“My Tina”: Sarah Felberbaum celebrates her as a determined, revolutionary woman, who’s fought a war that we’re still fighting today and that we can’t stop fighting. For those who don’t know her and those who already know her, Rai dedicates to Tina Anselmi the biopic “Tina Anselmi, partigiana della democrazia”, airing on April 25th on the Italian network Rai1. And we dedicate to its protagonist, Sarah Felberbaum, our April Lifestyle Cover story. Playing the role of the first woman to become minister of the Italian Republic, Sarah used discipline and encouraged rationality in order to play a character of such historical and social importance.
The movie is based on the books “La P2 nei diari segreti di Tina Anselmi” by Anna Vinci and “Storia di una passione politica” by Anselmi and Vinci and tells the story of an Italian woman who’s made history. Tina Anselmi, in fact, became a trade unionist when she was only 16, when she was 28, she started fighting battles for the rights of female workers, and she became the first female minister in Italy (of Labour and, later on, of Health, giving birth to our National Health System) and president of the Commission for the investigation whose task was to shed light on the p-2 Masonic Lodge, the only woman among 20 male deputies and 20 male senators. This experience, for Sarah, has been quality time to get back in touch with herself, which is what she’s always looking for when she needs to recharge and regenerate. A role, this one, which made her much more self-confident, even simply working on the character to understand its soul and interiorize it, to give life to “her own Tina”.
What’s your first cinema memory?
My first cinema memory involves my father. We used to go to a cinema in Trastevere, in Rome, which was one of the few, at the time, that screened movies in their original version. In summer, they would open the roof of the structure, and that, for me, would become a magical place.
Soon we’ll see you on Rai1 in “Tina Anselmi, partigiana della democrazia”, a biopic about the first woman who became Minister of the Italian Republic. Were you familiar with the story of this Italian legend? What kind of research did you make in order to connect with the character and understand that time in history?
I’d heard about Tina Anselmi, I knew who she was, and I knew that she was the first woman to become Minister in Italy. But honestly, I didn’t know much more than that. I spent a lot of time studying her story. I read tons of newspaper articles and the book by Anna Vinci. I saw some videos and interviews. I tried to understand the soul of this woman. Then, I studied the screenplay with attention. Every day, on set, I knew exactly the reason behind every word I had to say and gesture I had to make. This gave me the strength and peace of mind necessary to be able to work with the director and give life to my Tina.
A story of democracy, which is “strength, and respect of human dignity, of women’s rights”, to quote Tina Anselmi herself: which message would you want to share, in particular, with the audience, by telling a never-before-seen story on Italian TV screens?
I hope the story of Tina Anselmi can remind those who already know her of all the things this woman has achieved. Of how much she’s fought and with which strength and determination. I also hope it can teach something to those who don’t know much or know too little about her, instead. I hope it can make new generations understand that we’ve been fighting for years for gender equity and that we can’t stop doing that.
What kind of approach did you adopt to play this role? Were you more emotional or rational?
I did a lot of thinking during the preparation phase. For me, it was vital not to ever lose touch with the hints I’d collected during my studies and which had consequently become reference points. My instincts wouldn’t have been a great ally, while rationality made me never lose touch with my Tina.
“Rationality made me never lose touch with my Tina.”
Did you discover anything new about yourself during this experience?
This movie made me more self-aware. Now I know, because I did it, that I can push myself a little bit further, and I am more self-confident. I’m less afraid to fail.
Is there another real-life character you’d like to play after this one?
As of now, no, there isn’t. We’ll see what life will offer me. I’d rather have no expectations and let life surprise me.
What is it that usually makes you say yes to a project?
When I accept a project, I follow my instincts a lot. Even if it’s just about the audition. I need to feel a motive inside, a desire to be part of that story. I would have never thought that I’d have played Tina Anselmi, but I had no doubt that I couldn’t absolutely reject this role.
“A motive inside, a desire to be part of that story”
Your must-have on set?
On the set, I create one little second house for myself. My dressing room smells like my perfume, and there I keep a beauty case with all the things that could be of use to me.
I bring snacks with me like almonds and dried fruit, and some small speakers or headphones to listen to music when they don’t need me on the set.
What is the bravest thing you’ve ever done?
I wouldn’t know what it might have been. It’s a continuous game you have to put yourself in while being strong enough to keep doing it on a daily basis, and it seems like a nice act of courage.
What scares you, instead?
I’m scared of losing someone I love.
Your biggest act of rebellion?
I’ve been brave in making nonconformist choices, the kind of choices that you know are the right ones for you (and for you only).
What does it mean to you to feel comfortable in your own skin?
I need to work out. It calms me, both physically and mentally. It helps me feel balanced, especially from an emotional point of view.
Are there any rituals/habits you practice every day to “get in touch” with yourself, is self-awareness something that comes naturally to you?
Every once in a while, I try and make sure that I can be completely alone in my house for a while. I isolate myself; I tidy up the rooms, and I do things that I’d been postponing for a long time. I feel peaceful.
The latest thing or person to make you smile?
Today, my answer is my husband. Before falling asleep, we laughed so hard at some silly thing that I don’t even remember anymore, and today it makes me smile to think about that feeling of lightheartedness.
What’s your happy place?
My home. My family.
Photos & Video by Johnny Carrano.
Makeup and Hair by Chantal Ciaffardini.
Assistant Makeup and Hair Elisabetta Distante.
Styling by Francesca Ottaviani.
Thanks to Lapalumbo Comunicazione.
Location: Er paninaro di Porta Maggiore.
Dress: Michael Kors Collection
Blouse and trousers: Alberta Ferretti