Actress Frida Farrell talks starring in Apartment 407, fighting trafficking

Anderson Group
Anderson Group /

Actress Frida Farrell recently took the time to share with us about her movie Apartment 407, a film festival darling soon to be released.

Note: This article contains sensitive subject matter regarding abuse and trauma. 

The talented Frida Farrell recently spoke with me about starring in the film Apartment 407, which is based on her own personal story of horrific events she has gone through, including sex trafficking. What she went through was unspeakable. But now, she is powerfully speaking out against this evil.

Though she has been to hell and back, it quickly became obvious when speaking with her that she is no victim, she is a fighter who is giving the sex industry the greatest blow it has ever felt. She’s kind and gracious. As she speaks, she delivers her words calmly and in a uniquely serene and composed manner. Farrell also has a profound strength about her.

In the following exclusive interview, Frida Farrell shares about her mission, her passionate heart for survivors, and her story, Apartment 407.

HR: Before we get into some of the issues the movie deals with, I want to mention your acting. You’re an extremely gifted actor — one of the best, if not the best, (I’m going to say the best if I’m being honest) — I’ve ever seen.

Farrell:  That’s an amazing compliment! I have to sit down for a second. (laughs). Crazy. Aw, thank you!

HR: Are you aware of how incredible a job you did? 

Farrell:  (Laughs) No, I don’t think so because I think I’m too close to the project, and when I see it, I just think, ah that’s not good, it should’ve been like this, it should’ve been like that. I just judge it all the time. So I haven’t watched it for a long time now. You know, when you sit in the editing suite for like three years, you forget what you’ve created. So to answer your question, I’m too close to my own work; I can’t really judge it. But when I saw it in the cinema, I actually thought, yeah it’s pretty decent (laughs). 

HR: It’s more than decent, it’s the best all-around. 

Farrell:  Wow, thank you.

HR: And the surrounding cast [was unbelievably good] as well. 

Farrell: Yeah, I was very fortunate, I got some good actors. And I got some good actors at no notice because we didn’t have much time to cast. We had a great casting director (Lisa Essary) on board and she really delivered; she was great. So I’m very thankful for her and for the cast that we got. We all came together as a team.

And not just the actors, also the crew came on board knowing that this was something special. They didn’t know about me; I didn’t tell anyone, only the director knew. The other seventy crew didn’t know anything, they just thought it was a story. But they all came on board and for some reason offered amazing work for very little money. Like when the DP came on board, I was like, ‘Uh, I can’t afford you.’ And he goes, ‘No I want to do this project.’ I said, ‘I can’t afford you.’ He  goes, ‘No, no, I want to do it.’ So I said, ‘Okay, feel free to stay’ — but he literally spent his own money doing this film.

HR: Wow!

Farrell:  And the sound was the same. The sound guy is Per Hallberg. He’s a Swedish guy. He’s won three academy awards, he’s fantastic. And he came on board for almost no money — like I’m not officially allowed to say how much or anything, but he did me such [a favor]. Yeah, great people came on board for this film.

HR: So what you’ve done in making this movie is you’ve put a face to the issue of human trafficking — your face. What is the main message you want to share with the world through this movie?

Farrell:  I want to share that — I mean, I think it’s one of my own big issues that I had to overcome, and I did overcome it with making this film — is that it’s okay to talk about it. You’re not a victim if you come out of it; you’re a survivor. And you CAN become stronger from something really awful that happened in your life. But a lot of women, if they get raped or if they get assaulted, they don’t want to talk about it because they feel embarrassed. I felt embarrassed for over 10 years; I didn’t say a word to [almost] anyone. Nobody knew. … I was too embarrassed to talk about it.

And I think that is one of the main things I want to come across: that women, if something happened to you, it’s okay — and actually, you’ll feel better if you talk about it. It’s horrible to start with, but if you start talking about it, it will go away quicker, the harm that is done to you. And also, I want to share about this incident because it’s so common. And I want other women who are younger and on the way up and out in their lives, teenagers, to understand what can happen, how it can happen, and how you can get around having it happen to you. I think those are the two main things.

HR: Near the beginning of the movie, in a scene with your boyfriend following the photo shoot, you seemed to be really communicating to viewers that traffickers appear to be all on the up-and-up at first — friendly and normal even. Are there any words of wisdom you would want to share about how to detect these snakes in the grass?

Farrell: They are really good at what they do. And they’re super professional, and they’re so charming and so lovely and so nice that it’s really hard to detect. What you have to do is you have to second-guess, which is not great when you meet someone; but if you have a job interview and you go out and meet someone for a drink, or if you’re gonna meet someone to talk about something and their office is in a hotel room — you don’t know sometimes [what their motives are].

Just double guess people and bring a friend or at least let people know where you are. I think that’s really important. The best thing you can do is bring a friend. But it’s hard to detect these guys — and women! There are women who do it too! We didn’t bring this up in the film at all, but I’ve been approached by women as well to try to send me for modeling jobs in Saudi Arabia [who have said], ‘Oh, we’ll take your passport.’ And I was like, ‘Well, no you won’t.’ There are women too because women are even safer to send out. 

HR: Another point where I thought you were trying to make emphasis was when the antagonist indicated he knew about your life’s details because he had studied your internet profile. Do you believe that people, possibly particularly women, should be careful about social media pages and what they share online?

Farrell:  Yes. Absolutely, yes. And be careful about the pictures you post; that’s basically advertisement. If you take a bunch of sexy pictures of yourself and put them on social media, it’s for the public and for those guys to see. So I think women should be really careful about what they post, yeah.  

HR: I understand that your motivation for making this movie was to help others – to empower them with knowledge and shrewdness, per say. How does it feel for you now to know that you are literally saving lives through this movie and waking up the world to what’s going on? 

Farrell: It’s quite overwhelming, and it’s almost unbelievable to think that I can actually do that. Yes, that was my goal. And without those thoughts in my mind, I wouldn’t have been able to do this film. It was too hard. It was too raw to go in there and dig around stuff that I genuinely had almost deleted from my brain — just because that’s the way to survive: you just delete — you delete the incident.

You think, ‘It never happened, no it never happened; it didn’t happen to me.’ But I had to go back and fish all that crap out. But I thought, you know, if I could save even just one other woman, one other girl, one other teenager, it’s worth it. It has to be worth it.

And it is. I mean I’ve gotten loads of messages through all kinds of sources — emails or Facebook private messaging — women coming out saying, ‘You know what, something like this happened to me, and, ‘I was raped,’ and so many women are coming out and talking to me about it. And that’s incredible! It’s incredible that they have the guts to come out and talk about it.

I think when someone starts talking about it, other people come forward and feel comfortable talking [as well] about something that’s really, really uncomfortable. And that’s an amazing thing to achieve with this film. And I only hope [this healing effect will spread more and more] when the film really comes out.

Anderson Group
Anderson Group /

HR: Wow, okay. So for you, making this film was a healing process of sorts?

Farrell: It ended up being a healing process. I didn’t know it was gonna be, I didn’t even think that it was gonna be. I had to almost focus on just the work itself to get through it. … But now that it’s over, so to speak, I can say that it was a healing process, big time. That was unexpected, though. But yes, it’s the whole thing of talking about something and then actually being normal afterward. You’re not branded and you’re not a victim.

HR: You’re a survivor and a fighter and a hero. You shared some shocking statistics at the end of the movie. The quote is, “Every year at least 20.6 million adults and children are kidnapped to be bought and sold into the illegal sex trade industry worldwide.” You also said that the sex trade generates approximately $10 billion yearly in North America!

Farrell:  [North America] alone. Yeah, just over $30 billion worldwide, and imagine a third of that is in North America. When I read these things and I found out all the statistics I was blown away! I couldn’t believe it! It’s a problem that’s not really addressed that much, you know? I mean, a friend of mine who knows LAPD people, we spoke together and he said they have told him that they raid houses every single day in Los Angeles to try to find [trafficked] women. And that’s just in LA. But we don’t know about these things, no one talks about it.

HR: How do you think things have gotten to that point and what do we need to do to fix the problem?

Farrell:  It’s really sad. Human trafficking and sex trafficking is so well paid for for the people who do it; I mean it’s easier than doing a nine to five job. They do one scoop of girls, they send them out, and they can probably sell them and not work for a month. They make money in chunks, and you never know these people because the only people who get caught are the people who you might see. The underworld [bosses] who are running the show and who are hiring people, they never get shown, they never get seen, they never get caught.

More from Movies

So it’s kind of like if you take a big, huge mafia circle and you catch the king — that’s what needs to be done. You need to dig all the way down to who is running this show and then catch that guy. I know, of course, other guys are gonna take over. But if you do it enough times, maybe they won’t.

Maybe they’ll think, ‘I don’t wanna be caught.’ So I think that’s what needs to happen. But people aren’t taking sex trafficking and human trafficking seriously. Because everyday people walking down the street, they don’t really know about the statistics and what goes on. So unless you start digging or telling it in the news, how are they gonna know?

HR: Seeing these numbers that you have at the end of the film, I was like, okay, well, we’re not doing nearly what we need to be, I suppose, to end it.

Farrell:  No, no. Not at all. But I think there’s also a lack of knowledge and awareness; like people don’t know! If people did know, if there were signs in, for example, in a playground — you know, when you go to a playground with the children — if there was a sign there saying, “Keep your eyes on the child or it might get caught,” even the sign up there would make parents more aware. Because women are obviously [in danger] of sex trafficking, but children bring in even more money for the people who steal them and sell them. There are so many children that are getting sold every day.

HR: That’s horrid.

Farrell:  Yes, I know, I know. … I think it’s good that you take this issue and you write about it. Because the more we write about it, the more awareness and knowledge we get out. … I think that’s the way forward.

HR: You are inspiring people without hope to press on. Do you have any words that you would like to share with people who may have gone through a similar traumatic experience? 

Farrell:  I want those women to know that they are still people just like everyone else on the street. They are not branded, they are not victims, they’re just like everybody else. They just have a horrific event in their luggage. Because I walked around thinking I don’t want anyone to know this because I don’t want to be different. I don’t want to be the one who everyone pities or feels sorry for, you know? And I thought I’m not gonna talk about it. But I think that’s the weaker way to deal with it, but it’s an easier way. And I think you become stronger as a woman if you deal with it and say, okay, this happened to me, but I’m not gonna let it change me. I’m still going to be me, and I’m just going to work on what happened and get over it and get back into life and society. … That’s what I want to say to them.

HR: I don’t have words to express how thankful I am for you sharing your story with me. 

Farrell:  Aw, thank you. That’s really really kind of you. Thank you.

The world is a better place because of Farrell and her bravery — a bravery beyond anything I can even understand. The world owes her a great debt. People will be spared suffering this horror because she used her platform as an actress to speak out against it.

A noteworthy mention is that, in addition to her stellar acting performance in  Apartment 407, Farrell also wrote the music that plays during the final scenes of the movie.

Next. Pro stylist Carlee Wallace talks celebrity fashion. dark

And it is very good. It is subtle, thought-provoking, and epic in nature — perfectly fitting for those critical concluding moments. Her acting has long been established as A-List quality, but her songwriting will likely garner attention as well in the wake of this movie’s release.

Stay tuned for future projects from Frida Farrell.

Apartment 407 will be released in theaters in Los Angeles on October 26, in New York City on November 1, and it will be available worldwide for streaming on November 6, 2018. Check local listings for details.