Sofia Rivolta / IMG
shot in Como on May 16th, 2016 / published on June 20th, 2016
We anticipated we were going to bring you some more features from Italy, what we did not tell you is that we finally had the chance to meet some Italian models. With some notable exceptions, Italians are pretty rare in the modeling industry. Although things are slowly changing, we always wondered about this gap and were curious to meet some young women who decided to give this job a try – a path that feels even more uncommon here than elsewhere. Sofia Rivolta was so kind to invite us to her home, the picturesque region around lake Como, for some snaps and a talk about her modeling story. First scouted by IMG on Instagram, she has been taking her first steps as a model and an actress while still in school. Now she is writing her final exams and we are sure we are going to see more from her in the future, be it in front or behind the cameras. We are glad we had the opportunity to enjoy such a quaint landscape and her company and hope you'll enjoy this feature!
Thanks for inviting us to Como and giving us a tour around the lake, Sofia! This area was catapulted to world stardom as George Clooney bought a house here some years ago. But beside the recent glitz, what makes growing up here truly special?
I consider Lake Como as one of the most beautiful and suggestive places in the world and an amazing place where to put down roots. Beside the beauty of the landscapes and the suggestive locations it has, Como, as a quiet area, was the perfect place for me to grow up in because it’s safe, protected and genuine.
Although the affinity to fashion runs somehow in the family, you have been scouted on Instagram as one of the first models to join the #WLYG (We Love Your Genes) Network of IMG. That was one and a half year ago! Do you remember how it happened? How did it go from there?
It is a crazy story that still feels unreal today. About a year and a half ago Jeni Rose, the Vice President of IMG Models, stated through a comment on a photo I posted on Instagram that the agency was interested in me and that they wanted to get in contact. At that time my Instagram profile didn't have any professional shoots on it but simply photos I had taken with myself and friends or places I had visited with my family. After Jeni found out I was Italian she asked me to go to the agency office in Milan and meet the agents there. A few weeks later I signed the contract.
Did it actually change the way you see and use social media?
Absolutely! It changed the way I use social media because the fashion industry is extremely connected with the newest forms of media like Instagram and Facebook. Models have to use this form of communication to their advantage because it is the fastest and easiest way to promote themselves and show their personality. It is funny how I can get jobs simply from my Instagram photos. If clients or photographers are interested all they have to do is contact my booker.
What did your parents and friends say?
Even if they were a bit skeptical at the beginning, my parents soon realized that the fashion industry was too big of an opportunity to miss. They also were always supportive and they understood this was something I wanted to give a try to. My friends on the other hand were quite ecstatic about the idea of me going into modeling from the get go. The only problem with their enthusiasm is that they sometimes did not understand how much pressure and hard work this occupation really means. Modeling can be portrayed as an easy job where you simply show up and get your photo taken but it is so much more than that.
There are not that many Italian models out there... Do you think there is more understanding and acceptance for this job elsewhere than in Italy? If so why?
I honestly do not know for certain why there aren't a lot more Italians in the modeling industry, but I do have a few ideas. In my opinion the reason for the lack of Italian models is because at this moment scouts do not consider Italy a place to find talent. Many other European countries are known for finding new faces more consistently, even though I believe that there are quite a few women in Italy who have the potential to have modeling as their occupation. They simply have not gotten as many opportunities to be discovered by scouts and only some of them have gone to the agencies themselves hoping to become a model. Recently a few models from Italy have become internationally known but I feel it is still uncommon to come across an Italian model, that’s also why most of my clients are surprised when they find out I’m actually from Italy.
What have been your personal pros of joining such a big network like #WLYG and ultimately IMG?
Being part of the #WLYG network has been such a great opportunity. There are a lot of advantages especially if you are a younger model who has not had that much experience in the fashion industry yet. IMG Models, as part of #WLYG, starts to develop every girl as a model while they are still at school, as they did with me, which helps them make a smoother transition into working full time and prepares them, step by step, to build their careers. Another incredible aspect of joining the #WLYG network is that I got the chance to meet or talk with many other young women around the world who have been scouted as well and with whom I share similar life and work experiences. We are a family that has grown and learned together throughout the past few years.
While you are studying for your final exams at school and before going on to modeling full-time, you are currently filming for an Italian independent movie. Can you tell us a bit more about it or is it still top-secret?
It is still top-secret but I can tell you a bit about my experience on set! It's actually my first real job as an actress and it's surreal that I got the protagonist role. Since I got the role, at the end of last summer when I was still underage, I started taking acting lessons and I also started training in martial arts, dance, dj-ing and boxing. It's a great feeling to look back and see how much I've matured throughout the filming process.
Filming is actually a pretty long process compared to the fast pace of fashion. What helps you keeping your focus and motivation all through the process?
Yes, it is. From beginning to end a movie can take well over a year! In fashion most of the time everything happens extremely quickly. Even though I really like the fast rhythm of model life, which can radically change from day to day, through the longer process of filming I've enjoyed being able to connect with my character and learn how to develop her and my personality further.
Right now, do you feel more like a model, an actress, or just like a school girl?
I honestly don't know how I would categorize myself at this moment. I would say I'm in the process of becoming both an actress and a model but my number one priority at the present time is being able to finish my schooling in good form. My last day of high school is approaching and can't wait to hand in my final exam because that means I can completely focus on these new adventures and opportunities.
Most people outside Italy probably do not know that your surname translates as revolt. Is there a rebellious side to you, too?
I wouldn't consider myself a rebel but I still try to always be myself in every situation no matter how others perceive me. This confidence to be myself no matter what has transformed me from the shy girl that I once was into a woman who is always true to herself.
What have been the biggest perks of working on shoots and movies so far? And what has been the one thing you never expected to find in this industry?
Beside the opportunity I got to travel, the biggest perks of working on shoots and movies is definitely the opportunity to collaborate with such amazing artists and workers. Even though there are some negative connotations that people associate with these industries there are many positive aspects. These include a surplus of creativity as well as many open, kind, and welcoming personalities.
On the other hand, what is the one thing about you people actually never expect?
I think most people don’t know I spent my fourth year of high school in the United States. I was part of a program for exchange students and I was hosted by a really amazing family in Wisconsin. It was a really different year from the ones I lived before going there and the one I’m living now, but being alone on the other side of the world and experience things that I never thought I'd do in my life was a great personal achievement as a young woman.
Could you see yourself pursuing a career in entertainment on the long run? Or do you have a whole different ace up your sleeve?
This might surprise some, but since I was twelve I have wanted to become a film director, and this is actually still my dream and plan for my long term future. However, I feel that I should follow every opportunity that is placed in front of me, whether that be behind or in front of the camera, and in doing so gain knowledge about the industry. I hope that starting my career as a model and actress will give me enough of a platform to have a successful career as a film director later in life.
And if you could paint a perfect picture, how would it look like?
A perfect picture has to be beautiful, even if I think the adjective "beautiful" is such a subjective word, difficult to define. Anyway, for me a beautiful picture is the combination of “strangeness" and “simplicity".