An exclusive chat with Marlon Valdés Langeland
When he started acting and being interested in acting, Marlon didn't know this was going to be his biggest passion. Little did he know that, fast forward to his teenage years, he would have landed one of the most crucial roles for one of the most successful tv-series in Norway (and later in the whole world): Skam. In this quick interview, Marlon tells about how he got involved with Skam, his family background and what kind of artistic projects he's doing right now.
How did you become passionate about acting?
It first started when I was a child because I grew up around drama, music and arts, especially when my mother began her theater school for children, I was 5 or 6 years old. Of course I joined the school every year, being her assistant or being a student myself. I guess it just started there, and I was singing, dancing and doing basic scenes. The school made some short movies, later on I started auditioning as a normal thing I would do as an artist. Auditioning became a natural thing for me. As I became older, I started taking this passion more seriously, I got some commercials and it was great. All of a sudden I was 15 and I got the role of Jonas in Skam.
So how did you prepare for that role?
I didn't prepare, that thought was not there. I just went for fun, I didn't take it that seriously. I didn't know Skam was going to become this huge thing. I wasn't watching TV that much so I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. I prepared by just trying to be myself as best as I could.
Jonas has a crucial part in the tv series because he supports his friend Isak when he comes out as gay because he doesn't really understand his sexuality. Was it hard for you to be Jonas?
Being Jonas was exciting, fun and challenging, but never hard. I felt great playing a supportive best friend. I definitely think it's important to have a friend like Jonas. As identity becomes, in a way, more difficult to express I also think that being able to trust someone in a situation like that is really essential. It was quite an important scene for me.
It's crazy how big Skam became, people still watch it and it's been 5 years since it came out!
I am really thankful that people are still watching.
Are you still in contact with the guys?
I sometimes meet up with Iman Meskini (Sana). Being young, energetic and wanting to make an imprint on the acting-scene in Norway is something we share. Coming both from immigrant and Norwegian families it’s always nice to talk with someone like-minded. Also, I sometimes see the rest of the cast at these massive Skam conventions. I got to meet many of the other actors, especially from Skam Italy but also Skam France, I usually have a pleasant conversation with many of them. They're all a good bunch of people, I love that they're acting out the story of Skam in other languages. They did a great job.
After Skam you filmed a documentary with the Norwegian Refugee Council travelling to DR Congo, Colombia and Lebanon. How was that about?
In 2017 I was asked by Save The Children to do a monologue to use my voice in order to tell a story of a young refugee living Norway. It got a lot of positive feedback. Since young refugees find themselves in a difficult position the Norwegian Refugee Council wanted to do a project on that; telling the stories of young refugees and giving them a voice. In a situation of war and conflict teenagers are often overlooked. I was approached by them and asked me if I wanted to do the documentary and I agreed also because my grandmother fled with my family from Chile to Norway in 1973 and I've always felt like this is part of my background, when they asked me I felt I had the responsibility to tell their story. I went to DR Congo, Colombia and Lebanon. It was a wonderful and challenging experience. I learned a lot and I met with strong-willed young refugees filled with hopes for a better future. Very inspiring.
What is next for you?
I want to portray characters that are fighting for justice, equality and love. Just as I want to become a better actor, I also want to be the person writing the stories I partake in. Because of the corona virus it is difficult getting job opportunities. I usually have auditions throughout the month, but to be honest its hard and boring not being able to do acting with other actors. But on the other hand, I do feel like my days are filled of meaningful work. I have a part-time job at an elementary school, I sometimes teach skating to the kids in the neighborhood and I’m always working on some art-related project, whether it’s writing, music, drawing or acting. This fall I am starting to study European Languages at The University of Oslo, especially Spanish but also all the Latin languages. Corona has hit the industry pretty hard; a lot of projects have been put on hold or either moved, I did an audition last week and I am waiting for a response. There are conversations about filming something in Argentina, but I can’t confirm anything. I am doing a lot of work with literature. I’m going to the Literature Festival here in Norway to read and to present a classical text from Norway. Oh, and also, I found out I am good at planting, so I take care of my plants in order to try saving the bees.
Photos by: Ronja Penzo
Words by: Sal Fasone