January 4th, 2009
Article from Midtjyllands Avis
writer: Christian Kloch Larsen
photos: Jakob Stigsen Andersen
Annemette Andersen from Silkeborg, Denmark, was accepted to a drama school in the United States, during her au-pair stay in 1990. She is now a member of the renowned theater group The Actors Gang, led by hollywood star Tim Robbins, in Los Angeles. After almost 20 years in the entertainment world in the US, she still dreams of working in her native Denmark. Even though Annemette lives in the US, she follows Danish film and theater closely. One day she may appear on the Danish screen or a live production.Annemette had no idea what the future would hold when at the age of 19 she arrived in Maryland to begin work as an au-pair. She had recently completed an associate degree in business in Denmark. She found herself at a crossroads, and wasn’t sure what to do with her degree. All she knew was that she had a strong need to explore a year on her own, away from home. Due to a random meeting Annemette was accepted by a theater school in Georgtown, D.C. Today she works with TThe Actors’ Gang in Los Angeles.
“Jeppe on the Hill” in Linaa
Annemette Andersen grew up in Linaa. From the ages of 5- 12 she lived in an old priest’s house that her parents had bought and renovated. It’s possible the seed to an acting career was planted this early. “My father, Bernhard Andersen, played the title role of the classic “Jeppe on the Hill” in the local amateur production. I remember clearly what deep an impression was made seeing my father very happy and angry on stage, even though he had warned me that they were just pretending” Even if it wasn’t his particular performance that got her onto the acting track, the experience was part of her inspiration to push forward in the world.
“When I was little, my father often told me that I should not stay in Linaa forever. He said the world was big and exciting and it was important to experience it. The plan was that my father and I should visit my aunt in Santa Barbara, but my father suddenly passed away. I was determined to live out that journey.”
When Annemette had begun her studies at the drama school, she quickly realized she had chosen the right field. “Theater demands teamwork, and I love that. I loved playing European team handball back home. Somehow I found a parallel because of the trust and teamwork among the players. As an actor you have to be in great shape both mentally and physically.”
After completing drama school, Annemette was hired as an intern at the Hedgerow Theatre in Pennsylvania. It is the oldest repertory theater in the US.“I learned so much about theater. I lived there and was part of everything. A new family was created. To live and breath theater was a highlight in my life.”
After three years at Hedgerow Theatre, Annemette decided to expand her experience by moving to New York City, where she studied with award winning director Vivian Matalon. Even though New York is filled with hopeful actors, she managed to nurture her craft through various theater and film projects during her six years there.
“I feel very fortunate to have met so many inspiring people. It’s important to have a strong network when you are creating a career in a big city like New York and a big country like the USA.”
The Danish roots have had both advantages and disadvantages.“In some roles my international accent has worked for me, but I have worked hard to reduce it. During my first years as an actress, I sat up in the late hours translating and learning my lines in order to get them right. I feel I have a good dose of courage and believe I was born with a positive outlook.”
Tim Robbins’ Theater After six years in New York, Annemette moved to Los Angeles where she became a member of Tim Robbins’ theater group The Actors’ Gang. She has been with the company for three years. The Oscar winning actor is best known as the lead in the film “The Shawshank Redemption” with Morgan Freeman. As a director and screenwriter he was behind the controversial film about the death penalty “Dead Man Walking” starring his wife Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn. He is also known for his political and social engagement.Apart from performing at their theater in Culver City, LA, The Actors’ Gang tours shows, teach high school students, and reach out to the community. Their mission is to create awareness about current affairs through new works and classics. “It’s fantastic to see your own city develop with a state of the art music and theater complex.”She saw a preview of a wonderful production of “Ifigenia in Aulis” at the Royal Theater in Copenhagen. A piece that you can experience in Silkeborg on February 4th, 2009 Danish dreams The experiences with Tim Robbins and fellow members of The Actors’ Gang has inspired Annemette to share her background with creative Danes and the Danish audiences alike. Apart from spending the Christmas holiday with her family in Denmark, she spent a month and a half in Copenhagen connecting with the theater and the film industry.“I am sure my age has a lot to do with the urge of re-connecting with my own roots. l enjoy being in the US, even with the uncertain gypsy life I have led, but I am Danish. Even though I have lived half of my life in the US, there are things that cannot replace my Danish roots no matter what, therefore I have an interest in working with Scandinavian stories…especially stories that deal with social realism…strong stories that are character driven.” “Jeppe on the Hill” in America Besides plans to work in Denmark in 2009, she might bring a Danish piece of theater to The Actors’ Gang.“I would like to present “Jeppe on the Hiill” (Ludvig Holberg). It’s a great play that would fit right in with what we do as a company. It is the play my father played the title role in.” she says with a smile.that she had a strong need to explore a year on her own, away from home. Due to a random meeting Annemette was accepted by a theater school in Georgtown, D.C. Today she works with TThe Actors’ Gang in Los Angeles. Surprised everyone ”At a local gym, I stood in line with an American girl my age who was a theater student. I asked her what was required to be accepted to such a program. She told me to prepare a monologue and audition. I did and was accepted.” She shocked her family and friends when she returned in 1990 after completing her au-pair stay. Annemette announced that she would quickly be returning to Washington D.C. to attend The National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts to study acting. She would begin as early as January ’91. It was a three year program. She was lucky to receive some funding and loans from the State of Denmark.