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Culture bearer Malu Lynge

Malu Lynge:

"We've had many years where our culture was taken from us, and it must not happen again."

 Photo – Oscar Scott Carl – Visit Nuuk

The 25-year-old actor and singer Malu Lynge has always known that she wanted to stand on a stage and perform. Not only because that’s where she feels at home, but also because she wants to inspire young people and children.

A little girl carefully studies herself and her movements in the mirror. But it’s not herself she’s looking at. It’s someone else. A role she plays. From a movie she just watched. Dramatically, she mimics a scene from the movie. Speaking the same way they did. Moving the same way. The little girl is usually quiet and shy, but here in front of the mirror, she can be whoever she wants to be. The little girl looking into the mirror is Nuummioq (Nuuk citizen) Malu Lynge. She is eight years old and she is standing in her home in Nuuk.

Culture bearer

Since she looked into the mirror, Malu Lynge has known that she wanted to perform. And that’s exactly what she does to this day. Acting and singing as a livelihood. And as a way of living. More on that later. Malu Lynge has agreed to meet at Nunatta Isiginnaartitsisarfia (the National Theater) in Nuuk, where the acting school she graduated from is also located. We sit down for a conversation, which begins with the story of the little girl who has now become a grown woman and is allowed to live out her childhood dream. However, not just for her own sake. Malu Lynge explains:

“When I started drama school, it was for my own sake. I wanted to stand on a stage because that’s where I felt at home. Just before I finished, it dawned on me that it’s not just for my own sake, but also for other people who need it. Because we need art, songs, concerts, and performances.”

Since graduating as an actor in 2021, Malu Lynge has had great success with various projects. She has done everything from commercials to children’s theater, and as a regular part of the educational program “Culture Backpack,” she has done both theater and workshops in Uaajeerneq (mask dance) and Qulleq (traditional Inuit lamp) for many elementary school students. Something that means a lot to her:

“It’s very important to me to be able to make theater for children who are interested in it. I want to go out to all the towns and villages and give children the opportunity to see and make theater,” Malu Lynge says before continuing:

“I want to be part of passing on our culture to children and young people. We’ve had many years where our culture was taken from us, and it must not happen again. As an actor, I am a culture bearer, and I contribute to passing on the culture to the next generations.”

Alongside her acting, Malu Lynge also has a YouTube channel where she shares greenlandic culture and traditions. As an example she has made a video showing how to light a Qulleq, which is a traditional lamp used by the Inuit for light, warmth, and cooking. She lights up her own almost every day and one day she tought to herself: “Why not make a video of lighting my Qulleq, so the rest of the world can learn about it too,” and subsequently made a video.

“When I light my Qulleq, it’s part of my everyday life. I love making videos about our culture for the rest of the world,” she explains.

"It's very important to me to be able to make theater for children who are interested in it. I want to go out to all the towns and villages and give children the opportunity to see and make theater."

Malu Lynge

You have the freedom to show your emotions. Always.

Last year, Malu Lynge toured with the play “Homo Sapienne” based on Niviaq Korneliussen’s novel of the same name. A performance that meant something very special to her. It was her “first major adult role,” as she calls it herself and Malu Lynge played a character she could personally relate to. Several of the messages about identity, gender, and suicidal thoughts are something Malu Lynge has experienced closely and finds very important. She insists that we should talk about emotions, even the difficult ones:

“My role in ‘Homo Sapienne’ will not live at the beginning of the performance. She doesn’t know what it takes for her to want to live again. When she finds out she’s lesbian, life comes back to her. These are very important messages the performance conveys. This thing about being young, being outside the norms, and having all these different and difficult emotions,” she says, emphasizing:

“If you allow yourself, you have the freedom to show your emotions, no matter how they are. Always.”

Malu Lynge says that she hasn’t always been good at showing her emotions herself. Acting has been a gateway into her emotions. A world that demands emotions. So that we as spectators can relate.

“I feel like I’ve gotten much better at talking about emotions after drama school. There, you’re allowed to show many different emotions that you’re normally afraid to show. It has also helped me a lot in private life. You really open up as an actor. You have to,” she says.

But what is it like to open up if it doesn’t come naturally, and what advantages does it come with? Malu Lynge answers:

“I’ve always been very conflict-averse and quiet, but I’ve really learned to set boundaries for myself and realized that it’s okay to do it. Setting boundaries is the best thing you can do for yourself.”

"If you allow yourself, you have the freedom to show your emotions, no matter how they are. Always."

Malu Lynge

Openness on YouTube

Malu Lynge is a smiling and very accommodating person. She takes time to answer questions and thinks about her answers. The smiling and accommodating person is part of the truth just as much as Malu Lynge, who struggles with anxiety and has an ADHD diagnosis, is part of the truth. On her YouTube channel, Malu Lynge is very open about the mental things that she herself has close to her life. Again, openness is important to her:

“I know that many people live with anxiety and ADHD. I like that it has become such an open thing to talk about on social media. I think it’s important. Many people walk around with ADHD and think there’s something wrong with them. I’ve done that my whole life. It’s important to be open about it,” she says.

And when life presses, there is usually a particular button that works. Or perhaps more a vent, which Malu Lynge keeps returning to, and which she also shares on YouTube: Music.

“I write songs to express emotions when I’m struggling and feeling down. It’s a way to help myself,” she says, continuing:

“I really want to help others who have anxiety, and I feel like I also get to do that through my music. I have some friends who sometimes write to me and ask if I can sing a song for them because it helps. I’m glad that it can help others in that way.”

This is what you do

This story started out with the little girl in the mirror. Now Malu Lynge sits, a trained actress with three successful years behind her. The dream has come true, so what now? What about the future? Malu Lynge responds in line with something she mentioned earlier:

“My big goal is to travel to all towns and settlements in Greenland and be there with my art. Whether it’s with a performance, a workshop on how to light a Qulleq, or to perform a concert. I will work on reaching everywhere.”

But what if we turned the tables and Malu Lynge herself was in the questioner’s shoes? What question would she then ask herself?

“That’s a good question. I’m not sure if it’s a question, but I would probably remind myself of how important the work I do is. There is a purpose to it, and it’s important. This idea of passing something on through performances and concerts. This is what you do, and it is important, so just keep going,” she concludes.

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Oscar Scott Carl

Visual Storyteller, Visit Nuuk