Today, we are interviewing Dancia Susilo, a mental health activist, model, and a business coach.
Please tell us something about yourself.
I have been involved with many organizations since I was 11 or 12. The first one was an international mental health organization based in the USA called To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA). Although my main focus has been and will continue to be on mental wellness, I have involved myself in other organizations such as World Vision, Heart and Stroke Foundation, and Amnesty International. However, for these larger organizations, you have little say, and you don’t usually see your direct impact. Due to this, most of the mental health organizations I was involved with were more local, where I could lead a team and make the changes I wanted to see. There was the issue of resources, though. When you’re starting out and especially when you’re only a teenager, people don’t put a lot of faith in you and your projects. To maneuver around this, I often partnered with larger organizations such as Jack.Org or Headstrong. This gave me the resources to create fundraisers and events for public education. I love every aspect of working within an organization I believe in and aspire to start my own one day. That’s why I am running for Maxim’s Cover Girl 2020.
How did you get into what you do right now? Please tell us more about your journey?
I started modeling when I was 5. It was the odd job here, and there but I have some cute pictures of my first photoshoot with Yamaha! My true dream at the time was to be a singer. I didn’t have any connections in the industry, and modeling is a great way to network. You don’t just model for companies. You get opportunities to be in music videos. Music videos lead to opportunities to network with directors and musicians so you can take the leap to music or acting. I later did theatre acting when I was 8 and finally started making money from music when I was 14. I tried to do adult modeling when I was 15 and was with Sutherland Agency in Toronto. Unfortunately, I was 5’5 at the time, and it didn’t look like I was going to grow any taller since I had been that height since I was 12. However, when I turned 18, I started growing again and am currently almost 5’7. This opened up my interest in exploring the modeling world again. I gained a lot of weight during my university years and spent the past year trying to lose the weight I gained. Not that there was anything wrong with that weight, but it didn’t feel right for my own body. I dropped 30lbs this past year and got my body fat percentage from 27% to 14.3%. I’m proud of that transformation and feel myself again.
What inspires you?
Death, pain, and suffering inspires me. I know that sounds morbid, but without things we attribute to negativity, we would never be able to experience positivity. Everything we feel and experience is in reference to our other feelings and experiences. We want to shift away from things we don’t like and put effort into the good because it makes it feel more satisfying. So when I fight for public education of mental health, I am driven by my own pain and suffering that I have endured. I don’t want others to feel that way or slink too deep. I don’t want people to feel isolated. It’s important to accept pain and understand it so that we can overcome it. As for death, I like to live as if I will die tomorrow. I will invest in “forever,” but I will live for “now.” It allows you to enjoy life and ensure you won’t say or do things you will regret. You could die in the next hour in a tragic accident, and all your future plans would be gone in a flash. You could live to 100 and suffer endlessly of cancer because you chose to do drugs all your life. So I focus on my passions and a general trajectory, and I do whatever I want as long as I am moving in that direction where I want to future to end up.
What’s your most memorable experience?
The last Runway for HOPE, a charity runway show raising money for the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO), was amazing. I walked for three talented designers and performed two songs. The first song I performed was a cover of Brigitte Boisjoli’s “Sans regrets,” which I translated to English. The second song was one I wrote myself. Then I walked for ORO’s Fashion House, Entin Gartini, and Xoetiqu. ORO Fashion House is a women’s clothing brand offering custom services. Their designers help you choose the best fabric for your needs, and they have beautiful designs. Entin Gartini was exciting to walk for because we’re both Indonesian! Her line was themed “Batik Ombak,” which is a traditional Indonesian style. It felt great to represent my culture and speak to people in my own language. Xoetiqu closed the show, flying in from the Bermudas. His line was inspired by the sand you’d find in his home. They were elegantly designed with lots of pink and brown. I’m so proud and honored to have walked for such talented people. I’ll also never forget the constant running back and forth backstage, trying to get my hair redone, makeup touched up, and outfits changed before the next time I had to walk again.
Looking back, what’s one thing you wish you understood better before you ever got started?
I wish I knew how cliche some people can be in this industry and how to tell the difference between people who want to use you to get ahead versus people who genuinely have an interest in being a part of your life. It didn’t take me long to learn that, nor do I have any regrets with befriending the people I did. I never got hurt by them, but I did feel uncomfortable and awkward, knowing what they were doing. We still talk from time to time because networks are always important, but I know better than to invest my time into a personal relationship with them.
What are the strategies that helped you become successful in your journey?
As you may have noticed, I have mentioned networking quite a bit during this Interview. I think it’s crucial for any professional journey. Knowing the right people opens up many opportunities. Likewise, being around the wrong people can shut opportunities. I’ve had someone tell me they won’t talk to me anymore because I had someone on my Facebook friends list. I told them that I’d delete that person since I never talked to them anyway, but they didn’t care. I lost a good friendship that day, and it opened my eyes to how even knowing someone and having their contact on standby can harm you. Most of my experiences have been wonderful. Networking got someone to ask me to help him out with his short film. I did a cold read for him just so he can envision his film better. In the end, his project partners loved me and asked me to be one of the protagonists. Another time, someone spotted me at an event, and his friends were there. He brought his friends over, saying I was impressive and encouraging me to give my elevator pitch. In the middle of doing so, other people became interested in me, and I ended up getting miked up and dragged across the room to do an interview to talk about my business (business coaching).
What keeps you going when things get tough?
It can be tempting to give up when things get rough, but if you give up, you’ll need to start from scratch again. I like to have a main project and two side projects at all times so, when I feel worn out, I’ll switch to a side project until I’m ready to work on the main project again. By the time that the main project is complete, the side project I select to be my new main project is halfway done, which eliminates the dread of starting a huge task.
Any message for our readers.
The Maxim Cover Girl competition just started, so I’d be grateful if everyone could vote for me every day. You’re allowed to vote for me every 24 hours!
How can people connect with you?
People can always message my fan page on Facebook for the quickest responses. Other social media outlets often get flooded, and I find it harder to quickly see which messages I have read and which I have not read yet.