interview by SAMO ŠAJN

Jannik Schümann is a German actor, dubbing artist, and radio play narrator passionate about musicals, dance, and his dog. Cast in the musical “Mozart” at nine, he began his acting career early and has since appeared in numerous TV series and films. Notable works include the TV film “Homevideo,” “Die Mitte der Welt,” and the series “Charité” and “Sisi.” Jannik publicly came out in 2020 and has since been an advocate for LGBTQ+ rights, participating in “Manifesto #ActOut” and commemorating queer Holocaust victims in the Bundestag.


At just nine years old, you were cast in the musical “Mozart”. How do you think this early exposure to the performing arts has shaped your career?
Growing up in the countryside with limited exposure to the arts, I had little awareness of the world beyond my immediate surroundings. Being cast in the musical “Mozart” at nine was transformative, introducing me to a world of creativity, expression, and diverse stories. This early exposure ignited my passion for acting, broadened my horizons, and laid the foundation for my career, instilling a deep appreciation for performance and storytelling.

You’ve been the voice of “Justus Jonas” in “Die drei Fragezeichen” for almost 15 years. What has this long-term role taught you about voice acting and character development?
Playing “Justus Jonas” in “Die drei Fragezeichen” has been a tremendous gift. Transitioning from Jannik to Justus feels completely natural now. Over 15 years, my colleagues and I have become like family, recording together for two weekends annually. This bond has nurtured profound trust, crucial for voice acting and character development.

Balancing an acting career with studies in English and media at Humboldt University must be challenging. How do you manage your time, and how have your studies influenced your acting?? 
Balancing day shoots and evening term papers demanded excellent time management. Media studies taught me film analysis crucial for acting, while English studies honed my linguistic skills for roles. This academic background enriches my acting, fostering a more analytical approach to performances.

You’ve mentioned the importance of regularly ‘jumping over your shadow’. Can you share an experience where you had to overcome significant challenges?
Every December, I play a game with friends called “Adventschallenger.” It involves 24 daily challenges from December 1st to 24th to push us out of our comfort zones. One memorable and embarrassing challenge was asking a cashier to wrap my cucumber as a present. Another time, I had to perform a dance on the street and ask strangers to film me.

From “Mein Sohn Helen” to “Die Mitte der Welt”, you’ve played roles that address complex social issues. How do you prepare for such emotionally demanding characters?
I work with a coach for emotionally demanding roles, building the necessary foundation and understanding nuances. Costume and makeup are crucial for transformation, distinct from my previous roles. Learning new skills like motorbike riding for “Westwall” and horse riding plus fencing for “Sisi” enhances my immersion in characters, which I love most about acting.

full look BOSS

Having received the Jupiter Award for “Best Actor” three times in a row, what does this recognition mean to you, and how does it impact your choice of future roles?
Receiving the Jupiter Award for “Best Actor” three times in a row is incredibly meaningful, especially since it’s based on audience votes. As a film actor, I don’t get immediate audience feedback like stage actors do. We shoot a movie, it’s released a year later, and we often don’t know how people respond. These awards validate that my work resonates with audiences and that my role choices connect with them. It motivates me to continue selecting challenging roles that engage and entertain viewers.

Making your relationship public was a significant step. How has this decision affected you personally and professionally?
I work with a coach for emotionally demanding roles, building the necessary foundation and understanding nuances. Costume and makeup are crucial for transformation into distinct roles. Learning new skills like motorbike riding for “Westwall” and horse riding plus fencing for “Sisi” deepens my immersion in characters, which is what I love most about acting.

Could you tell us more about your involvement with the “Manifesto #ActOut” and your advocacy for the LGBTQ+ community?
My involvement with “Manifesto #ActOut” was pivotal for me and the LGBTQ+ community. Over 185 actors publicly came out together, gaining international attention, including from The Hollywood Reporter. This action challenged the notion that actors should hide their sexuality and highlighted visibility and pride. #ActOut demonstrates that actors can portray diverse roles regardless of orientation. Over the past four years, I’ve embraced my role as an LGBTQ+ advocate, using my platform to promote visibility, acceptance, and respect for our diverse community.

Reading in honour of queer victims of National Socialism at the German Bundestag must have been profound. Can you describe that experience and its significance to you?
On January 27th 2023, Holocaust Memorial Day, the Bundestag commemorated queer Holocaust victims. Delivering a speech in their memory was profoundly moving. Honouring those who suffered and perished for being themselves was a solemn responsibility I took to heart. This day highlighted the ongoing importance of remembering LGBTQ+ victims of historical atrocities.

With your latest project “Disko76”, what can you share about this new series, and are there any other projects on the horizon?
“Disko76” is a fantastic new series set in the 1970s, filled with fun and entertainment, featuring an incredible soundtrack and wild dance scenes. I recommend everyone watch it for its energy and nostalgia. Recently, I completed a children’s investigative movie titled “Die Drei Fragezeichen,” fulfilling my Indiana Jones dreams. Currently, I’m filming the fourth season of “Sisi” in the Baltics.

full look HADERLUMP

production DIRK MEYCKE
photography assistant SINAN KOLMAR