You might not have heard of Agustina Hermanto by that name, but instead know her as Bolo-Bolo Tina Toon, the children’s singing sensation from the late 1990s.
Well, Tina didn’t stay a chubby little girl forever. She blossomed, lost weight, graduated from high school and is focused not only on college but also on reviving her singing career.
Now 18, happy, lively and mature, Agustina chats to My Jakarta about putting her first love into song and setting her sights on the music world.
You’ve been absent from the spotlight for a while now. Where have you been?
Well, I just finished high school. I might seem away from the spotlight, but the fact is, I’m dealing with many projects before I step back to the spotlight. In July, I did some promotional stuff each day, including radio and TV shows and tours to some big cities in Indonesia. I’m also working on a new project with my band D’Girls.
You’ve really transformed from how you looked as a child. How does the crowd react?
I realize that many people still picture me as ‘the fat and cute Bolo-Bolo Tina Toon,’ and yet I’m transforming. I understand that, because I was introduced to people when I was 4 years old as a child artist. For me, myself, I needed time to adapt to the changes from being a child artist to a becoming a teenage artist. It’s my metamorphosis period and it takes time.
Tell us about the story behind your stage name ‘Tina Toon.’
My real name is Agustina Hermanto. People call me Tina, but when Papa T. Bob — one of Indonesia’s most renowned child song composers — asked me if I like cartoons, I said, ‘Yes, I like Tiny Toon.’ He called me Tina Toon. My mom liked the name — she said it was catchy and would raise awareness.
Would you ever consider getting rid of your childhood name?
When I was 15, I was thinking of changing my name to Tina, without the ‘Toon.’ But then I thought, Tina Toon is my stage name, it’s related to children and cartoons, so why shouldn’t I keep it? So when I hit 20, I may change it, but for now, it’s fine.
With your new look, do people still recognize you when you walk around Jakarta?
Yes, still. Around public places, whenever I walk or pass by someone, sometimes they mention my name. They’ll ask to take photos together or ask for autographs. People appreciate my efforts in losing weight, although some prefer to see me as cute Bolo-Bolo Tina Toon.
Why did you decide to go on a diet?
It’s mainly for my performances on stage or on TV, because every time I would appear on TV, I would look seven kilograms heavier. My first diet was two years ago. I dieted for seven months. I barely ate rice and avoided high calorie foods. I lost 25 kilograms. However, maintaining an ideal weight is tough. I go to the gym three to four times a week. My manager wants me to keep it at 47 kilograms, which I haven’t really done.
You just released a new single. Tell us a bit about it
My new single called ‘Cinta Pertamaku’ [‘My First Love’]. It’s about the feeling I experienced with my unforgettable first love, when I was in junior high school. Everyone remembers their first love and the song demonstrates my metamorphosis into a teenager.
Your early career was full of singing and dancing. So why did you decide study IT at Binus International University?
Honestly, I have no idea why I chose IT. I wanted to do something different from singing. Singing is my thing and I’m having fun with it, but education is important for my future. Nothing is certain in the entertainment world. If you don’t prepare options then you’ll find it hard to cope in life.
Looking back at how you sang and danced in your hit song ‘Bolo-Bolo’ when you were little, have you ever been embarrassed about it?
No, I’m not embarrassed at all. It was such an achievement at such a young age — I was only 4 years old. My friends would make fun of me, but could they do that themselves? I’m very proud of it, really.
Any idols that you look up to?
I have plenty, especially Agnes Monica and the Three Divas — Krisdayanti, Ruth Sahanaya, and Titi DJ. They’re professional and they have careers as singers. I also like Beyonceé and Miley Cyrus. I want to be multitalented like Miley and be able to play musical instruments and all sorts of stuff.
What would you like to do in the future?
I’ll be singing as long as I can. I love the music world so much. Later, I might want to get into business — it is my family’s background and it’s a good way to make a living. But my goal right now is to finish college.
What would you say to aspiring singers out there who want to achieve what you’ve achieved?
Just follow your dream, do whatever you want to do. If you’re singing, write songs and sing them with all your heart. If it’s from your heart, it will capture others’ hearts. Singing isn’t about money or business — it’s about the art you’re creating.
Agustina ‘Tina Toon’ Hermanto was talking to Joshua Irwandi