January 28, 2019

Erika Linder

“I don't want to do anything that doesn't scare the shit out of me.”

Words Linn Wiberg

Photo Nina Andersson

Hair Peter Avento / Hall&Lundgren

Styling Martin Persson / LundLund

Makeup Regina Törnvall / LundLund

Erika Linder is known for bending the rules the rest of the world is constrained by. Having already made headlines modelling both as male and female, she will now premiere as an actress in the first all female film Below Her Mouth. In a transatlantic email convo Linn Wiberg talked to Linder about her big screen debut and what this thing called love is.

" I never give up on the things I believe in. I always go my own way. I've always been somewhat of a philosopher, always lived in my own world"

To Erika Linder, life is all about authenticity. Born and raised in Stockholm, Sweden Erika Linder moved to LA to pursue modelling. What she didn’t know was that this would not only be where her career would begin, but where it would take off. Linder didn’t just fit into one mould, but two, and she became one of the first female models to be cast for both genders. As part of Next Models Erika Linder’s career now boasts campaigns for heavy names like Tom Ford and Louis Vuitton, but unlike many models, she hasn’t been running between go-sees since her early teens.

I started working in the modelling industry when I was 20 years old. I had the opportunity to do it when I was 14 years old, but it didn’t sound alluring to me at the time. So for me personally, I can deal with ups and downs in a much better way than I probably would have been able to when I was 14, you know. You also gotta be in the right place at the right time. Hard work and good luck got me to where I am. It all goes hand in hand.

Despite being ready to move on from modelling she somewhat coincidentally landed one of the lead roles in the upcoming movie Below Her Mouth. The feature film is a modern day love story and premiers at the Toronto International Film Festival in September. Linder plays Dallas, a roofer recently out of a relationship who on a night out meets Jasmine (Natalie Krill), a successful fashion editor living with her fiancé, Rile (Sebastian Pigott). With a bit of persistence Dallas seduces the at first reluctant Jasmine and the two of them embark on a steamy affair described as “One of the boldest and sexiest dramas of the year.”

It was an incredible opportunity. It sort of came out of nowhere and I got extremely lucky with it. It was my first ever audition for a film too. It was pretty nerve-wracking, especially knowing the content of the film, which I had to sign a nudity writer for. The fact that the production company and casting put their faith in me is crazy. Being on a film set is probably one of the best feelings. The whole process of it all was amazing.

Lead by writer Stephanie Fabrizi, producer Melissa Coghlan and director April Mullen the film is unique in terms of being the first ever film created and produced solely by women.

It was pretty badass. We all became a big family creating something unique together. The atmosphere was so much fun and since it was an all women crew, we understood each other on a very emotional level. It helped the shoot for sure. I would’ve done the movie even if it wasn’t an all women crew obviously, but it definitely brought a different vibe to set. It brought something romantic and powerful to the screen that I think only women can create.

Her quest to get at the core of authenticity is what lead Erika Linder to treasure acting. It is also what she would argue brings out the best in her as an actress.

I’m not scared to dive in. I don’t want to do anything that doesn’t scare the shit out of me. I feel like I’m very in touch with myself. For me, it always comes back to being authentic and that’s what I try my best to be on screen as well. I feel very comfortable on set. When it comes to events or interviews, those things don’t come naturally to me.

Despite acting and modelling having many similar components, this was new territory for Erika Linder. Whilst venturing into the unknown, she was taken by surprise, but the hardships weren’t those she had anticipated.

It was weird because for some reason I thought that the sex scenes would be the hardest to shoot, but when you get to that point, you just go for it. The toughest scenes to shoot were probably the emotional scenes because you have to put yourself through someone else’s emotions, whether you agree with them or not. And there were a lot of them in Below Her Mouth. It’s such a raw and intense love story. Not to say that the sex scenes weren’t emotional and hard to shoot, because they were, but you lose yourself in them in a different way. There is this one really raw and intense scene in the film that really got to me. I thought I was going to throw up. I was laying on the floor at the end of it for about an hour. Literally speaking. That was the moment I knew that this is what I want to be doing. Acting is like therapy.

" Love is something I can't really define, no matter how hard I try. But obviously, Love is everything and it means everything"

Below Her Mouth is hardly the first movie about two female lovers, but as far as lesbian dramas go, they are few and far between in comparison to hetero or gay male love stories. In terms of Linder’s view on how queer women are portrayed in popular culture she’s just not sure.

It’s hard to tell, but I think that there aren’t that many good lesbian dramas out there right now. I feel like when lesbian dramas get made, people just see it as a sexual thing and put their focus on different things rather than the actual story.

The love [in Below Her Mouth] is very unexpected and instant. I think the story is very real and relatable, regardless of it being a love story between two women. You kind of look pass that.

Erika Linder has spent months consumed by the love story and heartache of Dallas, which soon will be available for the rest of the world to take part in too. In terms of Linder’s own view on what love is she says this:

Love is unconditional. Love is when you trust and care for someone and it’s something that brings out the best in you. It’s a bond between human beings or animals, whichever way you want to see it. Love is something I can’t really define, no matter how hard I try. But obviously, Love is everything and it means everything.

This article was published in Nuda 1, 2016