Not Just Another Pretty Face - Soap Opera Weekly
"Everyone has either known or been a 'Chloe,'" Nadia Bjorlin says.
She's referring, of course, to the tormented, introverted teen who sticks out like a sore thumb amidst the other teens on Days of Our Lives. Bjorlin joined the cast in late 1999, and, shrouded in black clothing and hidden behind a pair of bulky glasses, her Chloe immediately became the pariah of Salem High School. She's been teased incessantly by her schoolmates, who have gone so far as to leave a dead chicken on her doorstep. "I can't say that I didn't experience a little bit of that type of thing in school, as well as see other kids being treated even worse," the actress says. As if suffering through teen angst isn't enough, Chloe's life has been further complicated by Nancy, the mother she never knew she had. No wonder the girl is such a mess. "Chloe's had it rough, and she's bitter, but she keeps up a facade of being very strong and impenetrable," Bjorlin says, but reveals that the sourpuss has lightened up — if only a bit. "She's become a little more easygoing, and has developed a softer side that she rarely lets anyone see. She's been the victim basically her whole life, and her hard exterior is a way to avoid the real world."
During her first weeks on Days, Bjorlin recalls that the show's makeup department took extreme measures to make her look as "blah" as possible. "They used to put a lot of grease through my hair and makeup on to cover my eyebrows," she explains. "Then they got tired of it and now, I don't put any makeup on and the hair's a little cleaner." Despite her dowdy on-air appearance, the real-life stunner is surprised that she is recognized, and jokes that she's not sure if that's a good thing.
It is, because even Chloe's glasses can't hide the fact that Bjorlin is a gifted, memorable actress whose love of performing is in her family's blood. "I have three brothers and two sisters, and we have all been involved with the business at some point," she says.
Bjorlin's father, Ulf, a Swedish conductor/composer, and mother Fary, an interior designer, undoubtedly fueled their artistic interests. Music became the favorite pastime in the house thanks to Ulf, and went a step further when Nadia and two of her brothers took their act on the road, so to speak. "The three of us decided that we wanted to take piano lessons," she explains. "We started singing, too, and it just kind of happened." "It" was an incarnation of The Sound of Music's von Trapp family. Nadia began performing concerts with her father and brothers, mixing Broadway, jazz and pop music. During that exciting time, Nadia not only sang, she also played piano, harp and flute.
Although born in Newport, R.I., because of Ulf's career, Bjorlin spent much of her childhood in Sweden. When she was 3, her dad accepted a position as the conductor of the Santa Barbara Symphony. That California sojourn lasted about two years, and then the family returned to Sweden.
When Bjorlin was 7, Ulf uprooted the family once again, this time transplanting them to sunny Palm Beach, Fla. "My dad had received a lot of job offers all around the United States," she recalls, "but he settled on being the music director of the Florida Philharmonic because I think he felt the family would enjoy the nice weather."
Bjorlin did enjoy the balmy breezes and sun-soaked beaches, but admits that adjusting to American life took some getting used to. "I barely spoke English when I started school, and that was a tough barrier to overcome," she says. "Also, the European and American 'ways' are very different." She adjusted easily, however, and admits that the experience turned out to be more exciting than daunting.
At the same time, Bjorlin's love of music — especially opera — was continuing to grow. "My father composed 24 hours a day, and I always heard him on the piano," she recalls. "I heard a lot of singers coming in and out of the house to rehearse, and I just fell in love with opera."
Bjorlin cites her dad as her first music teacher, and she expanded on that education in her mid-teens when she headed to New York City and enrolled in The Professional Children's School. "It was scary at first to be in such a fast-paced, crazy city; I remember not wanting to leave the apartment," she says with a laugh. Her mom accompanied her to the Big Apple, which made the transition easier. Her siblings by this time, were either away at school or established in careers. "I adjusted quickly. I was so ready for the culture, and knew New York was where I wanted to be."
Bjorlin points out that The Professional Children's School was not a performing arts school. "You didn't take lessons at the school," she explains, "but they were very lenient about letting you leave to take lessons somewhere else, or go on auditions. It wasn't unusual not to see someone for a month." Some of the famous kids who studied alongside Bjorlin were Julia Stiles, Gaby Hoffmann and the "Culkin kids."
Immediately after graduation, Bjorlin signed with an agent. "A couple of days after signing me, the agency got a breakdown for a character, and needed an actress who could sing opera." That character was Chloe, and Bjorlin flew to California for what would be her first real audition. "I was nervous, but in a subdued way," she says of that expe