Former mayor of Reykjavík
Jón Gnarr (1967-) is an Icelandic actor, writer and comedian. When he was Mayor of Reykjavík from 2010-14, Noam Chomsky called him “his favourite mayor.” Jón had an atypical childhood, struggling with learning disabilities and various social problems. At the age of five years old, he was sent to the Children and Adolescents Faculty of the National University Hospital, where he was diagnosed with “developmental disabilities.” This diagnosis had a major impact on Jón’s schooling, his childhood and his teenage years. Jón has described his upbringing in the books The Indian, The Pirate, and The Outlaw, and he has been a powerful advocate on behalf of those with conditions including ADHD, Asperger’s, dyslexia and other disabilities. His books have been translated into English and German, Spanish, Arabic, Korean and many other languages. Jón has also been an active advocate for human rights, both domestically and internationally. He is a member of a number of organizations, including Amnesty International, the Icelandic Ethical Humanist Association and PEN. Jón was made an honorary member of The National Queer Organization of Iceland for his fight on behalf of the rights of LGBT people. In 2009 Jón founded The Best Party, together with a group of other artists. The Best Party won a landslide in the 2010 local elections in 2010 and Jón became Mayor of Reykjavík. Despite enthusiastic support from voters, Jón opted to govern for only a single term; in 2014 he left the mayorship, and The Best Party disbanded. Jón wrote an international bestseller book on his experience in politics, How I Became the Mayor of a Large City and Changed the World, published by Melville House. The book has been translated into many languages. He has won numerous awards during in his career. He has received 12 Eddas (the most prestigious film and television award in Iceland) and he has written and appeared in countless television shows and films. He was named Person of the Year by the Icelandic news channel Station 2 in 2010. In 2014 he received the Humanist Award from the Icelandic Ethical Humanist Association as well as the LennonOno grant prize for his human rights and peace activism as Mayor of Reykjavík. Jón is a member of the Icelandic Writers’ Union, the Association of Icelandic Actors and Playwrights, and the Icelandic Screenwriters Association. According to polls, a decisive majority of Icelanders named Jón as the person they most wanted to see become the next President of Iceland in the 2016 elections. Jón decided not to run, explaining that he wanted to spend his time with his family and writing. Jón is married to Jóhanna Gnarr Jóhannsdóttir; they have five children. Jón works today as a writer, actor and international speaker. In 2017 he was an artist in residence at Rice University and the University of Houston Texas.