Meet ArtEx participant Thea Sofie Loch Næss
10.03.2023 / With the support from ArtEx, actress Thea Sofie Loch Næss is extending her career internationally.
“Coaching has been worth its weight in gold”
The female actor Thea Sofie Loch Næss (26) is finally daring to take up more space. With the support from ArtEx, actress Thea Sofie Loch Næss is extending her career internationally.
«I’ve been so incredibly scared of people not liking me. However, this year has been redemptive», says Thea.
Since mid-2021, Thea Sofie Loch Næss has been part of Talent Norge’s elite programme ArtEx, which allows twelve selected talents access to mentors, coaches and a broad professional network.
«Coaching with Kea has been worth its weight in gold», saysThea.
Conversations with the experienced coach Kea Ostavany has helped Thea find her strengths – and given her more self-confidence when she is auditioning.
“Because you easily lose your sense of security in an industry where you get an incredible amount of rejections.
From wondering «what do they want to see», she tries instead to think «how lucky they are to get the opportunity to see what I have to offer».
«That is easier said than done. But it helps to switch focus from trying to please someone, to looking instead at what I can create and do and have fun in the process. »
Through ArtEx, Thea has made good contact with Marit Moum Aune, her mentor and one of Norway’s most experienced and recognized directors.
«Having a mentor has been fantastic. It’s been good to have a person to look up to, who can guide you a little.
«Norway’s new shooting star»
Thea is already a well-kown actor. In 2014 she made an impression in her first feature film as the lead actor Thea in “Natt til 17.” (The Night leading up to 17th May, Norway’s national day). However, the big breakthrough came four years later. In the third episode of the BBC and Netflix series «The Last Kingdom» Thea popped up as the scheming witch Skade.
The role became hers as a result of a self-tape she never thought would reach through in the mass of other contenders.
«The director told me that one of the reasons I got the role was because «you were the only one who dared to scream properly” in your self-tape. You have to dare», says Thea.
All of a sudden it was her name people searched for the most in the worldwide film database IMDB. Thea was described as Norway’s new shooting star and was on multiple magazine covers.
Subsequently there were key roles in the Viaplay series «Wisting» and in the TV 2-series «Hjerteslag» (Heartbeat), and at the very end of last year we saw her as one of the 15 lead roles in the Netflix series «Julestorm» (Christmas storm).
Having to tackle rejections
From the outside: A success story, but what the audience does not see, is all the roles you don’t get. Auditions where you give everything you’ve got but don’t hear anything back. A constant worry of not being good enough.
During the pandemic there were many jobs that slipped away, according to Thea. The reasons given were often vague. «You’re too young, you’re too short, your hair is too blonde, your hair is too dark”. The list is endless.
«Then I have to turn it into the thought that it might possibly be me the next time. Everything happens for a reason. I try to have a good relation in myself.
Taking up more space
The classic deceiver syndrome has followed Thea for years, but now she is in the process of putting it behind her.
«Now I think instead that «it’s going to sort itself out». I have dared to take my place, to a greater extent”, says Thea.
Some years ago Thea went public, underlining the need for an intimacy coordinator on the set. She said how difficult it could be to put one’s foot down – and be heard – in connection with intimate scenes one is uncomfortable with.
It cost me quite a bit to be part of the Metoo movement. I’m still afraid of being considered as «difficult».
«The younger me would have wanted so much that somebody would dare to speak up. We must have a culture where we respect each other”, says Thea.
«I’ve grown up in an industry that has undergone enormous change, but there is still a long way to go».
I like uncertainty
When Thea was 19 years old she went to Hollywood on her own. At that time she was a bit envious of her friends who were studying and had a set programme for the next five or six years.
«All I think now is «Thank goodness I have no idea what’s going to happen.» I know this won’t make me the happiest person in the world, but I think I have the coolest job in the world.
In the uncertain swirl between assignments, self-tapes and auditions, it helps not being a ‘slave of habit’.
When Thea was 17 years old she had moved as much as 17 times and that’s why she feels at home anywhere and doesn’t mind living life in a suitcase. But it can be a challenge to calm down, which is something that has been important to work on together with ArtEx coach Kea.
«I have always had a problem with it. My father said to me once: “You must learn to say ‘no’.”
Before I had a cold once a month, I was tense a lot and had headaches.
Thea has made use of Talent Norge’s collaboration with Olympiatoppen and received physiotherapy in order to losen up her tight muscles.
«I feel that what we are doing is also an extreme sport. It is important to take care of one’s physical and mental health, because it is possible to be burnt out.
ArtEx support for her stay in New York
Since last summer Thea’s base has been in New York after she went to an acting school for five weeks on a scholarship from Kulturrådet (the Culture Council). Thanks to ArtEx she has received support for housing and has participated in several workshops relating to theatre and plays.
«I have met an incredible number of people in New York. My stay here is important for creating networks», says Thea.
She has got to know herself better through the acting classes. She is happy to speak about an intense and emotionally demanding exercise where she had to look another actor in the eyes for 30 minutes. During the exercise Thea reacted by smiling.
«So then I discovered that my defence mechanism is to smile each time I get upset. Learning things like that about oneself is incredibly useful», says Thea.
“My connection with ArtEx helps make me feel safe and secure in New York”, which is a place Thea wants to stay in for some time.
Being alone in a gigantic city, it helps a lot to have a support system. Someone who cheers you on.»
Thea’s advice on the dream to be an actor
She has two pieces of advice for others who dream of becoming an actor or getting a break through in the culture industry.
Number 1: Things take time.
“In the social media you only see the successes, that someone has been given a role, for instance. But you do not see that she has lost at least 99 other ones.
Number 2: People have to know that you exist.
«That bit is still difficult», Thea admits. She herself dreamed about being an actor from when she was 8 years old and had a role in ‘hotell Cæsar’. She registered with all the casting agencies and sent a lot of emails.
«You have to use yourself.»
She often shares glimpses from her everyday life with her 139,000 followers on Instagram. She has an ambivalent attitude to that.
«If I could decide, I would not have had Instagram. I spend such a lot of time on it, but I feel it may be important for my job”, says Thea.
«I’ve met many exciting people via Insta and have managed to set up cooperations.
Wanting to start a production company
Towards the end of 2023 we will be seeing Thea in the series ‘Ondskan’ (‘ond’ meaning ‘evil’ in Norwegian), which is based on a novel by Jan Guillou, which is partly an autobiography.
In the longer term she wants to take up a greater part of the creative process and she wants to focus even more on the international aspect.
“My biggest dream is to start my own production company.”
What is your dream role?
«I have no idea», says Thea, laughing.
«I try to make every role a dream role!»
Programme of Excellence in Performing Arts and film (ArtEx) is an interdisciplinary talent developing programme which is to help top-level artists to further develop themselves artistically and build an interesting and sustainable career. Through the programme you will become part of an extensive national and international network, you will get to take part in interdisciplinary professional gatherings under the auspices of Talent Norge. A support network will be available to you throughout the duration of the programme, consisting of a mentor, a coach and a place on Olympiatoppen’s health service. You will also get an individual scholarship that is to be used for professional development in consultation with your mentor.