From catwalks to screens: Frida Gustavsson and the legendary Freydís

The women of the Viking universe are as beautiful as they are agile, as we saw in Vikings and we met again in Vikings: Valhalla. As the warrior and religious leader Freydís Eriksdotter, the former Swedish model Frida Gustavsson gains for the first time protagonism and worldwide projection. The Netflix series, which is the continuation of the successful franchise started on the History Channel, has the character of Frida “the new Lagertha”, a complicated challenge for any actress.

Frida, who started her modeling career when she was just 12 years old, was “discovered” when she was in an Ikea store accompanied by her father. She comments that she had never seen herself as beautiful or considered being a model, but immediately realized that she would have the necessary projection to fulfill her other dream, that of being an actress.

Fashion was effectively a way out of Stockholm, where she grew up in a family that she says is “very sporty and very normal, working class”. Daughter of a teacher and a salesman, no one at home considered her wishes realistic. “In my world, it didn’t exist that someone could do something creative,” she said in an interview. Because at just 15 years old, the girl was in Paris, working.

He paraded for famous brands such as Valentino, Dior, and Jean Paul Gaultier, among others. As the face of the Maybelline brand, Frida gained projection and covers of magazines such as Elle, W, and Vogue, being the winner of the Swedish Elle award for Model of the Year in 2011. It was recording commercials that she was sure of what she wanted to do.

“It lit that fire inside me that I tried to put out for so many years. It was like I could breathe, I could express myself,” she said. But the market’s prejudice against “models who became actresses” is a reality, Frida feels. That’s why she even considered abandoning the project of changing professions until she understood that it was exactly what she wanted to do, there was no other option. Mirroring her muses, Charlize Theron, Diane Kruger, and Uma Thurman, she went with everything.

Ultra in demand as a model, she started working in Swedish TV productions, waiting for her big break. She took a small role in The Witcher, as the mother of Geralt of Rivia (Henry Cavill) and when she was working on Dampyr, she learned that her favorite series, Vikings, would have a continuation, when her co-star told the news and asked if Frida, as a Swede, would know how to do the “Scandinavian accent” and help him with the test he was recording to send to Netflix.

We don’t know if he got the role, but Frida caught the attention of Production who saw their female lead in her: Freydís Eriksdotter. And here we are, in 2023, with the young model transformed into an actress and international star, at the age of 30 (completed in June 2023).

Frida’s personal life is discreet. She was married for two years to photographer Hjalmar Rechlin and, in 2022, remarried to executive Marcel Engdah. The plans are to have children soon (she said she wanted to be a mother before turning 30), just like Freydís. Will reality copy fiction?


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