We had the good fortune of connecting with Brit Landa and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Brit, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
I´ve always been an artistic and creative person. Struggling with dyslexia and theory related subject in school I found the creative classes inspiring, fun and a safe space for me to build confidence and to gain a sense of accomplishment. With two working parents we were fortunate enough to attend music school, sports, dance and after school projects where I quickly developed a passion within dance and performance. Being on stage was scary but fulfilling. In my teens I struggled with depression, anxiety and anorexia. It escalated when I hit my twenties and I felt defeated by myself. I found no purpose nor meaning in life, made bad choices in my search for answers to why I was feeling the way I was. I went through a lot of trauma which I didn´t know how to deal with. After one sever incident in London where I had lived for five years at that time, something changed. I had enough of the life I had been tangled up in for so long and I knew I needed it to change in order to “survive”… I returned to Norway where I started acting, something that had been a passion of mine for so long, but I had never had the courage to dive into. I doubted my skills, my personality, my strength to be accepted, good enough and even my dialect held me back, because I knew I would stand out from everyone and in my mind that would be a bad thing. But I had reached the point where I had to jump or fall… Luckily I decided to jump… Through acting I found a way to express myself without having to always explain myself or defend my way. I could use all that I had gone through and put it in my work, “hide” behind a character but still pour my soul and heart out. Acting gives me a sense of relief, it gives me the tools to work through my hurdles, a way for me to make use of my traumas and turn it into something meaningful, something beautiful even. Acting saved me from myself. I feel most alive when I´m on set or on a stage working on a project. I love being the voice of a character in a meaningful, strong story that needs to be told and seen. I love sharing work that tells a side of life so many of us can relate to, a piece that can give comfort, support, love and the truth to those who might need it. Active gives me purpose in life, it holds me accountable and my head straight and that is why I pursued an artistic and creative career, because I have tried life without it and found it empty and dissatisfying. I choose the uncertain life doing what I love feeling alive every day of my life.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My burning passion within my art is to be a voice for mental health battles, the raw and struggling stories which comes from “the everyday” person who are fighting a side of life to hard to carry. My goal is always to shine light on those stories, to use my platform as an artist, actress and storyteller. I have fought many battles and found art, film and theatre as a way to express myself, using the pain and my experiences within my work in hopes that it can be of some sort of comfort, support and strength to those who can relate. Till this day I am still very much proud of my first film that I wrote, directed, acted in and produced called “Fortitude”. It´s an experimental film combining poetry, dance and acting, based on true stories about subjects which are still very much tabu in most countries…. Subjects such as suicide, domestic abuse, depression, anxiety and self harm. I worked on it for four years before I could even bare the thought of sharing it with anyone, it was deeply personal and the thought of anyone reading it and critiquing it was too much. However, I also knew I held a story many would relate to and value, a story that might mean something to someone, therefore I decided that sharing it would be of a grater value to me than keeping it hidden… It went on to becoming a multi award winning film, but to me getting feedback from so many who watched it was a greater reward to me. People who wrote to me or came up to me to thank me for telling “their story” as well. That is why I do what I do, that is what acting is to me. To be a voice for those who might not be heard or seen, to be part of telling stories that needs to be told. I am extremely proud and humble of so many projects I´ve had the pleasure and honor to be part of so far. I know the hard work, dedication and struggle behind them all and I am deeply grateful to be a piece in telling each story. It´s been a long, hard and bumpy journey to get to where I am today and I know it will continue to be a struggle as I am far from my goal, but I am further along than what I was yesterday… Many experiences richer and valuable lessons learned along the way. It all comes down to your mindset, how much you want it and the reason why you want it. It needs to be worth it, if not, it will easily crush you. I used to get extremely disappointed and crushed after failed auditions or being turned down for a part. Now I see each and every audition as an opportunity… Every project, small or big, holds great value – To be grateful to still be doing what I love. I am still learning to not feel like I am constantly disappointing those around me or my team, but rather let them see why it´s worth it, why I am worth it by doing my job and doing it well! Never wait for anything to come your way, instead create your own success, your own story and constantly move forward. One opinion should not be enough to stop you, there are so many others out there. Listen, learn, develop and grow – Never stand still, keep working and know your goal. I have always been extremely independent and seen it as a strength. What I quickly learned in this industry and through my work as an actress is that you can´t be alone in this. Not only does it get lonely, but you need people in your corner moving “bricks” with you, supporting you, and time to time lean on. It takes a whole team to set things in motion, blocking it all out will only limit you. Why make something that is already so hard even harder on yourself.
Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
To me it´s all about exploring new places and taking the time to relax for a moment if I every get time off and have someone visit me. I would aim for Treebones Resort on the beautiful southern end of the Big Sur coast. A weekend of “glamping” overlooking the ocean and surrounded by nature, what better way to spend time with you best friend you rarely get to see! Time at the beach, hiking and enjoying some good food and a stunning view at the Wild Coast Restaurant. In Los Angeles we would eat at the beautiful urban oasis of LONO Hollywood, following a salsa filled night at La Descarga with live music and dance show.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My biggest support has always been my family, they have been there for me every step of the way. Never to doubt me or my choices even when I seemed to be falling far from “safty” and “stability”… They believe in my dreams and the life I choose for myself as much as I do, because they belive in me and that gives me tremendous courage and strength in order to push forward. Choosing a life within the artistic world will lead you into constant uncertainty, doubts, pain and struggle, therefor it is important to have those around you not to bring you further down but instead be there as someone you can turn to when it get´s to hard to carry alone… Someone you can lean on and find the energy and strength to carry on, because you started your journey for a reason… I feel grateful to have each and everyone there for me, they make room for me to see the greatness, beauty and joy in what I do, it´s all worth it in the end and what matters. Along the way there have been many incredible people help carve the pathway for me. One particular person was a tremendous turning point in my life. Hildegun Riise was a teacher of mine back at NISS, Norway in 2015 where I studied acting. She introduced me to a deeper level of poetry, a form that I earlier had found challenging and not to my interest. In our first class she wanted us to out pen to paper and just write about our “Journey in life”. It took me a hard minute to get started, but as I was writing it didn´t really occur to me that I had found an important tool in order to put words to my thoughts… Afterwards we were to read it out loud and my own words effected me a great deal. Years I had carried tons of burdens and pain, only to store it away, blocking me from exploring all aspects of acting and even in my daily life. Afterwards Hildegun approached me and encouraged me to keep writing, using poetry and any form of writing as a way to express myself and use it in my art. To have her believe in me and what I was writing meant so much to me and I took her words of encouragement and kept writing. After for years I had so much material, a story I knew I wanted to use in some kind of artistic form and share it. I put it together into a screenplay, combining different artistic forms I had explored and enjoyed throughout my journey and it became my very first film called FORTITUDE, an experimental short film, telling the story about the hardship of living with depression, anxiety, self harm, abuse, anorexia, overcoming rape and domestic violence. FORTITUDE went on to winning 15 film awards and several nominations world wide. Non of this would have happened if it wasn´t for Hildegun Riise and the fact that she took the time to speak with me after that first class. Never underestimate the power of a conversation and encouraging words! I will forever be grateful to her and the valuable tool she gave me that year.
Sirma Aksuyek McKenna Rain Espen Olsen Severin Eskeland Wonder Mouse Ryan Nichols Glassdarkly Photo ( Ren Scott)