Name: Brian Imanuel, aka “Rich Brian”
Project: “Jamojaya,” written and directed by Justin Chon. The film is loosely based on Rich Brian’s life in the music industry.
Other notable projects: Rapper Rich Brian broke onto the scene with his viral song “Dat $tick” in 2016, and has since released several albums and collaborated with artists including Jackson Wang and Rick Ross.
Getting recognized in Park City: “My first night here, me and the film crew went up to this bar on Main Street. When I was with a friend of mine in the bathroom, we ran into some people that were like, ‘oh hey, what are you guys here for?’” Imanuel explained that he was at Sundance for the premiere of “Jamojaya.” “And he was like, ‘oh s–t — you’re the lead actor in that movie.’”
On Saturday night in Park City, Imanuel stopped by the UTA House to perform a short music set for the crowd. The next night, the rapper was back onstage — this time at the Eccles Theater — for the premiere of “Jamojaya.” The film, directed by Chon, marks Imanuel’s acting debut.
How it all came about: Imanuel first connected with Chon in early 2018, shortly after moving to L.A. from Jakarta as a teenager to focus on his burgeoning music career. The pair began discussing possibilities for a creative collaboration.
“The next few months and years after that was us trying to find out how to make it make sense with both of our stories,” says Imanuel. Chon went on to pen the script for “Jamojaya,” loosely based on Imanuel’s own story as a young up-and-coming Indonesian rapper. Imanuel leads the film as James, an aspiring rapper working on his debut U.S. album while navigating his relationship with his career-controlling father.
“I’m playing myself — but not at the same time,” adds Imanuel, who also contributed original music for the film. “The movie is set in the music industry, but it’s not about the music industry. At the same time it’s about the relationship with my dad — and that was the most fictional part. In the movie we were fighting all the time. It’s a heavy drama.”
“Jamojaya” was filmed in Hawaii during summer 2021.
On becoming an actor: “I think it always was in the back of my mind: ‘What if I act one day?’” says Imanuel, adding that making music has been all-consuming since his viral breakout in 2017. “I definitely get to channel it every time I make a music video, but acting is a whole different thing.”
Audiences will likely see more from Imanuel in the near future — although he’s not yet sure what that will look like.
“I do see myself getting more into acting after this and exploring more projects,” he adds. “But at the end of the day, music is what got me here. I want to stay committed to that, but I’m also doing that not because I feel like I have to, but I actually am super passionate about the music still.”