Actress Jannica Olin Shares Her Personal Journey Living With Alopecia – The Hollywood Reporter

Actress Jannica Olin was 32 years outdated when signs indicating what would finally be identified as alopecia started to point out.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’m not my physique, who am I?”
Olin’s one-woman present, (IM)PERFEKT, is impressed by her journey dwelling 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 concerning the now-infamous Oscars slap.

What has your journey dwelling with alopecia seemed like?
I found my first bald spot in August of 2013. And it was like having my coronary heart simply soar up in my throat. I had a bald spot that was completely spherical with no hair. It was the dimensions 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 type of all know — particularly as girls — hair is all the things. It represents your femininity and sexuality; it symbolizes well being and fertility, all these items that we now have been taught by way of 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 hold reinforcing the stereotype to suit into being a phenomenal blonde lady in different individuals’s eyes.
How have medical doctors helped and supported you thru this?
I by no means had any good medical doctors, actually. I went to 3 totally different medical doctors in three international locations: [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 once you begin taking a look at what an autoimmune situation truly is, it implies 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 example, and my immune system has to deal with it. So by protecting my hair away, my immune system thinks it’s doing a superb 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 — occurring auditions, reserving jobs — as an actress with alopecia? 
It took me six months to lose all my hair; it’s important to undergo the traumatic expertise of what you’re getting confronted with, each on a private degree and a societal, cultural degree. I attempted to do all the things to have my hair come again. I attempted all the things to maintain it from falling out, and nothing labored. So I had this second of like, “Well, what if I simply embrace that which I can’t change? What would that seem like?” Because I do know I’m the identical particular person on the within. It’s simply after I look within the mirror, I’m totally different, and the way individuals understand me is totally different, however how can this change into my superpower if I simply permit it to be?
Then I began occurring auditions and reserving a whole lot of work that’s all about being empowering and being outdoors of the field of “regular.” It’s a course of, and it’s a follow. Of course, I nonetheless have days the place I don’t need to be checked out immediately; I simply need to mix in. But general, it’s been a superb expertise for me — it actually comes from you doing all your inside 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 larger.
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 among 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 elsewhere. 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 lady. I might have liked to have that stated to me. But that’s me, proper? I can’t communicate for anybody else.
I assumed the slap within the face was staged at first, however then when [Will Smith] stated what he stated 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 stated to them? That’s the place it’s important to cease and assume: “Am I in fight-or-flight mode proper now?” We’re all human. We’re all going to get triggered by issues. But it’s important to be an grownup and sit with one thing and possibly not react that method, it doesn’t matter what.

Maybe it’s a silver lining, nevertheless it appears constructive that this received extra individuals speaking about alopecia. Does this really feel like an necessary second regardless of the plain poor conduct?
There are individuals affected by something and all the things. So if we will shed a lightweight on one thing and convey consciousness, it can make individuals really feel heard and seen. In my very own case, it’s nobody’s duty to find out 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 now have to know all the things in order that we will be respectful with individuals. 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 way of.

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