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“When I came out I didn’t know of the term pan, I only knew of lesbian, gay or bi and I felt I didn’t fit into any of these boxes.”
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[dropcap4]I[/dropcap4]n spite of young age María Birta (25) has already graced the silver screen in films like Jitters, Black’s Game and most recently XL, which has earned her praise from critics. When not acting and modeling she runs a fashion store, skydives, surfs, hunts and is working on becoming a pilot. We sat down with the multi talented chameleon to find out what she thinks about the Icelandic LGBT scene, where she’s heading and what pansexuality is all about.
Tell us about your latest movie XL?
It’s a very crazy movie about Leifur, who is throwing his last party before rehab. Nonstop parties, hangovers, sexual escapades and drug-abuse have gnawed his life to the bone. It’s an expressive and highly distinctive film which morphs into a delirious, hyperbolic nightmare.
In XL you play Æsa, the young lover of the main character (actor Ólafur Darri) as well as his best friend’s daughter. What was it like playing her and how did you prepare for the role?
It’s the most difficult role I have played as she is very vulnerable and lost, sad but happy at the same time and some of the scenes are pretty brutal. I liked the challenge specially since I got the role very late in the process, so I only had about 16 days to get ready for it, which is very little time to prepare yourself to play a lead! I did watch some Japanese movies in preparation and also movies like Eyes Wide Shut, Lolita, Hard Candy and Bitter Moon.
All the characters you’ve played are caught up in difficult situations. In teenage drama Jitters (2010) you play a girl who likes to party a lot and has the hots for a gay boy. In crime thriller Black’s Game (2012) your character is entangled in a drug cartel and finally XL deals with alcohol and alcoholism. Are you drawn to these kinds of parts or do directors tend to offer them to you?
I think i’ts a bit of both, I want challenging parts. I don’t want to get caught up playing similar roles again and again and I think I’m quite lucky that I do get offered such diverse roles.
Back in 2010 you seemed to come out of nowhere and suddenly were everywhere. Now you’re in every other film being made. What does it feel like to be one of the country’s most sought after young talent?
I’m very grateful for the acceptance I’ve had in the industry here in Iceland. There are not that many large productions a year here, so I guess I’m blessed and lucky to have been offered so many good roles in such short time.
Did you study drama or does acting come natural to you?
I took some classes in school when I was about 16, but other than that no, but I think it comes quite natural.
Do you ever get tired of being in the spot light?
Yes, it can get a bit overwhelming at times, but I’m getting used to it.
Who is María Birta, the girl behind the public figure?
The same as the public figure I would say, I am simply me! What most people don’t know though is that I’m a little shy. I guess I hide it well.
How do you spend your spare time, when not acting, modeling or running a fashion store? (OMG you must get exhausted sometimes!)
I love trying new things so I try to explore a lot. Like last weekend I went surfing at Þórshöfn, I had never surfed in Iceland before and it was amazing! For me it is very important to stay active, so my schedule is usually packed, but I am also in school and I want to try to give that more time in the next few months and finish my pilot license. Hopefully I’ll do it this year.
You’ve always been very open about your pansexuality (which is by definition a sexual or emotional attraction or both towards all gender identities and biological sexes). Did you ever stop to consider that doing so might actually harm your career?
No, I never thought it would. In Iceland people are very accepting and I don’t think people who would judge my acting based on my sexual preference are the people who I should really be thinking about. That only shows that they are not very good critics. To me that would be like judging a book by its cover and I don’t really care for people who think that way.
Some argue that being bisexual or pansexual is met with even more prejudice than being gay. What’s your own experience in the matter?
When I came out I didn’t know the term pan, I was only familiar with being lesbian, gay or bi and thought I didn’t fit into any of these boxes. I felt a lot of prejudice from lesbians for not wanting to “admit” being a lesbian. But then again most thought this was just a phase and didn’t take me seriously since I was so girly and not at all trying to be boyish, like I feel most of them are here in Iceland. I think the boxes are too few and too small. So a lot of people say that they are bi, just because they like sleeping with both sexes. But a lot of them would never consider being in a committed relationship with the same-sex, and therefore they don’t really fit into the definition of being bi. So I think the prejudice also comes because this term is overused.
What do you think of the Icelandic LGBT scene?
I think it’s similar to most of the small towns that I have been to, but I think the way the scene is accepted by such a large percentage of the population in Iceland is the most admirable.
Do you have a special someone in your life at the moment?
Yes, I have a very special lady in my life right now. I’m pretty sure that I’ve finally found my soul mate.
What kind of character traits usually make you fall for a person?
I’m attracted to shy personalities but at the same time very strong grounded people. I like very odd kind of ticks, and I don’t like people who are easy. I tend to date very difficult people. I think I’m the same in my career and love-life, so bring on the challenge!
Enough with “the personal”, we’ve already made you blush enough as it is, and back to your career. Any more exciting projects on the horizon?
Yes, I am working on getting an agent in the states now. So hopefully I’ll be acting abroad within the next years.
We think it’s OK to say you’re one multi-talented lady. Do you intend to surprise us by doing something completely different from acting and modeling?
I’d love to do more acting in the future. But I’m going to be in school and working on my career so who knows, perhaps I’ll take a 180 and become a professional diver. I don’t want to plan too much. So I guess you’ll just have to wait and see!
Any final words of wisdom?
Chances multiply if you grab them!
[/vc_column_text] [vc_single_image image=”4204″ image_size=”full” frame=”noframe” full_width=”no” lightbox=”yes” link_target=”_self” caption=”Top photo/Lalli Sig. Bottom photo from left then top down/María Birta on the cover of magazine Monitor. Top right: Sky-diving in the States. Photo/Josh Colbert. With director Marteinn Thorsson and actor Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, at the premiere of XL at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival in July.” width=”1/1″ el_position=”first last”]