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Lily Inge Newmark / First

shot in London, Sept. 6th, 2015 / published: Jan. 4th, 2016

2016 starts with our 30th feature! Ain’t that a reason to celebrate? It is for us. As we started our journey, we had nothing but an idea and some old film cameras to get back to work. We reached out to others with confidence and curiosity but no expectations. Yet, we had a little wish list with just a few names of people we would have liked to meet and portray, some day. One of those was Lily Inge Newmark. And the day came much earlier than we have ever had expected. So we will leave it to her to lead Models in the Raw into this new year! Enjoy!

Thanks for taking the time to meet us, Lily. We have hoped to have you on Models in the Raw almost from the start, though you are not only a model, but also an actor. Or rather an actor who got into modeling? Or maybe an artistic person playing different roles within different media? How would you name it?

What a pleasure to be involved! I am first and foremost an actor. However, upon discovering the power of having an online presence, I suppose I am (to some effect) a ‘multi-media artist’ now. I never intended to model, and certainly never expected it! When I was eighteen I was street-cast to model in VICE magazine for a fashion story called ‘Gingers In Beanies’ (which was exactly what the title states). From that, I was exposed to the fashion and art/culture magazines in London and people started to confuse me for a model. My current (and only) agency – First Model Management – actually scouted me through my acting. A booker working at the agency at the time saw me in an indie music video called ‘Lowlands’ (by Scottish band Father Sculptor) directed by Luke Prior, and invited me into the agency to meet and chat… and that was that!

What got you into acting in the first place?

I can’t say ‘what’ exactly got me into acting, but rather ‘who’ and that person is simply myself! I’ve always been called a clown, ever since I started primary school, and I’ve always felt alone because of that. It’s built within me, the unbearable need to entertain and make people laugh, or to get a reaction of some sort. I thrived in ‘show-and-tell’ and school plays, poetry reading competitions and the like and nothing ever has, and probably ever will fulfill me as much as the art of expression does, be it acting, writing, directing, modeling/photography, painting, singing or dancing.

Kristen McMenamy once said in an interview that models are the most insecure people in the world. And I guess a lot of actors and artists in general know insecurity very well. That is probably what you need to go through to learn confidence in a genuine way. At the end of the day, it could be this kind of honest fragility behind all strength that touches others, don’t you think?

It’s true, all artists are insecure. Like I said, I’m a clown. I’m a clown in the sense that I’ll do all I can to distract people from seeing my vulnerability. I’ll be sarcastic, I’ll use cruel humour or just be plain cruel to put people off of ‘me’. And, of course, people want to connect to the subjects of their entertainment and therefore the entertainers have to express themselves as human beings, and I’ll do that to the best of my ability, by using my experiences and true emotions to tell stories, but I must protect myself as a person too.

Technically speaking, you could draw a line between acting and modeling when it gets down to looks. Actors, especially in film, are often asked to change their looks to fit a character, whereas models are deemed to basically keep their looks (and measurements) to fit the collections. How do you relate to your own looks? And as much as your features define you as a model, how big a makeover would you be willing to take for a role?

Well, I think it’s pretty clear that I’m insecure. I hate and love myself simultaneously. When it comes to modeling – you’ve just got to take me as I come. With acting, however, I’ll do whatever it takes (within reason) to be truthful to the character and story.

Talking about confidence and looks, the slogan Free the Nipple features prominently on your Instagram profile. Do you feel it is important as a young woman and a model/actor to take up position against the oppression of the female body through censorship on the one hand and through an exploitative display of it on the other?

Free The Nipple isn’t a slogan, it’s an equality movement. It was started by activist and filmmaker Lina Esco and was fuelled by the double standards of the censorship of female breasts. It’s not about being constantly topless, it’s about trying to decriminalize the female anatomy and eradicate the taboos and hypocrisies within our hideously patriarchal cultures. Instagram’s Community Guideline’s demands of its users, “Keep your clothes on.” However, this rule seems only to apply to images that contain women’s nipples as they are promptly removed by Instagram unless the areola itself is covered. Contrastingly, photos featuring topless men are generally not subject to this regulation. I get a lot of stick for being part of this movement, especially from male Instagram users, who comment and direct message me all kinds of abuse – which I just read as their outrage against an empowered female.

At the moment you are planning to finish acting school and then move to the US. Who have been your biggest inspirations so far? Is there a special movie in your life?

I’m actually juggling finishing my degree at acting school with filming a feature film in London at the moment (as well as modeling!) so I can’t say I’m totally focused on what my next move is, but America is hopefully in the cards. Who have been my biggest inspirations in acting? Meryl Streep, for sure, Moira Shearer, Marlon Brando, Vivien Leigh, Maggie Smith, Judy Dench, Tilda Swinton, Danny DeVito, Joaquin Phoenix, Robin Williams, Leonardo DiCaprio… the list is endless! There are a lot of movies that are special to me, but none of them can compete with Stephen King’s Carrie (1976) (directed by Brian De Palma) – it was the first film that truly resonated with me, not only because of my red hair and telekinetic powers, but also because it tells the story of a girl who is bullied for the qualities that make her different. The first time I saw it was when I was probably thirteen and in the midst of adolescence and fighting off numerous bullies online and ‘IRL’. I was really struggling to keep my integrity and stay true to myself and although Carrie offered a satisfying resolution in revenge against the enemies, a more important lesson to learn from her was to find power in your differences.


©modelsintheraw.com / photos: Thomas Sing / text: Chiara Padovan