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Performers Of The Month - December Winner: Outstanding Actor - Tarjei Sandvik Moe



With the invention of the internet, the entire world suddenly became accessible. What was once regional and nearly impossible to obtain became obtainable. First, through e-commerce where goods could suddenly be ordered from just about any corner on the planet, then users realized that the internet could be used to distribute media. Granted, it wasn’t, and still isn’t legal in a lot of cases, but that didn’t stop it from taking off.

While that battle is still being fought, it did prove the global desire for easily accessible media. YouTube jump-started the global distribution of media content by providing an open platform, then seeing a need in the market Netflix, which had been around since 1995, started streaming content in 2007. As their library grew it became apparent to them that their consumers wanted more global shows. People from other countries want American content, and Americans want their content as well. Despite growing global libraries, there is a ton of content out there that for whatever reason doesn’t have any distribution rights that get them to the US or other English speaking places in the world.

That’s where fans come into play. In this case, filling a void that revolves around foreign language productions that lack subtitles, dubs, or any way into the English-speaking marketplace. Fans obtain the episodes and subtitle them for consumption by their English-speaking friends. It is in those moments where a once regionally popular show can suddenly become a globally known entity. Performers who most of the English-speaking world would have never known otherwise, can become a name that inspires droves of fans. Suddenly, they have a global audience watching them which is a weighty thought when one takes into consideration the high expectations media consumers have regarding performances. Foreign performers must be able to really break out, be exceptional at what they do. Their performances have to be on a level all their own and they must stand out to really draw in an audience that is spoiled by high-level productions. That’s what Norwegian actor Tarjei Sandvik Moe, from the series Skam (translates to “Shame” in English), has done, delivering important powerful performances and inspiring fans globally with his deeply honest work. It is his strong performances and honest portrayal of his character, Isak Valtersen, which led people to fight for him to carry the title of December’s most outstanding performer.

Moe is a young performer and Skam is his first major project. Like most young performers, he’s still coming into his craft but has so much naturally raw talent that he is able to deliver very emotional and heartfelt performances. He has phenomenal chemistry with regular scene partner Henrik Holm (Even Bech Naesheim) and together they have given life to a complicated young couple. The amazing thing about this couple is that they don’t have everything figured out and they don’t pretend to. Even as the season drew to an end, Isak admitted to not knowing if Even was his dream man, but that didn’t change the fact that he still deeply cares for him. These two are young men who are in love but must endure the very complicated world of mental illness.

Even is a strong young man with a big heart, but has a bigger struggle with mental illness. Despite that, Isak still loves him. As Isak pointed out, in this month’s nominated episodes, what he has with Even has monumental ups and downs. There is no guarantee they’ll live happily ever after. The moral of this story seems to be to love in the moment, and love with all you have and perhaps it might just be enough. Moe conveyed this with such conviction and honesty that Isak’s love for Even was evident. Less seasoned or experienced young actors might has a tendency to rush lines, but Moe took his time maneuvering through Isak’s thoughts as the young man tried to explain what it is he has with the man he loves. Each word was deliberate, but firm and this whole conversation was perfectly executed. It was lovely to hear exactly what Isak was thinking and feeling regarding Even.

Though, it wasn’t really necessary to get the verbal confirmation of Isak’s feelings. Moe did a fabulous job conveying that through his acting. Episodes 8, 9, and 10 provided big moments for him. From the romantic moments shared between Isak and Even in episode 8, to the fallout from the manic event that ended that same episode these December episodes were a rollercoaster ride. It was a bit of a reality check for both the audience and Isak. These up and down emotional moments are what bipolar people live with every single day. Things they do during a manic moment are sometimes used to define them, but what they do in those moments is the exception, when it comes to who a person really is.

While this was a hard storyline for viewers to watch due to their investment in Isak and Even’s love story it was a critically important story to tell. Mental health is a real crisis throughout the world because it is something that no one wants to talk about. Families try to keep it hush hush and daily people around the world say things like “that person is crazy” or “that person is out of their mind” without thinking about what those people are going through. A bipolar person shouldn’t be defined by what they do in manic breaks, but what they do in every other moment where they are truly themselves. Manic episodes are traumatic for everyone involved, but specifically for the person experiencing them. In those moments, they can’t control their own actions and that has got to be a terrifying experience. While the brunt of the trauma lies with them those that care for them aren’t immune from the pain of a manic moment. It’s painful to see the person they love lose control and there being nothing they can do to help them until the moment passes.

The media doesn’t like to delve into those sorts of stories because it is hard to capture the reality of what mentally ill people must deal with. Running through the streets naked like Even did isn’t something people want to do, but something that they have no control over. As Isak ran after Even, Moe perfectly captured the terror of a person dealing with the reality of someone they care about being mentally ill. People instinctually are hardwired with a fight or flight instinct and in the case of seeing a manic moment up close and personal that instinct can kick in and it did kick in for Isak. He pulled away from Even because it was too much for him to try and deal with in that moment, but that didn’t stop his feelings for him. This story ebbed and flowed much in the way a manic moment can for someone suffering from bipolar disorder, so the show deserves great praise for tackling this storyline with such attention to detail, but the performers deserve major recognition too. Moe was a powerful standout and a grand example for what other young performers should aspire to, but Holm deserves just as much praise for his honest portrayal of a young man having to live with a mental illness. Both performers perfectly complement each other and brought light to a story that so often is relegated to the shadows.

What made this whole situation between Isak and Even more complicated is the fact that Isak allowed Sonja to convince him that Even was with him only because he was manic. That couldn’t have been any further from the truth. Manic moments come and go, but Even wasn’t manic the entire time he was with Isak therefore, the manic side of his disorder didn’t dictate his love for Isak. Episode 9 proved to be a tough one for Isak but gave Moe so many opportunities to shine. From the pain filled tears he shed throughout to the grand reunion with Even at the end to Isak realizing that Even wasn’t in love with him just because he was manic, this was a powerhouse episode for Moe. He realized he had pushed Even away with no reason, still, it wasn’t as easy as just running back to Even. Isak had to do some soul-searching to see if he could manage to be with someone who is bipolar. Loving Even and dealing with his manic moments won’t be easy, but in the end, it’s what Isak chooses because love can be a powerful motivator. Moe took Isak on an emotional rollercoaster ride to get him to a place mentally where he could be strong enough to be the man that he needs to be for Even. There are times where he’ll have to be Even’s rock and times where he’ll have to deal with seeing someone he loves lose control, but in the end, love won out. While that seems like a lot of processing to do in one episode, and it was, Moe perfectly handled all the emotional transitions through Isak’s acceptance of the situation. It all came to a head at the end when Isak realized that despite everything, he wanted to be there for Even.

One of the best moments in all of these December episodes was when Isak went running to find Even. It was the culmination of everything they’ve been through together. While the montage and swelling music were great accents to the moment it was the performances that sold the whole situation. From the way Moe conveyed sorrow and love with simple glances, to the way he allowed Isak to just gently explore Even with gentle nudges was so beautifully done. While this was most likely the director’s choice, the way Moe executed Isak’s gentle nuzzling of Even was almost poetic in nature. It was a beautiful way to convey two souls reconnecting. In that moment they weren’t two guys in love, they weren’t two guys dealing with a mental illness, they were just two people remembering why they fell in love in the first place and that is beautiful. Isak loves Even despite his mental illness and that’s a powerful message in and of itself, but the way that Moe executed these moments was spot on.

Throughout this emotionally tough storyline Moe was a powerhouse performer and deserves all the recognition he’s getting for his performance. He displayed many moments of great acting prowess, but there just wasn’t time to cover all of them in this article, so feel free to use the comments section to further highlight some of his best moments.

Tarjei Sandvik Moe was your fan pick as the most Outstanding Actor of December 2016. Hit the comments below to tell others why you think he earned this title and what you most enjoyed about his December performances.

PLEASE READ: This is an article to recognize Tarjei’s work and to honor his performance in December on Skam. Shipper-related bashing will not be tolerated in the comments, even from Tarjei's fans. Honor the performer and his performance. Have fun and be kind to one another.

Note: This is a generic warning to avoid any issues in the comments section and to help keep this a fun and safe place to gush about the winners. This is geared to no fandom in particular.


Special thanks to Donna Cromeans, freelance editor/proofreader (@DJRiter on Twitter) for editing this article.

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