There is Ludovica, and there is Nina.
There is the girl who decided to become an actress at a very young age, and there is a student who has to learn to give up her armor to fulfill her dreams.
The “fragile” and the strong part.
Two halves that, perhaps, belong to the same person and that meet within the pages of the book “Di Pioggia e di Fiori,“ which is Ludovica Bizzaglia‘s second novel. A story that is also a therapeutic path for Ludovica, a faithful friend, and one of her many dreams that’s become true. But this book is just a chapter of her life, a life made of takes and sets, of self-love, of learning to control the monster of eating disorders, of dreaming of a change in the cinema industry (and not only) in the name of women, and of taking part in that change herself, thanks to a conscious use of social media.
Ludovica told us about all this and more on a warm October day in Rome, reminding us that imperfections and simplicity are what beauty is made of, real beauty, the one that is only ours, and unique, and that if there’s no rain before the sun, those flowers that represent beauty would never bloom.
When did you realize that you wanted to undertake (amongst many) an acting career? Was there a moment in particular?
I think I always knew. My mom used to always tell me about a time when I was 7 and I was watching “Romeo and Juliet” by Zeffirelli and I turned towards her and said that I wanted to work on TV, that I wanted to act. So she had to enroll me into drama school (after having unsuccessfully tried to sign me up for all kinds of sports). When I was 9, during the end-of-year school play, I was noticed by a talent scout and got into my first agency. I won my first role and first audition, so then, the magic began.
What about writing? Do you remember the moment in which you took your pen/laptop to write your own thoughts or a story down?
Writing has always been a very important outlet for me. I’ve always had tons of secret diaries, it helped me a lot. Growing up, I started writing poems, and then real stories. I’ve always had a very creative mind, so to have the chance to create characters and their stories made and still makes me feel alive. Then, when I was contacted by a first publishing house, I thought, “Wow, do you feel ready for this?,” “Do you feel like you can make it?” and this is how “Abbi cura di splendere,” my first novel, was born.
What’s the best advice you’ve gotten on set so far?
The best advice I got on set was to “accept myself.” I was on set with the amazing Loretta Goggi, I had a very difficult monologue to rehearse and after hours and hours of running lines, I kept feeling unsatisfied with the result. She looked at me, caressed my face, and told me that I had to be my number one fan, that if I didn’t love and accepted myself, then it would have been impossible for other people to do so. Her elegance and professionalism were precious gifts for me while on set.
“I had to be my number one fan, that if I didn’t love and accepted myself, then it would have been impossible for other people to do so.”
“Di pioggia e di fiori” is the product of your second experience as a writer: what made you decide to give writing another try?
“Di pioggia e di fiori” is my comeback as a writer. The book should have come out in April, but the release date was rescheduled due to Covid, so, during the lockdown, I decided to read it all again and change a lot of things. I was changed, too, I spent entire days thinking, and thinking, and thinking, so I cut some chapters and re-wrote them from scratch. To me, “Di pioggia e di fiori” is a therapeutic process and a loyal friend who kept me company during the pandemic.
The book is dedicated to “All those who believe in the extraordinary […] I wish every single one of you to achieve something incredible:” what is extraordinary for you? And what’s the most incredible thing you think you’ve achieved so far?
Extraordinary to me is the absolute imperfection of simplicity. I don’t think I’ve achieved anything huge, or maybe I have, even though just in a very small part, even though I still had lots of big dreams, but I managed to make so many dreams of mine come true, I do a job that I love and I think I’ve mostly become the person I wanted to become.
“Extraordinary to me is the absolute imperfection of simplicity.”
Where does Ludovica end and where does Nina begin?
Ludovica and Nina are really different from each other, or perhaps Nina is the fragile, insecure, and deeply hidden part of Ludovica. I admire her a lot. She almost has no fear of being who she is. Nina is perhaps much stronger than me.
To what extent do social media, and sharing with your followers what you think, what you experience, your messages, your hopes, influence your life? How can you manage to balance the undoubtedly positive aspects with the negative ones, like the aspiration to “perfection?”
I’ve always considered social media an extremely powerful means of communication, and I firmly believe in the power of sharing. Social media make me feel privileged because I have the opportunity to be listened to, and to be able to share my thoughts and ideas with no filters, they’re mine, mine, and no one else’s. But it’s not easy at all. I have very often felt like a hypocrite for having chosen to be a part of the entertainment world, but at the same time strongly desiring to have no eyes on me.
I’ve often felt “obliged” to post something, to show myself off. Later I understood this is not how it works, that it’s nice to feel pain and sorrow without having to act like someone you’re not. What is perfection, after all? It’s nothing, it doesn’t exist and, above all, I don’t like it at all.
The fact that I have so many followers on social media makes me feel like I have the moral duty to talk about important social issues, if I can be of help for even just one person out of a million, then I’ve certainly done some good.
What is “love” for Ludovica?
Love is the engine that makes the world go round. I couldn’t live without love. How wonderful it is to be in love and feel invincible?
“What is perfection, after all? It’s nothing, it doesn’t exist and, above all, I don’t like it at all.”
“The fact that I have so many followers on social media makes me feel like I have the moral duty to talk about important social issues, if I can be of help for even just one person out of a million, then I’ve certainly done some good.”
At some point, Mister C exclaims, “In cinema, you work your way through connections and favoritism only:” what’s your opinion on the cinema industry? What changes would you want to see in it, or which ones are you already witnessing?
The cinema industry is certainly changing, but there’s still a long way to go. There’s still no trace of gender equality, the role of women is very often still believed to be that of the wife of the male protagonist, the sister of, etc. Male actors are still paid more, and then I hate the preconception according to which women should only tell stories about women. That’s not it, I think that change should start from the departments, from the direction, from the screenwriting. Personally, I’ve never been asked any particular request to get a role. But I’ve heard so many stories from female friends and colleagues of mine, and they make me sick. As for the connections and favoritism, it’s not just the showbiz, it’s the whole world that, unfortunately, works like that.
Nina, growing up, has built for herself an armor made of sympathy, irony, self-confidence, and sarcasm: what is your armor made of instead?
Perhaps, not even a whole blank page would be enough to describe it. It’s certainly made of a lot of fear, fear of not being able to make it, of people not liking me. If seen from the outside, I often look like I’m the most self-confident person in the world, when the truth is that my self-esteem is sometimes so low that I can’t even manage to get out of my house. I’m learning over time to welcome sorrow and darkness, and to feel those emotions, all the way.
“I often look like I’m the most self-confident person in the world, when the truth is that my self-esteem is sometimes so low that I can’t even manage to get out of my house.”
How do you deal with the fear of failure? And how do you live with it when it shows up?
I’m terrorized by failure, it’s something that I could never accept, but this kind of fear is also an ally to me because it makes me never let my guard down and try and do more and more. I’m a perfectionist, and I’m really hard on myself. Let’s say that I consider this a great virtue.
Unfortunately, there are still too many prejudices and clichés circulating about eating disorders: what are the thoughts and actions to make in order to become more self-aware and to possibly help those who suffer from those?
Eating disorders are a very delicate issue to me. Most people often tend to only connect them to anorexia and bulimia, when the truth is there are so many other nuances and the ones that mess you up the most are those you can’t see. I’ve witnessed firsthand that even a perfectly healthy body can suffer from this. One day, some years ago, I woke up and my head decided that I no longer had to eat, that I had to lose weight because “I was wrong.” I lost 8 kg in one month and my life stopped, it was the only thing I could think about, an obsession. Later, I managed to save myself, but it’s a monster that unfortunately never leaves you. This is why we need to talk about it out loud, this is why we need to learn to ask for help and this is why a lot more information about it should be provided, even in schools.
“This is why we need to talk about it out loud, this is why we need to learn to ask for help and this is why a lot more information about it should be provided, even in schools.”
“In my most intrepid dreams, I’m on stage, the spotlights are on me and I’m soaking up the thunderous applause:” does Nina’s dream meets Ludovica’s, or are your own dreams of a different kind?
My biggest dream? It will always be the set. It’s my happy place, acting is the big love of my life.
What’s your favorite flower?
My favorite flower is the white tulip. I love Amsterdam, it’s my favorite city. I used to sneak up there whenever I could, even just for a night; not being able to travel is the thing that destroys me the most about this whole situation.
Epic fail on the job.
Oh God, it still makes me laugh when I think about it. I was on the set of a TV show, I was 17 and I had madly fallen in love with a cameraman who was a bit older than me. At first, he didn’t even see me, but after several months, he finally began to flirt with me. Well, let’s say that after a not really “passionate” night, I decided to go down to the hotel’s lobby and tell all my best friends about it on a video call.
Well, after 40 minutes I realized that all the crew members were on their room’s balcony and they had heard the whole story, ALL OF IT. I think it was the most embarrassing moment of my life (p.s. he obviously never spoke to me again). End of story.
The movie that you almost know by heart.
My favorite movie ever is “A Star is Born,” it was the movie of my first red carpet at the Venice Film Festival, I will never forget it.
A TV series to binge-watch in a day.
A TV series to binge-watch in a day is “Designate Survivor,” but only if you like thrillers and politics. I’m a huge fan of anything to do with the White House and FBI.
A director you’d love to work with.
My biggest dream is to work with Woody Allen, “Midnight in Paris” is a masterpiece of modern cinema.
The book on your nightstand at the moment.
I’m reading “Becoming” by Michelle Obama. Biographies of great women who made history are really inspiring to me, I can’t wait to read one on Kamala Harris, for example.
Your happy place.
My happy place is Ponza, it feels like home to me. There I filmed the work that I’m most attached to, “Un’altra vita,” which aired on the Italian TV channel Rai 1. The people from Ponza are amazing and I can breathe pure happiness there.
While you were writing the book, which was the must-have you needed to have with you?
Coffee, loads of coffee, and any kind of herbal tea, I think I have a real addiction to those.
What’s your must-have on set, instead?
My earphones, listening to music is fundamental for me to prepare. Depending on the scene I’m about to shoot, I listen to a different music genre and before starting to play a character, I try and figure out what his hypothetical playlist would be like.
What are your next projects?
Unfortunately, Covid has halted a lot of projects, but I managed to make another dream of mine come true, in the meantime, that is my first testimonial advertising campaign with Sunsilk. When I was a child, I would always try and imagine what it would have been like, and now seeing my own commercial on TV makes me very happy. As for movies, fingers crossed… maybe in a while, I’ll be able to drop some bomb!
“Before starting to play a character, I try and figure out what his hypothetical playlist would be like.”
I think that every single personal creation comes from some kind of urgency that you have inside, that you feel the need to express and share. What would you want to tell, that you haven’t told yet?
I’m lucky because I have the chance to tell a lot through books and social media. However, I’d like to talk more about female empowerment and self-acceptance, as well. I think there’s never enough discussion around that and I feel like I still have a lot of things to say, who knows, maybe in a third book?
What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done?
I think the bravest thing I’ve ever done was when I took a flight, aged 18, to move all alone to the other side of the world i.e. Argentina. I did an audition in Madrid and after a week the production called and asked me, “Do you want to fly to Buenos Aires in two days and stay there for at least a year?” Without even thinking about it I said yes, I signed the contract and I packed my things. I cried so much that I still remember it well, but I was good, I’d say I did well.