Rising Star Giorgia Valenti of Et Alia Theater On The Five Things You Need To Shine In The Entertainment Industry
Acting is not fame, it’s for you. The process of finding yourself in acting training and the work you create is automatically going to bring attention to you and the people that you speak most to. If you act in order to please other people or gain popularity, you are never going to be a good actor because it’s not going to come from the truest version of you.
As a part of our series about pop culture’s rising stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Giorgia Valenti.
Giorgia is an Italian artist bouncing around New York and Italy. She was most recently in ‘This is Me Eating___’, an immersive theater installation based on a concept developed by her and produced by her theater company: Et Alia Theater. With the same, Giorgia has worked with multiple Off-Broadway companies such as Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, Irondale Women Festival and New Ohio Theatre and they were honored speakers at TEDxYouth Columbia. She was in the reading of ‘It Can’t Happen Here’ with Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene/Kairos Italy Theater and she has also worked on the development of ‘A Thousand Ways’ (The Public) and ‘The Fever’ (La Mama) with 600 HIGHWAYMEN. Giorgia’s on-camera work includes a co-starring role in ‘The Right Reasons’ (ActorsConnectionTV), for which she got a nomination for Best Supporting Actress at the Lee Strasberg Film Festival and her starring role in a Sandalwood feature film Teenage directed by Guinness World Record Holder Kishan Shrikhant. She also co-produced and co-starred in a new film ’Til Morning that is currently being submitted to festivals. Giorgia graduated with Honors from New York University, Tisch School of the Arts with a Major in Drama and a Minor in Dance. She has been modeling since the age of 14 and lived in Italy till she was 10, in India till she was 17 and has been in NYC ever since!
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
I would love to! I grew up traveling. I was in Italy until I was ten years old, where I moved around between Trento, Milano and Treviso (all in the North) — then I moved to India. Here, my family and I were in Bangalore and, as I continued my dance training journey, I also started taking theater and singing lessons. After starring in a couple of theater shows, a feature film and starting my modeling career in India, I moved to New York for college. There, I attended NYU for Drama and Dance and I really understood that I was right the whole time: I wanted and had to be an actress. From then on, it’s history. I worked hard and built a career, surrounding myself with people I love and maintaining my international nature.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
I hope you are ready for a silly story. My older sister is the opposite of me. She is brilliant, but (at least when she was younger) she did not want to be on stage. When we were very little — she must have been seven or eight and I was five or six — we all went to her Christmas recital at Elementary School. While the songs and little sketches were going on I had the impulse of moving closer and closer to the stage and, when my sister came on, she kept crying — she DID NOT want to be on that stage. Finally, the teachers decided to take her off stage and, before anyone knew it, I swooped in and seamlessly took her place amongst her confused classmates. I did not even care that I had no idea what I was doing, somehow I made myself fit in and carry along. This is, of course, a big family joke — but it is perhaps where it all began.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
I think this has to be when I had to reinvent my work during the pandemic. I had all this time and, even though the world had shut down, I felt like I had the world at my feet because I could literally make anything and put it on the internet from my home. With my theater company, we really sat to think about how to make the most out of this very unfortunate global situation. It was really interesting to be forced into rethinking my approach to art and the message I want to send with it. Adapting is interesting, but it is also crucial. Not to mention I had to be creative enough to find a way to dance in my living room!
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?
When I first got cast in the Sandalwood feature film Teenage, I was only 12 years old. They cast me and then shooting took a fairly long time. I believe we started production when I was already 13 and ended when I was 14. In between the time that we were shooting scenes, I colored the tips of my hair purple. I literally did not think about it! I would shoot a scene for the film and then there would be months in between before I was called to shoot something else again. My friends in high school were all coloring their hair together and I just joined them without giving it a thought. Well, obviously that was a problem for the film. I didn’t get into too much trouble, but it reminded me that as an actor your body is your instrument and your “product”. Work always comes before fun.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I am very excited for a short film that I co-produced and co-starred in — ‘Till Morning — to be accepted into film festivals. We have submitted to multiple festivals that we are waiting for a response from and got accepted in the Golden Lion Film Festival. At the same time, my theater company — Et Alia Theater — is about to produce multiple shows with the help of grants. Remember these names: Stella, Come Home; The Thing About Magnets and Strong Beats. I am also very excited to see what my agency in Italy is going to send me out for: IMACrew Talent Agency.
You have been blessed with 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?
I always had a hard time with jealousy. Whenever my colleagues or friends shared success of theirs with me, my mind would very quickly think about the last time I achieved something and how this might be something bigger than what they had done, etc. Of course, I am also a good friend so I would be extremely happy for them, but it wasn’t my first impulse. My first impulse was to internalize their success and compare it to my own. Something that helped me enormously was hearing industry professionals say multiple times that everyone has their own path. It is as simple as that. Everyone has their own path. Whatever makes you feel like you’ve failed (and you should only feel bad if you’ve failed yourself, not other people — BTW), are the things that are going to make your path more unique and different than the one of others. SO be thankful and curious about what is next. There is always going to be the next thing.
We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?
- Actors and other people in the film and tv industry become the next generations’ role models. I can’t count how many little girls, teenagers and women of my age told me that they are extremely inspired by Zendaya. It is important for the new generation to have as role models actors from all cultures, ethnicities and parts of the world. This will, quite simply, make them see them at their own level if not something to strive for, and hence bring equality in the way they think and behave around all kinds of people.
- The film and tv industry is a business, a workforce. Not many people see it this way, but once you are in it, you truly understand that. Hence, it is important to diversify the people in it in order to contribute to the bigger culture of equality in the workspace. By employing actors, writers, producers, etc. who are diverse, we are contributing to making the entire workforce diverse. That is important.
- It is important for the minorities whose stories haven’t been told. Film and Tv is storytelling. It is important to make this industry diverse so that they have the chance to speak their truth that has been silenced all these years, and for the world to get to know it too.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why? Please share a story or example for each.
- Acting is not an upscale process — the second day I tried a Meisner activity I told my teacher: “I am frustrated I am not getting it right”, and he laughed in my face. That was the entirety of my first year of college.
- You don’t have to be friends with everybody and do what everybody does. I spent so much of my college years trying to be involved in everything that came by me, every club or activity or friend group — only to realize I had never felt so torn and alone. All of this changed when I finally decided to stick to one group of friends and one path.
- Acting is not fame, it’s for you. The process of finding yourself in acting training and the work you create is automatically going to bring attention to you and the people that you speak most to. If you act in order to please other people or gain popularity, you are never going to be a good actor because it’s not going to come from the truest version of you.
- You should study all people. Observing people is key, even the ones that you might want to look away from. I remember for my role of Lady Anne in Richard III, I got so much inspiration from the homeless woman around my block. There was something about her anger and shamelessness that helped me tap into an unknown part of myself and bring that to the character in the Shakespeare play.
- Always call mom. Regardless of what it is about, what you are doing with your life or what you think she might be doing. Her voice will calm you down and that is the best medicine.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
That is hard, coming from someone who burns herself out! Jokes aside, I think the key is to be kind to yourself. Acknowledge the fact that humans are not robots. Artists need to sleep, eat & have private time, family time, or friends time just like everybody else. Give yourself TIME!
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? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
Well, I would really like to start a sustainability movement on sets and in theaters. I am not sure that this would bring ‘the most amount of good to the most amount of people, but I think it might help all of the planets in the long run — right? Every time I am on set or in the theater, I can’t help but see how much waste both these environments generate. Between costumes, food (catering!!), props, scenic material and transportation, it is completely unbelievable! I think there should be some organization or movement to appoint someone responsible for cleanliness, separation and minimizing of waste and sharing of set/theater materials.
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?
A million people come to my mind — truly, a million. But if I have to pick one I would say Maria Müller. She is a dear friend of mine from college and the best colleague I could have ever asked for. She, from Romania, is the one who picked up the phone in 2019 and asked me “so, what are you doing tomorrow? Because I thought we could start a theater company”. And that is how our very successful theater company, Et Alia Theater, came to be. Because she picked up the phone and called ME. And that is just the beginning of it.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
I think whatever quote I dig up here might sound clichè — so I am just going to go with whatever I’ve got. The most important part is the journey, not the destination. Over the years, I’ve (just like everybody else) have faced many obstacles and sidetracks as I am/was creating my path toward my goal. These can be extremely heartbreaking and frustrating — but, I have started to become grateful and thankful for them. Yes, I am thankful for the hard times. This is because they are ultimately what make you a wholesome person and a much better artist. Living through them to the fullest is better than hating them because they’ve brought you further away from the goal — if you stay focused and embrace change, tough times are only going to bring you closer to what you want.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. :-)
Can I go so far as to say Andrew Garfield? I think his career has been incredible. He started so young and has shown so much growth with all the different characters he has played — it’s absolutely amazing. I think he surprised everybody with the roles he took on, and the way he beautifully executed all of them. I’d kill to talk to him about his acting process, his motivation and his path in general. I think I could learn so much!
How can our readers follow you online?
This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!