Exclusive Interview with Italian Superstar Maria Grazia Cucinotta

Maria Grazia Cucinotta at the SDIFF gala reception. Photo © Carol Sonstein

Maria Grazia Cucinotta at the SDIFF gala reception

 

Charming, talented, and beautiful, Maria Grazia Cucinotta recently visited San Diego to attend the San Diego Italian Film Festival this past Saturday as an honored guest at the Gala.  I had the privilege to meet with her prior to the event to engage in a friendly one-on-one Italian conversation. 
 
Her list of impressive accomplishments is endless: mother, wife, activist, humanitarian, model, actor, Bond Girl, producer, screenwriter, director, ambassador, national treasure.  I was struck by her affable nature, generous heart and in particular her humility.  She is clearly a beautiful person inside out. 
 
Maria Grazia’s acting career spawns over three decades and remarkably she has about seventy film and TV credits to her name.  Her break-out role came in 1995 opposite Massimo Troisi in the Oscar nominated film “Il Postino” (The Postman) which catapulted her to international acclaim. 
  Maria Grazia Cucinotta at the SDIFF gala reception. Photo © Carol Sonstein

  Maria Grazia Cucinotta at the SDIFF gala reception. Photo © Carol Sonstein

 
She quickly relocated to Los Angeles and worked tirelessly between both American and Italian features until 2001, when she became pregnant and moved back to Rome to birth her first child Giulia.  She confides, “Italy for a child is the biggest gift I can do because it is a wonderful place.  Surrounded by art, culture, the good life, the food is healthy and the quality of life is very high.  For a child, Italy is a paradise.
 
“The most important thing for me is being a mother.  It comes before anything else.  You can make a mistake in a film, but you can’t make a mistake being a mother.  My daughter Giulia is the most important person in my life because she is my life. It’s not easy with my work being a mother and wife and I also devote much of my time to charity. I am involved with several organizations fighting every day for the causes I believe in which is what I am most interested in.”
 
As a fierce advocate, Maria Grazia supports many charities and causes close to her heart in particular women’s rights, children, diversity, discrimination and intolerance.  Actively involved in the Susan G. Komen for breast cancer for thirteen years, she was one of the first people in Italy to bring awareness about the organization.  She owns a collection designed by fashion stylist Maria Grazia Severi with all proceeds benefiting Pangea, an organization that helps women and children subjected to violence.  Maria Grazia also supports Casa Iridi which is a hospitality house that assists indigent families, adults and children in a vegetative state.  
 
She also serves as ambassador for the United Nations World Food Programme in the fight against global hunger.  “In my opinion, the only reason it is worth being famous is the ability to give voice to people who are invisible.  These disadvantaged people are unable to make their hardships known and consequently remain invisible.  Thanks to my popularity I am able to remind people that these people exist with their problems.”
 
Desiring artistic control over the content of her projects, in 2006 Maria Grazia founded Seven Dreams Productions in Rome.  Longtime husband and partner Giulio Violati is actively involved in the company.  They have produced several movies in which “Il Maestro” a short film, directed by Maria Grazia won the Nastro di Argento (Silver Ribbon) in Venice for best director of the year in 2011.
 
Her film, “Viola di Mare”, which she starred and produced, is a love story between two young women in the 19th century.  She considers the film an important body of work because it is a message against prejudice. “It has been fifteen years that I have been fighting against homophobia.  To me, love is love. When two adults choose to want to live their love, they should be able to do so freely without anyone judging.  We should accept that people can live free.  I don’t have any prejudices; I accept people for who they are.  We have to fight for this.  We need to raise children and educate them not to point a finger.  Because pointing a finger is the same as pointing a gun.  You can kill a person the same way.  When you make a person feel different, you make them feel inferior which is like killing them.”
 
Her future projects include two films. “C’è Sempre un Perchè” is a romantic comedy filmed in Sicily and China.  Maria Grazia is both producer and lead actor.  The film is a co-production between Italy and China and features Huang Bo considered one of China’s top actors.  It is currently in post-production expected to be released early in 2014.
 
The other, “Maldamore”, an Italian comedy filmed in Italy features Maria Grazia, Luca Zingaretti, Luisa Ranieri, Alessio Boni, and Ambra Angiolini.  The film is in post-production and is expected to be released in February 2014.
 

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