Eleonora D’Aietti (English Interview)
© Ori Jones
Meeting Venus: Can you please explain your background and family? How did you get started to feel interested in the arts/entertainment?
Eleonora D’Aietti: My name is Eleonora D’Aietti, I’m a twenty-nine years old London-based Italian actress. I was born in Sardinia, a beautiful Italian island right in the center of the Mediterranean Sea. My parents own a small video production company there and as a child they would often take me to theater shows, dance shows and other cultural events. I became interested in ballet when I was twelve years old and I started training right away in the oldest dance school in my hometown, Cagliari. The following year, I added a few modern dance courses, including contemporary and hip-hop. Driven by the desire to broaden my horizons and be a versatile performer, when I was eighteen I started attending an acting and singing course as well and some auditions for professional theatre projects. After attaining a Bachelor’s Degree in Modern Literature at the Università di Cagliari, I made the decision to further my acting studies in England. I sent a video audition to East 15 Acting School in London, full of hopes but aware that the chances to get a place into drama school in a different country would be slim. Instead, I got accepted and I moved to London in September 2013 to achieve my Master of Arts in Acting.
MV: Who were your role models from cinema, theatre, dance, TV during your childhood and teen years?
ED:I have definitely had many different role models throughout my childhood and teen years. I particularly appreciate those who dare to operate a mixture of genres, like Pina Bausch and her peculiar Tanztheater (German for dance-theatre), or extremely versatile performers that ventured in different forms of art after being established in one, proving themselves successful (above all the fantastic Barbra Streisand). I absolutely find inspiring the creative genius of Michael Jackson and I would re-watch countless times any movie Robin Williams is in, as I always admired the genuineness and generosity of his performances.
I would say such variety is a direct consequence of my efforts to always keep an open mind and study different forms of performing arts, partially to have a complete preparation to start a career as a professional, but also to understand their origins and avoid getting into ridiculous comparisons. I find the competition between some art styles quite sterile (just think of the rivalry between ballet and hip-hop dancers, or the palpable distrust theater performers can often show towards screen actors), and maybe try different methods and classes can be fundamental to understand that every genre in the entertainment world has its specific skills set, in virtue of which every outstanding performer deserves respect and recognition.
MV: What can you tell us about studying and learning to become a creator?
ED: Study and attend different performing arts courses to become the best performer you can possibly be is key to a believable performance, that can spark an honest conversation about the human condition and really make a difference. However, every project is a brand-new adventure and in it everyone can find an occasion to have a personal reflection or find a different approach to the craft. Life experience and the possibility to get involved in a movie set or a theater project, in any capacity, might also offer the invaluable chance to be part of a creative process seeing things from another angle.
MV: Is it satisfying for you now and or achieving stardom worldwide is important too?
ED:I have never been interested in stardom in itself. If anyone chose an artistic career with the only aim to reach fame and fortune probably they would have slim chances to survive the inevitable heartbreak that comes every single time you did not get that job you really wanted, or things did not go quite like you planned them. Being a working actor should already be considered a great honor in an overcrowded field, and to make your own living relying purely on acting or performing is a privilege that many can only dream of. I always thought that stardom would be just one of the direct consequences of getting involved in more prestigious and well known projects, but should never be in any case the main drive.
MV: Are there challenges related to gender in relation to your profession that you face now?
Personally I have never found myself in a situation where I felt that the challenges I was facing where due to my gender. Still, there is no working field or industry where the fight to achieve gender equality wouldn’t be a major factor. Fortunately, especially in the past fifteen years the conversation has become more insistent, and some steps forward have been taken, but there is still a long way to go and women should definitely keep fighting to make their voices be heard, be it writing more interesting and multi-faceted female roles themselves, taking a chance in producing or directing or daring to make original choices, that can challenge the status quo and the one-sided way women have been depicted for years. As a foreigner, there’s also more that needs to be done when it comes to truthful representation of European characters within the British film and television industry. The lack of accuracy and the misrepresentation can be frustrating and disheartening at times, especially when the opportunities are limited.
MV: According to you, describe the current situation of the creativity industry in your country?
In a post COVID-19 world sadly the industry is quite still at the moment, no matter where you are. Nepotism and lack of access to opportunities seemed to be the biggest issues before the current crisis, and it is undeniable that the lack of diversity and inclusion is in clear contrast with the variety of backgrounds and multiculturalism so typical of the contemporary British society. In Italy the effects of the spread of the virus on companies in the creative sectors is substantial and worrying; without proper support from the government they could definitely suffer structural damage very soon. The hope is that the voices of the workers in the entertainment business will be heard and taken into account, while the industry plans for a post-crisis. Today more than ever the importance of art and creativity for society is clear, as a wide availability of cultural contents contributes to mental health and general well-being; hopefully new ways of support will be found to alleviate the negative impact of this crisis, in the short but especially long term.
© Lorena de La Parra
MV: How do you describe the casting biz and your experience with it so far?
ED: A casting call can be a nerve-racking experience at times, especially if you are quite the perfectionist like me! There are always expectations involved to some degree and most of the time we can represent our own harshest judge. However, there is always something to learn and some useful information to take home with us, no matter if we are being seen for a small role in a local theater play or a leading role for a big budget movie. Auditions went horribly wrong can make for a not-so-nice memory, but it is important to still make the most of them by learning from what did not go according to plans for the sake of future experiences. Never stop growing! One of the aspects that I would like to see changed, however, concerns the management of applications. It would be brilliant to receive a communication from the production even in the event of a negative outcome, just to not remain in suspense for weeks and to better organize your diary!
MV: How do you approach the works offered to you?
ED: New opportunities are always interesting and exciting, but I would still make my considerations about whether or not I might be a good fit for a specific casting call or character breakdown. Of course this does not mean keep safe in a comfort zone without exploring different choices or taking chances, but surely I need to resonate with the creative project and think that I could actually bring something interesting to the table. If that happens to be the case, I normally start doing some proper research about the topic, historical period, and anything that can help me shaping a strong background for the character I have to bring to life. Seemingly minor details are always what makes a huge difference instead! Then there’s text study, trying to outline reasons for my character to act a certain way and intentions/needs, and of course rehearsals with the other actors. Contrarily to what most people may think there’s more to acting than just memorizing lines.
MV: What do you consider as your greatest artistic achievement so far?
ED: Every teacher inspired me to push my limits, every experience led me to another one, every meeting offered me great insights. However, surely one of the greatest experiences I’ve had so far was having the chance to act at the Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London in 2013, during my training at East 15. I had the privilege to play Paulina in “A Winter’s Tale” together with other wonderful actresses, and the emotion of just being on that stage will always be unforgettable.
MV: Tell us about your other activity parallel to arts?
ED: Occasionally I have worked as a model, mainly for photographers that specialize in book covers. I enjoyed being able to portray characters from the past, like in a Second World War shoot or one in beautiful Georgian costumes I took part to. I also led a little drama club for preschoolers in the past. Children are very imaginative and it can be quite surprising what they happen to come up with in the middle of a session!
MV: As an experienced professional, what is your advice to the newcomers?
I would strongly recommend anyone wanting to approach acting to study the craft first. Drama school, or whether not possible to enrol in a full-time course at least some classes and workshops, will always provide resources, teach techniques and let students refine their own method to tackle work in a safe environment, all options that can rarely be found elsewhere. While creating a solid base of skills, it’s also possible to start networking with other fellow artists.
MV: How do you make equilibrium between your private life and your professional practice?
ED: I have often heard people saying “You can’t do your job if your job is all you do”. This saying is particularly true when it comes to actors, who constantly draw from a pool of personal life experiences in order to find inspiration and genuine connections to the characters they have to portray. This, amongst many other reasons, is why keeping a work/life balance is absolutely fundamental. Personally I put my work away at the end of the day and make sure to do something nice in the evening, whether cooking for a loved one, getting sucked into a good TV show or playing a board game. I have always been a well-organised individual and someone who works well under pressure, so I have found that giving myself deadlines to get things done, or writing a list of my daily mini-goals, really works wonders in terms of balancing work and private life.
MV: What are your current and future projects?
I have been invited to audition for two different projects, which will both be set in Italy to my great joy. One is for a web series that will be shot partially in English, but mainly in Italian, and the other one is for the leading role in a historical movie. After passing three stages of auditions I agreed to meet producers and directors as soon as it will be possible to fly again, but unfortunately at the minute I am not at liberty to say much else…Fingers crossed!