Icelandic actress and singer Þuríður Blær Jóhannsdóttir on new show ‘The Minister’

We first discovered Þuríður Blær Jóhannsdóttir when she was on stage at the Hoxton Bar & Kitchen in London – back in the good old days when we could see bands live! It was a hot Summer in 2018 and our first experience seeing Daughters of Reykjavik, which was epic (read our review HERE).

Two years later and a lot has happened – aside from the pandemic that has turned our lives upside down – there have been a lot of positives for Þuríður. She became a mother, was part of the new Daughters of Reykjavik album Soft Rock, and is featured in new Icelandic series The Minister which is proving to be such a big hit that networks want to get it shown all over the world. We caught up with the actress and singer…

It seems you are super talented – starting with acting, getting into the musical world with the awesome Daughters of Reykjavik, and now a mother (congratulations)! Is there no end to your super skills?

Hahah, well I’m super lucky to be able to do what I love. I always knew that I wanted to be an actress, and while studying the acting Academy in Iceland, I realised that I also loved wanted to rap. And performing with the Daughters of Reykjavík, my rap-band, is the most empowering awesome feeling I know. I’ve been in the band for 7 years now and I just can’t quit. I thought having a baby would mean I had to compromise and stop touring with the girls. But I don’t think it will, many of the girls are mothers and we all have other jobs. I think it’s fairly common in Iceland for people to have many jobs and a family. I think we love working, maybe a little too much sometimes. It’s a mentality passed down from generation to generation, from the time we were a really poor nation and had to work constantly to survive.

You are currently starring in new Icelandic TV Show ‘The Minister’ – tell us about the show and your role in it?

The show is about Benedikt, the prime minister of Iceland who has bi-polar disorder which nobody knows about. It shows how that affects the people around him and the nation as well. I am playing Hrefna, who is the ministers assistant. She’s really smart and wants to make a difference in the world, and she and Benedikt seem to share the same visions. So it’s really stressing for her when things start to get out of hand, and she has to put out all the fires. 

There is a fantastic cast in the series what was it like working with the likes of Olafur Darri Olafason, Anita Biem, and Þorvaldur Davíð Kristjánsson (to name a few)?

This is actually the third time me and Þorvaldur Davíð have played together. so we’re already very good friends and find it easy to work together. I could fill up an actors showreel with scenes with just the two of us, but then the casting agents would think there were only two actors in Iceland! It was super exciting to work with Aníta and Darri and to watch them work. I’ve seen them star in movies since I was a child. They are both such great actors but have a very different approach to the craft. 

You have also appeared in some other TV shows and movies – tell us a bit more about those (we’ll hope to track them down here in the UK)!

The Flatey Enigma is a tv-show based on an Icelandic bestselling murder mystery novel. And Svanurinn (The Swan) is a beautiful movie shot in the Icelandic countryside based on a novel after Guðbergur Bergsson. It’s a coming of age story, about a young girl who is sent to the countryside over the summer. There I play a young woman who lives on a farm and Þorvaldur Davíð is the farmboy, of course.  

What is lined up next for you?

After my maternity leave I start working in the City theatre of Reykjavík where I’ve been working for the past five years. Theatres have been really struggling during Covid. I’m really hoping everything will be back on track as soon as possible. 

  • Whereabouts are you based in Iceland and where are your favourite spots to escape to?

I’m a proud resident of the 101 neighborhood in downtown Reykjavík. A little to the west is the Grótta-lighthouse. That’s a beautiful place to have a moment for yourself, walk by the sea or look at stars. My boyfriends family also has a summerhouse near the town Hella, in the south of Iceland which is a nice place. There you can go and see caves which (probably) housed the first people in Iceland over a 1000 years ago. 

What have you been reading, watching, listening to recently – any recommendations for us?

I am reading Women don’t owe you Pretty by Florence Given, and it is empowering and wonderful! I also recommend the Icelandic book, Eyland/Iceland. I’m binge watching the TV show ‘I May Destroy You’. The writing and acting is so insanely good and powerful! Everybody should give Daughters of Reykjavík a listen, also check out rap duo Cyber and pop duo Ultraflex.

  • Finally, what is your tip of the day?
  • Going out once a day for a long walk, I go with the stroller and it keeps me sane, since I can’t be around people during the pandemic. 

Interview by Alex Minnis

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