Interview

ICYMI: Sofia Mattsson Interview

Following Her Passion From Sweden To L.A. Landed Sofia Mattsson In Port Charles.

As a young girl in Stockholm, Sweden, Sofia Mattsson was introduced to the arts via her two older sisters, both of whom preceded her onto the stage. While her oldest sister still lives in Sweden, where she’s a successful businesswoman, the middle Mattsson girl, Helena, moved to Los Angeles to launch her own acting career “at a pretty young age,” Mattsson explains. “I would come visit her from Sweden and I just got amazed by the profession. When she was shooting DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES,” where she had an arc as Irina in 2010, “I got to follow her to set and see what it was like, from her trailer to filming. It was just the most fun thing in the world. That inspired me.”

Back in her home country, acting wasn’t the only hobby Matttson pursued. “I was very into modeling and singing and I played a little bit of piano,” she recalls. When was 16, “I was in a band and recorded an album. It was me and two guys. We had some shows at local pubs. We went to Poland and shot a music video, which was really cool. It was an amazing experience and I loved it, but I realized that my biggest talent and passion and future was in acting.”

So, when she was 19, Mattsson followed in her sister’s footsteps, quite literally, and relocated to Los Angeles. “I left a lot behind there,” she says of her homeland. “I had a lot of things going on in Sweden, but I was like, ‘No, I need to pursue acting!’ And I’m so happy I did.”

But the transition was not without its challenges. “It was very tough and very, very different,” she says of finding her footing in California. “I had to learn how to drive, and finding friends was really hard. It’s still hard. It’s hard to find genuine friends when you didn’t grow up with them, and it’s hard to make friends when you’re older, I think. And then I had to get a manager and an agent and that was hard in itself. It’s very competitive, very hard.”

Over the eight or so years she lived as a Cali girl before booking GH, Mattsson worked steadily as a model for brands like Benefit, Mary Kay, Target, Ed Hardy, Volkswagen and WEN Haircare and developed her acting resumé with roles in independent and TV films (Becoming Bond, MY HUSBAND’S SECRET WIFE) and guest gigs on shows like NCIS and TWO AND A HALF MEN. Along the way, the actress (for whom English is a second language) worked hard to eliminate her Swedish accent. “When I decided to move here to pursue acting, I took very intense accent lessons specifically to be able to play American,” she notes. “In the beginning, I had to play a lot of Swedish roles and Russian roles and European roles.”

On occasion, she tried out for soaps. “I definitely had an audition for BOLD AND BEAUTIFUL at some point,” she says. “And I had auditioned for GENERAL HOSPITAL earlier, too, but I never made it to the next step. This was years ago, and I was not really ready; I totally understand why it didn’t go further then.” Then, last year, when the show was casting the part of Nina’s faux daughter, Sasha, “I went in and I did feel ready and I felt like I could handle it,” she says. “It was obviously very nerve-wracking, still!”

She booked the part, but never imagined that she’d still be a Port Charles resident over a year later. “At first, I was recurring. I really thought I was going to be there for, like, three episodes. I think my character, Sasha, only thought she was going to be in town for a moment, too!” When GH kept calling her back, “It was a shock! I kind of kept going and getting more and more relationships in town. Every time I got an episode I was so happy and grateful to be back.”

In time, the show offered her a long-term contract, and Mattsson eagerly signed on the dotted line. “I definitely wanted to stay,” she nods. “And I was lucky at that point to really know what I was signing up for. Normally, if you test for a contract [role], you don’t really know what you’re getting yourself into, but I obviously knew, so it was a no-brainer. Everybody is amazing over there. I really love it. I didn’t have to think hard.”

Mattsson has learned to roll with the punches of life at GH, from its hectic shooting pace (“Even though I was very prepared and knew my stuff, it was a shock, how fast it moved”) to the mid-story recast of Nina. Going from working opposite one Daytime Emmy winner (Michelle Stafford, now Y&R’s Phyllis) to another (Cynthia Watros, the current Nina), “I feel very lucky,” she enthuses. “They’re both really amazing. Michelle was so great in welcoming me into the show. She’s so talented and so natural, so goofy and kindhearted. Cynthia is very similar. She’s also super-talented, very outgoing, talks to everyone, makes jokes between the scenes to keep it fun. It was very easy, the change.”

Mattsson’s good co-star fortune extends to her leading man, Chad Duell (Michael). “He’s the best,” she raves. “He’s really like the best scene partner. I feel so lucky to get to work so much with him. He’s similar to his character in the way that he’s so kind and thoughtful, warm and nice to everyone. But he’s also extremely funny and keeps me laughing nonstop between takes. He’s so talented, too, so it just feels very natural to be in a scene with him. You kind of forget you’re acting!” She gives a thumbs-up to his real-life love interest, B&B’s Courtney Hope (Sally), too. “She is so, so nice. They’re really a power couple.”

The actress has become friendly with several of her co-stars. “I hang out with Briana [Nicole Henry, Jordan] a lot and Katelyn [MacMullen, Willow] a lot,” she reports. “We all started around the same time and it’s nice to be able to talk to each other about all that stuff and what we’re going through. Katelyn and I trained with the same acting school, so we have that in common, too. We’re very similar in many ways. She feels like a sister. It’s hard to find time to hang outside of work, but we want to involve Josh [Swickard, Chase] and Chad more, too, and Courtney and Josh’s wife, Lorynn.”

All in all, she would sum up her GH experience as “amazing. It’s definitely been so much more of a stable environment to be in, knowing I have a steady gig and steady income coming in and knowing that I’m going to be in L.A. With other jobs, it’s like, ‘Today you’re auditioning for something and if you book it, you have to move to Vancouver!’ So having that stability has been great, and on top of that, working with everyone has been a wonderful experience. I feel very lucky.”

 

Just The Facts

Birthday: June 24

Hometown: “I was born
in Stockholm, Sweden,
and I was raised there.
It’s really an amazing place to grow up.”

Sister Act: Mattsson, who was born to an attorney mother and businessman father, has two older sisters. “They were amazing role models to me.”

Home Away From Home: “I’ve gotten some paintings and little candles and am kind of slowly making it more homey in there,” Mattsson says of her dressing room, which is in between Marcus Coloma’s (Nikolas) and Donnell Turner’s (Curtis).

Stream On: “I watch STRANGER THINGS and SUCCESSION. I just started watching THE MORNING SHOW.”

Childhood Celebrity Crush: “Leonardo DiCaprio. Maybe he still is! He’s very charming.”

World Tour: “I traveled around Europe modeling, and I did some modeling in New Zealand, as well. It was really gorgeous there.” On the U.S. front, “I’ve been to New York and to Texas, but I would love to take a road trip one day and visit as many states as possible.”

 

Woman Of Style

When not busy with GH, Sofia Mattsson is kept very busy with her other passion: Ava Carrington, the luxury vegan handbag line she launched with her sister Helena. “I only work and do my company,” she declares. “I don’t have time for anything else right now!”

Mattsson and her sister founded the business “to fill the void between high-quality designer fashion and animal-friendly, eco-conscious material. I kind of went into it not knowing anything. There are a lot of obstacles and a lot of times when you’re like, ‘Should we just give up? This is so hard. This is impossible!’ It’s taken a lot of time, a lot of money, but I’ve learned so much, I feel like I’ve gone to business school. We’ve done it all by ourselves, every part of the way, from designing to finding our suppliers to the production to building the website. It feels really great to finally have it live because we’ve been working on it for two years, and now, it’s a real business!”

Ava Carrington will eventually branch out into other offerings. “The ultimate goal is to revolutionize the whole leather industry, product by product,” she says. “We’re just starting with handbags. We’ll definitely expand on handbags, but also shoes and jackets. All the things that are currently made with leather, we’d like to offer a vegan option for.”

To check out Ava Carrington’s current line of handbags, visit www.avacarrington.com.

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