Ruby Dagnall is the It-girl you need to know about
She stole our hearts as Emma in the monumental TV series Skam. Now, she's back on the screen as the star of Baz Luhrmann's short film for the ERDEM x H&M collection.
Skam may be Norway's biggest export since the small country struck oil in the North Sea in the '60s. With its clever way of dismantling stereotypes, a genius 'real time' format and a plot digging deep into topics of sexuality, mental health and religion, the TV show has broken streaming records in all of Scandinavia, spawned fan groups across the world, and is right now being re-made to better fit the American market.
The show circles around a group of Oslo high school kids – whose characters are portrayed by actual teenagers – that are all struggling with the very real issues of growing up and coming to terms with who they are and what they want, in a very relatable manner. After four seasons the series wrapped this past May, leaving millions of fans fumbling in the dark, wishing for a text message or a short clip to appear on the series' now inactive website. The show isn't coming back, but the young actors, who have become household names in northern Europe, definitely are.
Baz is, as we all know, an incredible director and all his films are fantastic.
17-year-old Ruby Dagnall entered the show in its third – and most groundbreaking – season as the love interest of the lead character Isak Valtersen. While Isak strings Ruby's character Emma along at first, he soon finds himself falling in love with a boy, leaving her heartbroken in the background as the epic love story between Isak and the boy, Even, unfolds.
Although Isak didn't fall for Emma, we (and everyone else) definitely did. After the show, she has been awarded praise and prizes, and it's evident that the young actor is destined for stardom. Just as she was getting ready to take a summer job serving ice cream in Norway, H&M reached out and offered her the lead role in the Baz Luhrmann-directed short film celebrating the beautiful ERDEM x H&M collection. Once filming was over, we reached Ruby with a set of questions.
TELL US ABOUT STARRING IN THE ERDEM X H&M CAMPAIGN.
"Well, I was expecting to be working in an ice cream kiosk in Norway all summer, possibly including a trip to our cottage in Wales, so the chance to do a short film with Baz Luhrmann felt very sudden and unexpected, as well as an incredible opportunity and honour. Way beyond what I had ever imagined doing this past summer."
WHAT WAS IT LIKE WORKING WITH BAZ LUHRMANN? ANY GOSSIP FROM SET?
"Baz is, as we all know, an incredible director and all his films are fantastic. He has a marvellous charisma and seems very intelligent and calm. He was super professional with us actors, which made me feel very secure and safe in his creative hands."
All the other actors went to my school and all the extras were in my class.
RUBY DAGNALL ON THE HIT TV SHOW SKAM
WHAT’S YOUR IMPRESSION OF THE COLLECTION?
"There are a lot of beautiful dresses, lace and floral prints. I found myself admiring all the men's pieces the most, especially the oversized wool suits. At lunchtime, the stylists let me wear the dark blue checked suit, which was way too big for me, and secretly dance around like David Byrne."
HOW IMPORTANT IS FASHION TO YOU?
"I think fashion and style have very little to do with each other. Sometimes, fashion can even conceal style and paradoxically make personal creativity more conservative and less personal. The fashion industry is of course fundamentally built on creative, talented people, who think in new, different ways. A complex and demonstrative aesthetic can absolutely be interesting, but through the process of actually reaching people, I think that the fashion industry has formed a pretty superficial and vain image and does not appear to me as especially important. Style, however, is something completely different and does not have anything to do with brands, money or conventional beauty. Style can be a representation of personality or a desire to do so, directly put together and created by pure inspiration."
WHEN DID YOU DECIDE TO PURSUE ACTING? WHAT DREW YOU TO IT?
"I’ve been acting in small groups since I was a little kid, but my first real acting job was in a Norwegian movie called Rosemarie directed by the amazing Sara Johnsen who taught me a lot of useful lessons. That movie was the catalyst and opened doors to new cool projects."
LET’S TALK ABOUT SKAM. WHAT WAS IT LIKE TO WORK ON SUCH A MONUMENTAL TV SHOW?
"Skam is, believe it or not, a pretty low-key, low-budget production. Litterary all the other actors went to my school and all the extras were in my class. We were just one big gang making a show about life as a teen in Oslo, which is our life, basically. Then suddenly it blew up and got unbelievably big, but we continued just as before; bringing our own clothes to set and putting lipstick on in the school toilets the minute before the camera started rolling."
HOW HAS THE SHOW CHANGED YOUR LIFE?
"Actually, my way of using social media is what has changed the most. The show made me realise how massive the Internet is and how accessible the things you post are. I was shocked when I starting finding screenshots from videos that friends of classmates had posted on Snapchat, on fan pages in Japan. It made me quite anxious and stressed out, so I changed my way of using social media completely. Now I use Facebook occasionally and only have four friends on Snapchat."
We continued just as before; bringing our own clothes to set and putting lipstick on in the school toilets
RUBY DAGNALL ON LIFE ON THE SKAM SET
YOU’RE STILL IN HIGH SCHOOL. DID YOU EVER CONTEMPLATE DROPPING OUT TO FOCUS ON ACTING?
"Yes, I have. High school is important in many ways. For me, the most important thing is to be surrounded by people your own age and not having to grow up quicker than necessary. But yes, I have considered it many times."
WHAT WILL YOU DO WHEN YOU GRADUATE?
"Hopefully get a job in a nice little bookshop while I study theatre."
THE RUSSEBUSS IS A BIG DEAL IN THE SHOW. WHAT IS THAT ALL ABOUT?
"The year you graduate, you get together with your friends and buy a whole bus, then you live and party in it before graduating. I don’t go to the kind of school where it's a big deal – and I definitely don't want one."
RIGHT NOW, AN AMERICAN VERSION OF SKAM IS BEING MADE. WILL YOU WATCH IT?
YOU’VE BEEN COMPARED TO BOTH NATALIE PORTMAN AND ELEVEN FROM STRANGER THINGS. WHAT’S THAT LIKE?
"Natalie Portman is an amazing actress so that's awesome. I haven't had time to watch Stranger Things yet, but on the clips and pictures I've seen Eleven looks pretty dope."
ERDEM X H&M arrives in selected stores and online on 2 November.
LIVES IN: Oslo
DOES: Actor and high school student
RUBY'S 3 TOP FILMS
1 Buffalo 66
3 What's Eating Gilbert Grape
RUBY'S TOP 3 SKAM CHARACTERS