by Sherif Awad
She was born and raised in between the mountains of Piedmont and Turin (Italy) in an artistically inclined and creative household: her mom is an artisan and art teacher in middle school and her stepdad a pianist and composer. She is of Italian, French, Spanish and Austrian descent. Alice started ballet at the age of eight and playing the piano at ten but it’s during middle school that she encountered her true passion: Acting. She attended the Arts Lyceum – Renato Cottini where she majored in Sculpture, graduated with flying colors and awarded as best student of the year. She then graduated in Cinema and New Media at the University of Turin. In 2006, Alice had her film debut in 2007 with Peter Greenway in the movie “People the Palace” and two years later her professional theatre debut with Gigi Proietti and Fabrizio Angelini at the Teatro Argetina with the 2 year – National Tour of Pippi Longstocking. In 2013 Alice moved to New York after being accepted at the Stella Adler Studio where she graduated in 2016. She lives in New York City.
I was born in an artistically inclined household. My mom is an art professor and artist, my stepdad is a musician and composer. My grandparents are still part of a choir and my grandmother acted in amateur companies. I feel so blessed as I got to be immersed in the arts since I was very little! I started taking acting classes in Turin (Italy) at the age of twelve. I was already taking dance classes, and I was in the music session in middle school, so I was studying piano. Acting came into my life like a tornado! I Immediately fell in love with the stage and after one year I was admitted to a professional company of child actors. The high school years were very hectic. I was going to school every day and then straight to dance class, piano lessons and then rehearsals, then I would study at night or during the weekends. I remember taking naps on the bus while going to rehearsals or on the way back home. I have to say, although I was very independent especially after I got my driver license, I would have never made it without the constant support of my parents and my grandma! They picked me up at night after shows or rehearsals for years! They always loved theater and supported me 100%. The deal was: as long as your grades at school are good, you can keep on doing all your activities and follow your passions, drop the ball and we have to cut on some of them. I graduated from high school with the highest score in my class and I won a prize as best student of the year.
-I had a poster of Anthony Hopkins from the “Silent of the Lambs” and Gary Oldman from “Dracula”. I know…what a weird teenager! I loved their performances! I watched “The Professional” and “Dracula” a thousand times probably. I’m also a huge fan of Cate Blanchett, I remember telling my parents: “Please, Please, what do I have to do to be like her?” and they responded: “You have to study A LOT! And you have to give it all yourself!”. Theater wise my role model was and will forever be Giulia Lazzarini. She is an incredible Italian actress. Her Ariel in Giorgio Strehler’ s Tempest changed my life. I went to see her when she was on tour of “La Tempesta Remake” I cried watching her live for the first time and I met her after the show in her dressing room. I still have her picture autographed in my room.
-Studying is the foundation of every artist. I don’t believe in actors that improvise themselves from one day to the other. I believe in years and years of preparation and work. I believe that being an artist is a huge responsibility! We have the chance to “play” and tell stories as a job. We get to wake up in the morning and do what we love. What a blessing. That comes with years and years of rejection, preparation and sacrifice. You have to love it more than anything, otherwise I don’t think it’s even worth it.
-It’s important for me to be recognized in my field by the industry and the acting community. I never chose this job to be on the cover of Vanity Fair or to achieve stardom. I obviously find it extremely satisfying when I get recognition for my job! Awards/good reviews are such an honor to receive, but I never pictured myself being followed by Paparazzi. I don’t care about “fame” itself, just because it’s good to be “famous”. What does that mean? What are you famous for? Why do people want to work with you? That’s satisfying to me, the stardom that comes out of an interpretation, or a substantial career.
-Yes, there are gender challenges. The situation is thankfully changing a lot, there are way more substantial roles for female or female identifying actresses. I remember at some point in my career I was always auditioning for the same two roles: the feisty daughter or the vulnerable girlfriend. These characters didn’t have much of a journey as the male lead, and they were kind of stereotyped. I always felt I had so much more range to show, and like me so many more actresses. The situation definitely changed, but there’s still so much we can do to improve.
-Well, at the moment everything is “on pause” because of the pandemic. I feel extremely lucky because I keep on remotely rehearsing and “zoom” performing with the theater companies I’ve been working with for the past three years and I still get to do voice over from my home studio. The show must go on.
-About casting: it’s complex. It’s definitely more accessible in the US than in Italy, for what I remember. For new roles: I study, then study, and study more. First of all, I always research the company and the people I am going to be working with as I’ll be spending a lot of time with them so I want to make sure we share the same values and work ethic, then I do the work, I prepare, a lot!
-Being able to be consistent with my work. There are obviously so many projects I’m incredibly proud of, but mostly I’m proud of my consistency. Of course, as all actors I have and had moments where things got slow but in general, I was always working on something. This is my greatest achievement. Being able to call myself an actor, that’s how I pay my bills! That’s what my passport says!
-I read a lot and watch a lot of movies! I’m the jury member of a film festival so part of my day to day life is also watching the new submissions. Part from that I love cooking, especially baking! It relaxes me. I also try to practice languages a little bit every day. I’m fluent in Italian (my mother tongue) and English, but I’m also improving my French and Spanish and learning sign language.
-My life definitely changes between two countries! It was a cultural shock at the beginning and a great challenge. Being alone abroad at a very young age shapes your personality, it makes you stronger not only personally but also artistically. Auditioning to drama school at the Stella Adler Studio of Acting in New York was one of them best decisions of my life. When I got accepted my life changed. I learned how to convey my emotions in a foreign language, I spent years surrounded by actors from all around the world and incredible teachers. After school, I immediately started working in the United States and I had to confront myself with the incredible level of talent you find in a city like NYC. It pushed me to get better and challenge myself, mostly I learned to value my own cultural Italian background and to use it in my work here.
-Regarding my work with Peter Greenway in People the Palace: His work is groundbreaking. Initially I auditioned for a younger role and then got offered a different one after the audition. It was my first audition ever and my first day on set so the whole thing felt like a dream. I was so lucky to have my movie debut with him. He was so poised and compassionate. I remember him and the whole crew waving a me during my scene to tell me to keep going on with the scene even if the dog I was holding started to bark. It’s been 14 years since that day, so my memories start to fade, but I definitely remember the excitement and I remember the night of the first screening. He was so kind to me and congratulated about my good work in the movie. I will cherish that moment forever.
-I always say the same thing to newcomers: you have to study, a lot! You can’t wing it; you might get lucky once but in order to build a consistent career you have to have a strong foundation of work and preparation. On a personal level? Be curious and daring! Challenge yourself, don’t be afraid to fail, we all fail! Don’t chose the easier road, dare to make the hardest choice! It’ll pay off!
-Regarding professional and personal life: I’m kind of a freak, I like to plan my days ahead! It relaxes me. Every week I plan my work and my free time. My profession is very often part of my private life, my partner is an actor and we did collaborate in the past for different projects, so sometimes it’s hard to separate the two universes. I try to give as much importance when I plan my week to my “ME time”, I feel recharging and relaxing is as important as working! I’m very passionate about my work and in the past, I’ve made the mistake of overworking myself. I don’t do that anymore. I take my space, I need the silence, I need my family and friends time when we don’t talk about acting.
-Before the pandemic started, I was rehearsing for a production of Othello, which was obviously postponed. I do have some remote projects lined up, but I can’t wait to be able to safely jump back into rehearsals!