Paolo Stella: «The charm of discovery»

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To face his very busy days, one of those magic potions you see in cartoons would be needed, yet, when we hear from you, Paul Star he does not let the slightest trace of tiredness leak out, satisfied as he is by the lucky wave that envelops him every day making him feel full, serene, at peace with the world. “I have a passion for people. When I arrive at the bookstore and see the faces of those in front of me, I feel richer than ever», Stella says on the phone as soon as she gets out of the gym, anxious to be able to talk about The full moon of strawberries, his third novel published by DeA linked to a theme that is very close to his heart: the loneliness that grips Generation Z. In fact, together with the collaboration of Dr. Anna Bonfanti, Paolo Stella, influencer and creator with hundreds of thousands of followers, has decided to listen to young people and grasp their hardships, creating a story that seems to have all the credentials to become The little Prince of tomorrow, enhanced by beautiful images created by artificial intelligence – it is the first time this has happened in the publishing world – and by a sensitivity that goes beyond the hyper-glossy world that Instagram often offers.

Why the loneliness?
«Because it is a great global situation that needs to be reckoned with. People are very lonely, and that’s why, in my small way, I feel the need for contact with the other very strongly within me: when I have the opportunity to deepen a knowledge, I throw myself without thinking twice».

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What relationship do you have with loneliness?
«I do a job of great sociality. By nature, I am someone who breaks up with others very easily even if, during the pandemic, I discovered a side of myself that I didn’t think about: I understood that I’m not sick on my own”.

As is often the case, loneliness can be a double-edged sword.
«You have to know how to be alone, in my opinion. Leaving aside the fact that one can feel very alone even among people, knowing how to take moments to understand who we are and see what is happening around us is fundamental».

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In his novel he speaks, in fact, of an unnamed character who embarks on a journey to understand who he is. Do you feel you are on a journey towards something?
«I’ve felt like I’ve been on a journey all my life, but I don’t want to look at the goal or destination so as not to lose sight of the road that will lead me there. I have a solid family behind me, but I’m looking for a home, understood as my place in the world. Books have given me a centrality that I didn’t have: before I felt inadequate, out of place. When I was an actor I felt like I was stealing someone else’s job, I never felt appreciated, understood, recognized. I was able to establish a different affinity with books: when I manage to put a code on a blank page that can open the eyes of the people in front of me so that they understand who I am, I feel at home».

What is the biggest risk of this research?
“The fact that every time I write a book, I think I have nothing more to say. In those moments, however, I realize how much deeper the journey can be, and it’s fascinating to discover yourself. In this novel at the beginning the protagonist had a name because I felt I wanted to save Generation Z from loneliness: I didn’t understand anything. Working deeply on the story, I realized that it’s not the protagonist who saves them, but that it’s the meeting that does it. Knowing the solitudes of others helps me understand mine, and this is the most precious lesson I have learned».

If you take a look on television, it seems that everyone is trying at all costs to decipher Generation Z: what is it that we are missing in defining it, in your opinion?
“Maybe the ease with which we think we can play these kids. This is why, in my research, I relied on a psychotherapist to help me enter their world to talk to it, to experience it. This is how the project was born: from the organization of groups of words, of round tables with young people who opened up as I never hoped. The thing that most surprised me, however, is something else».

Which?
«The reaction of adults in front of the book that led the bookstores to move it from the children’s department to that of novels. That wounded child who feels out of place is still hidden behind the armor we put on as adults, and I think he has awakened to a story like this ».

The problem, in my opinion, is the desire to classify everything: from books to films, from people to ideologies.
«I have always fought against this need to define everything. I’ve always tried not to define myself so as not to be pigeonholed into something, and this brings me back to the beginning of my career. When I started being an influencer, I brought with me a very strong prejudice, convincing myself of how precious it is to be what I want. I’ll tell you something else: this is the first book to be illustrated by an artificial intelligence, and I’ll tell you that, at the beginning, De Agostini had some doubts about the images because they weren’t defined. I believe, on the other hand, that their power was precisely that, given that it was aimed at the season – adolescence – indefinite par excellence. I like that everyone sees what they like in those images».

Let’s talk about definition: when you were a teenager, did you ever feel defined?
“I’m still not. I understood many things about myself because I’m very curious, but I still have to be framed. I’ll tell you that I also like not knowing it.’

Earlier you spoke of the children hidden inside adults: which child was she?
«Extremely positive, with a smile on the world. I was born into a very loving but very different family from me and this inevitably enriches me. I lived my childhood in this way, together with some physical ailments which is the theme around which I built the second book».

That is to say?
“A child hospitalized in a genetic dysfunction ward. In my case they found a solution, but I’ve seen everything in there, and this shapes you. Since then I have never complained in my life, I have seen things that are too strong».

How old was?
“11 years old”.

How has getting in touch with pain so early changed you?
“It exacerbated one thing: feeling different from everyone else.”

To hide diversity, we often wear masks to be similar to others. Has this happened to her?
We live in a world where you can’t not put it: the truth is like oxygen, but when there’s too much it doesn’t allow you to live. In life, I’ve had many masks: I live on social media, the mask par excellence, and I inevitably come into contact with an aggressiveness that sometimes scares. Over time I’ve learned to shift attention, to depersonalize the offense because, after all, whoever offends you is someone you only mirror, you let them vent and try never to take it personally.”

How do you handle violence? Does it make her suffer?
«I’ve always been hypersensitive: as a child I was very hurt even by non-heavy words, I was very vulnerable on that aspect. Now, after long vicissitudes, I’ve come to the conclusion that I can improve in many things, but in the end I’m a good person. When you are sure of this, nothing can scratch you. Franca Sozzani used to say that you can’t please everyone, but above all you shouldn’t, and I agree with her».

I think of a passage from the novel in which he explains that panic is fought above all by breathing: do you remember to breathe?
«I was lucky enough to have great breathing teachers because, often, breathing is not an instinctive gesture, but a rational one. The key for me remains to shift the focus to something else, even if it’s not easy».

Speaking of attention to the future: what did you want to be when you grew up?
«When they asked me, I replied that I would not grow up and that, therefore, I would not have raised the problem. I can tell you, however, that I have risked a lot in my life, I can’t get stuck in a search: I left home with a bit of turmoil from my parents who were worried about a world they didn’t know, namely TV”.

Do you believe it or do you know for sure?
“When I’m done Friends, mine have never intervened. Their reticence wasn’t about being an actor or not, but about the fear of taking that path just to become famous. It’s something I often tell those who follow me: social media only makes sense when you come to your own truth, and that’s why it makes no sense to copy anyone. When you remove the superstructures and get to your essence, people recognize each other».

Do you miss acting?
“Zero. I don’t think I was good at it: I had a cute face and worked well in TV series, but the role, the director and, perhaps, even the talent towards that discipline has always been missing. If tomorrow I received a proposal capable of making me creatively satisfied, perhaps I would jump in, but for now I don’t think about it: if in 10 years I haven’t felt at ease, on the other hand, perhaps the problem was upstream. When I realized I wasn’t happy and threw everything away, a new phase in my life began in which I realized that nothing is thrown away. In fact, what I learned in those years was preparatory to what I’m doing now».

When did you first look in the mirror and feel grown up?
«When I bought my first house, but also when my first book came out: it was the first time I felt my mother really proud of me. Having said that, I still feel like a guy who is looking for her way, even if from the outside I give the image of a person who is stuck in her position ».

Do you feel as free as you would like at this stage of your life?
“I feel very lucky and privileged. I am free in my work, in expressing my creativity. I live by doing what makes me happy: I’m a bit of a workaholic, but I always work with great joy. I’ve had so much in life that I’m just grateful.”

Does well-being, in your case, also pass through body care?
«I’ve never been a great sportsman: in the pandemic I gained 8 kilos, but since a personal trainer has been following me I feel better, more energetic. I relieve the tensions that may exist ».

Earlier you quoted Franca Sozzani who, when she spoke of dreams, maintained that one must fantasize without a budget. Do you have an extra-budget dream?
“Directing a film based on my first book. On the second I have another idea that I’m carrying on, but I have the entire film in my head for the first, from the first to the last scene. Sure, someone will say that Paolo Stella wants to do everything and I’ll let it slip on me, but it doesn’t matter. It would be a road that would make me happy.”

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Source: Vanity Fair

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