Sometimes, we’re lucky enough to stumble upon people who shock us with their thrillingly infectious excitement for life and creativity. Mia Jexen is one of those people. The Copenhagen-based actress (most recently known as a star in the popular tv series Fortitude) is a breathless whirl of passion for her acting, painting and music. Mia was unabashed in expressing that passion to us, too—so have a read and perhaps you’ll be infected with it just like we were.
Hello, Mia. What’s the main thing you’re working on these days?
I just returned from LA—I was over there to choose a manager. At the moment, I’m just working on my American and British accent with different voice coaches. Then, we’re going to do a second series of Fortitude.
What’s your approach to acting? Do you go home and think about building a character through your regular life, or are you Mia as soon as you step off the set?
I use a lot of time before I go on set preparing the character, scripts, lines. On this project, I worked with an acting coach named Ivana Chubbuck. She’s huge – she works with Brad Pitt and other big actors – and she’s amazing. I don’t get coached all the time but sometime it’s good to challenge myself. And I like to keep pushing myself and trying different things instead of always playing it safe. I hate it when actors have succeeded and keep on doing the same thing.
I really love the Danish way of acting ‘natural’, but I what I enjoy with an International cast like in Fortitude is that people tend to be daring—to play a little bit more in character and not always in this natural way.
What’s it been like filming Fortitude specifically?
Filming Fortitude was one of the best experiences of my life because the set, the people, the crew were amazing and everyone was caring for each other. No jealousy or ego. It’s a truly ensemble piece. And to experience that as an actress is amazing.
Is it usually not like that on set?
Because you are in a process where it’s very intense, you do get super close quite quickly and it does often feel like a family. But I’ve never experienced a set like Fortitude where there’s no ego. I don’t know if it’s because Denmark is so little that people are worried there’s not enough space and not enough movies, but I just felt like it was so relaxed with Fortitude. Nobody felt like they had to win an award or something, if you know what I mean.
In your many years in the industry, how have you noticed it changing? Is the industry in a more positive place now?
When I was a child I saw the acting world as a dream world—where I could live out my imagination and fantasy, especially in the theatre. And now I’m experiencing the reality. I learned quickly that you cannot as an actor feel responsibility for the end product and the whole production. You are truly like a musician in a big orchestra. And you can do whatever you want, but in the end it’ll always be the director who chooses which moments. It’s out of your hands.
It should be about what you learn privately from this experience—how you can grow as an actress, challenge yourself, explore different things. Forget about the success. It’s never going to make me happy.
You’re also an artist and musician, too. What creatively drives you in all these areas?
I both do music and paintings on the side. I love it. It’s what makes me very happy.
It’s natural to me. And it’s funny—I don’t find acting that creative. Of course it’s creative because you have to use your imagination, but I feel more like a builder within the piece. It’s hard for me to explain but as an actor I don’t feel like an artist, but when I’m creating something with my hands and product, that’s just me. I want to be responsible and get the credit for my creativity, where on a film, it’s more like I have studied since I was very young how to become another person.
With music and art on the side, I like that it’s all in my hands. I do not depend on anyone but myself. I do not depend on people liking me. It’s hard to do a movie yourself—as an actor you always depend on other people choosing you. You can work as hard as you want but you always have to fit in to a character, look like something, have the right accent. With painting and music, there are no limits. I don’t care if people like it.
Photographer: Petra Kleis - www.petrakleis.com
Make-up: Mette Munch
Styling: Ulricha Larsen