You are currently viewing From Portici to the world. The bright career of Nunzia Schiano

From Portici to the world. The bright career of Nunzia Schiano

Interview with Nunzia Schiano By N.Yakova

From L’ Amica Geniale (My Brilliant Friend) to Gomorra 5 (Gomorrah 5 the TV series) Nunzia Schiano is very popular for having played numerous television roles, embodying different types of Neapolitan women. In reality, the Neapolitan actress is esteemed and loved throughout Italy, in the theater and in the cinema, thanks to her talent and having been directed by directors such as Eduardo Tartaglia, Carlo Vanzina, Matteo Garrone and Leonardo Pieraccioni, just to name a few.

Originally from Portici, a municipality west of Vesuvius, which overlooks the Gulf of Naples, she maintains a close bond with her city where she still lives today with her family. The passion for acting has accompanied her since she was a child, when she started ‘almost for fun’ at the oratory and continued to combine acting with her studies at the classical high school of Portici.

Soon a teacher at the scientific high school notices her aptitude and suggested her to attend to his theater class. Being enthusiastic, curious and open to discussion, she undertook this theatrical journey to the point of learning about different artistic approaches. In the interviews we did, in previous issues, with G. Imparato, T. De Sio and A. Sorrenti, and with M. Ferrante, in this issue, the historical-artistic picture of the ’70ies in Naples emerges. They were years characterized by intense cultural liveliness. It was precisely in that period that Nunzia made her debut as a singer in a popular music and street theater group: the Compagnia de li Cunti (The Troupe of the Tales). From there she begun to work in the theater where she acted in pieces written by Raffaele Viviani, Annibale Ruccello, Michel de Ghelderode, Luigi Pirandello and other sacred monsters of theater and literature, under directors including Gepy Gleijeses, Massimo Ghini, Renato Carpentieri, Giacomo Rizzo , Gigi Savoia, Davide Iodice.

Nunzia is a woman respectful of tradition but not blindly chained to it. In fact, her eyes look at the best possible evolution, in every area, the artistic as well as the personal one. Given her interpretation, in several films in which her role was the mother of the character played by Alessandro Siani, for a long time people believed that she was the actor’s real mother. This misunderstanding gave birth to several funny anecdotes that could be the starting point for comic gags.

In reality the actress, married to the musician Niko Mucci, has a son, Francesco, who is a talented director and with whom she also worked. Here is what she shares with us.

What does being Neapolitan mean to you?

N.S.: “It is not easy to define Neapolitanism. It is complex, just as the city is complex. We are like Vesuvius which seems to be still, motionless, but instead it is active and constantly moving. What we are today no longer corresponds to what we were some time ago. There is in many a different awareness, the desire to give a new face to being Neapolitan. Neapolitanness is feeling, passion, love. But it is also the ability to make one’s talents count, in every sector such as medicine, sport and art. I have always made my own the words of a poem by Viviani that he said in his poem Campanilismo (1931) – Talento ne tenimmo, avimmo ingegno. Nu poco sulo ca ce sustenimmo cunquistarrammo chillu posto degno ca, pe mullezza nosta, nun tenimmo.- Which means: We have talent, we have intelligence, if we support ourselves just a little, we will conquer that place of which we are worthy but which we do not have due to our weakness.”

Do you think being Neapolitan influenced your choice to become an actress? If yes, to what extent?

N.S.: “Having a theatrical heritage like the Neapolitan one, from Petito to Scarpetta, from Viviani to De Filippo is certainly important, but it wasn’t fundamental. I owe a lot to the professor Lello Ferrara who gave me the tools necessary to understand that acting would become my means of expression.”

What is the first thing you do to approach a role?

N.S.: “I always start from feelings that are universal, and then analyze the world in which the character lives, the time, the place. I always ask my character questions: Who are you? What do you wish? Who do you Love? What do you like? What makes you suffer? And so on.”

What is your relationship with music?

N.S.: “Before dedicating myself to the theater and then to the cinema, I was a singer in a popular music group in the 70s/80s, called “La Compagnia de li Cunti”, which I created together with my husband Niko Mucci and other guys like us. We have brought the popular music of southern Italy around Italy, starting from a research in the various territories. I really like singing Neapolitan songs, loved all over the world.”

You are the protagonist of the short Corduroy directed by Francesco Mucci. What was it like being directed by your son?

N.S.: “Beautiful experience. We acted as if our personal relationship didn’t exist. We confronted each other as colleagues, sometimes even with a hard face. Considering that it was her first experience and it was filmed on a very low budget, I can say that I’m very happy with the result.”

Looking at your life and career today, what are you most grateful for?

N.S.: “I am grateful for everything I have achieved, fruit of work, dedication, patience. Results that I achieved thanks to many people who believed in me. But most of all I am grateful to my family and especially my husband and my son, for being the most important part of my life.”

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