Interview by: Sahar Arshad
Based in Rome, Italy, Federica is the Editor-In-Chief for The Tempest, a global news and media publication. Having worked with her for months, I’ve come to know her as a guiding light – the captain of the large Editorial ship with crew mates located at every corner of the world. She’s a leader, yes, but it is her mentorship and empathetic nature, while still advising us on how to be better writers, better editors, that set her apart.
A graduate of Communications and Media with a minor in Humanistic studies from John Cabot University, Federica is a storyteller, who connects as deeply to the fictional world as she does to the real one. Having been the Senior Editor for Pop Culture at The Tempest, she recognizes the power of stories on the lives of those experiencing them, and helps convey perspective and opinion of the stories we watch and read. You can find her at @ladymultifandom on Twitter!
I had the wonderful opportunity to interview Federica for Global Girlhood and have her share some of her thoughts on community, empowerment, and what being a woman means to her, here for our Global Girlhood community.
A little bit about you?
My name’s Federica, I am 23 years old. As you know, I’m Italian, born and raised in Naples, and then I moved to Rome for University and work. Describe myself in a few words? A woman who is very passionate about storytelling – let’s say stories, that also includes History and Literature! ‘Storyteller’ definitely includes ‘writer’, so I’m not going to say ‘writer’, but I’m a reader, and a mentor.
An only child, Federica grew up in a loving household, surrounded by friends and family. She remembers growing up with her cousins and supportive parents who never put limits on what she wanted to study or achieve. She remembers growing up playing more with boys than girls. She doesn’t take it for granted, knowing she was raised in an environment free of misogyny, and understands how different her life would have been had she experienced any.
Can you think of a time you felt particularly aware of your gender and how it led you to be treated?
Like I’ve said, as a child, I was fortunate that nothing negative really affected me too much, but I have to say, media – Italian media. Even now, we’re still pretty backwards when it comes to both public and private television and what’s shown there.
But when I was a child it was just horrible. You’d have girls just being this shiny object on TV, hardly wearing any clothes, not even saying anything and just fawning over whoever was presenting the TV show. And I remember when I was a baby, I would innocently wonder – ‘aren’t they cold?’ I was too young then to understand the sexualization and objectification of women, but even then I naively thought ‘it’s winter, they must be cold, why are they wearing bikinis on TV?!’
Like so many of us, an instance where Federica realized there was something weird going on, was thanks to the media. The portrayal of women on television even just five or six years ago was deeply-rooted in a sexist, misogynistic dialogue, one that had simply been normalized for so long, it was difficult for TV to end. Now, Federica works for the Tempest, a media company that aims to dismantle the status quo, provide women of all identities a space to voice their stories, and be a force of power. She talked about how media has been evolving, just in the last few years with queer representation becoming more mainstream. These are the sort of dialogues that should be ‘normalized.’
What is your proudest accomplishment?
Whenever someone that I’ve mentored comes back months or years later and writes me a nice note or message just to let me know what they’re doing and how they’re doing and often they’ll say they’re where they are because of some contribution or impact I had on their lives. So I would say, having a real life impact on people, not just emotional – which is great and so rewarding – but when people will contact me and say ‘hey, I’m doing this right now and it’s because of something you said or something you did’, I think that. That’s my proudest accomplishment. That connection that comes with mentorship.
Mentorship, I don’t know, it just makes it more personal in a sense? More between you and helping the other person grow. Don’t get me wrong, leadership is great, I used to teach leadership, but it can be broad – between you and a group of people. But mentorship is between you and the other person – and it’s so rewarding!
Who taught you the importance of empowerment and how did it affect your life?
That’s a great question. I think it must have been a combination of people, and it definitely included people from the media, whether fictional or real. I mean yes, my mom and dad definitely always empowered me throughout my life, but if I had to pinpoint who, I couldn’t. It’s an amalgamation of instances and people. Definitely fictional characters have helped me, and I’m not going to forget that.
Definitely Dany (Daenerys Targaryen). But if I have to think of a character I maybe loved when I was little and helped me become who I am today, Annabeth Chase from Percy Jackson.
How do you empower others?
A very important factor in empowerment is awareness and knowledge. Especially at work, when I empower other people I want to be very honest with them, making sure that they have all the facts. I would never lie to others to protect their feelings. For example if someone writes something that simply doesn’t work, I don’t rewrite it for them, that’s not what a mentor does. Instead, I tell them and make sure I give them all the tools that they need to become better and to fix if there are any mistakes than need to be fixed.
But definitely being as present as possible and providing knowledge / awareness. Those are the tools I use to empower others.
Federica talked about empathy too, how being an empathic person makes it possible for her to relate and be perceptive about how people are feeling. Using how they’re feeling as a way to make them understand and help them grow. Never manipulate their feelings, but work with what is already there to explain something to someone else.
How do you empower yourself?
I used to be a very shy person, I don’t think I am shy anymore – now I’m an extrovert on steroids! *she gives a laugh*. I love being with people, meeting with people, getting to know new people. I feel like the way that I look at the world is that every single moment is a chance to learn something. Nobody, nothing is perfect, so I try not to feel insecure. I have to say, I’m thankful that I don’t really experience imposter syndrome. I’m successful in telling myself that I deserve to be here and if I am then it’s for a reason.
So, I would say the way I empower myself is by reminding me that nothing’s perfect - we’re all learning. This is your chance to do it, so seize the chance and learn something new! I try to cherish every single interaction I have. The way I look at the world, I try not to feel insecure, because at some point, everybody is. And there’s no point because we’re all here, we’re all trying to learn and do our best, right?
I empower myself because I feel like that’s a good way to empower others. Because how will I be able to empower others if I don’t feel like I could do it myself?
In a position where she is available to help her team of writers and editors pretty much day and night, Federica recognizes that to do so, a strong relationship with yourself is so important. To be future leaders and mentors, we need to break the concept of imposter syndrome and recognize that the opportunities we work for, we deserve.
Why do you enjoy and appreciate being a woman?
Federica talked about how she has a hard time with these sorts of questions because they stem from a binary conception that history has sort of ingrained into our brains, that is, ‘What is feminine?’ It doesn’t sit well with her to be told she’s an empathetic person because she’s a woman.
I enjoy being a woman because I identify as a woman. I don’t think any of the qualities I have are gendered. I am lucky to feel comfortable in my skin – and I know it’s not the same for everybody.
What communities are you a part of?
Well, I’m definitely part of the LGBTQIA+ community. Besides that, I just feel like I’m a part of this global community. This might be because for the last five years I’ve been a part of international communities. I went to school at an American University in Italy so I literally studied with people from about eighty countries. Now I work in a company that comprises a team of people from all over the globe. That definitely impacted the way I saw the world.
It made me realize how much I love integration between different communities and countries. Especially with the internet and the web, I feel like the barriers of community have kind of been taken down.
Even when I was in high school, I would spent so much time on Twitter, talking to people from all over the world about how much we loved the same fictional characters! Just having that exchange and seeing other people’s perspectives that were coming from backgrounds so different than my own… twenty years ago I wouldn’t have been able to do that, and I know that the entire way that I see the world would have been drastically different. It’s just… that potential, that exposure to what is different from what I’m used to.
The internet has so, so many faults. But one thing it’s succeeded in doing is it has made it feel like we can, if we want, be part of one global community.
Knowing that I was interviewing Federica in Italy, from where I live in Pakistan, this exchange hit hard. The communities we get to be a part of, and the communities we get to start today are limitless. Twenty years ago, this interview with her might not have been possible. I may have never even met her. Now, we have the opportunity to break out of the bubble and obtain the exposure we need to grow, reflect and change! How beautiful is that?
CONNECTIVITY CONTRIBUTOR REACTIONS
We see the media as a reflection of society, so I certainly relate to Federica, and how she questioned the sexualization and objectification of women on TV. Federica describes herself as a "storyteller," and I think storytellers like herself are privileged that their medium is a great way to communicate effectively. As someone who grew up in a patriarchal society where misogyny is often normalized, it is no question that I needed a mentor—someone I could see myself in who also knew the importance of creating more stories to empower, advocate, and transform. I'm a firm believer that you give life to what you give your passion and energy to, and it is no question that women like Federica are so important in this world—women who show you just how endless your potential is and that being part of something bigger than yourself is something to take pride in. Having attended a multicultural school myself, I definitely saw how we live in a world where—far more than any other time in history—our capacity to be seen and heard across all spheres is possible. As long as you have something to fight for and something to say, you are no longer constrained by boundaries, and like Federica, have wider horizons to embody the energy needed for change in society—whether you choose to be a mentor, a storyteller, or anything that brings out the passion in you. You have what it takes to take advantage of as much knowledge this world could give so that life looks a bit brighter for someone else.