VMAN x CPHFW Cover: Omar Rudberg
Swedish pop star Omar Rudberg successfully broke into acting in a fictional and queer royal narrative. Now, the 23-year-old talent is gearing up for global stardom.
Omar Rudberg has always been a star—even if, during his childhood years, only his family knew it. The Venezuelan-Swedish singer and actor became Scandinavia’s new darling while regularly competing in singing competitions across Sweden, going on to join the boy band FO&O and eventually launching a solo career in 2018.
But Rudberg’s biggest break yet would come through acting, a new creative venture. He plays the character Simon in Netflix’s series Young Royals, which premiered in 2021, a teen drama about an elite boarding school in which Prince Wilhelm of Sweden (played by Edvin Ryding) falls in love with Simon Eriksson, Rudberg’s character and fellow student. Unlike the Prince, Simon’s character doesn’t come from a royally elitist background, creating a socio-economic tension between the two (amongst an equally blatant romantic tension).
The series, for which the second season has just finished filming, broadened Rudberg’s popularity across Europe, also positioning him as a queer role model who’s not afraid to color outside the lines.
We spoke with our cover star about his ascendance from local celebrity to international recognition and becoming not only one of Sweden’s most promising voices, but also most captivating on-screen talents.
Read the full Q&A below.
VMAN: I know you’re in your hotel in Norway right now. What does today look like for Omar Rudberg?
OMAR RUDBERG: Today we’re gonna do some promotion, Victoria Nadine and I. We released a Norwegian and Swedish single, “Nakna,” and we’re gonna perform it today at a big festival here in Oslo called VG-Lista.
VMAN: Have you been to this festival before?
OR: Actually, I don’t think anybody knows or remembers, but I’ve done this before with FO&O. Our performance was not great and the microphones cut off, so you couldn’t even hear me. But this time, it feels like we’re really doing it. Because when I was 14 and performing with the band, we did so much at that time and I was so young, I didn’t realize that we were actually doing a big festival. I didn’t really understand what was going on.
VMAN: Do you generally enjoy performing? Or are you more of a studio artist?
OR: Oh yeah, it’s the best part but also the scariest, for sure! It’s a little more scary right now—I haven’t done this in a while because of the last couple of years with everything that’s been going on. But when I’m in the zone, performing is a piece of cake.
VMAN: Were you always a performer?
OR: When I was a kid, maybe ve years old or younger, I was always singing and dancing. I grew up in Venezuela and we have this culture where everybody dances and sings. My grandma, when she would throw parties at her house, would always put me up on the table like a stage and I would do a show for everybody. Then I found out about YouTube and saw Michael Jackson music videos, and I learned about all these artists from around the world. Then when I was ten, I did my first singing competition. It [was] like Sweden’s Got Talent. So I did an audition at a mall and they picked out their favorites to sing on TV. I kept doing competitions like that until I got signed by a label when I was 14. So I’ve always had this dream of being an artist, for sure.
VMAN: How has your mix of cultures shaped your music?
OR: It shaped me into the person that I am today. When I moved here, I was hanging out with Swedish kids. But then at home with my mom, I lived out the Venezuelan culture with her. It’s just me, I guess. Sometimes I want to just do heavy pop in the studio, sometimes I want to mix it up [and] throw in some Spanish.
VMAN: How did you get started in acting?
OR: Acting has been a dream of mine since I was a kid but I never took the steps to get into acting when I was younger because I was so focused on music. But then the pandemic hit and the whole music business, live performances, and all that shut down. I didn’t have anything going on and I was like, “What am I gonna do with my life?” I was originally planning on studying. Then someone told me about this new show that Netflix was casting for, and I was like, “I have to get in there.”
VMAN: Did you feel that the show was going to be a huge success?
OR: I had this good feeling since the beginning. When we started recording and filming I was so surprised by how big it actually was. It was my first set ever, the first time I saw a filming set. Everybody would laugh at me because I didn’t have a poker face—I was walking around in awe all the time. I was so hyped and pumped. When it blew up, there was a part of me that was like, “Holy shit,” but also a feeling of, “I knew it.”