Actress Jannica Olin was 32 years previous when signs indicating what would finally be identified as alopecia started to point out. The Swedish born actress and TEDx speaker goes by “Hollywood’s Bald Blonde” and has labored throughout theater, movie, commercials and music movies; her TEDx discuss, “Welcome to My New Normal,” asks the query: “If I am not my body, who am I?”
Olin’s one-woman present, (IM)PERFEKT, is impressed by her journey residing with alopecia and had its world premiere on the Hollywood Fringe Festival in June 2019 earlier than being on view on the Santa Monica Playhouse. The actress spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about navigating the leisure trade, doing her personal analysis and the way she felt in regards to the now-infamous Oscars slap.
What has your journey residing with alopecia seemed like?
I found my first bald spot in August of 2013. And it was like having my coronary heart simply bounce up in my throat. I had a bald spot that was completely spherical with no hair. It was the scale of 1 / 4 after which a few spots across the neck space that had been simply not as completely spherical. But it made me so scared.
I didn’t understand on the time how a lot of my id was in my hair. I imply, we form of all know — particularly as girls — hair is every little thing. It represents your femininity and sexuality; it symbolizes well being and fertility, all these items that we have now been taught by historical past and tradition. And I used to be born and raised in Sweden, so I had blonde, lengthy hair; I felt I needed to preserve reinforcing the stereotype to suit into being a ravishing blonde girl in different folks’s eyes.
How have docs helped and supported you thru this?
I by no means had any good docs, actually. I went to 3 totally different docs in three nations: [the U.K.], Sweden and right here [in the U.S.]. Everyone is taking a look at it from a dermatology viewpoint, prefer it’s about your hair. But if you begin taking a look at what an autoimmune situation truly is, it signifies that your white blood cells are overactive. So your immune system is overactive in treating part of you — in my case, my hair follicles are seen as a virus just like the flu, as an illustration, and my immune system has to deal with it. So by protecting my hair away, my immune system thinks it’s doing a very good job. Alopecia is the title for the symptom that’s hair loss, and it was triggered by one thing else.
What has it been like navigating the leisure trade — happening auditions, reserving jobs — as an actress with alopecia?
It took me six months to lose all my hair; you need to undergo the traumatic expertise of what you’re getting confronted with, each on a private stage and a societal, cultural stage. I attempted to do every little thing to have my hair come again. I attempted every little thing to maintain it from falling out, and nothing labored. So I had this second of like, “Well, what if I just embrace that which I can’t change? What would that look like?” Because I do know I’m the identical individual on the within. It’s simply after I look within the mirror, I’m totally different, and the way folks understand me is totally different, however how can this change into my superpower if I simply enable it to be?
Then I began happening auditions and reserving lots of work that’s all about being empowering and being outdoors of the field of “normal.” It’s a course of, and it’s a observe. Of course, I nonetheless have days the place I don’t need to be checked out at the moment; I simply need to mix in. But total, it’s been a very good expertise for me — it actually comes from you doing all of your internal work and never resisting it. I believe I gave up resisting it. And as soon as I did that, there was an area open for one thing greater.
How did the second on the Oscars land on you? What was your notion of Chris Rock’s G.I. Jane remark and Will Smith subsequently slapping him?
I didn’t watch it reside. I watched it the day after and tuned into a number of the clips, and I used to be nonetheless ready for the offensive half. I didn’t see what was offensive about it — in my eyes. And I’m very conscious all of us have totally different experiences, and we’re all in other places. To me, personally, that G.I. Jane joke was not offensive. I believe that’s cool. That’s a personality that’s representing somebody who’s a insurgent and who’s a robust, unbiased girl. I might have liked to have that mentioned to me. But that’s me, proper? I can’t communicate for anybody else.
I believed the slap within the face was staged at first, however then when [Will Smith] mentioned what he mentioned when he sat down, that didn’t really feel staged. Are we condoning conduct the place persons are allowed to react nonetheless they need as a result of one thing is being mentioned to them? That’s the place you need to cease and assume: “Am I in fight-or-flight mode right now?” We’re all human. We’re all going to get triggered by issues. But you need to be an grownup and sit with one thing and perhaps not react that manner, it doesn’t matter what.
Maybe it’s a silver lining, but it surely appears constructive that this acquired extra folks speaking about alopecia. Does this really feel like an essential second regardless of the apparent poor conduct?
There are folks affected by something and every little thing. So if we will shed a light-weight on one thing and produce consciousness, it would make folks really feel heard and seen. In my very own case, it’s nobody’s accountability to learn about what I’ve, or why I’ve no hair. No one has to take that on. We can’t stroll round feeling like we have now to know every little thing in order that we might be respectful with folks. We’re all the time going to mess up, however we will have a curiosity and be open to understanding what persons are going by.