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Selma is Zlatan's sister – on the screen

It's about daring to have a dream, journey out into the unknown, Selma Mesanovic dared. Now we can see the 24-year-old from Kristianstad as Sanela, Zlatan's sister, in the film ”Jag är Zlatan” (I'm Zlatan).
Kristianstad • Publicerad 12 januari 2022 • Uppdaterad 12 januari 2022
Selma Mesanovic, Kristianstad, makes her acting debut in the film ”Jag är Zlatan”. She plays the part of Sanela, Zlatan Ibrahomovic's sister.
Selma Mesanovic, Kristianstad, makes her acting debut in the film ”Jag är Zlatan”. She plays the part of Sanela, Zlatan Ibrahomovic's sister.Foto: Lasse Ottosson

Who is she – 24-year-old Selma Mesanovic, with no credentials as an actress? Who plays Sanela Ibrahimovic in ”Jag är Zlatan”, the film that can become the hit of the season.

”My parents didn't want to come to Sweden. But they had no choice. My brothers and I were taught that everyone must fight for things in life. Nothing comes free”
Selma Mesanovic
The Mesanovic family came to Sweden in 1993, after the war in Bosnia. Selma, born in 1997,  is the youngest of three siblings. She grew up in Olofström.
The Mesanovic family came to Sweden in 1993, after the war in Bosnia. Selma, born in 1997, is the youngest of three siblings. She grew up in Olofström.Foto: Lasse Ottosson

– I'm a girl who goes on gut feeling. I've always been sure that spur-of-the-moment decisions will lead me along the right path, says Selma.

The Mesanovic family came to Sweden in 1993, after the war in Bosnia. Selma is the youngest of three siblings. She was born in 1997, and grew up in Olofström.

– My parents didn't want to come to Sweden. But they had no choice. My brothers and I were taught that everyone must fight for things in life. Nothing comes free.

The whole family has been affected by discussions about the war.

– My parents had to get acclimatised to a new country, learn a new language and find a place for themselves in the new community.

”Dad worked hard, too hard, and he sacrificed himself”
Selma Mesanovic
”Granit (Rushiti), who plays Zlatan , and I get along very well together. I wanted  really to 'be' Sanela, so Granit really had to be ”my brother Zlatan” when working together. We had a relationship that was fun. We joked with each other  in a way that was hard but good fun”, says Selma Mesanovic.
”Granit (Rushiti), who plays Zlatan , and I get along very well together. I wanted really to 'be' Sanela, so Granit really had to be ”my brother Zlatan” when working together. We had a relationship that was fun. We joked with each other in a way that was hard but good fun”, says Selma Mesanovic.Foto: Lasse Ottosson

– It was hard for both of them, especially my father. He came here with great ambitions for the future, he wanted to give his family a sense of security. Dad worked hard, too hard, and he sacrificed himself.

Selma lost her father when she was just nine years old.

– We got through the worst of the grief, and we grew stronger together.

”This training is plan B, it's to give me security”
Selma Mesanovic

In 2015, when Selma was 17, the family moved to Kristianstad. During her last year at school she commuted to school in Olofström.

What interests did Selma have when she was younger? She was ambitious. Had a sense of purpose. She put in a lot of hard work on both floorball and football.

She trained hard, was disciplined. Didn't want to waste time going to parties. Her mother had sole responsibility for the family, she ought not to have to worry.

Selma had talent. Wanted to fight for a future in the national football team. But – a knee injury put paid to that.

There were other dreams.

Thís summer she will qualify as a study and careers advisor in Malmö.

– This training is plan B, it's to give me security.

”They were looking for a girl from the Balkans to play a part in a film about Zlatan, a girl about 17-21. I thought ... ”that could be me””
Selma Mesanovic
”Jag är Zlatan” –  film poster.
”Jag är Zlatan” – film poster.Foto: Foto: Nordisk Film

Now her big dream is something quite different.

Selma Mesanovic had never stood in front of a camera, never tried to get a part, never had drama or acting lessons.

– I enjoy being photographed. I sing – mostly for myself – and I've had some dance lessons.

Her interest was roused by an ad on Facebook (Lotta Casting).

– They were looking for a girl from the Balkans to play a part in a film about Zlatan, a girl about 17-21. I thought ... ”that could be me”.

The film was to be made in Malmö. She went to the audition, and afterwards she met director Jens Sjögren.

He made his choice.

Facts

Selma Mesanovic

Born: 1977. Grew up in Olofström, has lived in Kristianstad since 2015.

Family: Mother Zekija, brothers Armin and Belmin.

Studying: in Malmö, to be a study and careers advisor. Graduates in 2022.

Just now: Makes her acting debut as Sanela, Zlatan Ibrahimovic's sister, in the film ”Jag är Zlatan”.

”Sanela is tough, self-motivated, independent. She says what she thinks. There's a strong, sometimes rough, bond of affection between her and Zlatan”
Selma Mesanovic

How did you picture Sanela Ibrahimovic?

– I read the book ”Jag är Zlatan” twice and Jens gave me a good description of her. Sanela is tough, self-motivated, independent. She says what she thinks. There's a strong, sometimes rough, bond of affection between her and Zlatan.

– I think both she and Zlatan have been affected by a hard upbringing. That Zlatan comes from a simple background. That he has taken himself to where he is today makes him a great example.

Selma has never met either Sanela or Zlatan.

The film ”Jag är Zlatan” is based on the autobiography with the same title. Zlatan Ibrahimovic wrote the book along with David Lagerkrantz.
The film ”Jag är Zlatan” is based on the autobiography with the same title. Zlatan Ibrahimovic wrote the book along with David Lagerkrantz.Foto: JANERIK HENRIKSSON / TT

Have you found a bit of yourself in Sanela Ibrahimovic?

– Yes, she knows how to take her place, and she says what she thinks. She's tough, but her heart is in the right place. Sanela seems to be a person Zlatan always listens to.

”Jag är Zlatan” had its world première in October, at the film festival in Rome. In football-mad Italy it was an instant success.

– I know how much they love Zlatan in Italy. I thought the film would be greatly loved, but that it would be like this ... it's truly amazing!

The première of the film ”Jag är Zlatan” has been postponed several times.

– Now we're nearly there, when this dream becomes reality!

What about the future? Selma sets off on a new journey.

– I've been part of something big, I must take advantage of the possibilities. I want to develop as an actress.

”We have a very strong relationship. I always want to be near my mother and the security we give one another”
Selma Mesanovic

Drama school?

– That's certainly something I've thought about. So I've already begun to consider moving, to Malmö or to Stockholm.

Selma laughs.

What does your mother Zekija think about your plans to move?

– Her first reaction was 'I don't like having you so far away'. At the same time I know that mum is very pleased for my sake. And I'm pretty sure she won't be long in following me'.

– We have a very strong relationship. I always want to be near my mother and the security we give one another.

Footnote: The première of the film ”Jag är Zlatan” has been postponed several times because of the pandemic. The latest date was 14th January, but it has once again been postponed. At the moment there is no definite date for its Swedish première.

Anders MårtenssonSkicka e-post
Så här jobbar Mosaik Kristianstadsbladet med journalistik. Uppgifter som publiceras ska vara korrekta och relevanta. Vi strävar efter förstahandskällor och att vara på plats där det händer. Trovärdighet och opartiskhet är centrala värden för vår nyhetsjournalistik.