Daughter of art, beloved face of the nineties and today a brilliant and aware woman. We met Elisabetta Ferracini, daughter of Mara Venier and the actor Francesco Ferracini, and he told us about his family, his beginnings on television and, of course, about Tickles, the children’s program that changed her life in the mid-nineties. And then we talked about thatsudden goodbye and surprising, of which, however, he is not guilty.
The words of Elisabetta Ferracini
Let’s start from your roots: you are the daughter of two great characters of the Italian show business, Mara Venier and Francesco Ferracini. Let’s start with the most inflated but necessary question to tell you: what was it like growing up in a family of beloved characters?
It was my reality, my only reality, I had no terms of comparison. It happened to frequent other famous families, then other children of art, for me it was all normal. Of course, I have never had a classic family, you know, of the canonical ones, but – after all – I was a little girl like many others, with my difficulties and happy moments. From the outside, perhaps, there is a different perception, but – for me who was part of it – it was simply a family.
What are the pros and cons of being a daughter of art?
There are certainly many pros: everyone knows my mother and I too, as a result, have come into contact with many people who, if my parents had done another job, I would never have known. I certainly had more doors open at the beginning, because there was so much curiosity towards me, maybe they thought «Let me see ‘what this is like». In a second moment, however, the prejudice takes over. The truth is, they are more curious about who you are than what you do or what you can do. First they want to know you, then they point the finger at you. In any case, I’ve always had a wonderful relationship with my mother. Moreover, when I presented Solletico, which was my most successful moment, she did something quite different, she was addressing another audience. There has never been competition nor have they tried to put us in competition. When I am on the street, it happens that they stop me and ask me about her, but it doesn’t bother me, on the contrary, it pleases me. If she hadn’t been there, I wouldn’t have been here! But then these dynamics belong to many families, I am thinking for example of my current partner: he is the son of a great doctor, who founded the Fatebenefratelli. He also happened to be told “Are you the son of …?”, It’s normal and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, quite the contrary.
It is mistakenly thought that your debut on TV took place with Tickles, but actually you had started a few years earlier with as an actress. What would you say today, if you could, to the Elisabeth of that time?
You must know that I was a very shy girl, but anyway, a trifle was enough for me to become red as a pepper! (bursts out laughing, ed) Today, I’m more spontaneous, I don’t mince words and I let myself go, but then I was always at the mercy of this great shyness, I couldn’t speak or be completely myself. And you know what is the thing I hated the most? When someone pointed it out to me! If they said to me “Why are you blushing?”, I fell silent, I wanted to be invisible and run away. Here, I would say to the Elisabeth of that time to send to the devil those who put her in difficulty! (laughs, ed) Seriously, I would advise you to be more serene, to let yourself go and be more spontaneous, freer.
Let’s open a fundamental parenthesis for your career and your life: Tickles.
Before Solletico, I had acted in the theater and worked in production, so I knew that profession well, but I had never run a program, I was awkward. I’ll tell you how it went: I was doing a small show in the theater, entitled Seems there is only sea, directed by Marco Bresciani, it was a one-act act and we were only three women acting. During one of the performances, the people who then chose me to lead Solletico came to see me. In fact, a week later, the call came that changed my life. They were looking for a girl who had an international face: at that moment, in Italy, Beverly Hills was depopulated and they wanted a girl who looked like one of the protagonists of the series, Shannen Doherty. So, I was contacted to do an audition, I was shy, as I told you, but luckily the experience in the theater helped me a lot.
What happened then?
And then we moved to Turin for three months. The pacts were these: let’s see how it goes, if the project works, we move to Milan, otherwise the shack closes. Those three months proved to be a resounding success. I have to thank Mauro Serio, with whom I led Solletico for years. He already had a lot of experience behind him, it was a train, nobody stopped him! (laughs, ed) He helped me a lot, he was generous, every time the red camera light came on, I panicked, other than becoming red as a pepper, I caught fire! (bursts out laughing, ed) As I told you, the three months of testing went great, so we moved to Milan and, from then on, it was all incredible. Solletico changed my life, I used to live in Rome, I was divided between the work of production and that of an actress in the off theaters, but suddenly I found myself catapulted to Milan, which is a splendid European capital, I changed house, habits, I had a salary of my own, every day I went live in the homes of Italians. In short, an incredible change, considering I was just twenty-four. It has been a wonderful five years.
Do you believe that, nowadays, it would be possible to re-propose a program such as Tickles?
Absolutely not! We live in a period in which we look to the past with great nostalgia, but things have changed. Today’s kids have changed, they no longer watch television and would not be attracted to the type of TV we offered. Today they play on the playstation, they have the iPad, they watch Netflix, there are many telematic programs, there is a vast and captivating offer. Without considering that today’s children, as soon as they pick up something, anything, begin to spread their fingers as we adults do with a photograph or web content, it seems that the cell phone is the extension of the hand of these young people! It’s all online now, what are today’s kids doing with Solletico? Maybe those who were small at the time could follow him, but today they will be thirty years old!
But what if he comes back and they ask you to do it again?
I would do it again in a hurry! Recently, Mauro and I (Serio, ed) did an interview together and, within a few minutes, we found the same harmony as almost twenty years ago. It is incredible that, despite the past, everything between us has remained the same as it was then. It would be nice to get back to working together, but today it is almost impossible.
But do you have any idea how many children, including me, you hurt when you left the program?
Now I’ll surprise you: I didn’t leave Tickling! I’ll explain how it went: there were some changes at the top and, although I was under contract, they told me that this would be my last edition, after which I would be moved to work on another project. I’m honest, I don’t know what happened, another girl came to replace me, but after two or three months the ship sank. The following year Mauro also left and Solletico is finished. They ruined a perfect car. I left against my will, I was sick for a year for this choice of the company. Had it happened today, it would have been different, the young people would have made their dissent through social media. As far as I’m concerned, it was an injustice and the negative response from the public is proof of that.
At some point, then, they asked you to come back …
That’s right, they called me and asked to go back to my seat. My answer was no, I did it out of pride. Today, in hindsight, I think maybe I should have accepted, but I was still a girl, I was proud and I acted on instinct. Therefore, I turn to all the kids of that time who were sorry for my abandonment, know that I have nothing to do with it, I have nothing to be forgiven for! (bursts out laughing, ed) And I would like to add one more thing …
In the end, it doesn’t matter whose son you are, it doesn’t matter the popularity or the success of the program, just think that we had even won three Telegatti, the most prestigious and important award for Italian TV. If they decide to kill you for unknown reasons, they just do it. The same happened to Mauro, who was also estranged from Solletico. Moral of the story? After a year the program no longer existed, it was dead.
Then in 2002 you became a mother and your life changed completely: Giulio was born and you put aside your television career.
At that time I was working in what is now Sky, but back then it was called Stream TV. I ran two programs, one about the Champions League and another, which was called New World. When I started to see the belly, I stopped working. That, for me, was an intimate moment, mine alone, to be lived on the sidelines. I have always been a very private person, but from that moment on I have been even more so. I didn’t want that important period to be put on the square. In fact, I don’t understand women who do photo shoots during pregnancy or immediately after giving birth, I don’t judge them, mind you, but I don’t understand them, I admit it. Do you think that the first official photo of my son, published in the weekly Chi, was taken in 2018 and he was sixteen. I care a lot about my privacy, so it wasn’t difficult to make a precise choice. Let me be clear, I did not take a step back, but I made a decision, which was to stop. I would never have raised my son by a babysitter, I already have so many feelings of guilt despite having always been a mother present, imagine if I had left him in the hands of another woman. I had a choice – unfortunately not all of them have – and I decided to leave.
But is there anything you would change if you could go back?
No, absolutely no. But then, today, who is it that works? Apart from my mother and two or three other historical presenters, who is it that manages to carve out a space and make themselves known and appreciated by the public? Nowadays there are only passing phenomena, especially those released by reality shows.
Speaking of reality TV, have they ever offered you one?
Yes, indeed, many have been proposed to me, since the first island of the famous. I love that reality show, but I should have gone to Honduras and left my son. I also refused La Fattoria, at the time Giulio was small and they even offered me an agreement to stay for a certain number of episodes. But do you think I’m going there aware that I’m only staying for a while? No, either you play it well or you just stay at home. I have said many no, over the years. I am not a hypocrite, when they ask me “Is it easy to get back into the business after so many years out of the game?”, The answer, of course, is that it is almost impossible. Think that I have a very nice project, on which I have worked with some friends, but no one is willing to bet on valid ideas anymore: they want me to come with a low cost project and that maybe you also have a sponsor. Then I am calmly at my house and that’s okay.
What do you do today?
Today I organize events for a company, I always work in the field of communication, I have the privilege of meeting so many people and being able to take advantage of this knowledge to grow.
I conclude with this question: for us at Digital Global Times, the meaning POP represents something beautiful, captivating, trendy. What is POP for you?
Pop is everything we like and it makes us feel good. For me, pop is my son!
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