Livia de Paolis
Actor, Director, Producer
It’s so important for our society to create opportunities for women to receive education and training, and building networks to support them throughout the process. Education opens doors to women that may otherwise be closed. It’s also crucial for financial resources to be facilitated in order to offset the challenges that women experience when pursuing an education.
What is your current project that you’ve been working on?
“The Lost Girls” is my second feature film. It is a spin-off of the Peter Pan story from a contemporary Wendy’s perspective. It is a feminist film depicting Peter Pan returning to Wendy after she has grown up and has a daughter. Wendy has forgotten how to fly away with Peter Pan, so she cannot go to Neverland. Instead, Wendy’s daughter flies with Peter Pan. The film follows these different girls and women as they grow up and distance themselves from Peter Pan.
What made you decide to work on this project?
Peter Pan was always one of my favorite fairy tales. I believe that Peter Pan represents the power of imagination and the capability of children to create this world of make-believe. I read Laurie Fox’s book in 2003 and immediately loved the concept because I was passionate about Peter Pan. She centered the story on the struggles of leaving childhood and becoming an adult. I definitely utilized these concepts in “The Lost Girls.”
Was it a huge responsibility to tamper with such a classic story?
Definitely. Some purists disagree with any different versions of Peter Pan being explored. I believe if we can’t have a dialogue with our past, how will we have a dialogue with our present?
Do you find this concept to be true for America?
Yes, I believe change can be very scary for people. For America, it’s evolve or die at this point. There has to be an evolution, despite the attachment many hold to how we have functioned in the past. Without evolution, our society will grow odd and dangerous.
What are the qualities that make a Power Woman?
Speaking for myself, the fundamental thing that empowered me was self-awareness. Reflecting on myself is the basis of my development. It is very difficult to hold any power or agency without knowing who you are. By self-assessing, I can recognize my fears and challenge them.
The polarized society of the United States today seems to threaten our democratic values. If not our democracy itself, what action can we take to bring the various factions together?
My main concern is the huge divide between people. People are stronger when united and weaker when divided. When so much time is spent fighting and arguing, we lose agency and become incapable of achieving anything. I don’t have the solution, but I think it’s important to try listening to each other. It is crucial that we attempt to listen to the other side and try to understand why they disagree to such extreme extents. Often the other side does not feel they are being represented or even heard. This causes harsh reactions that can be difficult to see past. There should be dialogue with at least a fraction of the other side.
With all of the pressing matters in our world, is the pursuit of gender equality the most important?
Yes, I believe that gender equality would have massive effects. We would live in a better world with more women in positions of power, which would trigger positive changes in other matters. Equality is the most organic thing for me to work towards. I hire as many women as possible on my set. It’s important to have more women behind the camera. It’s important to have women in any position that is traditionally male-dominated.
Do you believe there is a number one action our society can take toward empowering women?
On our own side, it is important that we bond more. Some women in positions of power are not lobbying enough for other women. There could be a greater commitment to connect and to make that bonding a priority.
Can you share a story where you may have encountered a career block based on gender?
While pitching the movie, I had a conversation with one man where I asked, “How many women’s films have you made in the past year?” He was unwilling to answer my question and just disregarded the importance of the topic. He just lowered his eyes at me, looking unamused.
What can we do to continue to support and enhance the presence of women participating in boardroom conversations?
I created a long entry for my first feature film in 2014, in which I proposed this radical collaboration concept- just hire more women. There are plenty of women that are perfectly capable of completing specific jobs. We need to give these women the opportunity to showcase their talents. We must invite them to the conversation.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Do not quit.
What is your favorite book?
The first one that comes to mind is The Never Ending Story by Michael Ende, since I did make a movie out of it.
What do you value the most in friendships?
Loyalty and consistency.
What trait are you most uncomfortable with in yourself?
I am uncomfortable with my strength because I sometimes feel my confidence rubs people the wrong way. My fearlessness is something I love about myself, but it is sometimes misunderstood by others.
What do you consider to be the most overrated virtue?
Political correctness is very appreciated right now, and saying the right thing at the right time is overrated to me.