by Sherif Awad
Specially for www.MeetingVenus.com
-I was born in Genova, a city by the sea in the North of Italy, that gave birth to a lot of famous explorers, poets and artists. There are also travelers and art lovers throughout my family lineage. My grandfather was a painter, my grandmother loved theatre and literature. My dad worked all around the world.
They have inspired me. I’ve always felt the desire to go further, beyond boundaries and limits, in art as in life. That’s why I’m so curious about myself and about people. That’s why I’ve become an actress and love to travel.
The first time I felt attracted to being on stage, it was “a crush”: I was eight years-old and so I danced in the year’s final performance for my classical dance school.
The second time, it was definitely true love: I attended a staging of Romeo and Juliet. I don’t remember who was the director, nor the name of the theatre company, but I do remember telling myself: “I want to study acting. I want to be up there, one day”.
-Ever since I was a child, I’ve watched many movies. Old movies and new ones. That’s how I discovered wonderful actresses I immediately admired. I wanted to be able to communicate irony like Katherine Hepburn, a relevant and revolutionary woman although she was from a different era. I wanted to be caring and elegant like Julie Andrews, intense like Kate Winslet, strong like Jodie Foster and intriguing like Anne Bancroft. Those I have mentioned imprinted their roles with something of themselves. This was my first lesson: be yourself in what you do. Don’t just be talented. Be unique.
-Somebody said: “If you don’t have a crisis once a week, you are not an actor”.
This has helped me understand how hard times are an important part of being an actor. It’s normal. You are in front of an audience and – whether you like it or not – this audience judges you. You must keep breathing and search for a good balance between your fear and your desire. And if you do your work with honesty, you will always succeed.
-I’m very happy about the goals I achieved in the last few years. I’ve been working in Italy, Montreal and New York, and it’s very enriching. I co-founded the Montreal-based International School of Italian Theatre “Giovanni Grasso”, which is ideally-suited for North American actors and opera singers. I was successful in earning the O-1 Visa to work in the United States in the artistic field. After many years of work, I developed “The Relationship Acting Method”, which I now teach to actors, singers, and many other types of performers. I can truly say I can call home every place where I’ve worked as an actress, director or acting teacher. My goal is to keep growing as an artist. I want to keep cultivating and enriching my experience on stage and in front of the camera.
-Everybody knows or has heard about how difficult it is to be a woman in show business.
Nobody knows another fundamental gender problem in my profession: in plays and movies there are just a few female roles in proportion to the male ones. That means there are less auditions and less work for female actors than for their male counterparts. It’s unfair. I hope young playwrights will change this. But I also think it’s getting better year after year!
-The theatre and cinema industries are experiencing a crisis at the moment in Italy. There are courageous theatre companies that still keep producing great work, although they remain few. However, I do believe that change is coming in the future. In ten years, there will be a new generation of Italian artists, whose parents are currently the country’s immigrants. They will have stories to tell, wonderful stories nobody knows. They will need to find their identity through those stories. Theatre is the ideal place for researching identity. That’s why I think it will be the beginning of a cultural re-birth.
-I always enjoy new challenges. I like acting different roles each time. That’s why throughout my career I’ve been many very different things; a nineteenth century servant maid, a prostitute, a broker, a queen, a ghost, a mother, a student, a fairy, a minister… just to name a few. Every role makes me grow as an actress. But I always need to deeply believe in the project (theatre show or movie) I am acting in. Every time I didn’t, the work was hard and felt sort of wrong. Every time I do, I can feel it’s the right choice.
-It’s a very good moment in my career. Last month I acted in a successful show in Italy about “Fabliaux” (funny medieval tales).
I am now back in New York, where I am leading acting workshops and classes among other projects. In June, I will be in Montreal, Canada, to direct an opera.
One of my future goals is to stage a show in New York. I already have a project in mind, but I can’t speak about it just yet!
My greatest priority and dream is to keep teaching the roots of Italian theatre to my American students. Many of them have already found this incredibly useful for their careers on stage and in front of the camera.
As for my future? To keep being an artist who always challenges herself in many different environments and places around the world!