With a firm grip on his craft, Jerome Kurnia emerges at the forefront, breaks through the digital lens, commits to telling his story that many can learn from, and above all, comes as a ray of sunshine to somehow ease the adversity we experience through his exceptional talent.
“Everything is not fine yet,” the 27-year old actor, Jerome Kurnia, ponders. At this point in our virtual interview, the actor, in his contemporary batik collar Cuban shirt, looks ready to get real in his truest, unfiltered sense as we ask about the situation in Jakarta and how people are coping up with the effects of the pandemic.
“People are starting to live with it [COVID -19] even though the numbers are getting higher. I don’t think people care as much as they should. So I think we should be a little bit more cautious about this. I believe we can do so much better.” A straight narrative on how he feels about the pandemic that seems to have been swept under the rug as the country moves towards easing restrictions.
Devastating as it is disruptive, the impact of COVID-19 continues to pummel through our lives into a crisis of unimaginable proportions. While the pandemic has forced us to take a pause and stay indoors, it doesn’t mean that inspiration and wonder should be boxed too. Evidently, there is still a significant number of people struggling and muddling through, trying to navigate their way to the new normal. For all that, we managed to come up with a workaround; the decisive turn to a mostly digital way of life. And with all the uncertainty looming over everyone’s fate in the world, it is the people who—with no hesitation, generously share their time and talent and find ways to become the source of positive energy and light during these difficult times—we owe it from.
Admit it or not, during the days when we were cooped up at home, and the spirits were low, televisions and mobile phones became our immediate sanctuary. In the search for the endless bounds of entertainment and positive energy, may it be in local or international shows, series and movies, became the constant escape, enabling us to break away from the proverbial gasp of air. And without realizing the massive contributions of people behind the curtains who keep us all entertained, Jerome works hard to deliver and become the product of what we all get to enjoy on our digital screens.
“One day, I’m going to be in Hollywood!”
With all the successful roles he plays that bring him to the pedestal, not to mention the thousands of followers he has on social media, Jerome is undoubtedly a star. But prior to becoming the household name that he is now is years of honing skills combined with his unwavering passion and natural gift to tell stories through his own art.
Coming from a family of doctors and lawyers, Jerome admits that pursuing art didn’t start as easy as shelling peas. “It was quite hard for me in the beginning. My late father is a doctor, and he always wanted me to be a doctor. Almost all my cousins and aunts pursued medical and legal fields, they’re really into studies, and the entertainment business was a new world that none of us have ever discovered. People close to my heart didn’t believe in me at first,” he recalls.
Our attentiveness to trace the roots of his interest in the arts and how he ended up in the industry increases as he draws open the glamorous curtain that stood between him and his fans.
“Well, it goes like this,” he grins with excitement, “after I graduated from law school, I worked in a law firm for a probation period. After that, they offered me a contract to work full-time for years. I took time to really think if I am to go and sign the contract. There was something in me that says, ‘No, don’t do it because I don’t think you’re ever really happy.’ Every day I wake up in the morning, I always feel like there’s this hole inside of me. Like something is missing,” he details.
Even after finishing law at Pelita Harapan University, Jerome admits that he went through a phase where he had to grapple with figuring out what to pursue and defining who he really wants to become.
In his continuous quest for his true passion and self-discovery, a conscious realization arises. He recalls the exact defining moment that paved the way for him to take the high road of acting. “I met my childhood friend who is in an advertising company. At that time, he shared about loving what he does and doing it for the rest of his life,” he recalls vividly. This encounter helped him to finally make up his mind.
“I ended up not signing the contract, left the law firm, and started searching for my own path,” he adds. After putting the law firm behind him, he struggled to figure out a space where he would feel like he belongs. “I was running out of money, and I was like, ‘What am I supposed to do?'” he recalls. Then comes his eureka moment:
“One day, I’m going to be in Hollywood!” a status he posted on Facebook during his junior years, as if he knew where his natural gift would bring him. It was in his core all along, validated by his confession about his love for acting and being a part of the theatre. That was when he took a sharp turn, pursued acting, and crawled his way into show business.
Although the internet connection fluctuates, one thing stands clear; the way he articulately tells his story makes all of us hungry for more. A skill he clearly developed during his time as a radio announcer.
From his days yearning to find his creative pursuit, juggling between his radio work and attending castings three times a week, lining up and waiting endlessly for his turn, to finally reaping what he sowed. “I would wait for five hours, days and days, and then I would meet sons and daughters of famous people. They would just storm right beside me and just go into the casting easily. I have been rejected, but I stood through.”
Jerome has multiple shows and movies that are nothing less than consequential. After his first appearance in Dilan 1991, multiple doors started opening for him; he got the main role as Robert Suurhoff in the movie Bumi Manusia. His ground-breaking portrayal resulted in his nomination for Best Supporting Actor at the 2019 Indonesia Film Festival and the 2020 Indonesia Movie Actor Awards.
All the success doesn’t end there as recently, he was casted as Chicco Salim in Gossip Girl Indonesia, a famous teen drama web television series that is based on the American television series Gossip Girl. It became the talk of the town and turned out to be one of the instinctive go-to’s of people when the world was at its peak of the quarantine. His role left an indelible mark, giving justice to the original character, Chuck Bass.
While it is no overnight success, for Kurnia, it is those things that happen in between that give depth to his work and allow him to grow as an actor and as a human being.
“I want people to remember me as that guy who entertains.”
As Jerome creates his own path, he moves forward with lessons he gains through experiences, as well as the knowledge of life’s joys and pains. When we ask how he wants to be remembered, he quickly says, “I want people to remember me as that guy who entertains. It is always the goal. What makes me happy is to entertain people. I’m determined to do more and improve myself and my craft as long as I keep them entertained.”
Despite all the favorable outcomes he gains over the short span of time, Jerome acknowledges his privilege and status, but he doesn’t let it fully define, and even more so, consume who he is as a person. “I’m just another guy; I wake up, make my coffee, and love to find time with family and friends and enjoy doing the basics of life with different people,” he says resoundingly. “I would just sometimes randomly meet people on Instagram of mutual friends, and I was like, ‘Hey, you know, I really like what you’re doing right now, let’s just have coffee,’ and that’s I guess, one of the things that keep me going in life,” he adds.
“I’m very blessed and happy that my work is my hobby.”
“Choose a job you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life,” a famous adage we have heard a million times. It’s true that only a few get to do what they love, so Jerome makes sure to express how grateful he is for every good thing that comes his way. “I’m very blessed and happy that my work is my hobby,” he answers heartily. This makes us even more curious of what his greatest validation as an actor is, aside from making people entertained and bringing them to the world of his art to somehow escape the complicated reality of life, “to fulfill the vision of the director,” he figures. It is with no doubt that with his keen understanding of the art of acting, he is but a vessel to the reality of the characters he plays.
The whole virtual interview left us in awe. We reckon that beyond the shifting thumbnails of Jerome Kurnia’s artistic Instagram feed is a person with an undeterred voice raring to create a lasting impact on other people’s lives. And with the value he gives to his craft, sealed with the army of people who supports him, he is all set to provide us with more of what we can consider a sanctuary that will make us go through any problematic situation.