Why I act

I want to tell stories. I want to work with people, connect with people. Be present in the moment. I want to express myself. That is why I act.

Below you’ll find my life story. I tried to keep it brief and succinct, but I failed. Sorry.

I was born in 1988 in a small town in the south of Sweden, but most of my childhood years were spent in the idyllic East of Sweden’s southernmost peninsula Skåne.

I took my first drama class when I was thirteen or fourteen years old and I realized I wanted to be an actor. For a long time I didn’t tell anyone about my dream because I assumed that it was impossible. Not difficult or improbable, but impossible as in defying the laws of nature. I thought people in the performing arts were of a different breed and that acting was an avenue that clearly was not open to me. Thus I didn’t voice my desire to act lest I’d be taken for a fool. I kept taking drama classes for the pure joy of it and I kept appearing in school plays to the tepid enthusiasm of my friends and family. My brother, our friends and I would play role-playing games, the old-fashioned kind with dice and paper. It’s a very powerful method for postponing the sexual debut. I was the game master and I loved dreaming up stories and act the various characters in front of the generally male and infallibly eyeglass-wearing audience.

When I finished high school I was enrolled in the army. A friend had convinced me to apply to The Armed Forces’ Interpreter Academy where they teach languages and interrogation at a ferocious pace. Amazingly we were both accepted and I spent the following fifteen months learning how to shoot, crawl and interrogate Russian POWs. About halfway through our service a recruiter from the Foreign Ministry visited the academy and offered some of us positions at the Swedish Embassy in Moscow once we were done with our training. In August of 2008 I left the Interpreter Academy with the rank of sergeant and packed my bags for Moscow. I was 20 at the time and me and my army buddies were the youngest professional diplomats in the entire corps. Though we were the lowest ranking diplomats it didn’t always feel like that; most of the Swedish staff didn’t speak Russian and it wasn’t uncommon that a diplomat twice or even three times my age would ask me if “maybe I could find time in my schedule” to help out with some translation work. A young person’s sense of importance is easily inflated under those circumstances.

After two years in the Russian capital it was time to decide what to do with my life. My time in the army and the Foreign Service, two distinctly uncreative environments, had tinged my aspirations for the future. All my close friends went on to study economics or medicine. I vividly remember a conversation I had at the time with my mother, discussing potential fields of study. I told her I either wanted to study economics, architecture or drama (the dream was still there, albeit diminished and vague). My mother knows me well enough to realize that economics were no true passion of mine, but being a loving parent who doesn’t want to see her child living in the streets, she gently steered me away from the life of a struggling artist and onto the firmer middle ground. The following three years I spent at the Royal Institute of Technology’s School of Architecture in Stockholm. The Army and the Foreign Service had made me a bit of an arts illiterate and rediscovering the explorative, iterative nature of creativity was a grueling process, but extremely rewarding once I found my feet again. I finished my bachelor’s degree and got an internship at an office in Stockholm. By the end of my year there I was offered a full time job. But despite excellent colleagues and interesting assignments the dream hadn’t let go of me, and presented with the opportunity to stay there, it sunk its teeth deeper into my mind. I spent the following two weeks cursing my indecisiveness; why couldn’t I just be happy with what I had? Eventually I realized that not giving acting a shot was a path that would lead to self-hatred. I thanked my boss for the generous offer and signed up for a one-year drama course to see if it was still in me. It was. People kept telling me how strange it was that I was now going to do something completely different, but to me all creative endeavors are the same at their core.

Upon finishing the course I wanted to get away from the safety of Stockholm, knowing that I’d likely fall back into the security of a safe job if I didn’t get out. And so once again I packed my bags and left Sweden, this time for Berlin, Europe’s creative melting-pot.

In the time leading up to my departure I had somehow managed to convince myself that the decision to move would be immediately rewarded by the universe, only to find myself alone in a new city with hardly any friends, let alone connections in the film and acting community. I was (somewhat pathetically) shocked when this dawned on me. Three years on I'm at peace with my decision. It's a bumpy road and progress is slow, almost glacial it seems at times. But there is progress, and I have the amazing people I've met on this journey to thank for that, as well as my family and friends, without the support of whom I would never have dared to do this.

Thank you.