A documentary series examining dynamic, successful Italian women in the US, the second season of “One of Us” debuted at the Mr. Brainwash Museum in Beverly Hills on March 10.
This second installment of “One of Us” focuses on four inspiring Italian women living in Los Angeles. The premiere coincided with Women’s History Month.
The most prominent member of the quartet is Chef Giada De Laurentiis. Her fascinating story includes more challenges than you might expect, given her family background: her grandfather was Oscar-winning film producer Dino De Laurentiis, while her grandmother, Silvana Mangano, was a successful actress.
Giada’s grandfather was vocal about his concerns when Giada was offered her first TV show, “Everyday Italian,” given that working in television was far less prestigious two decades ago than it is today. “He told me not to destroy what he had built for our family.” She also experienced antagonism from male chefs who believed women shouldn’t work in professional kitchens. “Restaurant kitchens are a man’s world. They’re getting better now, but 20 years ago there wasn’t a chance… I had to fight tooth and nail.”
Giada wasn’t the only one. All the women profiled in “One of Us” fought hard for success in male-dominated fields.
Scientist Federica Raia grew up in Sicily. After moving to the United States, she was surprised to learn that women in science weren’t appreciated. “People talked down to me. People told me to shut up in meetings. Of course, I fought back!” She even faced assumptions that her husband, a respected heart surgeon, did her work for her. Federica is now a researcher and professor at UCLA.
For Raffaella Camera, resistance began at home. Her father “was difficult, with a very narrow idea of what women should be.” He discouraged her from leaving Italy or aspiring to a career other than housewife or schoolteacher. Her mother, however, encouraged her daughter’s ambitions, and Raffaella went on to earn two Master’s degrees from USC. Passionate about the metaverse, she has triumphed as a senior executive in the world of gaming, where her current title is Head of Brands & Advertisers Solutions at Epic Games.
Gabriella Pession has achieved success as an actress both in Italy and in Hollywood but has sometimes struggled with where to go next. She found inspiration recalling the words of director Lina Wertmuller, who she worked with early in her career. “As Lina said, the secret is taking actions. Don’t be up here (touches her head)… I needed to get out of this mind and I started to be creative.”
“One of Us” was directed by Chiara Tilesi, who told the audience at the screening why the series was created: “We want to show women as subjects, not objects. We need more stories about women, told by women.”
Tilesi, Debora Guetta, Frequency Productions, and the Consul General of Italy in Los Angeles are among the film’s producers. You can watch “One of Us” on social platform TaTaTu or on the YouTube page for the Italian Consulate General.