You know her from the television and she’s nice, beautiful, always smiling, easy-going. Then you know her from the radio and the feeling is the same. At a certain point, you also know her on social media, where it’s like you are watching a show of her own (we wish!).
But when you meet Daniela Collu, it’s even better than what you could ever imagine: she uses her smile as a “philosophy,” even as a response to many things that people have said over the years. She is a feminist because it’s the only way to be able to live on this Earth, she is determined, strong, even if with all her weaknesses, and she gives herself some sort of medal every day, to give importance to those things that she believed she couldn’t do: writing a book to name one, in just two months, on the Camino de Santiago. But her book “Volevo solo camminare” (“I only wanted to walk”) is much more, it isn’t a mere summary of a journey with many technical tips (even if there are some and they are very useful), it’s also a manual to live a little better, to have a little more courage. Not only in the Camino, but in everyday life. And then, you want to take and go buy a nice pair of sneakers (only if very comfortable) and leave for the Camino, whatever it may be. Even for just a walk, an afternoon, a month, two hours, learning to work on yourself and discovering things that you would never have imagined. After all, Daniela just wanted to walk.
In your book you say you learned a lot from being on TV and watching the people you were surrounded by, but was there someone that inspired you in a unique way?
Someone who’s like my Doc from “Back to the Future,” someone that makes the impossible possible: he’s the project leader of the “Big Brother,” his name is Andrea Palazzo, and he is the “Big Brother.” I know that according to the collective imaginary it is a show that ended up being sleazy, but if you are passionate about people like me, it is indeed an incredible observatory on personalities. I’ve taken from Andrea and his experience everything I could, and it was like joining the army of TV: how you are supposed to interact with your colleagues, what it means to write a show, being broadcast live, being on air for 4 hours with the control room literally in your ear, what you do during commercial breaks, imagining how the audience will perceive what you’re doing…Once I found myself in front of the camera, it was the moment to put into practice all I had learned.
In the book you talk about authenticity quite a lot, what does it mean to you?
We all struggle to face the world. I believe that today more than ever, our generation is growing with the idea of a challenge to overcome because we are the children of the baby boomers, and yet we are the children of the crisis. Nonetheless, we grew up with the “don’t give up” mantra, but it’s all bullshit because there are thousands of uncertainties and variables that make the path you are walking impossible or very difficult, both on a personal and business level, meanwhile nobody helps you understanding what you are missing on.
I don’t want to lose the authenticity of and in my path, I want to be sure that every step I take is a step that represents me, and I don’t want for the challenges to take the upper hand, or that the fear of the outcome prevails on the essence. For me, to be me authentic means being in the moment you are living in, without thinking about what others would do in your place. There are people that at 15 years old already know what they are going to be in life, and I, for instance, don’t know what will be of me tomorrow, but I want to be authentic both when I change and when I’m who I am. Maybe going through a lot of changes somewhat trains you to be always listening to your desires and to what you imagine for yourself: because things can change at any moment, and we need to be faithful to nothing but our desires.
“I don’t want to lose the authenticity of and in my path, I want to be sure that every step I take is a step that represents me.”
In some way, it’s something that comes up often with the topic of social media and filters…People want categories: once I was in the makeup room for a show on the Rai2 channel and I was given this unmissable piece of advice, “Dani, you must decide: you are either hot or smart, you can’t be both because, otherwise, the audience won’t understand.” I was annihilated; what does it mean? Another time, instead, I was told, “don’t lose too much weight otherwise you won’t be funny anymore,” because I have a playful and ironic, at times stingy, approach. Categories exist and people think they have to fall into place or have someone to put them into place at any cost. I, on the other hand, hope to be everything I want to be or who I find it natural to be, and who cares.
When you go through a change, it’s also difficult to face whom you were before; this is something you mention in the book: what are the “other yourselves” that you had to accept to be happy?
There are lots of “you” that sometimes you decide to get to know, or sometimes you decide to wait until they go away on their own while growing up. There is a “you” who’s afraid of everything, one who’s afraid but knows “she” can do it, then one that knows “she” can do it but other people get there first, despite everything. I have incorporated many “me” s because I didn’t want to shut them up or prove them wrong, I didn’t want to eliminate my fear but overcome it, I didn’t want to push away the limit but get to know it, because then it might take only a small jump forward. A useful instrument on this aspect is going to therapy; I don’t know why there still is fear to go to therapy or simply to talk about it. There are so many “me.” I was a spawn of Satan, the first time I slept through the night I was 4-year-old: before that, I was merely sleeping 1 hour in the afternoon, and then I was awake all night. As a matter of fact, my parents are the most tired people I know. [laugh]
“A useful instrument on this aspect is going to therapy; I don’t know why there still is fear to go to therapy or simply to talk about it.”
This trip made you also get out of your comfort zone: what does it mean for you now to get out of the comfort zone?
I’ve decided the comfort zone is not a place to avoid, there are moments of our lives that it’s right to enjoy our nest and comfort, let ourselves be helped by the events, and not looking for the windmill like Don Quixote, not really caring about appearance because all you need is simply a safe and welcoming port. Then, there are times when you roll up your sleeves and say, “I’m going to kick ass” and those moments are not to be wasted in a comfort zone, it’s like having additional weapons that you are using to fight your everyday battles: you must go beyond that! I think it has become my language since I kind of lost my mind a couple of years ago: I changed job, I broke up with my boyfriend of 7 years… It’s like I’m always a bit ready for failure but, on the other end, I’m happy to try anyway.
Who makes you laugh the most?
I think my answer is going to be a bit cheesy, but the way my boyfriend makes me laugh, very few can do it. He has a sense of humor very similar to mine and the things that make us laugh do so for years. Then there are billions of people, also professionals, that make people laugh for a living, that become examples for me to follow because I really like to make people laugh. If I could snap my fingers and be anybody else, I would like to be Amy Schumer. And I know I’m wasting the chance of a new Charlize Theron in the world [laugh], but I don’t give a shit, I want to be one of those that blow up your mind because they say things you couldn’t think, not even in a million years.
“…If I could snap my fingers and be anybody else, I would like to be Amy Schumer.”
In the book you give so many pieces of advice, but for you what’s the most important one in order to do the Camino de Santiago (Way of Saint James)?
Don’t overthink it. Just do it, and do it alone, that’s my advice. The first day I walked totally alone, at first, I was kind of lost and then I started to sing, I also took a dump in a poppy field. Nothing can happen to you even if you are alone: you are going to pass through milestones in which the inhabitants have only ever seen pilgrims passing by. You won’t need any help: you have all you need, there is nothing bad that can happen to you, it’s the most fearless place I’ve ever traveled in my life.
In the book, you mention “All About My Mother:” what’s your favorite film?
I like the heavy ones. My all-time favorite is “We All Loved Each Other So Much” directed by Ettore Scola, it’s beautiful. Or I like movies like “Melancholia” by Lars von Trier. And then, the Coen brothers: I dressed up as the Big Lebowski for so many years, holding a true bowling ball in one hand, of course.
You also talk about listening to your body: is something that you manage to do also in your everyday life?
I had not done it for so long because, in a quite arrogant way, I thought I had a head that was enough for everything. I used only to follow my mind: I would eat for appetite or craving and not for hunger, I would sleep when I had to, not because I was tired…Then, thanks to therapy, I woke up regarding my body and I understood so many things about it: first and foremost, that I’m in it and it takes me places, in short, a quite important person to take care of. Then I discovered the joy of moving my body, I walked for a long time, I touched it, and accidentally I lost a few kilos because, maybe, I was listening to it more. And so when staring at it, bare or dressed, I would understand the effect that it was having on other people.
It felt like I had been a smart person without a body for 30 years and then I said, “hey, we are in 3D.” [laugh] I remember my therapist saying, “You have to stay naked inside the house because, when you meet mirrors or windows, there must be something that catches the attention.” Also, on TV, the use you make of the body is very mediated, you have the studio, the lights, people that see you in a certain way… I’m happy that these parts have united a bit.
You also talk about the questions full of meaning that you were asked during the Camino: what’s the most beautiful one you were asked?
Not only the most beautiful one, but also the one that left me the most puzzled was, “Why don’t you tell me about your childhood?” If someone asks questions like this today, you think they’re crazy because it’s something that requires an hour and a half of narration and, seriously, who the hell is going to listen to you for an hour and a half?! Maybe someone who loves you, but not even him\her: yet over there you cannot run away, the beauty of the Camino is that you won’t escape, if someone walks next to you one day, s\he does it for 35km.
I don’t ever believe the questions I’m asked, also because I don’t want to bore anyone to death. On the contrary, Folk, my German friend who’s an incredible human being and whom I got the chance to discover while walking together, was looking at me with this clear face asking me, “tell me about your childhood” because he was truly interested. And I started from a distance [laugh], it’s a strange thing, yet it’s beautiful. It’s something that only happens when you are traveling; when the time you spend on things is different from what you usually do.
“… the beauty of the Camino is that you won’t escape.”
You wrote, “I have to learn to give myself medals not only for first places but for every time that I put myself in the race,” and it’s such an amazing sentence for me: when was the last time you gave yourself a medal?
Every day now, I feel very happy with myself because I’m resisting to fatigue. Can I tell myself “well done” because I resist to my things? Because despite not wanting to, I try to make those calls when I’m good with my friends, with the people surrounding me, when the people around me tell me “well done” and I don’t undermine myself anymore.
I’m happy to take some small ribbons because I denied them to myself for so long, for instance to the comment “I find you really well” I would answer “No, listen, I haven’t slept in three days.” Instead, we must say “thanks” and take what the universe is giving back, fuck it, [laugh], take everything home. I wasn’t always like this, but at a certain point you change, and you find out that it’s good for you. Because if you are a bit happy with what is happening to you, it’s right to show it. I wrote a book in two months, and it is something I would have never thought to do, so I grab this medal that for some people may be a wood a tin medal, but who cares, it’s about me.
Since you also like talking about art, is there a work that you particularly like?
There is a photographer, Wolfgang Tillmans, who takes very ethereal and graphics photos, and there is a work of his that was my profile picture for years: it shows a man talking with a baby deer in the middle of nowhere. It’s basically me bubbling around with someone who doesn’t understand me. [laugh]
“I wrote a book in two months, and it is something I would have never thought to do, so I grab this medal that for some people may be a wood a tin medal, but who cares, it’s about me.”
To whom would you like to say “stazzitta” (“shut up,” Daniela’s username on Instagram)?
To nobody, even if it’s pretty clear that I would like to say it to Matteo Salvini, but I don’t do it because he will be buried by his bullshit, so it’s important to let him talk. I would more likely say, “I don’t want to listen to you,” I would claim my right to silence, not to think that the fact of having a voice makes your opinion relevant to others. Talk as much as you want, but I shall have the right to turn to the other side.
You also talk often about feminism that nowadays risks being almost an inflated word: what does it mean to you?
It means to be a human being: for me, it is necessary to be feminist even if you are a man because it’s not a war that only us women can fight; we need men by our side. I’m a feminist because I live on this Earth 24/7, because I know what it means to talk in a meeting of men, to have a nice face when you have to take an exam in college, trying on some clothes knowing that you have some issues that men don’t have and that you have self-enforced a constant and castrating self-criticism. I’m an ally of men who’ve caught up with the reality that makes them understand that it’s been 2000 years, now, that we are in a shitty situation and it’s time to break this circle. I hope I can make people understand it in my own little way, especially with the work I do, suggesting or acting as a slightly different model of woman: the one that laughs out loud if someone tells her, “you have to choose to be either hot or able to use subjunctive mood properly.”
“I’m a feminist because I live on this Earth 24/7.”
The book on your nightstand?
I have a Kindle, I’m reading Sandy Rooney, but I always read a few books at the time, I’m also reading “Cat Person.” Another thing that I love is the self-help books: now I listen to them on audiobook format while I run, they are hilarious. Sometimes they do give pieces of advice that are not so bad. On the other hand, it makes me laugh the idea that there are an hour and a half of emphatic phrases. [laugh] Maybe we all need someone telling us, “do it.”
Your epic fail during the “Camino”?
I have two: the first day I did it all wrong, and the second mistake was booking the return trip without leaving myself enough time, I would have liked a couple of days more in Santiago, enjoying the journey a bit more.
We saw that you have a passion for shoes: what are your favorite?
A pair of loafers, perfect for a nun, that men don’t like; a pair of Reebok collection sneakers from the ’80s in lemon yellow that I’ve had since forever. And then, you know, the camera gifts you 5 kilos, so God bless the 12\14 cm high heels that give your body good length because otherwise, the meatball effect is just around the corner. [laugh]
Your next “Camino”?
If we are talking about a real one, I would really love to do the Way of Gods from Florence to Bologna because scenically it must be amazing, and then also because I would like to discover more about Italian Caminos. The next one I will do for sure is the part of the Camino de Santiago that I’m still missing, which is the Pyrenees part.
Metaphorically speaking instead, the rest of my life.
Photos & Video by Johnny Carrano.
Makeup by Andrea Sailis.
Styling by Sara Castelli Gattinara.
Thanks to Factory 4 Pr.
Thanks to Freeda Isola.
“Volevo Solo Camminare” di Vallardi Editore.
Abito chemisier Vivetta
Scarpe Jimmy Choo
Tuta Over INVICTA
Anelli e orecchini Lil
Orecchini e Anelli Iosselliani
Total look Veronica Beard
Anelli Voodoo Jewels