A month has passed since I interviewed Yacko for the segment “A Cuppa with…” and this month I had the opportunity to interview my favorit Puteri Indonesia (Indonesian beauty queen) who also happens to be a friend of mine, Melanie Putria!
Melanie’s and my paths crossed in 2011 through running. With other fellow runners, we went together for Singapore Standard Chartered Marathon. Although at the time she had just been running for less than 6 months, she went there to do her first marathon (in which she got a quite good timing for a first timer who didn’t really prepare for it!) while I was doing my first half marathon (I obviously didn’t perform as well as her, you can easily tell who the fast runner is and who the fun runner is 😉 ).
She’s such a lovely person that everybody loves. I got the chance to work with her once as an MC/Race Announcer. Although she’s more experienced than me, I can tell you that she’s not cocky at all!
Spending that afternoon with her and listening to her stories at Starbucks, Kota Kasablanka, made me realize how this person could even be more inspiring.
Hi Uni (an endearing term for sister used by the ethnic group of Minangkabau in West Sumatra), thank you for taking your time to have a chat with me for my blog. You are well known as a Puteri Indonesia who has a successful career in the entertainment industry. What inspired you to embark on this career?
It all started from singing. Thinking that I had the talent, my mother got me enrolled in a singing course and had to drag me there because I didn’t think that I had any sense of music. But mother knows better, of course! Eventually I started to really like singing and entered quite a lot of singing contests and became the winner. I became the backing vocal for a couple of bands, performed more and started to make my own money. Then one day at the campus, I saw an ad for Puteri Indonesia and got intrigued. I thought to myself, “Why don’t I give it a shot?” All those experiences from the singing contests and on the stage gave me enough confidence to present myself in front of a crowd. Even though I was clueless when it came to beauty and modeling, I filled out the form and sent it over. Turned out I got picked as a finalist to represent West Sumatra and won the title. This really opened the door for me as a presenter and MC. I learned how to be an MC by watching my mother who often brought me to work as an MC for Minangkabau weddings when I was little.
You’re also known to promote healthy lifestyle, being an avid runner and all. Can you tell us a briefly how your story with sports and health begun?
I used to be this chubby girl who hated sport and often pretended to be sick so I could skip physical education classes. After winning the title of Puteri Indonesia, I still didn’t embrace the healthy lifestyle–I didn’t exercise, didn’t eat vegetables nor fruits. I thought that I had no problem with my body until YPI (Yayasan Puteri Indonesia – the organizer of the beauty pageant) sent me a warning letter saying that I had to lose a couple kilograms. I felt shocked because it was the first time for a Puteri Indonesia receiving such letter. I wasn’t that fat, but I obviously didn’t look toned either. So I decided to join the gym and try to live a healthy lifestyle. It was the turning point. But I was too excited with it that I took things a bit too far for five years. I adopted the lifestyle of a bodybuilder – did their weight training routines, followed their diet without proper knowledge. It was extreme that my health started to be affected.
What made you finally found balance in this quest for a healthy lifestyle?
My body was so lean that it no longer produced estrogen. Doctor told me that I was already in a pre menopause phase and I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to have children. I went to see a gynecologist who told me to gain 3 kilograms and voilà, I got my period back one week before I got married!
What about running? How did you find your love for it?
After I gave birth to Sheemar, I wanted to shed those extra pounds. Going back to the gym was hard because I felt intimidated by other members who looked good and it didn’t help to hear my personal trainer said I looked like a double door fridge. I felt like I had to find other way and saw the running-related posts on social media by my friends Maylaffayza and Yasha. Then I found my passion and have done 5 marathon ever since.
You just had your last marathon in Tokyo and you worked with Pocari Sweat for the preparation. How was it?
I underwent training for 2 months for Tokyo Marathon 2016. It was hard because I had only been running for a couple of years and had to follow a comprehensive training plan. Although the plan was made for athletes, I was still living my life like normal that I failed to follow the recovery program properly and got typhoid fever. I recovered one week before the marathon and the people from Pocari Sweat told me it’s ok for me not to go but I realized that I had this huge responsibility to finish what we’d started. When I managed to get to the finish line and broke my PB (personal best time), I felt really grateful. It made me realize even more that we could get what we wanted and there’s nothing impossible if we’re really determined and if we really honored the commitment we’d made to ourselves and other people.
We could say that you’re a hard worker and a go-getter. What drives you to be that person?
I always tell myself to give 100% to everything that I do and to finish what I started. People who don’t know me that well would think that I shouldn’t be overly serious in what I do. I think part of it is because I’m an Aries–we’re known to be uncompromising when it comes to what we want. Besides of that, I had a bad experience at school when I was little. I was this chubby and lousy girl who often got picked on by other students. I want to show that I’m no longer that person. We can say that it’s how I avenge myself in a good way. Also, Sheemar is one of the reasons why I work hard. I want to be a good example for him and make him proud.
It’s a bit of surprise to know that a lovely person like you could be a victim of bullying at school. Would you mind sharing a little bit of the story with us?
In elementary school, almost all the girls in the class hate me. They accused me of snitching something to the teacher so the whole class got punished. One time the boys put glue on my chair so my skirt got sticky and dirty. Sometimes they liked to drop my things in front of my eyes and then gave me these mocking facial expressions. They also liked to make fun of me really bad because I was fat and it made me cry. But now things have changed and I’m obviously no longer that fat girl.
Hope you’re not bored having to answer this question but I’m really curious. How do you balance your family and career?
I must be honest, it’s not easy. It’s such a luxury for me if I could sleep 4 hours in a day. This is such a big challenge for me as I’m still figuring out how I can manage to take care of my family, have my own me time, but also thrives in my career at the same time. But thankfully I have a husband who understands me and is willing to remind me if I start to be overly focused on one aspect in my life and abandon the others.
How do you manage to stay fit to do all the things that you do? Where do all those energies come from? And also, how do you manage your mood? The entertainment business is quite a b*tch and it’s easy for the artist’s mood to be affected.
I’m actually a very moody person and I used to have a hard time in managing it. In the past, you could easily tell if I was sad or angry just by looking at my face. And it’s a big no-no in the entertainment industry, as you must not allow the camera or the crowd to capture that. Then I found my outlet in sports. I have to exercise to get the energy that I need to do my activities as well as to control my mood. If I don’t exercise for three days, I can turn to be this very cranky person. Yes, I’m a self-confessed endorphin addict.
So that’s why you always seem to be this pleasant and cheerful person?
Yes, exercising really helps me with that. But, here’s the thing. Back when I just found the key to control my mood, I felt that I was obliged to be this delightful person in front of everyone, that I had to please them. But we live in a world where people have their own agenda and sometimes your happiness is not in it. I used to try to understand these people and let things go their way. But it was tiring. Two years ago I realized that I actually had to be happy first so I could sincerely make other people happy. So I started to muster up the courage to say “no” or show how I’m unhappy with someone if that how I truly feel.
As a beauty queen, what is your definition of beauty? But please don’t say beauty, brain and behavior. Let us know what Melanie Putria really thinks 😀
Beauty is when you feel comfortable. If you think you look pretty but you’re actually hurting, you feel awkward with the clothes and makeup that you wear, then you’re definitely not being beautiful. You exuberate beauty when you can be yourself and proud of it.
Now I get why the judges chose you to be Puteri Indonesia. *chuckles
Okay, this is my attempt to relate this interview with the title of the blog segment, “A Cuppa with…” What are you having and how would you rate it out of 10?
Non-fat Green Tea Frappuccino with less ice, one shot of espresso di affogato and no whipped cream. I like it so much that I’d give it a 9.
Back to you. Do you have any tips for people who want to be a successful presenter and host like yourself?
You can’t be a good TV personality and host if you don’t know what your strength and skill is. For me personally, I love to be connected to the people I’m talking to. So I try to have eye contact with them and it actually helps me to talk better, converse better with them. Also you have to know what makes you unique. What sort of image that you want the audience to relate you to? Are you a sexy MC? A funny one? Or a sporty one? And one more thing, always keep a good relationship with everyone in the industry. I’ve met quite a number of new presenters who stick their nose up in the air. Even though you’re very skillful and talented, you obviously can’t thrive in the industry with that unpleasant manner.
You have so many things going on in your life, so many achievements. Is there any particular project that you would like to realize in the near future?
I have one thing that still hasn’t come true yet. I want to release an album. I’ve discussed this with my husband Angga, but he said that I didn’t really have to have an album to be a singer. Well, I still feel the need to have a work of art that can be appreciated by others. Before we got married in 2010, Angga made a promise that he would help me make an album yet it still hasn’t come true! Hopefully soon.
As a singer, what three tracks that you love to sing?
Whitney Houston – I Will Always Love You
Melissa Manchester – Looking Through the Eyes of Love
Rita Effendy – Sebatas Mimpi
I know this is a typical job interview question, but how do you envision yourself in 10 years?
I will be a hot momma, hahaha! Well, I truly love sports and healthy lifestyle and I want to get as much knowledge as I can from this field. So I really want to be a good personal trainer who has certifications in nutrition and hopefully by being one I can eventually inspire and help many people.