Interview: Annika Marks from The Last Tycoon and The Fosters

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From East2West Collective

Growing Up and Saving Kids

Hidden Remote: You have lived in Sweden, Washington, New York and California. I was wondering if you can touch on what it’s like living there and if any of the culture do you bring into your roles?

AM: We moved a lot when I was a kid. Just in my youth, I was born in Sweden; we lived in Michigan, Chicago, Connecticut, and Seattle. Then I moved to New York when I left high school. I’ve met so many other actors along this journey who have also moved a lot. It makes you good at assimilating into new environments. Being an actress is a gypsy lifestyle and I feel like moving a lot as a kid helps prepare you a lot for the rapid change in environment, and being an actor is a pretty fitting profession. You learn this lesson early on about how people are not essentially the same everywhere you go.

The aesthetic is different, the culture is different, the political opinion is different, the lifestyles are different. Underneath of it all the people are essentially the same which is an essential piece of being an artist. Knowing what you are changing in so many ways is superficial, but the human experience is similar. Some of that you get when you are very young and moving around. As for being an adult and moving to different places, I am a very progressive person as for my politics, and I feel lucky that I live surrounded by like-minded people. I also feel like there is a danger in it, where you are in this bubble, and everyone agrees with you, and you forget that there is this other [side]. I am on this show which is very much about LGBTQ rights and you travel the country and work different places and I’m continually shocked by how much progress we made on the coast and so little progress made in other places. It’s very important not to lose track on how far we need to go.

Hidden Remote: What motivated you to choose such a hard profession like acting?

AM: I always knew I was an artist, I just didn’t know what to exactly focus on. I was always singing and dancing and putting on plays. I always knew I was an artsy kid, and everyone around me knew that as well. I was constantly making people sit down and watch me perform. Everybody recognized that I was really artistic and somewhat talented kid. Nobody ever suggested that I become a professional actor. It was just a way of life and as I was approaching adulthood, it was the only thing that I could imagine that what would make me happy. I never really considered doing anything else. Maybe if I had more of a choice I would have talked myself out of life in the arts because it is so hard and there is so much rejection. There are so many people who want to do it and there is endless amounts of talent and not enough jobs. I never really felt like I had a choice if I wanted to live an authentic life. I never considered pursuing anything else.

Hidden Remote: Tell me about some of your charity work. I read about Creating Safe Home’s for Children?

AM: I have a sister who is the head of the board of an organization called Hamomi, which is a children’s center in Nairobi, Kenya. They offer kids who are out in the slums everything from education, well-balanced meals, nutritional information, and they help find shelter for kids on the street. It’s not an orphanage it’s a school. It’s about total care of these kids. They really do extraordinary work and less than ten percent that you donate to Hamomi goes to any administrative costs. Almost everything you give goes directly to these kids. I am really proud of her and it’s wonderful to have a close link to something like that. It makes being generous charitable and giving so easy.

I feel like I am an overall advocate for youth. I’m on “The Fosters” which deals with LGBTQ issues and I play a bisexual character on that show. Through being on that show, I have gotten involved in all sorts of advocacies for young gay, trans, bi, queer kids around the country that need to know even though they are living in a community making them feel shame or fear, they need to know that they are perfect. They are loved and if they can hang on things are going to get better.

The other part about this show (Fosters) is that it’s about foster kids. I was lucky enough to meet these amazing women Georgie Smith and Melissa Goddard who run an organization called a Sense of Home. Their whole concept is that they take kids who have aged out of the foster care system and have no access to any kind of help at all. Their resources are completely cut off. Something like 70 percent of kids who age out of the foster care system end up on the street. This organization takes those kids, if those kids can become their own advocates and find some kind of government subsidized housing and this organization comes in and creates a home. Bringing in donated furniture; everything from refrigerators, beds, cooking utensils, everything you can think of that you can make a space into a home. Something we take for granted when we have parents to help us figure that out. They also create a house warming party for these kids who are usually in their early twenties. It has become a community of mentorship that I’m lucky enough to become a part of. It’s really one of the most meaningful parts of my life.