“Penso che un sogno così non ritorni mai più…”

With Volare  on my mind, I met a girl who dreamed of being a mermaid.

But she’s actually an actress.

She’s Alessandra De Rossi. Born Alessandra Schiavone,  Italian-Filipina native of Lecce, award-winning  actress not only in the Philippines but especially abroad.

Her Italianity shines through her  innate humor and her joy is contagious.

Alessandra, have you always dreamed of becoming an actress?

Alessandra, smiling: Well, a way before dreaming of being an actress, I dreamed to be a mermaid. It was even part of my evening prayers! I haven’t think about acting until my sixteens.  At that time my sister Assunta  was already  famous in the Philippines.  I actually never considered acting but my Mom, who is a frustrated actress – she pauses to laugh a bit, looking to her Mom  – encouraged me a lot!

You won the award for Best Supporting Actress in two local festival on your debut. What was it like to win being so young?

A: Winning was not in my thoughts, but of course I was pleased. I took it as a validation of my work, and from there I realized it was what I wanted to do.

In the past few years, you dedicated most of your career to indie movies. What attracts you about it?

A:  The introspective  analysis of the character is deeper in an independent production. I can understand where my character comes from,  her history and what I want to give her. I am given the chance to mold her being and turn myself deeper into her. This kind of dramatization gives me a lot as an actress, every time I play in an indie film, my being an artist comes out enriched. I consider it my nourishment.

 In 2011, you flew to Cannes Film Festival with the film “Busong- Palawan Fate” (Ungrateful ) . An intense picture acclaimed by the critics. The movie won even the “Grand Prize” at the National Geographic Allroads Film Festival.  Tell us about this experience.

A: Getting to Cannes was really a unique emotion. It was an ambitious project but the director is well known in the Philippines and he is a guarantee of a high quality movie. Introducing  “Busong” to  an audience with a refined taste like Cannes was a gamble, and we won it. We also had the chance to let the world discover an unexplored part of the Philippines , Palawan, with its uncontaminated nature and its indigenous culture.

Alessandra de Rossi2After Cannes, Italy finally noticed you. In fact, you won the award “Pugliese nel Mondo”,  the recognition of Puglia Region to all those who brings honor to Salento.

A: It was as exciting as going to Cannes. A surprise, because I wasn’t expecting such tribute. Being recognized for my work in my homeland was an important pillar of my career. It is the  proof that my efforts have been noticed even in this part of the world.

How much “Italianity “do you still have?

A: My being Fil-Italian is essential to me. They are two sides of the same medal, and one could not exist without the other. It’s a treasure I am very proud of. The most Italian trait I do have is passion. Being  able to take out  charged emotion from my surroundings  and my humor with a hint of sarcasm is another  face of my italianity. Truth to be said, and you know it too, Filipino culture is very similar to the Italian, both worlds share a strong sense of family, pride and love for their land and especially the deep respect for others.

Do you think that you would have been given the same career in Italy?

A: I honestly don’t  know how it works in Italy. I think I’ve been lucky to be in the right place on the right time and I just caught the chance. Perhaps if I’ll need to come back to live in Italy, I could try.

Asides from acting, you sing, compose and paint. What does talent  means to you?

A: Talent is mainly being able to do something effortless, being passionate and in love with what you do. Talented is the one who puts his soul  in whatever he does , whether it’s acting, music or being a lawyer.

In 2013, you won the Best Actress award of the “AIFFA International Awards”  for the movie  “Sta. Niña “. First filipina and most of all,  the only Italian competing.

A: It was a real surprise! It was my first award as a leading actress. It was  truly an honor and a great pleasure. The film is an independent production that has faced strong themes such as faith and Christianity, usually hardly appreciated by the non-Christian Asian audience.

Your movies competed in many international Film Festivals. What is the contribution of being Italian to this?

A: It’s definitely an added value. My passionate side ,being fully-blooded and  straightforward are traits that I inherited from my roots in Salento. The ability to move myself and give emotion to whoever looks at me, my discipline and the rigor that I dedicate to my profession, I owe all of these to my Italian DNA. All  these features allowed me to get to where I am now.

Speaking of dreams, were you able to realize your dream of being a mermaid?

A: Of course! At 22, I shot my first music video and I was a mermaid: I had my tail, long hair and I was swimming in the ocean!
Where does  Alessandra De Rossi  see herself in five years?
A: I’d like to direct a movie . I’m writing my first script and I hope to bring it to the scene soon. Then I would like devote myself to music, I would also like to found  an independent label that gives the opportunity to young  talents to fulfill  their dreams. I would like to be a producer in the next few years.

What do you think is the “X Factor” that a young actor should have to be successful like you?

A: I don’t  think there’s  a single characteristic. The peculiarities can be endless and there is no recipe. But the key to be an actor is to know yourself. We must be aware that we need  to share our soul and give our passion to the character we are portraying . Acting is not just technicality. Techniques can be learned in the academies, but technique without soul and passion is useless. An actor must have the “spark” that clicks when he undresses himself to give life to someone else.

We recently saw Alex bringing on screen the role of the mother of boxing sensation Manny Pacquaio on the bio pic “Kid Kulafu”, the movie that narrates the beginnings of the boxing world champion. Manny Pacquiao was moved to tears during the premiere night.  Another challenge won by this talented actress.

by Maggie A. Romano
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