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Samantha Putterman
By Samantha Putterman April 22, 2021

Photos reveal Greta Thunberg is a trained actress who comes from a long line of actors.

If Your Time is short

  • There is no evidence that Greta Thunberg, an 18-year-old, world-renowned climate change activist, is a trained actress.

  • Photos of a young girl featured in the post are not Thunberg, and her IMDb filmography page primarily depicts her appearances in recent climate change documentaries, in which she plays herself.

It wouldn’t be Earth Day without coming across social media posts that criticize climate change activist Greta Thunberg.

"Greta has been an actress most of her life," a post on Instagram claims. "She is from a long line of actors and has spent most of her childhood preparing for roles."

The post features a collage of images, with the central one showing a young girl — who is supposedly Thunberg — speaking into a microphone with an Islamic State member beside her and an ISIS flag in the background. The same girl is pictured again, this time crying with the man’s arm around her and text overlaid that says: "look up the 7yo marriage hoax." The last image in the collage appears to show Thunberg’s IMDb filmography page.

A few things: The young girl seen in the images with ISIS is not Thunberg. And while there are actors in Thunberg’s family, that is not evidence that she is as well. Thunberg’s filmography page lists the influential activist’s appearances in climate change documentaries and news segments. 

The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

The photos showing the young girl with an ISIS member is not Thunberg, as we’ve noted in a previous fact-check

A reverse image search revealed that the photos were taken from a video of a 2013 Quran recitation competition organized by the Islamic State in Aleppo, Syria. A 2014 report by The Morocco World News explained that the girl was 7 years old at the time and began to cry during the event after she made mistakes during her recitation. While the child looks similar to Thunberg — who would have been 10 at the time — it’s not her.

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Meanwhile, Thunberg’s IMDb page doesn’t prove that she is a trained actress. In fact, it helps disprove it.

The website lists the projects Thunberg is known for. Those include, "I am Greta," a 2020 documentary film about her; "Balkowitsch," a 2020 documentary about photographer Shane Balkowitsch that features a portrait session he did with Thunberg at an Indian reservation; and "Countdown to Year Zero," a 2019 documentary about climate change. In all, she does not appear as an actress but as herself. 

Thunberg also has a cameo in "Retrograde," a 2020 Pearl Jam music video about the effects of climate change.

She does come from a family of actors, at least on one side. Her mother, Malena Ernman is an opera singer, but her father, Svante Thunberg, is a small time actor whose parents were also actors. He appeared in plays early in his career, a television series in the late 1990s, and in a 2002 film made for Swedish television, in which he portrayed the composer Joseph Martin Kraus. He is also an author who acts as a manager for his wife.

Our ruling

An Instagram post claims that Thunberg is a trained actress who comes from a long line of actors. It also points to photos that supposedly show her acting, as well as her film career.

Thunberg’s father is an actor, but there is no evidence that she is. The photos featured in the post are not of her, and her IMDb filmography page primarily depicts her appearances as herself in recent climate change documentaries.

We rate this False.

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Photos reveal Greta Thunberg is a trained actress who comes from a long line of actors.

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