5 Nov 2016

INTERVIEW WITH TAMARA PIZZOLI

Finally the weekend is here. I'm so happy about this. 

After a busy week with hubby away for work and being worried about what is happening in North Dakota I'm looking forward the weekednn because hubby is back and I'm going on a treat where I can pray even more for those standing up against injustice at Standing Rock front line. 

In the meantime I would love to share with you this interview I had with D.tt Tamara Pizzoli, author of Tallulah: The Tooth Fairy CEO. I’m so glad to be able to talk to D.tt Pizzoli. I wanted to get to know her better because as a fellow writer I believe it’s good for our readers to know that we’re humans doing what we love. So, let's begin.

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ME: To break the ice. What is your guilty pleasure dessert?

TAMARA: Cominciamo bene! Depending on the day it would either be cheesecake or chocolate cake. I'm actually eating chocolate cake right now. It's my second breakfast today.


ME: Can you tell me more about yourself? Origin, date of birth and passions (if you want).

TAMARA: Sure, I'm originally from Killeen, Texas. It's a small town about an hour away from Austin, Texas. I was born there and raised in the same home until age 16. That's when I moved to Dallas and began attending Southern Methodist University. I stayed in Dallas after college and did my Masters and Doctorate degrees in Education and then moved to Rome at age 25. I've resided in Rome off and on ever since 2007. Bday is October 6. I have lots of passions--all the passions. A few include my family, living well, loving well, art, literature and literacy, education, vintage shopping, the kora, griots, storytelling, fairy tales, wine, children's books, spiritual journeys and lessons...I could go on and on.

ME: Wow, you started university early. You're so clever.


ME: Right now, I’m listening to Luca Carboni’s La Mia Ragazza. What do you like listening too? Who’s your favorite Italian and non-Italian songwriter?  

TAMARA: I am in Italy, but I am not of Italy. Lol. I really don't have a favorite Italian song or songwriter. That always surprises people. Now as far as what I like listening to, it really depends on the scenario, task and/or my mood. For affirmations (I'm into them) and just general I own my life and this is all awesome: Lil' Wayne. I also listen to Lil' Wayne before big business meetings and if I have to do anything conflict-related. For when I want to feel divinely feminine and beautifully complex: Erykah Badu. For when I don't know what the hell to do: Negro spirituals. Any time an incredible milestone happens (this can be a professional accomplishment or a birthday): Juvenile's Back that *** Up. 

My partner is a musician so I really love watching and enjoying his creative process and sitting in on the sessions when he's creating music.

ME: Lil' Wayne, interesting. I've never listened to his music, I will check it out.


ME: Before going to live in Italy what did you think of the place? How has that thought evolved in time?

TAMARA: I think I just saw Italy as a nice place to visit before moving here. It was on the bucket list, for sure, but I never really gave it much thought other than that. Now it's home. It feels familiar and smells familiar.


ME: Parliamo del tetto! Everytime I see a picture of the roof of your house, it feels as if it’s inviting me to perch there and breath in the city. What that spot represent in your life? Hope you will invite me to the tetto one day, just kidding? (Laughs)

TAMARA: Ah, il tetto...That spot represents so much for me. One of my favorite Lil' Wayne quips is "No Ceilings!" And I adore that. If we can all just get outta our own heads, outta our own boxes or the boxes we allow others to place us in-- and into the sky. It's such a powerful concept. And to be honest...I found that spot, as well as the rest of my home, while in hell. By that I mean, I was going through hell in my life just over two years ago, one of the most terrible times. I'd just separated from my ex-husband, and found myself in an unexpected custody battle. I've never really talked about this before publicly...but I'm of the opinion that there's no wisdom in keeping lessons to yourself. So anyway, there was a short time when I was in Rome right after the separation, and kind of going from hotel to hotel, staying with friends in Rome and my mom in Texas, back to hotels, etc...because I couldn't find the house that was right for my boys and me. My lawyers at the time were pressuring me to just pick a place, any place, but I refused because I knew it had to be the right home...not a house or just some flat, but a home. I found our home on this site called wantedinrome.com, and I had to wait for it. I had to lobby for it, and I had to wait for it. Ah, but it was worth it. God, it was worth it. So yeah, that spot on top of the roof represents so much--triumph, trusting my gut, the treasures that are to be found in hell, spiritual lessons, gratitude, faith, manifesting, evolving--so, so much. Almost every one who comes to visit me goes up to that roof and sits. And the home itself pulls out the most beautiful energy in people who visit. I've had friends pray here, chant, sing, meditate, play music, write, paint... everything. It's a home you can have a conversation with. I even gave birth to my son Zen in it in July - right on the bed. And of course, you are welcome to visit. I mean that.

ME: Thank you so much for trusting my platform to share this part of your journey. I feel the magi in the place. It's so inspiring because it shows that God's time is the best. Patience is a virtue and it gives lot of wonderful gifts. I'll surely come to visit because I can feel that beautiful energy by just hearing you talk about your house.

ME: Where is your favorite place to write?

TAMARA: On my couch.

ME: Why do you write the books you do?

TAMARA: I write books that are asking to be written. I'll explain. I believe that each good idea that we have, and we all have them, is just kindly asking for permission to be brought into reality. So I try to honor my ideas by acting on each one that I deem to be a good one. I don't wait for anyone to endorse my ideas. I don't wait for money or the right time. I figure out a way and manifest it. I just get started.

ME: Let’s talk about Tallulah. I love her, her hair, her lifestyle and especially her career choice. My children and I fell in love with her from the cover. Why did you choose to write about Tallulah?

TAMARA: Oh, I love Tallulah too. The idea for Tallulah the Tooth Fairy CEO came from my eldest son, Noah. He also inspired my first book, The Ghanaian Goldilocks. Earlier this year Noah, who was six at the time, lost one of his front two teeth. He'd planned to put it under his pillow that night but was never able to because he lost it before bedtime. I'm really sentimental about things like this (I keep his teeth) and, visibly saddened and frustrated, asked him what he was going to do with no tooth to put under his pillow. Noah is now seven, and he's one of the most rational, logical people I know. He simply replied, "It's alright. I'm just gonna write her a note and explain what happened." I thought his response was brilliant. And once I put Noah and his brother Milo to bed, I started writing the story. It was written in just a couple of hours. Physically Tallulah was inspired by two of my life muses--a close friend and guide in my life, Dominican-Italian actress Iris Peynado and Iris Apfel. I could have named the book Iris the Tooth Fairy CEO I suppose, but it doesn't quite have the same ring to it. Tallulah's a great name.

I will also say that I consider myself to be an image activist. I think that the battle is really for our minds, beliefs and perceptions. In the work I create, I attempt to challenge the status quo in storytelling. Why wouldn't The Tooth Fairy be a Black woman with an afro and head of a billion-dollar corporation? Of course she is! Why wouldn't Goldilocks be a young boy in Ghana with a golden-tipped afro? Of course he is!

ME: You're amazing.


ME: I would love to hear about your series In Nero. In Nero is a creative series that spans several mediums: art. film and literature.The title, of course, has its roots in Italian. In Nero literally translated means "In Black," but here in Italy the term is applied to a variety of circumstances: to work under the table, for example. When I moved here and began to speak and understand Italian well, I was taken aback by how much the term "nero", or black, is used negatively in idioms: to be angry, to work too hard..even the boogie man is referred to here as "Il Uomo Nero"...or The Black Man. 

It's my opinion that people pay attention to art. They pay attention to compelling stories. So this is where the image activism comes in again: So far In Nero includes: an on-going short documentary series highlighting the lives of Black people living in the eternal city. We've completed the first installment of In Nero: Black Girls in Rome." Now we're executing the second installment of that series as well as filming the first of In Nero: Black Men in Rome. We have active plans to branch out to other cities both in and outside of Italy. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AznUhel2LqQ

A fictionalized web series with the same title, loosely based on my experiences as a Black woman in Rome. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1lZLA6PRaW8

An exhibition of high art painted by Master Italian artist Elena Tommasi Ferroni and curated by me, entitled In Nero: Fairytales and Histories Reimagined and Retold. 
(The online exhibition can be viewed at www.thenefgallery.com)
An upcoming anthology of reimagined fairy tales and fables based on the In Nero art exhibition.

ME: Are you working on any other project?

TAMARA: Tons! I have a lot of wonderful ideas knocking on my imagination's door and I'm giving them all attention and care. Some include a story illustrated by Elena and written by me inspired by jazz legend Dee Dee Bridgewater and a series of West African fairy tales that Elena is also illustrating. And of course I have two sequels to Tallulah the Tooth Fairy CEO in the works. All the whimsy, all the wonder. Let me know when you plan on stopping by the house. The wine and the chocolate cake will be here waiting. :)



ME: I love chatting with you. I believe we could spend hours chatting. You're my kind of person and I feel fortunate to have connected. Can't wait to stop by the house when I'm in Italy next time. Bacioni. 

TAMARA: I'm so happy to know. I'm grateful to know you too. And I adore your name. It's very regal. 


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