Digital Covers

Digital Cover: Being Alisha Boe

By Clare McInerney

Striped polo shirt, €140, Organic cotton chinos, €169. Both Tommy Hilfiger. Pearl earring, €67. Lilou. Photo: Coliena Rentmeester

Alisha Boe isn’t just a name – and a striking face – to note in the film and TV industry. The Norwegian-Somali actor is proving to be one of its most articulate and resonant voices, too. It’s a voice the LA-based talent isn’t afraid to use as, in her own words, a “young Black woman on set” – as she continues to advocate for herself and reckon with her evolving sense of identity. But Boe knows how to balance this hard work and heavy lifting with boundless fun – thanks to her ebullient spirit, sharp wit and megawatt smile. We have a candid chat with Vogue Scandinavia’s latest digital cover star about her thrilling ascent

When it comes to the turning point in Alisha Boe’s career, many would look to her breakthrough role in Netflix’s hit series 13 Reasons Why, or her more recent casting in Apple TV’s frolicking, corseted cult favourite The Buccaneers. Some may even trace back earlier to the somewhat fateful relocation from Oslo to Los Angeles in her youth. But for the 27-year-old Norwegian-Somali actor, the biggest shift occurred a decade ago. “I was 17 and I was living on my own and I needed money,” Boe says. “I was like, ‘OK, it’s time. Acting isn’t just for fun anymore. I need to make some f***ing money, I need to pay rent’,” she laughs. “And that’s when I started grinding and I booked some jobs. When passion meets survival.”

Ever since then, Boe has never really stopped grinding. In theory, the actor should be enjoying a slower period before filming starts for the highly-anticipated second season of The Buccaneers, but her jam-packed, jetsetting schedule makes it near impossible to even find a time to chat – though we manage to secure a slot on a Wednesday morning during a fleeting visit of Boe’s to Paris. Later the same day, she will transform into a show-stopping sheer and leather ensemble to attend Acne Studios autumn/winter ‘24 runway show. But for now, Boe sits at a table at her hotel suite in the first arrondissement, bare-faced and bundled up in a fuzzy brown Paloma Wool knit and leggings.

Striped polo shirt, €140, Organic cotton chinos, €169. Both Tommy Hilfiger. Pearl earring, €67. Lilou. Photo: Coliena Rentmeester

Being one of the most exciting young Nordic-grown acting talents in the game, naturally Boe has found her way into the pages of Vogue Scandinavia before. It’s been a little over two years since that first feature story, but in that time, Boe’s star power has steadily climbed (despite the industry-wide pause around the SAG-AFTRA strikes) – bringing her to this debut cover cover moment. She's captured basking in the Californian sun at the home of photographer Coliena Renmeester, in preppy and relaxed pieces like jersey knit dresses and a striped polo and chinos by Tommy Hilfiger – only enhancing her inherent sense of ease.

Complementing the actor's unmissable strides in her on-screen career, Boe has become a regular fixture amongst the fashion set, taking her place on red carpets and at the front row of Miu Miu, Tod’s and Boss, to name a few. “I love stepping into the fashion industry because it’s not my industry, I really just kind of go in as a student,” Boe says. “It’s like visiting another world.”

Chequered coat, €636. Tanya Taylor. Midi skirt, €370. Peggy Hartanto. Photo: Coliena Rentmeester

Bonnet, €300. Peggy Hartanto. Photo: Coliena Rentmeester

Boe’s main learning from this recent fashion indoctrination? “Style is always a journey,” she remarks, explaining how from around the ages of 19 to 23 (“the formative years where I think you really come into your own style as a woman,” Boe adds), she was switching between the clothes of [13 Reasons Why character] Jessica Davis, and borrowed pieces for press circuits. “Then once Covid hit, I was like ‘Wait a minute, I have nothing in my closet besides sweatpants and weird jeans. I had no style basically,” Boe says. “I’m still trying to figure it out, but I know I feel best in things that I’m comfortable and confident in.”

High slit dress, €1,500. Acne Studios . Photo: Coliena Rentmeester

There’s a self-assuredness that shines through that little bit brighter in this latest shoot with Boe. Not only is she comfortable in the looks, she’s seemingly more comfortable in her own skin too. But she’s open about grappling with ego and insecurities in her day-to-day work on set. “Each stage is so terrifying and exhilarating,” Boe says of any kind of production. “Preparation is extremely intimate as you live with yourself and the character and try to figure it out. Then you get started and you don’t know if you’re doing anything right. On set, you just have to go through all of these different kinds of ego deaths and then just let go,” she goes on.

There’s being young on set, and then there’s being a woman on set, and then there’s being a young Black woman on set. There’s a lot of advocating for yourself that you have to learn to do at a pretty young age.

Alisha Boe

“A year later you see the finished product. It’s never quite what you expected or remembered from the set. But then after the sixth watch - because we’re all so insecure as actors watching ourselves over and over – you’re like ‘Woah, so many hands have touched this and what a beautiful product we’ve come to create and share’.”

High slit skirt, €11,450, Earrings, €1,250, Bracelet, €1,210. All Chanel. Photo: Coliena Rentmeester

The challenges are not only internal. Boe is actively vocal and vigilant when it comes to matters of representation in the industry. “There’s being young on set, and then there’s being a woman on set, and then there’s being a young Black woman on set. There’s a lot of advocating for yourself that you have to learn to do at a pretty young age.”

While Boe doesn’t attach the comment specifically to her experience as Conchita in The Buccaneers, or any other previous casting, she says she generally finds herself to be “the token Black girl that the industry likes”. “I have privilege in my Blackness in that I’m mixed and that [the industry] likes that. So, if I’m having issues, I can’t even imagine the struggle that dark-skinned Black girls are having,” Boe says, going on to describe how often lead roles or more well-rounded characters can be reserved for certain ethnicities and take a much greater fight to secure.

Single breasted velour blazer, €4,400, Button-down shirt, €1,200, Ruffled mini skirt, €2,900. All Miu Miu. Photo: Coliena Rentmeester

Short sleeve cable knitted polo dress, €200. Tommy Hilfiger. Photo: Coliena Rentmeester

From Boe’s perspective, the work that needs to happen carries through to behind the camera too, “because if everyone looks the same behind the camera, of course they can only express what they know in front of the camera. It’s important that we have diversity in the creative teams too,” she says.

As women, we just need to get better at saying what we need and not feeling any shame.

Alisha Boe

There’s no doubting the articulate power of Boe’s voice. What matters to her is making it heard. “I’m sure that you could even relate,” she says to me. “I think the most frustrating thing for any young woman in any industry is not being taken seriously. Not being heard or listened to.” Boe takes a pause to consider each statement. “Humans are frustrating,” she adds. “We all just want to be heard and we all have egos and power struggles. As women, we just need to get better at saying what we need and not feeling any shame.”

Striped polo shirt, €140, Organic cotton chinos, €169. Both Tommy Hilfiger. Pearl earring, €67. Lilou. . Photo: Coliena Rentmeester

Turning focus back to the immediate projects at hand for Boe, all eyes are on the return of Conchita after a textbook cliffhanger ending to her and her husband’s plotlines in the first season of The Buccaneers. Boe can’t divulge any details about Conchita’s upcoming story arc, but she has her own personal aspirations. “I hope that she’s able to find some agency within her life and get back to that independent, fierce Conchita that we had heard about in the first season but never really got to see,” Boe says. “I hope she finds happiness and that she has more time to strengthen her bonds with the other girls.”

One of those other girls is Kristine Frøseth, Boe’s The Buccaneers co-star and friend with whom she holds a real-life bond, in part due to their shared Norwegian heritage – though there are some limitations in communicating in their native language for Boe. “Unfortunately, because I moved at such a young age, I don’t speak Norwegian anymore,” she explains, though she’s made attempts to relearn and is determined to master the language.

Suit jacket, €1,050. Zimmermann . Photo: Coliena Rentmeester

Floral printed gown, €2,882. Zimmermann . Photo: Coliena Rentmeester

Boe returns to Norway at least once a year, usually around Christmas time (“I have a slide of my aunt’s homemade bread with some cheese on top and then I’m like ‘Oh, I’m back”) but Los Angeles is very much home for the actor at this stage of her life. “I’m going to own it, I’m a product of Los Angeles. I’m part of the real LA, but then there’s also the other part of me that exists that’s been influenced by influencers…” Boe says, pausing for a beat. “This is all to say that I love a good pilates class.”

At the end of the day I’m Norwegian and Somali and I grew up in the Valley. Those three things can co-exist all at the same time, because that is just my make-up.

Alisha Boe

Like the Angelino she is, Boe also reels off yoga, hiking, and starting the day with any kind of “30 dollar expensive exercise class which… I’m learning to be OK with.” What else does Boe get up to in her rare downtime? Books (she name-drops What My Bones Know by Stephanie Foo and The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz as her two most recent reads), time spent at home ( “Cuddling with a boyfriend – my boyfriend, not just any boyfriend,” she corrects herself, laughing) and cooking a really nice dinner at home.” Then, an afterthought: “Always with 10 hours sleep.”

While Boe is shaped in many ways by her Los Angeles identity, the links to her lineage and heritage remain unbreakable. “I’m so insanely proud of being Somali and Norwegian,” Boe says. “I don’t know my dad so I wasn’t able to have that privilege of knowing my Somali roots. There is definitely some detachment there but I have to do that work to learn about it,” she reflects. “Also with Norwegian being my first language, but not being able to speak it, there’s some shame there. So there’s all these moving parts to identity that I have to reckon with. But at the end of the day I’m Norwegian and Somali and I grew up in the valley. Those three things can co-exist all at the same time, because that is just my make-up.”

Printed bow dress, €2,425. Zimmermann. Photo: Coliena Rentmeester

With the same clarity that Boe speaks about her work and identity, the actor has a clear vision forward. One day, she hopes to have a hand in the creative control of projects that she works on, perhaps in the capacity of a producer. But her vision extends beyond that too, with specifics that Boe reels off with expert comedic timing. “I would love to be in a house with a nice cat and be zen, remembering to do my stretches every morning and drinking tea,” she says with a smile, explaining her doctor’s orders – the she’s actively ignoring for now – to cut coffee due to acid reflux. “And I hope I have really, really good linen sheets and a steam shower and one of those Japanese toilets. With a fancy wine subscription and a successful acting career – but I’m not too famous so I can still live my life. Go to a concert or a bar, or a bookstore and not be bothered. That seems like the life.”

With unquestionable talent and rising star in the fashion world, Boe’s is a thrilling ascent. Her voice will only grow more amplified, while her eyes will remain firmly fixed on her own lane. "Each career is so specific and so unique that you can't even compare them," she says. "I am trusting my path and just constantly saying: ‘I’m right where I’m supposed to be’."

Photographer: Coliena Rentmeester
Stylists: Anda & Masha
Talent: Alisha Boe
Makeup Artist: Amy Chin
Hair Stylist: Ericka Varret
Set Designer: Kim Ficaro
Photographer Assistant: Brook Keegan
Stylist Assistant: Rachel Tate
Digi Tech: Cassie Robinson
Production: Molly Murray