"Don’t do it for fame, do this job for love"an Interview with Mandy Award Winner Marijana Jankovic

Mandy News has had the pleasure of interviewing Marijana Jankovic, the winner of the Mandy Award 'Best First Film' as a first time director at the UK Film Festival, for her self-biographical short film Maja. Marijana talks to us about how she started her career in acting and what inspired her to try writing and directing.

14th January 2019
/ By James Collins

How did you get into acting? 

I was born and raised in Montenegro and moved to Denmark when I was 6, with my parents. I felt I had moved from a place where I didn’t have very much space to dream. So, when I came to Denmark I felt like I could be anything I wanted, and the most glamorous thing I could think of was being an actress, and that’s how the dream started. I went to acting school, finished in 2004 and have been working as a freelance actress ever since. 

Do you feel coming from a different background helped or hindered your career? 

It made it a bit harder as I don’t have the typical Danish look, so when I started I felt like I had to prove that I was a good actress so they could get over the fact that my hair was dark and my eyes were brown. When I got my first parts I did well and they figured out that I was a good actress, in the sense that I could play different characters and I could play a normal Danish girl as opposed to playing the foreigner.  

You recently won Best actress at the UK Film Festival…

My film Maja, the short film that I won with was the first film I have written and directed and it was self-biographical. I also play my own mother in the film. It was my first time directing and I had this story about my own life so I wanted to get that out there. I won the prize for ‘Best First Time Director’ and in a way I was happier about winning that prize than ‘Best Movie’. It meant a lot to me as I’m known as an actor and I’m starting out on a new path. It’s an amazing festival - a huge honour to win.

What compelled you to make the film and try writing/directing? 

I feel that if you have a good story to tell and if the story is important for the world to know we should get it out. I was in a place in my life and career that I should not be ashamed of my background, I felt like I had a need to tell where it all started. It’s about a child and I am really occupied with children’s stories. We often forget about their stories when they are the ones who are going to lift up the future. I wanted to make stories about kids and thought the only place I could start was with my own childhood. 

Was it difficult to get the film made? 

I had a good story that when I told people from the industry about it it wasn’t hard. We got some money from the Danish institute, you also know that when you make shorts you make them for love and art, so the people I got involved also knew this. We had some of the best people in Denmark involved and almost working for free because they loved the story. 

What are you working on next? 

I will continue working as an actress but I’m currently traveling with Maja, at different film festivals. I have started writing a feature that continues on from the end of the short film, a story about the same child and being in different cultures. I will direct this one but I won’t act as I think I will have my hands full. 

What advice do you have for up-and-coming actors? 

Don’t do it for the fame, do this job for love. I believe art is something that grows inside of us and if you have a need to get something out then go for it. Don’t be afraid of being different and don’t be afraid of being a failure. If it comes from your heart it cannot fail, I believe. As long as people can be true to themselves then they can do whatever. 

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