So “Introducing” might not be the most appropriate term to use in this case. “Introducing” brings to mind film credits which indicate that the person listed is making their feature film debut.
But the subject of our interview has plenty of credits to her name (check out her IMDb page here), so we’ll just say that she’s being introduced to the HFN readership.
Her name is Jannica (YON-ih-kuh) Olin. She’s a working actor here in the heart of Los Angeles.
I met her through an acting class, and there was an immediate connection. She’s genuine, gifted and lovely. And her story may sound like the cliché stuff of so many other actor journeys – trying to make a name in Hollywood – but what could have been a potential detriment (had she allowed it to become one) has actually turned into one helluva unique marketing tool in the quest for acting domination (okay domination may be a bit strong. Like so many, she just wants to keep working).
Here’s our brief conversation – Introducing Jannica Olin…
HFN: For our readers, right off of the bat – do you consider yourself a fan of horror? In other words, are you a horror freak?
OLIN: I wouldn’t call myself a “horror freak”, more like a horror fan. I don’t watch every single horror film that comes out. If it exploits women and is just there to shock you, I’m not interested.
HFN: Agreed and understood. So then what is your favorite horror film?
OLIN: There are some amazingly creepy, bone-chilling films out there. The “there’s a killer on the loose and he is revenging something in his past and everyone has to pay for it” – type films, are…. well, everywhere. And, since there is nothing new under the sun, how can we take that and craft a story with depth, connection and strong relationships?
I love Joel Edgerton’s The Gift for example. And I so loved Scream when that came out; that was my first horror love.
Of course, Get Out, that is such a clever film – absolutely loved that. I’m also a fan of Michael Hanneke’s Funny Games with Naomi Watts. That one is so disturbing, and yet, you can relate to it because it’s about this normal family who ends up in this horrific circumstance. It has you wonder: “What would I do?” I love James Wan and Leigh Whannell. Apparently Leigh and I had the same acting teacher in Melbourne, Australia – ages ago.
HFN: Well, Scream is something of a revenge, “killer-on-the loose” film. Why is that one okay, but not something like – say, something out of the Friday the 13th franchise? I mean, I have my own reasons for why – but what’s your take?
OLIN: Oh yes, I’m not saying it’s not okay. Many times it’s the premise. Scream was for me, the first horror film that I saw that had “normal” people being the killers. Well, they were a little odd of course, but I loved it and the comedy in it too. I personally hadn’t seen anything like that.
HFN: And on Whannell… I’ve met him, great guy. Any thought of using that potential connection to your benefit? It seems like a good ice-breaker.
OLIN: I never thought of that. But yes! When I meet him I will tell him that. It’s a perfect ice breaker. Thanks Michael!
HFN: My pleasure – my brain’s always working the networking angle! So your career has several horror highlights thus far – including Creep LA and The Fast & the Fierce for Asylum. As an actor, you search for diversity in your career and roles. But if your career were to take you deeper into the horror genre, eventually finding yourself branded as a “Scream Queen”, would you resist or embrace it?
OLIN: I’m just grateful to work. I love smart, gripping horror films and I would be happy to keep getting cast in that genre. But I wouldn’t say yes to stuff that doesn’t have a powerful or gripping story and a purpose. Anyway, the definition of “Scream Queen” is someone who spends a lot of time screaming. I don’t know if that would be the character I’d play. Perhaps I would be the one causing the screaming instead. Either way, I would totally embrace it.
HFN: On that note – with your unique look – you seem primed to perhaps play other-worldly characters or villains – based on typical Hollywood standards. Thoughts?
OLIN: Yes, and I love that. I love playing villains because, first of all, you as the actor can’t view your character that way. You have to justify their behavior or “translate” it to something you understand. It’s fun, because it’s not who I am in my life. So getting to explore and really play in that context is a treat.
HFN: So as we address what I termed “your unique look”… no offense intended… tell me a little bit about your professional and personal journey with Alopecia.
OLIN: You know what, I have always been the normal blonde, blue-eyed Swede, so to finally get to be unique-looking, that’s pretty cool to me. I lost all my hair about three years ago to Alopecia. Alopecia is really just the name for hair loss. And in this case it is an auto immune response. My white blood cell count is higher, like when your body needs to fight an infection. Usually your body fights the infection and then it’s gone. But with active auto immunity, it’s as if you have an infection all the time, and the immune system is “curing” you by attacking your body’s tissues and/or organs. It can look like different conditions; MS, arthritis, diabetes… I’m lucky my immune system randomly chose my hair follicles.
A lot of people wonder if I’m sick, and most people with auto immune conditions label themselves as such. I never have. My body just keeps my hair away. My hair loss started right after a root canal that wasn’t cleaned out properly. It was of course a struggle when I was losing my hair, but I knew deep down that this was happening for me, not to me. After my eyebrows and eyelashes went, I got myself a commercial agent, and my first audition was for a music video for Colbie Caillat’s song Try. I broke down in that audition. I felt so vulnerable and naked. But it was also very healing at the same time.
I love the jobs I have booked where I get to be a part of advertising that empowers. In the film The Fast And The Fierce, the writer Scotty Mullen, even accommodated my “no hair” look in the end, which made for a really cool reveal for the character. And with the immersive theater company CreepLA, my baldness has been an integral part of both shows I have done with them. I love that.
All of those moments I spent crying, thinking my life and dream as an actor was over, are now replaced by this immense gratitude. I want to represent that no matter what you look like, or what happens to you, you can create your life and your dream.
HFN: Do you feel that now – since you’ll be asked to wear wigs, etc. for specific roles – does it help you discover and fall into your character more easily – more so than when you had hair? Is it freeing in a way?
OLIN: I don’t even think about that anymore. Hair or no hair; it doesn’t matter to me. Only when I look in the mirror, will it inform me, if I am stepping into a character. My natural hair was blonde. The wigs I wear as me, are all different shades of blonde. It’s funny, I could have so much fun and go crazy with my blank canvas and wear crazy colors and draw on cool eyebrows, but I am so normal. I still identify as blonde. And bald of course.
HFN: How has this change in your appearance strengthened or weakened you? Does this change give you a leg up?
OLIN: It has totally strengthened me. It gives me a leg up in the sense that I am just more at peace and free in who I am. Being open and vulnerable and totally embracing yourself is true power. That said, it doesn’t mean that I don’t have moments of insecurity and lack of confidence – that always shows up here and there. But I don’t identify with that inner voice – it’s not who I am. I just have those thoughts – they don’t have me… if that makes sense.
HFN: Perfect sense. Artists are neurotic as hell. It’s just a matter of keeping those thoughts at bay. And what are your ultimate goals? To be challenged and work consistently, or is there hope – even a little bit – for crazy fame? Be honest.
OLIN: To work consistently on jobs that keep challenging me, for sure. Crazy fame does not sound appealing to me… But recognition and acknowledgment as a by-product of the work – i would not say no to that. In fact, I welcome it with open arms. I also welcome money.
HFN: Don’t we all… well, most of us. What’s on the agenda for you right now; what projects are in the works?
OLIN: I have a couple of projects lined up so far this fall, but can’t mention anything about them just yet. People have kept telling me that you have to create your own work… and I haven’t been doing that. But now I have a great tribe of people that I love to work with, and I would love to start collaborating on some stories and bring them to life.
HFN: Like raising a kid, it takes a village – or something like that. Everything in this business is very collaborative – which plenty of folks don’t understand.
OLIN: Absolutely. And I’m really learning that. When you think about it, you are always depending on other people – in order to get hired, we need someone saying yes to us, or you won’t get that job. In order to get food at the grocery store, we need the person who grows the food, and the delivery truck person and so on.
HFN: And if you couldn’t be acting for a living, what else would you do? What are your other passions?
OLIN: To be honest, there’d be a risk I would be working some “safe” and comfortable job that wouldn’t ask much of me. Because by default, humans want to be comfortable and not responsible. Taking risk and putting ourselves on the line is not deemed by our brain to be safe. And I don’t think I would want to get uncomfortable and “scared” for any other job. However, I do see myself taking ideas and help turn them into reality, whether that would be as a director, writer or creative producer.
HFN: Since you’re a horror fan, not a horror freak – two questions: What is your horror dream role? First: an already-written role from a classic horror flick and Second: what kind of woman would you want to play in a horror flick (one that’s not already written)?
OLIN: Oohh, difficult… What comes to mind right away is Nicole Kidman’s character in The Others. I’m really into more psychological horror films. Oh my God, you know what? I would love to play Joel Edgerton’s character in The Gift. The female version of Joel Edgerton. I would have so much fun with that. And one not already written… what kind of woman? Someone who you will never suspect, because she is so sweet and lovely, until she isn’t.
HFN: Okay. You’ve mentioned The Gift twice. I’ve not yet seen it. Should my horror card be revoked?
OLIN: I know for a fact that you have plenty more horror films under your belt than I have, so you are forgiven. I’m also just a fan of Joel Edgerton’s.
HFN: On your recommendation, I’ll check it out!
OLIN: Please do. I’m gonna watch it again.
HFN: Thank you, Jannica – for taking the time. I wish you luck, and I’ll see you in acting class. Let’s do a horror film together!
OLIN: Uh… YES!!!!