Meet Viral Sensation Malea Emma
Images by Haris Tijio
Malea Emma Tjandrawidjaja is a Los Angeles based Indonesian American actress who rose to fame after her National Anthem video went viral in 2018. She has been acting since she was 4 years old and she has appeared in commercials for Amazon, Lenovo, Kiehl’s and Jeep. She also guest starred in the Disney Channel shows Coop and Cami Ask the World and Raven’s Home. In September 2018, her singing video of the national anthem in the LA Galaxy game went viral and she became an overnight sensation, making various TV appearances, including Good Morning America and American Idol. We had the chance to chat with this little but fierce girl and learned so much about her life. Enjoy!
When did you start singing? How old were you?
I started singing when I was 1 year old, even before I could speak. My parents still have the video when I used a comb as my microphone and I sang on top of my lungs on my parents' bed. They told me that I did that all the time and always tried to find any platform to pretend to be my stage.
What’s your favorite thing about singing?
Good question. I have never really thought about it. I guess it came out naturally. I just like singing anywhere and any time without I am realizing it. Sometimes my parents even have to tell me to stop singing when I am eating or doing my homework.
Do you ever get nervous in front of a crowd?
I always get nervous every time I am about to perform. But I always tell myself to do the best and usually the nervousness will go away once I start singing.
What was it like to sing for the celebrity judges on American Idol?
It was amazing! I was only 7 years old at that time, who would have imagined that a 7 year old could sing in front of Katy Perry, Luke Bryant and the legendary Lionel Richie? They were very nice. They gave me hugs and compliments. And they awarded me with the golden ticket for me to come back when I am old enough to compete.
What has been you favorite experience with singing?
Tough question because each performance has its own uniqueness that makes them special to me. American Idol was definitely one of them. Also when I got to sing with Jennifer Holliday on Good Morning America, this was a dream come true! I watched Jennifer's videos so many times when I was learning And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going, so to sing a duet with the original Dream girls was beyond amazing. Another one was when I sang the National Anthem at the MLS Cup Final in Mercedes-Benz stadium in Atlanta with the record breaking 73 thousands attendance. That was by far the biggest crowd I have ever performed to.
Can you tell us about your character on the Disney’s show Coop and Cami Ask The World?
My character on Coop and Cami was Marlowe who was Fred's sister. She was a singer like me but Marlow had a bit of attitude. But even though she had an attitude, she was actually very nice and she loved her big brother, Fred, so much. I loved being on the Coop and Cami set. Everyone
was very nice and friendly. I got to be friends with all the
actors. We played together during the break. It was so much fun. Other than Coop and Cami, I also guest starred on another Disney Channel show Raven's Home. It was so cool to be on these shows which I usually watched on TV.
Do you like singing or acting best?
I love both. And both complement each other. If you think about it, singing is also acting because we’re acting to be
someone in that song who is definitely not yourself. I also like dancing and I started falling in love with gymnastics.
And I like playing musical instruments too. I play piano, violin, ukulele and just started learning how to play guitar.
Any upcoming projects that you can share with us?
I will be a lead in an A24's feature film called After Yang. In this film, I will be acting opposite Colin Farrell, Jodie Turner Smith, Justin Min and Haley Lu Richardson. This film was a sci-fi drama, about a father and a daughter who tried to save the life of their robotic brother. Hopefully this film will be released next year.
What do you wanna be when you get older?
An actor-singer-dancer-contortionist and a doctor!
If you could chose anyone in the world to sing with, who would it be?
It would be Christina Aguilera. She is my biggest idol and I really hope that someday I can sing with her.
You can learn more about Malea and see what she's been up to on her Instagram @MaleaEmma