It’s Friday morning and my zoom call with Danish actress Malaika Mosendane is about to begin. Alexa is playing some music to help keep me alert after a busy week. When Malaika appears I ask Alexa to switch off, she refuses, so a battle erupts that might get some sci-fi fans thinking of that scene in 2001 Space Odyssey.
Sci-fi is quite an apt word too because Malaika is about to appear in Danish series Chosen and it is perhaps one of the first Nordic Sci-Fi shows in quite some time!
Malaika Mosendane: Sounds like Alexa has turned into an anarchist!
Nordic Watchlist: Tell me about it! Earlier she refused to even switch off her alarm – that is how my Friday started how could it possibly end? Fortunately I am able to turn my attention to Malaika’s new role and find out a bit more about her new Netflix series.
MM: So, Chosen is both the English and Danish name – we are going International! I play Emma who is the main character and she lives in this small town in the outskirts of Denmark.
She really wants to figure out who she is in the right environment and this place is just not the right environment for her. She wants to go to the big city and be able to express herself in a place where no one knows her.
It is something so typical when growing up in small towns in Denmark where everyone knows each other and people are all up into each others business.
I think back to a similar conversation I had with Morten Hee Andersen when we were discussing his role in the excellent Deliver Us series.
MM: I grew up in a place like this, on an island, where there are really not that many people. When you are a kid you behave in a certain way, there are certain things that you like etc. Then as a teenager you want to reinvent yourself but you can’t do that if everyone knows who you have been since a baby. With Emma’s character she wants to figure out who she is without everyone know who she is already.
She meets this group of outcasts who are trying to figure out what is going in this town, because apparently there is nothing not quite right about it. This is the first time Emma is actually interested in anything concerning her strange little town.
Having seen the trailer there are some real sci-fi feels going on which is something quite new when it comes to Nordic series’ – perhaps one might think of Iceland’s Katla as the closest, though that was very much based on folklore rather than potential outer space meddling’s in Denmark.
MM: It was so cool to be part of this and help invent this mix of genre; a Danish crime show and then this sci-fi element that is so unlike anything we have done in Denmark before. We tried to do it as analogue as possible which was really nice for us as actors.
One thing that is noticeable is the great cast that is involved in the series with the likes of Andrea Heick Gadeberg (Riders of Justice), Albert Rudbeck Lindhardt (Another Round), Anders Heinrichsen (DNA), Nicolaj Kopernikus (The Lawyer), and the further young cast including Malaika, who is in her first lead role in the series.
MM: Yeah it is crazy, this is like my first actual role in film so I had to really learn how to act on film whilst acting on film. It was extremely scary but I was blessed to have such an amazing crew around me, everyone was so nice and talented too.
What made the experience awesome was that this group had such great chemistry together. We hung out a lot before we started filming and went for coffee together to get to know each other.
And along with the great cast around her, Malaika also had the opportunity to work with director Kaspar Munk, who directs all six episodes. Kaspar has had great success with series Kamikaze (only available on HBO Max – so if you are in the US go watch), he also worked on episodes of The Rain too – a very popular YA Danish series. I wonder if Chosen is aimed at that similar younger audience?
MM: It is very much a coming-of-age story, but I do think that this is open to all audiences, perhaps except young kids! You can tell that it is made for teenagers but then everyone can relate to being an outsider or feeling like you don’t belong somewhere.
Kaspar, man, he was amazing to work with, he always kept his cool even in stressful situations. If I was confused by what was going on I could always go to him and he would tell me: ‘I know what is going on’ and we were so lucky to have him throughout the whole experience too.
Usually when you do series’ there might be several directors but he was with us all the way through and that allowed us to develop a process to communicate a lot more easily during the time filming together.
I am intrigued to find out where the series was filmed – most often they tend to be just outside of Copenhagen, but Malaika had a surprising answer:
MM: Well some of it was filmed in Copenhagen, which was amazing because I got to see some places I had never seen before even though I like to think I know the city quite well. In the outskirts of Copenhagen there are these beautiful beaches that I have never seen before and then there is this little town on the very outskirts which we were filming at – with it being during Coronavirus, we could only get food from this fast food place at the station and that was it.
The scenery was beautiful there and there were these closed down factories where we could film too, so that was pretty amazing to experience.
With the series landing any day now we turn our attention to what Malaika has coming up next.
MM: Well, some I am allowed to say and other stuff I am not. Right now I am back on the stage, I have been acting since I was a kid but I have always been in theatre. So I am doing a kid’s play, it is a smaller role, and I get to chill which is a nice break from having a huge project hanging over your head the whole time.
I have a film coming up in March but I am not allowed to say any more than that!
And what is Malaika looking forward to watching this year?
MM: I love Batman – so I am pretty excited about The Batman! I also voiced for the Danish version of Sing 2 so I am excited to see that and how it turned out.
I’ve been watching Years and Years which is showing on HBO and that has blown my mind!
We end up talking music where I discover that Malaika has a very eclectic music taste – labelling Frank Ocean to Fleetwood Mac to Billy Joel to Billie Eilish! Now that is one Spotify playlist I am interested in checking out!
Catch Chosen when it is released on Netflix from the 27th January and watch the trailer below:
Interview by Alex Minnis