Exclusive: “I went directly from high school to the university. We don’t take a gap year in Serbia.”
That’s me and my mother, Vesna, on my birthday. How beautiful she is on that picture! It was taken in Serbia so it must be just before we came to Denmark. Both my mother and father are from Belgrade, and they moved to Copenhagen because my father got a job at the Yugoslav Embassy. It was not meant to be in Denmark at all. But then the war came and it became difficult for them to travel back so we stayed. I’m still speaking Serbian with my parents – my vocabulary may not be that great, but I speak the language fluently. We went there for summer vacation almost every year since I was born and I came close to the Serbian.
My most beautiful childhood memories are from the summer vacation with my family, which was always held in the same area of Montenegro. I still go there, just not so often. There were lots of children, at least three families gathered. We walked in the water, played cards, cooked food and held parties. Here I am with my beloved grandmother who died when I was eight years old. She is buried in Denmark, even though she didn’t live here. Unfortunately, she died of cancer while she was up to visit us. It all happened very fast. We held the funeral at the Russian church in Bredgade.
Here I am with my father, Mihajlo, on the beach in Montenegro.
We moved to the 2nd floor of a building in Amager, where I went to kindergarten. I couldn’t speak Danish when I started, and my parents didn’t speak Danish during the first years in Denmark, and they didn’t know much about how the Danes lived. But in kindergarten, I met Bell. Her parents welcomed us with open arms and were a great help for my parents. Here we got invited to a real Danish Christmas at home with them. Bell is on the right, I’m on the left, see how great we are in those clothes (laughs)! In the middle it’s my dear little brother, Ogi. He is three years younger than me, and we are still very close. For many years I was sure I would go stay abroad. It became Denmark anyway because I have my roots here and I have my family, which means everything to me.
A skilled pianist – about 1993
Here I’m in the piano with my childhood friend, Bianca with the violin. I started school at the Institut Sankt Joseph in Østerbro, where we also lived a few years before we returned to Amager. There I met Bianca, who is Brazilian. Her mother was my piano teacher, her father was a painter and I would just go home with them. Bianca and I have played together since we were 6-7 years old. Many years after this picture was taken, we started working in the summer as barmaners on cruises. My parents drove a travel company, which owned two riverboats, one in Volga and one on the Danube at that time. We performed in the evening with such classic gypsy ballads. I figured I was going to be a pianist, but then I went to the Sankt Annæ Gymnasium and met up with my music to ‘open stage’. When I heard the first students playing, I thought, that I didn’t, I didn’t, and I didn’t want to. Nor did I have the discipline or the will.
Debut as diva – 2001
This was my first theater role. I played an Italian diva in the Sankt Annæ Gymnasium’s big student show. I’ve dressed up since when I was very young and I’ve always known that I would be an actress. In high school I really began to think about acting, especially on movies. I once tried to be admitted to the theater school, but I didn’t dare to take it seriously until many years later. That’s why I applied for film science at the university. It was probably the closest I dared come to my dream at that time.
The picture was taken at the Burning Man Festival in the desert of Nevada, where I really got my inner hippie out (laughs). I went directly from high school to the university. We don’t take a gap year in Serbia. My mother and dad would support me in every way – it was just in the air that I had to take a higher education. After my bachelor in film and media science, I could feel that I should have my body. My then boyfriend was a real hippie from California. He lived just near a clown school, which I became very fascinated with. I went to that school for a year. It was a very physical theater school, based on comedia dell’arte, and I learned how to make a clown, mask work and melodrama. But I didn’t have to work with the drama and go into depth with words. So I searched and entered the theater school (the Danish National School of Theatre and Contemporary Dance) back home in Denmark. I feel that I grew up during the two to three years abroad.
Family celebration in Serbia – about 2008
In Serbia you celebrate a family party. It’s a big celebration, which is traditionally the big party of the year. So everyone is gathered in the whole family, up to grand-grand-cousins and cousins. In Serbian, all family members are just called brothers and sisters, and perhaps a little about what a close family context means. Here is my uncle and I in a loud mood at that year’s family celebration, which we celebrate every year with my Serbian family. Just notice the musician in the background – listening music to big Serbian parties! My dad, Mihajlo, has always been such a real living, full of anecdotes and stories, and he’s really good at getting through.