by Sherif Awad
Specially for www.MeetingVenus.com
-I was born in Milan. My father is a book publisher and my mother a journalist (now they are both retired); I must say that I am very lucky, as I was grown up in a very stimulating environment, literature and art have always been my bread and butter. I was named after Valentina Cortese, the Italian stage and cinema diva! When I was in fourth grade I started attending drama classes after school, and there I think I realised that was my vocation.
– I used to watch a lot of Hollywood classics with my grandmother when I was I child. I think that probably my first role model ever was Audrey Hepburn as I used to watch MY FAIR LADY over and
over; I even used to reenact some scenes and I knew every word and song by heart. Another movie that I’ve watched one hundred times during my childhood was GONE WITH THE WIND… I simply loved Scarlett O’Hara to the point that I had a Scarlett-inspired doll; Vivien Leigh was a role model for me for sure, and Marilyn Monroe of course! As I grew up, Julia Roberts was my idol. During my teens I fell in love with old silent cinema, my inspiration (for my looks also) were Theda Bara and Louise Brooks.
– Becoming an artist is a hard, fascinating path. You never stop learning. Talent is nothing without hard work. You must never feel safe, because when you start feeling safe it means you have to move on. It is a constant challenge, and that is why I like it. The three years I spent in the Piccolo Teatro drama academy gave me the foundations, but I actually started “building” myself after, confronting with the real work, and I’m still (and forever) under construction.
– Regarding stardom, I don’t think I’m lucky, I think I’m blessed to be able to live out of my passion. I am grateful for every day in my life doing what I love, what I think I was born for. So yes, it is more than satisfying for me now. But as I was saying before, it is a satisfaction that lives out of constant struggle and constant endeavour to improve. If worldwide stardom has to happen, it would be more than a gift!
– As everybody working in the theatre/cinema environment, I’ve had some challenges. But I think this is something that happens equally to men and women. The real gender versus profession problem for me is that some of the most beautiful theatre characters are men! And that, usually, in every play there’s a majority of male over female characters, so it is harder for a woman to find a role than for a
– The current situation in Italy is not the best ever; it is crazy how the country that is most famous because of art cares so little about it! Financing to cinema and theatre decreases every year. Actors struggle a lot to live out of their profession. And then there’s the general problem that Italy does not “dare”; they prefer to produce what they are sure that the major audience would like, and this happens both in theatre and in cinema/fiction. But I think that the coming of the streaming platforms is slowly improving the situation, cinema/fiction wise.
-When I was at the beginnings I used to accept every work, as I was so eager to make new experiences! Now I ponder a bit more, but generally I’m always prone to challenges. Once I accepted
a role, I work a lot backstage to get into the character. I do a lot of research, then I try to find where our common treats are, and I work on them; then I explore our differences. I do this both mentally and physically.
-Currently I have a double role in FALSTAFF, that will tour around the most important stages of Italy till January 2010. It is very challenging for me, as they are two completely different characters and they are both very far from me. From January on I have a reprise of a drama adaptation of LES MISÉRABLES where I am Eponine; she is a character I was a little suspicious about in the beginning, but now I’m completely in love with.