Inspirational Women In Hollywood: How Elena Maro Is Helping To Shake Up The Entertainment Industry

An Interview With Elana Cohen

Elana Cohen
Authority Magazine
Published in
13 min readFeb 13


Seeking opportunities is an essential part of freelancing, but it needs to be done with a positive attitude or you will feel exhausted in no time: enjoy the excitement of “hunting” and be proactive. If you don’t see any opportunity, maybe you aren’t looking in the right direction. Be creative even in the way you seek work. The route to success isn’t often the main road, but more like a back alley with many bumps on it, and you need to take full control, holding the steering wheel firmly. So don’t be afraid to reach out to people, go places and be upfront about what you are looking for. If you don’t ask, no answer will come. I am more and more convinced that in order to succeed (and survive) in this industry you need as much guts as talent. Be adventurous. Smile and enjoy the ride.

As a part of our series about Inspirational Women In Hollywood, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Elena Maro.

Sought after Film and Television Composer Elena Maro is the living proof of how perseverance and the courage of making radical life choices do make dreams come true.

From 2017, after she moved to Los Angeles from Italy to start her freelancing career, she has written music for several Film and Television projects, for clients both from Europe and from USA. Her music can be heard worldwide on TV and on all the major video streaming platforms and, more recently, on an Academy Award® nominated film “.

A Television Academy Voting Member, she firmly believes that music exists to inspire, educate and empower.

When this dreamer turned doer is not busy in her studio, she enjoys the simple things in life like cooking, gardening, hiking and spending quality time in Nature with friends and family.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

I was born in Turin, Piedmont, Italy and grew up in a little town in the suburbs.

When I was a kid there wasn’t Internet and there weren’t that many places to go to in my town, so I spent my time between school and home, where I loved being in the garden and I often sat on a cherry three reading a book; and then there were my favorite: my ballet lessons.

On Sundays, the day of rest, it was the time to watch old Hollywood movies with my mum.

With motion picture it was love at first sight! Of those films I remember being mesmerized by the visuals and the stories, but, to me, it was in the music where the magic was happening: the songs, the choreographies, the orchestral scores made me dream that, one day, I would leave that small country town to go to Hollywood and make music for the silver screen.

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

Many factors and different events led me to Film Scoring.

My love for film and a music filled life, first as I was training professionally as a ballet dancer, then as I was studying jazz music and singing and then touring and, along with those experience, the studies of Piano and Music Composition, built my foundations to write for film.

My ten year collaboration with a theatre company as a songwriter, composer, playwright and actor taught me to write music to serve a story and trained me to work in team and to “read the room”.

My twenty-one years experience as an educator at Italian State Schools formed my intention to make music for projects that are great entertainment, but carry a deep meaning.

What really set me on the right path, though, was my choice to leave Italy.

I always kept my childhood dream aside, Once I grew up, life got in the way, my teaching job, which I loved but I could feel wasn’t my forever job, included.

The moment I turned 40, I was alone, with a secure job I was doing with dedication, but that I felt wasn’t my life purpose, and so I started asking myself: “is this it?”

Every day, I kept hearing in my head my little self saying; “Hey, remember those Films? Remember that Magic? That is what you really wanted to do in your life!”

That voice inside of my head became louder and louder, so I rolled up my sleeves, I bought a farmhouse which I refurbished myself, wearing the contractor’s, mason’s and decorator’s hats myself. Once the house was up and running, I sold it to finance my move to the States.

In September 2016, with two bags and the thought: “Oh My, I am actually doing it!”, I flew to Los Angeles.

That leap of faith was groundbreaking for me. For the first time in my life I wasn’t making a choice based on fear, or on the need to please those around me. I made what I really wanted to do for myself, as an act of self love, and I felt strongly that only good things could come out of it.

It is the best decision I have ever made.

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

In Los Angeles, where life never gets boring, interesting things happen all the time.

The most interesting thing that happened to me, though, is pretty recent.

I was called by producer Chiara Tilesi, founder of the non-profit We Do It Together, a film production company empowering women through film, art and media, to score one of the seven episodes for the anthology film “Tell It Like A Woman” directed by a diverse and international group of women filmmakers. I wrote the music for the animated segment “Aria” directed by Lucia Bulgheroni and Silvia Carobbio.

I can’t tell you how happy and honored I am both for being part of a film that is such a powerful celebration of womanhood and for being in the music team with artists who I admired for years from far, like composer A.R. Rhaman and the wonderful songwriter, and person, Diane Warren, whose beautiful anthem for the film, “Applause” just got an Academy Award® Nomination for “Original Song”.

It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

This mistake is not related to my career, but I believe it has been made by so many people before me, especially those coming from Europe.

The first time I came to L.A. Google Maps didn’t exist yet and so I had this booklet with me with all the street maps. Every place looked so easy to reach and so close to the others.

On the first evening I was here, I wanted to go to an event with my friend who was traveling with me and I thought that between my booklet and public transportation we were all set. We took a bus and then, when we got off, we found ourselves in a dark street. We looked around only to find that the place was deserted and the sidewalk was covered in bullet shells. There was a lady in a car passing by and I tried to stop her to ask for directions. She didn’t even slow down and, by the look on her face, I could tell she was at least as scared as I was. At one point during the 25 minutes walk to the event venue, I casually turned to my friend and said: “well, I guess tomorrow we are renting a car”. It was such a “so, you are new in town?” kind of situation, we both burst into laughter and I still laugh about it.

That night I learned that Los Angeles is simply vast, that those “sketchy” places you see on TV do exist, and that you definitely need a car to get around.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I am so grateful there are more than one.

First of all my Godmother, who thought me to stay positive and energetic and to be resilient. Sadly she passed away a few days after I got to Los Angeles and couldn’t see my new life happening.

She always believed in me and always supported my dreams and took me seriously. She was sure that whatever and whoever I needed to succeed in Hollywood would appear into my life at the right time and she was so happy for me when I went to say good bye just the day before my flight to LAX.

Not only she believed in me, she set an outstanding example of independent, determined and strong woman.

It takes a village to make it in the entertainment industry and I am grateful that Los Angeles brought so many amazing and supporting people into my life.

I can’t count the words of appreciation and encouragement I got from the composers community and the fantastic friends I made on this side of the Ocean.

One for all, writer director Wendy Wolverton who is always there for me. With her I am working on a very special film right now and I am looking forward for it to be released.

Who helped me move forward professionally is Director and Producer Chiara Tilesi, first with the documentary series “One Of Us” and then with the film “Tell It Like A Woman”. I am very grateful to her for giving me the chance to work on such prestigious and meaningful productions.

Las but not least, I owe it to all the directors who believed, believe and will believe in me and trust me to tell their stories through music.

You have been blessed with great success in a career path that can be challenging. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path, but seem daunted by the prospect of failure?

Just one piece of advice: reconsider your concept of failure. Think of failure as one possibility, just like success is. But here is an important difference: the moment you give up, you fail for sure, basically you are actually choosing to fail right there and then, while, if you keep on working toward your goals, you can always make it. You are responsible for your own failure or the possibility to succeed.

As simple as that .

Of course in your career there will be many and many attempts gone bad, but I don’t call this failing, I call those setbacks, which are part of your journey: the journey to become a stronger and better person, ready to take in success and all it involves.

Every industry iterates and seeks improvement. What changes would you like to see in the industry going forward?

I would like to see more content that inspire, educates and empowers. Entertainment is a formidable tool and it can make the difference in people’s life, opening minds, igniting ideas and passions and much more.

From what I see and what I hear from fellow filmmakers, there is still much work to do to change the way women are perceived in the industry. I think that organizations like We Do It Together are of great help and that every woman is already contributing to this change by creating great work to be put out there and by not giving up. I can see that things are slowly changing for better, but we need to keep on going and doing.

You have such impressive work. What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? Where do you see yourself heading from here?

One project I am working on, now at the finish line, is the Italian Film: “Cuore Segreto”, from the novel by Luca Vargiu and directed by Alessio Bertoli. It is the sweet and touching story of the two families involved in a heart transplant and it is produced by AIDO Piemonte ( Italian Association for Organ Donations) and funded by the “Chiesa Valdese” a non profit religious organization which, on top of other social services, has been traditionally committed to providing free health care in Italy.

At the same time I am writing music for a romantic comedy by an Indian director where the cast and crew is truly diverse: India, China, South America, Italy… So much fun!

A number of feature films and a TV Series that I will be scoring are now in production or pre production, but I am not allowed to talk about those, yet. All I can say is that in the next couple of years I will be writing scores for some very captivating, interesting and inspiring stories! Can’t wait!

We are very interested in looking at diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture and our youth growing up today?

I think that representing diversity is a duty to future generations because by doing that:

We rise generations who are more open minded and tolerant.

We inspire more.

We motivate more.

We educate more.

I do believe that having diversity represented in Film and Television can really spread the message that everybody deserves a chance and facilitate the transition toward a society where one can really fulfill their potential, no matter the age, race, gender, ethnicity, mental and physical abilities, and sexual orientation.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why? Please share a story or example for each.

To be completely honest, I don’t have in mind any particular thing I wish someone had told me when I first started. I am lucky enough to have met and trusted people along the way who always gave me great and valuable advice. If I always took it, well, that’s another story (laughs). Do you have time for a second interview?

Can you share with our readers any self-care routines, practices or treatments that you do to help your body, mind or heart to thrive? Please share a story for each one if you can.

When one is tired or is having difficulties it gets hard to stay focused and objective. For those moments I keep a folder where I put every compliment for a job well done, thank you notes, comments, emails, messages, words of encouragement or support, every achievement. I call it my “Composer Survival Kit”.

I highly recommend it. You will be surprised by the amount of positive events that you are unable to remember or to think about because you are having a hard time.

Exhaustion makes your mood unstable and your brain foggy. Take care of yourself: eat well (freshly home made meals are the best) , sleep well, exercise (even short breaks from the composer’s chair during the day can help with your body and your back especially). As much as you love your career path, every now and then, take some time away from it. This will make it easier for you to go back to work again with the same enthusiasm you had the first day you chose that particular job.

Seeking opportunities is an essential part of freelancing, but it needs to be done with a positive attitude or you will feel exhausted in no time: enjoy the excitement of “hunting” and be proactive. If you don’t see any opportunity, maybe you aren’t looking in the right direction. Be creative even in the way you seek work. The route to success isn’t often the main road, but more like a back alley with many bumps on it, and you need to take full control, holding the steering wheel firmly. So don’t be afraid to reach out to people, go places and be upfront about what you are looking for. If you don’t ask, no answer will come. I am more and more convinced that in order to succeed (and survive) in this industry you need as much guts as talent. Be adventurous. Smile and enjoy the ride.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“A winner is a dreamer who never gives up” Nelson Mandela

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

I think I could be a good fit for a movement called something like: “It is Still Your Dream: Go For It”, dedicated to those like me who couldn’t follow their dreams in the first place, but pursue them later in their life, when they are not twenty, or thirty anymore.

I believe that the people who are getting back to their dreams after different, and sometimes really painful life experiences, are some kind of survivors and are more determined and harder to stop, because they have learned resilience.

This movement could inspire more people to love themselves and not to be afraid of taking chances even in the “second phase” of their existence!

Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!

Thank you, there are, of course, people I highly admire and I would love to have lunch with, but at the moment I would honestly love to have lunch at my house with all the people who can’t be here with me, family and friends from far, who gave me all the support I needed when I was making the decision to leave Italy, and celebrate with them my first seven years of my new Hollywood life!

Are you on social media? How can our readers follow you online?

Sure, I can be found on

Facebook :




This was so informative, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!



Elana Cohen
Authority Magazine

Elana Cohen is a freelance writer based in Chicago. She covers entertainment and music