What is the climate like at the moment for women in the acting industry?
Electra Hallman: I think we are now facing, not a backlash, but a sort of intermission after the metoo movement. It feels as though a lot of people were eager to make huge changes back in 2017, and now the situation is a little bit on hold. I have also experienced a major difference depending on which country you work in. My current job in Germany was an eye opener for sure. Sweden definitely has come a long way when it comes to awareness and equality.
Emilia Roosmann: I got my Bachelor´s Degree in Performing Arts – Acting this spring so I’m currently trying to understand the climate myself, not only hearing about it. I sometimes see female colleagues scared to mess up, trying to prove ourselves all the time to be the best versions of our selves. There’s still a lack of freedom maybe but I feel that it’s changing and I’m proud to be part of the new generation actors taking over.
What was your reaction on the metoo movement. Have you got personal stories to tell?
ER: If we don’t talk to each other we can’t contribute, we can’t get information and change how things are. A lot of people are talking about a possible backlash for metoo, I call that bullshit.
Men and women needed this and now and finally we work towards representation and to challenge stereotypes. Women who have been subjected to abuse and harassment have always borne a double burden: the suites of abuse and empathy with the perpetrator. The perpetrator in our case has maybe been a director or a male colleague, how do you speak up or testify against that? We also have a very physical work, how do you react when boundaries are being pushed psychologically or physically?
EH: I felt a major rush of hope and revolution, but was also somewhat disturbed. The Swedish metoo movement, and the Swedish acting metoo movement very quickly became about only one structure. I feel, that if we talk about problematic power abuse and sexual trauma, we then also have to concurrently talk about discrimination in other fields. Racial slurs, sexual abuse, hbtq-phobia, classism and so forth, all of these things are connected. But I see different colleagues around me, all the time, that focus on several of these issues, so we are going in the right direction.
ER: Exactly. We need to look forward, continue the work, make choices and reflect.
What do you think of each others’ work?
ER: Electra is an incredible role model, always there for me, a phone call away. She is extremely loyal and would always take a fight for me or help out. In times of doubt she always makes me understand that I deserve to be where I’m today. She has razor sharp arguments, often with a sense of humour or glimpse in the eye. Not to mention anger, a lot in society today is passive, that makes me more eager to tell stories. I’m impressed by her temperament. It is an important tool to have in our profession and to channel on to stage. She is an incredible actor and she can write as well: she has a gift for languages and an incredible intelligence.
EH: Emilia teaches me a lot, both as an actress and as a person through her work ethics and her sensitivity. She has a strong will, and a talent that matches that will. And hey, if she says I can write, let me tell you: She can write. She wrote a monologue last year which is one of the best plays I have ever read. And seen. Her ambition, voice and unique presence gives the spectator chills. Give it a couple of years, and we’ll see her Hollywood debut. Probably in a Tarantino movie.
What are you currently working on?
ER: I’m filming a tv-series for Viaplay called The Machinery. It’s a collaboration between Norway and Sweden. Monika, my character is Norwegian (I’m part Norwegian, part Swedish.) I love my character Monica! She is an unpredictable woman with a criminal record fighting her way through life. She is a mix of me and my imagination, the director Richard Holm’s imagination and perhaps a hint of Adriana La Cerva in Sopranos, at least the nails!
EH: I am currently doing a production in Thalia Theater in Hamburg, Germany called Neverland, which is very freely based on J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan. The play is a co-production between Dramaten and several other international theatres. We have 11 nationalities represented on stage, and even more languages.
When it comes to women in the industry, who is your biggest inspiration and why?
ER: I can’t really pick one, but I’ll give a concrete example. When I started working on The Machinery a small workout group at the gym was formed between me and two other actors, Gizem Erdogan and Emma Broomé. These girls were simultaneously filming on two other series. We immediately started to bounce ideas, dilemmas and shared stories from work which has continued throughout the process. On set I met Julia Schacht, a Norwegian actress with an extended bio of experience. I don’t have a map that explains to me how I should be on set giving birth to a baby, accepting my body while shooting an intimate scene or sing I Dreamed A Dream from Les Miserable on an audition. I need help operating that shit. The girls pointed me in the right direction, whether it was watching them work or sharing artistic dilemmas with them. Fucking priceless!
EH: When it comes to women in the acting industry, I always reference my close friends. In a business that thrives on competition and drama, the ones that are first and foremost friends are the ones I look up to. Linn Mildehav, Gizem Erdogan, Ella Schartner, Emilia Roosmann and Lisa Parkrud. I have several, both Swedish and more international actresses that I admire, but these five are the ones that deserve the spotlight for me. Their talent in the acting field is inspiring and to be a part of that is a true privilege.
What does sisterhood mean to you?
ER: Women supporting women is key, beyond the different professions within the industry.
EH: Support. Not just woman to woman in the more binary way of feminism, but all different kinds of marginalised groups coming together. The power and force of the underrated, the forgotten and discriminated. The collective enthusiasm for change and progressiveness. Holding hands when abusers want to turn us against each other.