I guess, build yourself to have the habit of good work ethics. And in this regard, I am especially annoyed with people who are tardy. Be responsible to your commitments. There is this perception among people in the creative industry that inspirations come when it is time, (this is sometimes the case) so folks tend to wait passively for that eureka moment. It should however not become an excuse to slack around. Find a topic that ignites your curiosity. Always stay curious.