Versatile actress takes to challenge

Versatile actress takes to challenge

Edmonton Sun, Canada
Oct 12 2004

TORONTO — Claudia Ferri is far more worldly than her Ciao Bella
character, Elena. And stylish, too, sporting exotic rings and jewelry
with cool stories to match. She is Elena on the other side. So much
so, that it was painful to watch her character in the early episodes,
she told the Sun over lunch last week.

“There will be a tendency for Canadians who haven’t been exposed to
Italians or Italian families in their daily context to say, ‘Aw, c’mon,
she’s being pushed around too much. How come she doesn’t rebel? This
is ridiculous.’

“It was even hard for me,” says Ferri, who landed the lead after
impressing the same producers when she played feisty Anna in Mambo
Italiano. “That was the old me,” she says of Elena. “I hated seeing
myself like that.”

Ferri loves the way Ciao Bella explores the universal theme of becoming
an individual. That it is based on a tight-knit Italian family just
adds oregano to the mix.

“It’s all about responsibility and duty and a certain code,”
she says. “I can very much relate to her and her need to push the
boundaries and find her own individuality.”

While there are parallels to hers and Elena’s upbringing, there are
important differences, too.

Ferri is familiar with Montreal’s Little Italy (especially after Ciao
Bella’s six-month shoot), but she grew up in rural Quebec where she
faced a great deal of intolerance due to her multi-ethnic background
(Italian father, French-Canadian mother, Armenian and native-Canadian

The exotic mix is paying dividends as an actress. Ferri and the rest
of the cast shot Ciao Bella in two versions, French and English.
Besides Italian, she can also get by in Spanish.

Her challenging early years also made her stronger, and not just in
resolve. Farm work gave her strong muscles, Ferri boasts, telling an
eye-opening tale about fending off a real-life attacker.

Unlike Elena, Ferri has lived life and tasted both bitter and sweet.
She also rebelled, and early. She left home at 16 and had her own
family (three children. She brought photos).

Her relationships with parents and siblings continue to be both rocky
and adventurous.

So, yes, she relates to the colourful clan in Ciao Bella. “It is a
comedy and we all have to be able to laugh at ourselves,” she says.