Translation of the article in Nynäshamnsposten:
"From bullied teenager to aclaimed artist"
Nightwish singer Anette Olzon about bullying and hate campaigns
Anette Olzon is the aclaimed singer in the Finnish metal band Nightwish. Last week she lectured in the schools of Nynäshamn about how it is to be a star and being in the spotlight. But also about how it is to be bullied, exposed for hate campaigns and not corresponding to the body ideals in the artist business.
As a child she loved school. She sat as a candle and loved her teacher. But in high school something happened. She changed classes and in the new class she didnt get accepted by the other girls. She got ostracized and exposed to a lot of bullshit, she says.
Slowly her self-esteem started to fail. She cried, had constant stomach pain and felt she wasnt good for anything. It went so far that she didnt want to go to school anymore. And she had suicide thoughts. What kept her up was the dream of becoming a singer. She knew she could sing.
In upper secondary school it got slightly better. She was still insecure, especially among girls, she says. After secondary school she applied for Balettakademien and got in. It was an amazing feeling to get in, she says.
- It was really tough exercising. We danced 7 hours a day . Soon I got to hear that I needed to loose weight. The business only want skinny, good-looking girls. It once again led me to falling down in a depression. I wanted to quit but mum said no.
Anette says she didnt know what to do and in a desperate cry for help, she wrote a letter to famous singer Lisa Nilsson, who has her experiences from Balettakademien.
- She said "Quit. You dont need an education to become an artist".
Said and done. After that several years followed with different jobs. She got a child. She played in bands. Through the years she has been in several bands, been in choirs and done studio jobs. By a coincidence she got to know that the famous finnish metal band Nightwish needed a new singer. She sent a demo and got the job. At the time she was 35 years old. It was a dream fulfilled, she says. But to take over after the former singer proved to be hard. The fans of the band didnt accept the newcomer. She got exposed to threats and hate campaigns and all the feelings from her school years came back.
- There even was death threats against me in front of my children. I got really scared. I tensed in our shows that led to that I didnt sing as good as I was capable of, and then I got criticised for that. Despite me living my dream to stand in front of thousands of people all over the world and sing, I couldnt feel real joy.
Finally Anette Olzon came to a limit. She told about her fears for the band and that came to be the turning point.
- After that I stopped caring. I went out and did my thing. After that its been much better. I survived the 2 year long tour and now I get positive emails, she says with a smile.
She also talks about celebrity life and the positive and negative sides of touring. For instance, not being so easy to be the only girl on tour all over the world. It easily gets to be a jargon. But she has put and end to way to boyish manners in the bus, she says.
- It´s our common home when we´re out. Everyone must be able to feel comfortable.
What´s the recipe for success, one student asks.
- Believe in yourself and dont give up. It may sound as a cliché. But I have always been stubborn and always believed that I can sing. But I have never sold myself in the way that others can decide how I should look or what to wear. That has been my strength and made me secure in the person I am today.
Kristoffer Ekberg and Minea Lagestam, that attend first year at the aesthete programme thought the lecture was really interersting.
- You recognize a lot of what she talks about regarding school, like all the bullshit, Minea Lagestam says.
- To be bullied as a child and then get to live your dream. That is a sunshine story, says Kristoffer Ekberg.