Archive for Month: April 2017


In my last post I mentioned the “reptile photoshoot” we did on Saturday, and since I like to keep promises, I’ll share some of the photos with you right now! Okay, we didn’t intend on having any non-humans in the shoot, but when I heard there was a guy with a snake in the park, I forced the whole group to go look at it. The enthusiasm within “the Fam” was rather divided though: I thought it was the coolest thing — which after reading my post “Not Perfect” should come as no surprise — I like strange things. But some of the people in our group did not share that same excitement and were sickened by the whole thing. Sorry for putting you through this, guys! I thought it was AWESOME.

Photo: Sara Telahun.

Thankfully Carina and Sara embraced the challenge with me.

Since we’re living the last month of our time together at Augie, we figured a goofy group photo by Sioux Falls’ only scenic location was appropriate.

We did have time for some serious photography too, but I’ll post more of those later. In the meantime, here are some sneak peeks.

Alejandro Garcia and Hannah Vaca. Photo: Maria Lavelle.

Behind the scenes:

With Anna Myrmoe. Photo: Sara Telahun.


Carina Hofmeister. Photo: Maria Lavelle.


Anna Myrmoe. Photo: Maria Lavelle.


Now I’ll get back to my math homework, so talk to ya later.


New Words and Nice Meals

This weekend was so packed it didn’t really feel like a weekend at all, but I had so much fun that it didn’t matter.

It started off with tons of errands, emails and meetings on Friday, then on Saturday I attended my first ever “Luncheon” with the Board of Trustees at Augustana.

When I got the invitation from Augustana President Rob Oliver a couple of weeks ago, I honestly thought he meant to write “lunch” and just added “eon” by accident, but it turns out that “luncheon” is an actual English word. Who would have guessed! I’m so happy whenever I can add another word to my vocabulary, and I wouldn’t be opposed to making this a regular one. (To any new readers who now wonder how I even got into college … I’m Norwegian, okay)

According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, it means:
“A formal usually midday meal as part of a meeting or for entertaining a guest.” 

Anyway, I was there as a presenter and told the story of how I came to Augie, and how that somehow led to NYU and the opportunity to bring “Over the Bridge” to film festivals all over the country.

Just being there was an honor in itself, but to stand alongside my fellow students and friends, Kofi Gunu and Matthew Watt, was simply amazing. They inspire and impress me, and I’m excited to see the great things they’ll do in the future.

With Kofi Gunu, Matthew Watt and President Rob Oliver. Photo: Becky Blue.

Also, an important detail: Ole was there too! Throughout my years here at Augie, this guy is the closest I’ve been to having a date, so a big shoutout to this handsome fella for always being there for me.

Following the luncheon, “The Fam” (aka a large group of individuals who—despite our diverse backgrounds—consider each other family. Read more HERE) and I went to Falls Park for a photoshoot, which I’ll tell you more about in my next post. But I can tell you it involved a live Pyton snake, so you don’t want to miss it. Stay tuned!

Bless you,

Not Perfect

I’m well aware that this blog has turned into more of a PR-platform and professional portfolio than the college blog it once was, so today I’ll tell you some things that have nothing to do with TV-interviews or so-called “Public Relations.”

You see, in-between the filmmaking, traveling, media appearances, film festivals, homeless awareness work, guest speaking events and heavily accented radio interviews, I’m just a quirky goofball with zero math skills.

So, here are eight confessions I never thought would make it onto the blog.

Well, now you already know I suck at math. And I don’t mean “I kinda struggle with this antiderivative equation in this advanced calculus class.” No no, I’m actually so bad I need special tutoring just to pass my Math 140 class here at Augie, and I still don’t understand why we always need to find that “x.” I know I’m good at other things, so I don’t let it get to me. But I have cried.

If smoking wasn’t dangerous, I’d probably smoke two packs a day and wear a perfume with the smell of nicotine. Okay, that’s taking it a little far, but I do have a suppressed love for cigarettes.

Don’t believe me? Well, this is not a random gif I found online. It’s me; from my punk-phase and short-lived acting career. But don’t worry, it passed.

However, when this photoshoot called for a cigar, I didn’t exactly object. Photo: Rannveig Froestad.

Since we’re sharing secrets and stuff, I can tell you about the I tattoo that I took as an impulsive and rebellious teenager, and about how I’ve stopped counting the times I’ve considered removing it with laser treatments. Just hours after I got it, I tried all the home remedies, including the infamous “sea salt-rub” to make it go away. Please do not even think about trying this at home. I’ll share the picture when I’m less unproud.

I absolutely cannot sing. One time in middle school, I was going to perform a song with a friend on the Norwegian Independence day, and I didn’t know how terrible I was until after we had already signed up, so I lip-synced the whole thing and blamed it on “a faulty microphone.” To this day, I don’t even sing in the shower.

I’m allergic to pretty much every animal out there, and as a result, I was one time indirectly accused of being a prostitute at a motel. Read more HERE.

I’m a recovering exercise addict, and ruined my own track career with stress fractures and injuries, multiple times, which resulted in this questionable “How to work out on crutches” video.

Every now and then I risk my friends’ lives by not wearing my contacts when I drive them around. “Oh, was that red thing with white letters a stop sign?”

I automatically take on an even thicker accent when I get pulled over by the cops: “Ay’m so sawrry, Ay’m frawm Nawrway, yu see.” Just to get some extra sympathy for not obeying “knowing” the rules, and hoping they will ask me about “lefsa” or “lutefisk” or bring up their great grandmother’s uncle’s neighbour who immigrated from Germany or some other country clearly not connected to Norway.

What you see on the blog vs. what really happens:

Photo: Mike Shafer.
Photo: Naras Prameswari.

So, there you go. When I’m not on TV, making films, or guest speaking at high schools, I simply try my best to be me—and to represent what I believe in—to the best of my ability.

I’ve made mistakes; some of them visible in the form of unwanted ink on my body. The conclusion is that I’m not perfect, and I    clearly   have some things to improve.

Bless y’all,

Escapes and Paths

Good evening, and happy belated Easter!

In my last post I mentioned the guest I was expecting in my dorm room — a TV-crew from KELO. I already shared the link on Facebook, but some of you have asked when I would post it on the blog, so here you go.

Click on the picture below to start video:

After a year with numerous media appearances I have realized that I prefer TV over radio. I don’t know why, but my English is significantly better in front of the camera. On the radio I sound like I a freshly immigrated kid reading off a script without knowing how to say the words, but on TV I feel more like myself, haha.

Well, with our without my Scandinavian accent, I think KELO did a really good job telling a story I never thought would be told on a screen. I already shared my secret about “The tumors that changes my life” on the blog, but it was a different experience having it told by someone else.

Reported by Brady Mallory/KELO, 2017.

Some of you have asked why I’ve done so many interviews lately, and I honestly don’t know how it happened. I’ve simply been contacted by the media and accepted the offers. Not because I want the attention, but because it allows me to continue shedding a light on an important social issue through Over the Bridge and because I’m a storyteller looking to inspire with my work.

Here’s the full radio interview I did for SDPB with lots of extra footage and special features from the production process of Over the Bridge.

To see more, go to Media Appearances under “Maria” in the menu above.

Have a blessed night,

Covenant Awards, Thoughts, Friends & Photos

Good afternoon!

I can’t believe yet another week has come to and end, and that I only have six weeks left of my Augustana adventure, but pondering of that sort is a topic for another post. Right now I just wanted to check in and write a perfectly ordinary post about what I’ve been up to since last time.

Feature Story
As a journalist I usually tell other people’s stories, but this week I was lucky enough to have Kelly Sprecher tell mine. We talked about my childhood and NYU, and everything that happened in-between the two.

I still think it’s a little strange to be the subject, rather than the writer, of the story, but I’m very happy with how this one turned out. Kelly really brought out the essence of why I do what I do. Please read the full story here HERE.

Covenant Awards
This week has been filled with more meetings and events than school work, so the feeling of drowning in papers, assignments and exams presented itself a number of times, but I got it done just in time for the Covenant Awards on Friday, which was a great way to wrap up the week. You can read more about what kind of award ceremony this is HERE, but it’s basically a celebration of Augustana’s five core values: Christian Faith, Liberal Arts, Excellence, Community and Service. And a few students get nominated in each category every year. I was nominated for the first one, which was a huge honor. So even if I didn’t win, it was a great pleasure just to be there as a nominee.

It got even better when my dear friend, Alejandro, won the award for Community! “The Fam” (the collective name of our unique assembly of friends seen in the picture below) started celebrating his victory before the announcer even finished pronouncing his name. A proud moment for us all! <3


With Alejandro Garcia. Photo: Jessica Ruf.

We then went out to celebrate with Indian food (after this highly formal photoshoot, of course)

With Elin Hægeland and Anna Myrmoe. Photo: Jessica Ruf.
I still don’t know how to carry a purse while also wearing heels. Thankfully I had my buddy, Jacob, there for support.

Based on the names in the caption below, one would think we’re all Norwegian. But besides the fact that my name hardly sounds Scandinavian and my friends tell me I’ve become too Americanized to bear the title “Norwegian” there are actually just two Norwegians in this picture. I don’t know how to respond to such claims about me. It’s quite scandalous, really.

With Elin Hageland, Anna Myrmoe, Jacob Knutson and Philly Harkness. Photo: Jessica Ruf.


The photographer herself, Jessica. Photo: Anna Myrmoe.

I’m so grateful to be surrounded by talented, ambitious and hardworking people who inspire me to be a better version of myself. Knowing that I’ll leave them in just six weeks makes my eyes produce salty liquids. I think I need to wrap up this post before my keyboard gets wet. Sniff sniff. Love u all.


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