Luca Guadagnino did it again, an intense coming of age story to which teenagers, young adults and adults can at some level relate with.
This time he did with a TV series “We Are Who We Are:” set on an army base in Italy, the series follows two American 14-year-olds named Fraser Wilson and Caitlin “Harper” Poythress.
To play Caitlin’s mother (Jenny) is Faith Alabi with who we chatted about being part of a Guadagnino’s project and the openness to work on her character background together with him.
A must-see series with a “delicious script” as Faith describes it but also something more about Faith’s works, character approach and few suggestions to add to our watchlist (besides “We Are Who We Are” if you haven’t watched it yet, of course).
What came first for you, television or theatre? Was it “love for acting” at first sight?
My first professional roles were in theatre. I’m grateful that I’ve been able to tell compelling stories and collaborate on work that feeds my soul, so yes, I loved it immediately.
“We Are Who We Are” so… Who’s Faith for real?
Wow, that’s a huge question! I think the simplest way for me to answer would be by my Nigerian name “Ife”/”Ifeoluwa” which means ‘love’/’divine love.’
What was your first thought when you read the script of “We Are Who We Are” screenplay? And the first question you asked director Luca Guadagnino?
“This script is delicious.”
All the characters are surprising, and still real, and not yet seen before. The first question I wanted to ask Luca was “ok but are you sure you want me to play this role?!? You definitely called the right actress???? Is this a butt dial??!” In reality, I think I first asked Luca about Jenny’s background and I was interested in her conservatism and homophobia. Luca was amazing and put some personal things I spoke about from my Nigerian heritage into the script.
“I first asked Luca about Jenny’s background and I was interested in her conservatism and homophobia. Luca was amazing and put some personal things I spoke about from my Nigerian heritage into the script.”
How did you connect with Jenny? Is there something of you in her?
I’m familiar with Jenny’s cultural heritage and I resonated with feeling displaced, and a sense of an obligation to the expectations of your ‘roles’ that might form your identity – what society places on you, wife, mother, colleague, etc.
How did you work with the rest of the cast to build your on-screen relationships?
We all spent months hanging out in Padua, Italy bonding over the very little Italian we knew and the madness that was often happening on and off set. We had dinners, game nights, movie nights, parties, day trips to Venice, and so much laughter. We grew so close, particularly my on-screen family, I had the best time and I hold so many cherished memories.
What’s your favorite coming-of-age book/movie/TV series?
I can’t pick just one!
Books – “Purple Hibiscus;” “Their Eyes Were Watching God;” “On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous.”
Movies – “Moonlight;” “Boyhood;” “Rocks”
TV series – “The End of The F***ing World;” “Sex Education.”
The last film or TV series that made you discover something new about yourself?
“Little Fires Everywhere.”
A film to laugh, one to cry and one to hold your breath.
“The Breaker Upperers,” “Room,” “A Quiet Place.”
What are the stories that you dream to tell?
I’d love to play more villains. I find justifying their motivations fascinating, and a wonderful exercise in extending compassion and empathy for the human condition.
Your must-have on set.
Essential Oils, or Knitting. I can’t pick one thing! Can you tell I’m a Libra?
An epic fail on the job.
I once pretended I spoke fluent French to get a role, then when I was cast the director booked a trip for us all to go to Paris assuming I’d be the translator.
What’s your happy place?
Looking out at the sea, preferably in the sunshine.
What’s the book on your nightstand?
“Girl, Woman, Other.”
What’s next for Faith?
I start filming for a Netflix series soon.
Photos by Joseph Sinclair
Makeup by Sam Lascelle
Hair by Carl Campbell
Styling by Tilly Wheating
Show credit: We Are Who We Are is on Sky and NOW TV