Interview with actress Martina Polla

Here is a new interview I’ve conducted – part of my research into Actors and Acting in a Second Language – with Italian actress Martina Polla.


Mihai: Hi, Martina! Please tell me a bit about yourself!


Martina: I was born and raised in a small city in the north of Italy. Lovely parents, gorgeous brother. I was a model student, I had friends and I played volleyball in a prestigious team.

I never thought about acting.

But I have always been very ambitious and successful (in the first part of my life) and determined.

Everyone said I was a very rational person, because I used to have things under control and achieve very good results no matter what I was doing.

But I worked hard. Very hard.

Then I left my parents’ house and I moved to Milan for University.

I started studying philosophy. Everybody thought I would have studied mathematics or physics or very difficult scientific subjects, but I am NOT a rational person and I did not follow that path.

After three years of philosophical studies I was exhausted and drained.

The only thing that would relieve me in those days was going to the theatre.

So I attended an acting course, I worked very hard and I auditioned for three of the most important drama schools in Italy. Two of them in Milan and one in Turin.

I asked my mum to call for the outcomes because I was not brave enough to face a ‘no’.

I was accepted in all the schools.

And I thought this was the best chance of my life. I could show that I was not a rational person but an artist.

Here is a picture of me at that time.

Looking at my eyes I cannot say I was the happy person I believed to be.
martina polla
Briefly: the school was hard but beautiful. But insecure as I am I suffered competition very much.

School finished, work started. I was quite lucky, I started working in important productions immediately, but through all this path I never had the real chance to find myself as an artist.

I have been running a lot, things have become difficult and rational again.

I needed to break away from the image of who I had decided to be… ‘an actress’ and from the fragile and rigid person I had become.

When you speak in another language you have the chance to put a distance between your true self and all the mess you have created around that image of you, who speaks your native language. A big part of my fears are accumulated in that ‘me’ who speaks Italian and lives in that language.


Mihai: Tell me a bit more about your location… where you currently work.


Martina: I’ve just moved to London to start a cooperation with IAL (International Actors London). I don’t know where it will lead, nor if it will give any good result.

I still work in Italy as well… I’m trying to move from theatre to cinema.

I’ll be back to shoot a short movie and a series.

But you’ll probably find me in some pub or box office as well, I’ll need to find a part time job here to survive! This will be my work, at least for a while 🙂


Mihai: What kind of artistic work are you doing at the moment?


Martina:  I’m doing some ‘artistic’ work as an actress, not yet here, as I wrote above.

But I’d love to ask you what you mean with ‘artistic’, because maybe the most artistic thing I’m doing at the moment is trying to understand what my needs are as a human being and as an artist (assuming that I am one).


 Mihai: Can you please tell me a bit about your plans for the future?


Martina: My plans for the future are full of hope.

I hope I’ll be able to make a living being an actress and I hope I’ll be satisfied.

But first of all I hope with all my heart I’ll have the chance to get back to myself and to understand what this work means to me.

It is very demanding and I think it is worth to take it seriously, which is not easy considering the difficulties to win this world over.

But still, I am full of hope!

I’ll do it step by step. If I really think about the future I’m dying of fear, so I’ll pretend not to think about it!


Mihai: Do you think that second-language actors can have a successful career in the UK? Please explain your answer (either yes or no).


Martina: YES.

Otherwise I wouldn’t be here… if I was sure to fail, I mean.

I think second-language actors will never belong to just one place. They are the actors for the co-productions, they are the actors for the independent films.

They’ll probably never be ‘stars’, but if they’re lucky, brave and good enough they can keep balance between their native world and the second one… they can inhabit at least two identities, which is a privilege.

As those children who have parents from different countries, they start to speak later, but once they speak (if they can) there is something rich and mysterious in belonging to more than one-self.

Thank you, Martina and best of luck!