Italians in London | Italians in London Anna Elene Pepe
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#35 Anna Elena Pepe

I am originally from Ferrara and I moved to London in 2006. From what I recall I always wanted to be an actress. There was a need to express myself that I always had within. My colleagues might understand this, it isn’t something you choose, but something that chooses you, for better or for worse. Could be a gift or could be a curse. As a child I started at school telling the stories to my mates, staging them as real performance. In primary school I began to study dance and singing. I did my first acting course in high school, and as a teenager I acted in my first film, an American film shooting in Ferrara, my home town. .
What do you do in your life in London?
I moved to London to continue my acting studies here. I studied at different Drama Schools (Mountview and Guildhall). I also got a diploma in acting and creative writing called “European Act”, organized by the Royal Academy in collaboration with the International Institute of Performing Arts in Paris.
In these years, I’ve had several experiences that helped me grow artistically and I’m happy, both on stage and film, working in English and Italian: I did some shows in the West End and films with important directors (Pupi Avati, Richard Blanshard, Johan Nijenhuis). As a voice actor and speaker, I worked for many major brands such as Vodafone, Ryanair, Amazon and for Warner Bros. Paramount and HBO productions. As writer, a TV series and a film that I wrote are now under development with important production companies.
For fun, I love going to the theatre or watch movies (even if that is a part of my job)…and I am a foodie! I love to go to different markets and try new stuff, there is so much here to experience.
What is the reason to leave Italy and come to London?
I had done a cultural exchange when I was in high school for which I had lived for some time in England and I was very impressed by the space that was given to the theatre and especially to contemporary drama, to the “new writing”. I really liked the idea of ​​using theater for a social purpose, to tell current problems. I also like to write, and the UK has a wonderful culture that appreciates the work of the writer.
I also loved the classical English theatrical tradition and my dream was to grow artistically in that atmosphere. Apart from that I loved London as a city, it gave me a sense of freedom and made me feel at home. So I started with a clear goal. I knew I wanted to study acting in England and work there. But I did not know exactly how to do it and how long it would take.
What were your best and worst experiences in London.
What’s great about London is that it is a very inspiring city. And as an artist, this is like breathing to me. You can go to a small library in the east end and randomly find inside a jam session of the best piano players in Europe.. just passing by…
I think the worst experiences of London for now were unfortunately related to the terror attacks, it was the first time I felt scared.. I’ve now realized that it is a big city, so it will always be a target but I am happy to live her.
I asked you to choose a place in London that you like or you are tied to, what was your choice and why you made it?
I have always lived in South London and I have seen the Vauxhall district change immensely. From degraded and without character to one of the new landmarks for real estate development. This place has particular importance for me. There are new wharf on the Thames that came out like mushrooms and it’s fantastic little Portuguese coffees, so similar to our italian bars. I also love Brixton, such a great, multicultural area. The Brixton Village is where I spend most of my evenings with friends!
During your early times in London, did you have any problem?
I knew that London was a difficult, competitive, expensive city. So when I arrived I was psychologically prepared. Although you are motivated and prepared, it is not easy. There is always loneliness lurking. At the beginning, I did not know anyone and 12 years ago there were fewer Italians. Social media was not used, Ryanair flights were few … in short, Italy and my friends felt far away.
In Italy I was already working, while in England I had to start over. To act in another language I had to get to the level of thinking, dreaming and improvising in English and I had to study for years to be able to do it.
What do you think about this project?
I think it is a great idea. I feel I am part of something bigger, that I am here not alone but as a part of the universe. And in this case I love to be part of the Italian community in London and I believe we can create a new Italian artistic vanguard that starts from London.
How do you think you could support and promote Italian culture? 
Some years ago, together with 3 other collegues, I founded NIAL (Native Italian Actors in London): a community of bilingual artists who perform everywhere in the world. The association was born by discussing the common experiences experienced during the auditions. Not an agency, rather a collaborative network, that has about fifty professionals today. We are an active group that meets, discusses, exchanges news, organizes training workshops. We support each other, and this makes the life of the actor, which can sometimes be solitary and difficult, a little simpler. And we create our own productions too, both in english and italian.