September 15, 2016. I was in a weird warehouse and two bald women were slowly performing a crucial ceremony in a scene during Creep LA. The intensity was palpable as the twin-like actors guided the audience through an immersive moment in the brilliant 2016 experience.
Later that night, after the last of the audience had filtered through, there was an afterparty in the lounge. The actors from the experience shed their pretense and became themselves. Janica Olin, who was striking and austere onstage became this warm, gregarious individual completely comfortable in her own skin.
The following year we met up again. Only this time she was a fumbling, immature maid getting audience members to help her serve charcuterie at an awkward dinner party. Again, her performance was nuanced and erratic, even unnerving at times.
We set up an interview right away to find out a little more on her and to our pleasure she took us up on it.
HorrorBuzz: We first came in contact with you during the amazing immersive Los Angeles Show Creep LA. How did you get that job? What’s the story there?
Jannica: I saw a casting breakdown on LA Casting and was immediately intrigued by it. I could already tell that this was a highly professional team so there was no question whether to submit for it or not.
They sent out monologues to prepare for the audition and I had so much fun with mine. And by fun I mean breaking down and crying. I was in the moment and felt like everyone in that casting room were on my side. It was a very supportive environment.
Then I got a call back which was in a workshop setting. Justin Fix shared with us more about why he created CreepLA and you could tell that there was so much passion and love for what he was creating, together with the amazing writer Daniel Montgomery, choreographer Stefanie Turek and the risk taking director Fiona Rene. I knew right away that this was what I wanted to belong to, if only they’d have me. Luckily they did. I mean, the integrity, professionalism and passion of these people and this company…. it’s a rare find.
HorrorBuzz: What was the audition process for Creep like?
Jannica: At the initial audition, I had prepared a monologue out of maybe three that everyone were given to choose from.
And the callback was a longer workshop setting for a few hours where we worked some more on the text but also did lots of movement exercises and improvisation. It was a great class! That’s how I saw it. It didn’t feel like an audition at that point.
HorrorBuzz: So you get hired, cast in this wonderfully experimental show, what was the rehearsal process like?
Jannica: Intense. What makes CreepLA is success is the dedication and integrity to the story and the characters. Which means a lot of work and exploring through play and exercise what works and what doesn’t. Fiona is so wonderful in that she really emphasizes your back story. You have to know what motivates your character at all times. It has to be specific. So we wrote a lot and worked in the space with each other, working on physical and sensory awareness. I don’t even remember how it all came together but all those pieces were just created, adjusted and packaged into this lovely, disturbing show.
HorrorBuzz: What other roles have you done for Creep LA and which is your favorite?
Jannica: I am currently in The Willows, playing the maid of the household. That is a very different role from my character in Entry (Creep LA 2016). And I love that about acting so much; the changes in physicality and voice that you can play with. In Entry I was a very commanding, intimidating character and in The Willows, I play a woman, well, more like a girl really, who is very shy and quiet and always worried about messing up. But even she has her limits.
HorrorBuzz: When did you first get bitten by the acting bug?
Jannica: I think all kids have it in a way, because it’s all about play and pretend, up until age 5 or so. Then we enter society, aka kindergarten and we start becoming more aware and maybe a little hindered in our natural self expression. That was how it was for me. So I kind of shut down. But it was always there, this desire to have permission to express all feelings and emotions and not be made wrong for it.
It wasn’t until I was 16 or 17 and we did Shakespeare in school that it hit me; that this is where I belong. In the world of play and expressing through story.
From then on, I knew that I would become an actor.
HorrorBuzz: You are from Sweden, right? What was that like, growing up there and being all about acting and weird, scary stuff, or were you that type of kid?
Jannica: I am from Sweden, yes! From a small town in the south. I didn’t start involving myself with the theatre community until I was 17. And I was never really into horror or scary movies. Well, until I went and saw Scream at the movies by myself. After that, I went home and I was on such a high cause it was a cool story to me, that these seemingly somewhat normal young people were the killers. I was never a fan of Friday the 13th or any monster type films.
HorrorBuzz: How long have you been working in the industry?
Jannica: I have been acting on and off for quite some time now, but when I get asked that question, my answer is about a year and a half.
Before then, I didn’t fully believe that I deserved or were even good enough to call myself “an actor”. It was a limiting belief that I didn’t even know I carried around with me; the idea that being an actor is vain and selfish and it’s not gonna happen for me anyway.
This was a subconscious belief but it was reflected in how I showed up in auditions, in how I constructed emails, how I carried myself.
Once I saw that this was a made up story, created ages ago in order to keep me “safe”, I was now free to create another one; one that empowered me.
And that changed everything. I started booking more consistently and also started enjoying the marketing side of my business. So the career and profession that I thought I had chosen a long time ago, had really just been a hobby until I chose to be responsible for all aspects of the profession.
HorrorBuzz: Let’s talk about your advocacy. You rock your Alopecia like a goddess. Did that come naturally? How do you bring awareness to the broader community?
Jannica: I lost all my hair in the space of 6 months after I was “diagnosed”. I don’t relate to Alopecia being a disease, cause I don’t identify with the label. It’s not empowering. Cause what it really is, is a confused and over active immune system that randomly chose my hair follicles as the thing about my body it needs to “cure”. So I’m kind of this super human in a way since my immune system is stronger than normal.
Losing all my hair was of course not easy. Those 6 months were a very isolating, confused, frustrated and painful time. But I had this deep spiritual belief that this was happening FOR me. I just didn’t know what that would look like. I was terrified of losing work. And before I lost all my hair, I considered hiding my alopecia and just cover it all with a wig, and never tell anyone. But that is so far away from who I am. It would have gotten in the way of my self expression.
I review wigs on my YouTube channel , and I get amazing messages and comments through my channel where people share how it’s making a difference in their lives. And that is so rewarding.
I would like to do more creative producing down the road, and create projects that make difference and contribute to a new idea of what beauty, perfect and normal should look like.
Losing all my hair almost stopped me from pursuing my dream, and I want to be an example for others that no matter what happens to you, you don’t have to quit your dream. No matter what it is. Unless you powerfully choose for it not to be your dream anymore. It’s all about staying flexible in your life and course correct and that opens up new opportunities and possibilities.
HorrorBuzz: Has your Alopecia actually gotten you work?
Jannica: I have booked a few commercials and print work because of being bald. Some were to portray a cancer patient but I love the ones where I get to be part of advertising that empowers people to embrace what makes them unique.
And then we have CreepLA, and a film I was cast in last year, where we used my look to my advantage, to help elevate the story. And it has nothing to do with being sick. That alone is groundbreaking in Hollywood. That I can be this person who happens to have no hair, and nothing’s wrong with me! I love representing that.
HorrorBuzz: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Jannica: Wow….. I see myself as someone being a contribution to others. Through telling great stories as an actor and creator. All that other stuff; awards, recognition and great money is a by product of that.
HorrorBuzz: What is your favorite scary movie or are you even into them?
Jannica: One that comes to mind instantly is Hush by Mike Flanagan and Kate Siegel. I get inspired when people create their own work and pull it off. I loved the first Saw film, because of that twist at the end. I also enjoyed Would You Rather with Brittany Snow. I’m not into films that are only out to shock you. I want to see humanity and what people will do when put in these very specific situations.
HorrorBuzz: What’s your biggest fear?
Jannica: Looking back at my life and regretting the risks I didn’t take.
You can currently see Janica Olin in The Willows, that is, if you can score a ticket. We also hear that there are some wonderful things coming from Creep LA this fall so, can it be Halloween yet?