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Life and Work with Roberta Setzu

Today we’d like to introduce you to Roberta Setzu.

So, before we jump into specific questions about what you do, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Spatially, my story starts pretty far from Atl. I was born in a quiet and proud Island in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea: Sardinia, Italy.

My love for arts definitely came from my parents. The singing from my mom, she used to bring me to her chorus rehearsals and sometimes she would let me sneak in and sing in her section. Those were such joyful moments.
The love for storytelling came from my Dad. He used to invent the most wonderful bedtime stories. He had an entire adventure book in his mind filled with such colorful characters and details.

I think that’s why I love creating stories, in whatever form, whether it’s a song, a character, a screenplay, or photography. It’s about creating something out of nothing, touching somebody’s soul, letting something resonate in your listener that leads both you and them on a journey to self-discovery.

My two big loves were always music and acting. When I was 19 years old, I started performing and touring as an actress with different theater companies in Sardinia and Italy. We traveled quite a bit and I got to work with great Italian directors in drama, comedy, and movement theater. I actually wrote the music for some of those productions. Then at 21, I was accepted into the Jazz program at Cagliari University and I had to balance my work in the theater with my Jazz studies, and my more frequent Jazz & World Music performances.

After gaining a B.A. in Jazz Studies (Voice), from Cagliari University I had to make the most important choice of my life. As much as I loved Sardinia, I felt my life needed to expand. Six days after my graduation, I picked up my life and moved 4,222 miles across the ocean to New York City where I had the privilege of studying the Meisner Acting Technique, with Master Teacher Robert X. Modica. In NYC, I continued to cultivate my taste and love for Jazz, performing around town with incredible Cats and loving every minute of it.

After NY, I had the great opportunity to work in Los Angeles for a few years as I had just booked the role of “Anita” in the movie “SHARKSKIN”. I acted in a few commercials and continued my acting studies while hitting LA Jazz Jam sessions. I performed and collaborated with great musicians both in the Jazz scene and in the Film Music Industry as well.

In LA, I also launched my business as a Headshot & Lifestyle Photographer. It offered me the opportunity to make my own schedule and begin seeing the world from behind the camera, and use my work as a performer as a bridge to capture genuine moments and connect to people on a more personal level. Then, I had the strong feeling that I had to move to Atlanta. After all, the movie industry was flourishing there and I felt I could be a part of that growth. In Atlanta, I started focusing more and more on singing and approaching my music with a different mindset. Atlanta has been so great for me both emotionally and artistically. It gave me the possibility to put things into perspective in a way I have never done before both in my private life and in my career. I think the change of pace gave me the space and a fertile terrain where to plant good seeds, water them, and watch them grow.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It definitely hasn’t been a smooth road, but the most gorgeous roads are the windy ones.
When I moved to America I really couldn’t speak English and I had to spend the first year just catching up, to build my foundation of the English language. I was also working three jobs and acting. It was intense but it was worth the hard work! The thing is, in order to give your dreams a chance, you have to keep pushing to the best of your abilities in order move yourself towards your goals and your purpose. If you don’t have a purpose, find it!

My advice to young women is to write down your dreams as often as you can and keep re-evaluating them. Do not be afraid to ask for help and most importantly, BE CONSISTENT WITH YOUR WORK. Because even if you move an inch forward, that’s a success—that’s still progress.

The truth is your end goal will evolve with you and take better shape. You will grow with it as a woman. I think it’s very important to stay kind to yourself— that is actually advice that I have to remind myself of as I tend to feel like I am never doing enough. But actually, typing this interview gave me the opportunity to look behind and see the incredible amount of progress and growing up I have done.

Like my mentor in faith, Daisaku Ikeda says: ‘You can count on your determination’. And that is probably the mantra that keeps my hope on fire.

Because no matter what is going on around you —you can always count on yourself to get you out of the mud and keep your own hope ignited.

You have to be your biggest supporter, and you have to build your own support system. A real support system with real people. In today’s era, you need an honest community to help you see the truth beyond the smoke and mirrors of social media and to remind yourself that you are worth the world.

What do you do, what do you specialize in, what are you known for, etc. What are you most proud of? What sets you apart from others?
I am really blessed with a lot of creativity and production in my life.
Although I am still acting and shooting photography, my primary focus right now is on my music. My debut Jazz album is coming up on February 22, 2020, and working on its completion has been demanding. I am learning so much about the music industry and the business of it! It’s such a great opportunity to expand my life.

I just got my mastered files, and I am working on the album artwork, the new website, and the mailing list! I never thought of how much it takes to build a successful brand, but all these steps are necessary to give my music the best chances to reach as many people as it can.

I am telling you… my new album is FIRE!!! It features some of the best cats of the US jazz scene and it’s co-produced by the incredible grammy-nominated pianist Kevin Bales It will be released under Kevin’s independent label GabNat.

Acting-wise, Atlanta is been so good to me and I have a wonderful team to thank for it; my agency J.Pervis Talent and my Manager Gail Tassel.
In just a few days, I am filming my third TV Co-Star of the year and I couldn’t be more grateful and more excited about it.

I also got to write, act and direct my first short film and that was an entirely other new adventure!

As an artist, I can decisively say that I am confident in my vision. I pay attention to details and I create unique content to protect the essence of the people and the stories of the individuals I get the honor to work with. If you are an artist who wants to been seen for who and what you really are, somebody who’s ready to be honest, open and vulnerable, then I am definitely your match as a photographer.

I promise I get you, I got you– as I know exactly what it feels like to be that artist.

Often it feels as if the media, by and large, is only focused on the obstacles faced by women, but we feel it’s important to also look for the opportunities. In your view, are there opportunities that you see that women are particularly well-positioned for?
I think it’s a great time to be a woman! There have never been as many opportunities for women to succeed then today! Wherever I go I see women breaking glass ceiling after glass ceiling and I have to say, women, especially in the USA, are such an inspiration. They lift each other up and they have really stepped up into leadership positions that are motivating millions of people around the globe. I am especially proud of our women in music, storytelling, and politics, as they have natural empathy skills and they bring so much value to our lives and community. If you want to get something done and done well, put it in the hands of a woman.

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Image Credit:
Christian Ortega

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