Interview

Emma Swenninger

The actress tells us about her career, her beauty and health regimen, and her passions.

A Swedish actress with a very serious side, extensive training, and a balanced approach to life, Emma Swenninger has forged a name for herself in Scandinavian theater, film and television since the late 1990s. In her impressive career, Emma has worked with many renowned directors. Best known for her role as Bridget Mobert in the films of Irene Huss, she’s also played Julie, the lead role in the Strindberg play opposite Peter Gantzler on Danish radio (2008).

Although she has spent a good deal of time on both American coasts, Emma feels especially at home in Los Angeles where the easygoing, creative lifestyle, passion for self-expression, and many opportunities in theater and film are liberating. This fall at the Nordic Film Festival, Emma will make her debut in the States, starring in a short, largely improvised film called “Running Through Life.

YOUR INSPIRATION

Favorite place?

Stockholm, Sweden; It’s a very beautiful city, and I love taking long walks. Stockholm also has many great museums. The South Mall and the old city – and the beach way – and junigarden are very beautiful. My favorite time here is in the summer. The sky is lit up all night long.

Other directors who influenced me include Michael Marcimagh, Per Fly and the Coen Brothers.

Favorite pastimes?

I love reading, taking long walks, and going to the theater. I have a very easygoing life.

Inspiring directors and writers?

I was brought up with Ingmar Bergman; he’s had an enormous influence on me. There’s something very deep and trustworthy in everything he’s done. Other directors who influenced me include Michael Marcimagh, Per Fly and the Coen Brothers. In terms of playwrights, I’m a big fan of Strindberg and Ibsen.

YOUR DAY

In the morning

The first thing I do is meditate. I’ve been practicing transcendental meditation and yoga for decades. For breakfast I have chia pudding and a cup of tea. I’m very disciplined about what I eat; I don’t eat meat. I also don’t wear a lot of make-up – but I do use moisturizer (my fave is Vichy) and coconut oil.

Your sleep

I’m very disciplined about getting a lot of rest. I need eight or nine hours of sleep a night.

Your energizer

As for energy drinks and the like, I don’t need it! I have lots of energy! But I do drink green tea.

INDULGENCES

Beauty product

White Musk, from the Body Shop.

Food

Strawberry cake.

Restaurant

My favorite restaurant is in Los Angeles: Café Gratitude in Venice. It’s a wonderful café that specializes in raw foods.

Pastimes

Bikram yoga, transcendental meditation, reading, theater, long walks.

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YOUR CAREER AND FUTURE PLANS

The beginning

I’ve been studying acting since I was five or six. My mother was an artist and I was encouraged early on to follow a creative path. After years of training, I studied physical theater at the Comedia School and Lee Strasberg techniques in Denmark. In college, I took many courses in film history and media.

Sweden and Swedish cinema are very big on integrity and truthfulness.,

How is the approach to theater and cinema unique in Scandinavia?

Movies are much more natural, more about everyday life. We like to see movies about real people. Sweden and Swedish cinema are very big on integrity and truthfulness. Values are different. It’s more humble. In Sweden, unlike in America, you are not supposed to be something special.

What about opportunities for women?

Sweden is one of the most equal countries – but the film industry still has a long way to go. There are few parts for women. But then, I don’t live for a career. I live for my life.

Future plans?

I hope to get pregnant.

SCANDINAVIA HOUSE

The best place to satisfy your taste for all things Scandinavian is the Scandinavia House, located on Park Avenue in Murray Hill. Founded by the American-Scandinavian Foundation, the Scandinavia House in Manhattan is a leading center for Nordic culture in the U.S. It has a serious purpose: to promote the intellectual and artistic achievements of Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden), Scandinavian values and way of life.

In addition to hosting the Nordic International Film Festival, a 3-day annual extravaganza with an awards ceremony that features the best in current independent film, the Scandinavia House has a busy calendar. The many films, art exhibits, concerts, lectures, book talks and panel discussions are a treat. They offer language courses at all levels, and have a children’s program. The charming (and reasonably priced) on-site restaurant serves up very authentic Scandinavian fare, like their famous Swedish meatballs with Lingonberries

Lisa Stahl

Lisa Stahl, a native New Yorker, has authored many articles that graced the cover pages of magazines and websites. She’s the author of two distance-learning courses on fashion and has contributed substantial research and content on politics and foreign policy to three books by a political analyst and adviser to Hillary Clinton. Lisa’s achievements include an MA in English with honors from Columbia University. She also studied piano at Juilliard.

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