Welcome to Wolford With Women a dedicated space for stories of empowerment to support and encourage women everywhere.

All through the year we will be highlighting both historical figures and contemporary women to celebrate their stories.

We believe that giving women a voice and a space to share their remarkable experiences is the first step to empower all women to overcome the challenges in their daily lives. We wish to support gender equality by listening and learning from these stories of their lived experiences.

For over 70 years we have helped women move freely and feel fabulous. Now it is time to reaffirm our commitment to gender equality. We hope that by providing this platform we will move society one step closer to that goal.

This project is made possible thanks to writer and journalist Carmelo Abbate, for many years special correspondent of the weekly magazine Panorama, now the creator of the digital multimedia project "Storie degli Altri” (Stories of Others), which is divided into different innovative channels: social networks, Internet site, books, podcasts, videos, that in a year and a half have organically reached a community of half a million women.

 

ELLA FITZGERALD

This is Ella. She lives in Virginia, USA. Her mother works in a laundry. Her father’s gone, his place taken by a man that Ella can’t stand. She always has a smile for him though, just to keep the peace.

She’s 15, her mother is sick. Ella holds her hand and sings. My child, your voice fills my heart with joy. Her mum closes her eyes for the last time. Ella’s left on her own with her stepfather. He drinks, beats her, touches her where he shouldn’t. To stay out of the house Ella takes on any job, even working as a brothel look-out. When she sees the police coming she yells at the top of her lungs and everyone scatters. She tries to run away too but she’s caught and taken to an orphanage. It’s a cold, dark place, where being beaten is a daily event, Ella sings to keep herself company. She runs away. Lives on the streets.

It’s 1934, she’s 17. The most important theatre in the city organises a competition. Ella gets up on stage, she’d been planning to dance, but she’s feeling clumsy, so she closes her eyes and sings her mum’s favourite song. The audience applauds, shouting encore! Ella joins a band, travels around the country, wants to make people happy, but she can only appear in small venues. She has to go in through the back door, use a separate toilet, and if someone insults her she has to bite her tongue.

It’s 1955. The most exclusive club in Hollywood, Mocambo, calls her. Ella can’t believe it. Black people weren’t allowed there, but Marilyn Monroe has put her foot down, she wants Ella. The room is overflowing with actors, politicians, stars. Ella is nervous, sweating, she wraps her scarf around the microphone to keep it dry. Then she closes her eyes, takes a deep breath and starts to sing. The audience is enraptured, she thinks she sees her mum in the sea of smiling faces. Ella Fitzgerald becomes the First Lady of Song. Her answer to discrimination and racism is to sing, her voice echoes around the world, to be heard by people of all races and religions, rich and poor. When Marilyn dies, Ella thanks her. Enough hatred, we are all human beings.

 
 

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GERTRUDE EDERLE

This is Gertrude, she was born in New York in 1905. Her parents run a butcher’s shop. Gertrude learns to swim in the river, she feels at home in the water, it caresses her, whispers to her, it’s her best friend.

She’s 15, signs up at the local swimming pool, swims tirelessly for hours. Her instructor is stunned. Are you sure you’re a girl? Gertrude cuts him dead with one look. She drops out of school and concentrates on swimming. She competes in the national freestyle championships, but not all the judges take her seriously. You’re only a woman, what are you here for? Gertrude shows them. She wins, qualifies for the Olympics. A murmur runs through the crowd. What’s a woman doing in the swimming team? Gertrude shows them. She wins a gold and two bronze medals. But it’s not enough. She speaks to the coach and her team mates. I want to swim the Channel. The men’s eyes widen. You? A woman? Gertrude bites her tongue, trains every day and makes her first attempt. After hours of swimming, she stops to catch her breath. The coach gets the boat up close to her. Are you OK? I said that a girl wouldn’t be able to do it. He reaches out towards her, but it’s against the rules. Gertrude is disqualified. She is furious, but more determined than ever.

It’s 1926, Gertrude is at Cap Gris-Nez, in France. She looks to the horizon, takes a deep breath, dives in. After a few strokes it starts to rain. The sea gets rough, 7m high waves crash over her. Gertrude has to fight with all her strength to stay afloat. She perseveres, until the clouds disappear and everything is calm. She’s managed to stay on course, but she’s exhausted. Her body is begging her to stop, her heart is pushing her on. Gertrude carries on swimming, squinting, she sees the English coast ahead. With superhuman strength she speeds up, finally reaching the shore. The judges look at their stopwatches, eyes wide. Impossible! Gertrude Ederle is the first woman to have ever swum the Channel, but that’s not all. It’s only taken her 14 hours. She has broken every record. She’s the strongest swimmer of all.

 
 

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ARETHA FRANKLIN

This is Aretha, she was born in 1942 in Memphis, USA. Her father is a baptist minister, her mother a gospel singer. She lives and breaths music. She and her sisters sing in the church choir, she plays piano at religious events. She watches her father, he laughs and jokes with a lot of women. She tempers her anger and thinks of the music. She’s 6, her parents get divorced. Aretha holds on tight to her mum’s hand, but her father is categoric. You’ll do as I say! He drags her off to Detroit. Aretha sees her mum from time to time, always telling her that when she grows up she’ll move to be with her. One day her father sits her down. Your mum was ill, she’s dead, and that’s that. Aretha goes cold, she goes to the piano, sings. She’s 12, she discovers she’s pregnant, but she doesn’t want to say who the father is. She gives birth to a baby boy, at night she sings for him. Two years later she’s pregnant again. She drops out of school, gives birth at home, leaves her children with her grandma and sets off on a gospel tour. She finishes a show, a man gives her his card. He’s a record producer, he wants to sign her. Aretha goes home triumphant, a family friend turns up. He showers her in compliments. I’ll be your manager if you want. Her grandma warns her about him. Watch out, he’s a womaniser. Aretha is in love, she marries him. She looks after the house, clearing the table she drops a plate, he beats her. Aretha goes to the recording studio covered in bruises. She sings, and forgets everything. Her records aren’t selling though. Aretha is desperate. She puts the radio on. Respect, by Otis Reading fills the air. She listens to the words. A man comes home from work, asks his wife to be quiet, do the cooking and give him some respect. Aretha’s stomach ties itself up in knots. She sits at the piano, hits the keys with anger. She takes the song and turns it on its head. Her anger, cry for freedom, for revenge can be heard in every word. I’m a woman, all I want is a bit of respect. It’s a hit. Aretha Franklin leaves her husband and becomes the Queen of Soul.

 
 

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DALILÙ

Dalila is a shy little girl, too shy even to speak, to get past her embarrassment she invents stories for her classmates to act out.

She grows up, discovers You Tube, gets her guitar and films herself playing, spontaneously, without a care in the world. She becomes Dalilù, a filmmaker.

The camera allows her to express herself without having to use words. Because deep down she’s still that shy little girl.

 
 

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MARILYN MONROE

This is Norma. She was born in Los Angeles in 1926. Father unknown. Her mum works all day long. Norma lives with neighbors. She can’t wait for the weekend, as soon as the doorbell rings she runs to throw herself into her mother’s arms. They have an ice cream and then go to visit her grandma. After lunch Norma lies down on the bed and falls asleep. She dreams she’s drowning, wakes up gasping for air. There’s a cushion on her face, she can’t breathe. It’s grandma! No, it can’t be. She’s on top of her. She looks like a woman possessed. Luckily her mum appears. Don’t cry little one, grandma didn’t want to hurt you, it’s her illness. Norma goes to live with her mum in a white bungalow. She’s happy, finally they can always be together. Days pass. Norma is at home, she hears screaming. Mum? Her mum turns around. Norma recognizes that expression, those eyes, just like her grandma’s. She’s afraid. She backs into a corner. The police arrive, then the men in white coats. Her mum is taken away. Never to be seen again. Norma sleeps at a friend’s house, ends up in an orphanage. She’s moved from one family to another, cries tears of bitterness, keeps a secret diary, her only companion. Time goes by. Norma is sleeping, when suddenly she wakes up. The man of the house is on top of her, he’s got his hand inside her pajamas. This is the man that has been entrusted with looking after her, who should be taking care of her. Norma screams, lashes out, he goes away, when she tells his wife she gets called a slut. Go back to the orphanage! Norma is tired of begging for affection. She gets her diary. All those men who think that they can just snap their fingers and I’ll come running, one day they’ll be falling at my feet, and all those women who call me names will want to be like me. She colors her hair platinum blonde, her lips red and walks, head held high, in the direction of the Hollywood Hills. Marilyn Monroe is a diva. I was a small girl in a big world, tired of waiting for my knight in shining armor, I’ve decided to be my own hero and take care of myself.

 
 

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Marie Curie

This is Maria. She was born in Poland in 1867. A serious child, she spends her days studying. She’s 8, gets home from school, can’t find her mum. Typhoid has taken her. Maria fights back her tears, loses herself in her books. An excellent student, she dreams of university. Her teachers are frank with her. Women can’t go. Maria confides her frustration in her older sister who makes her a pact. Girls are accepted in France. You work, pay for my studies, I’ll graduate and then pay for yours. Maria finds a job as a governess, works ceaselessly, until finally she gets her ticket to Paris. It’s her turn now. She enrols in the Sorbonne and introduces herself as Marie, à la français. She lives on bread, fruit and study. In 3 years she’s graduated in chemistry and physics. Going into the laboratory, she spies a man through the test tubes. It’s famous scientist Pierre Curie. He shows her his experiments, asks for her opinion. Marie’s pulse races. She marries him. They love and respect each other, together they win the Nobel Prize for physics. At the award ceremony the judges ask Marie to keep quiet. Let the men do the talking. It’s 1903. She’s working, there’s a knock at the door. Your husband has been knocked down by a carriage! In tears, Marie says goodbye to him. She’s broken-hearted. She closes herself in the lab, thinks of nothing but her work. 4 years go by, she meets an old friend, has butterflies in her stomach again. He’s a married man, but after years of being alone she can’t deny her feelings. She follows her heart. She opens the paper one day. She reads she’s a home-breaker, her work is discredited. Marie suffers the humiliation in silence, in the meantime a telegram arrives. She’s won a second Nobel Prize, but her colleagues advise her not go to the ceremony. Marie Curie’s blood boils. She goes into the hall head held high, looking them all straight in the eye. I’ve worked so hard for this, I deserve it. It’s for me and all the women who will follow. Don’t be afraid, in life there’s nothing to be afraid of, just things to be understood.

 
 

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Anna Magnani

This is Anna. She was born in Rome in 1908. There’s no trace of her father, her mother leaves to go and live in with another man in Alexandria, Egypt. Anna is brought up by her grandma and aunts. She’s a happy child who loves animals. Her best friend is a little black hen that roams around the house. Every evening she gazes out of the window, yearning for her mother’s touch. She’s 15. A letter arrives. She sets off, gets to Alexandria, catches sight of a woman. Mum! She closes her eyes in anticipation of the longed for embrace. Her mum messes with her hat. Where did you get this? It’s ridiculous. Anna is mortified. She follows her. Goes to her new home, finds herself living in the lap of luxury, but it doesn’t feel right. She misses her grandma, her room, her hen. She goes back to Rome. Grandma Giovanna welcomes her with open arms. She’s 18. She performs in a theatre, gets a taste for the stage, the dingy dressing rooms, the sandwich snatched between rehearsals. She’s found her world. She leaves on tour, Anna is in seventh heaven. Her grandma is sad, forlorn. Anna wants to hug her tightly. She stops herself. Six months go by. She gets a phone call. Her grandma has died. She rushes home, kisses that beloved face. I promise you I will never have any regrets. She goes back to the stage. Anna Magnani doesn’t act, she lives the character. A man knocks at her dressing room. He’s well-dressed, well-mannered. Anna marries him. She loves him, he is unfaithful, she leaves him. She meets another man, falls pregnant, brings her son up on her own, head held high. She throws herself into her career, captivating the cinema with her smile. She says the same thing to every make-up artist. Don’t cover up my wrinkles, I’ve earned every one of them. It’s 1973. Anna is 65, she’s an accomplished actress, has worked in Hollywood, won an Oscar, given it her all. She thinks back to that lost girl. She’d like to hug her, tell her that everything will be OK. She closes her eyes. She can sense her grandma, her warm arms holding her tightly. She’ll never leave her again.

 
 

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ALESSIA MORO

One beautiful day in the spring Alessia is born in Udine.

When she’s 18 months old her parents realise that something’s wrong. Tests follow, then a diagnosis: Alessia is deaf.

Alessia is immediately taken to a speech therapist, little by little she learns to speak, to put sentences together.

School is tiring, she can’t follow her teachers, her classmates get fed up of repeating everything.

Alessia feels lonely.

Her first photo book for modelling is compiled when she’s 23, she doesn’t take it seriously at first, but then she starts to enjoy it.

She can communicate through the lens, not only to illustrate her views of life and the world, but also to understand others, to hear what they have to say from the depths of their soul.

 

RITA LEVI-MONTALCINI

This is Rita. She was born in Turin in 1909. Her father is an engineer, her mother a painter. Rita has a twin sister and an older brother and sister. Inquisitive, she loves reading and numbers. She runs to her father. Daddy, can I be a mathematician like you? He shakes his head. That’s men’s business, you’re going to study at a girls’ high school, like your sisters. Rita flicks through some cookery books, closes them almost immediately. She’s troubled. Feels like she doesn’t belong. She confides in her governess. Giovanna dries her tears and takes her out for a walk in the woods. Rita feels less stifled, calms down.

She’s 21. Her sisters have flown the nest. Her father teases her. And you, when are you going to get married? Rita feels ill just at the thought. She’s confused, she doesn’t know what she wants to do with her life. She goes to seek solace from her beloved governess. Fnds her bedridden. My child, I have cancer. Rita watches over her night and day, wants to help her, but she doesn’t know how. Finally she says a tearful goodbye. She goes out, walking the paths she’d walked with Giovanna, step by step the weight lifts from her heart, suddenly everything is clear. Rita goes back home, bursts into her father’s office. Dad, I don’t want to be a wife and a mother, I want to be a doctor. Her father stands up. I don’t agree, but I won’t stop you. Rita bursts with joy. She makes up for lost time, graduating from high school in eight months and enroling in medicine. World War II breaks out, Rita carries on studying, specialising in neurology, building a laboratory at home, she feels alive. One day the phone rings. Rita picks up, listens, can’t believe her ears. St Louis University, in the US, is offering her a research post. Do you want to join us? Rita doesn’t need asking twice.

It’s 1986, Rita Levi Montalcini flies to Stockholm, she’s the first Italian woman to win the Nobel prize for medicine. She dedicates the award to Giovanna and all the women in the world. Never accept compromise, never be told what to do, nurture the courage to rebel.

 
 

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RITA HAYWORTH

This is Margarita. She was born in New York in 1918. Her mum is an actress, her dad a flamenco dancer. A strict, driven man, her dad rules the roost. Margarita is at the window watching her brothers running around outside playing. Dad, please, can I go out too? He grabs her arm. Dance! You’re going to be a star, you don’t have time for that.

Margarita is 12. She performs at the casino, dancing all night. The men there are smoking, drinking, clapping. She is crying.

She grows up. It’s 1937. One of the audience comes to her dressing room. Twice her age, a car salesman, this is a man who knows what’s what. You were born to act, I can give you love, success. Margarita sees a way to escape from her dad, so she marries him.

She wanted a husband and a family, she gets a manager. She becomes Rita Hayworth. One of the greatest sex symbols of the time. He’s not there when she goes home in the evening, he’s out having a good time. Rita drinks, dances on her own, throws herself into her work. When she meets Orson Welles, it’s love at first sight, she gets divorced, marries him. Devoted to him, the love of her life, she falls pregnant, becomes a mother. Meanwhile, Orson comes home late in the evenings. Rita wants to know why? He doesn’t mince his words. I married a diva, I got a housewife.

Alone again, she wants someone who will love her, she always ends up in the arms of men who take Gilda, the character from her film, to bed and wake up with her. The last one is a prince, he fills her hotel suite with flowers and puts a diamond ring on her finger. A second daughter is born, while she thinks about feeds, he is off chasing other women. Rita finds solace in the arms of a singer, then a producer. Time goes by.

It’s the 70s. Rita goes out alone at night walking her dogs in Beverly Hills, hoping to bump into her neighbours. She drinks, forgets her lines on set. She has Alzheimer’s. Everyone disappears. She’s afraid. There’s someone at the door. Who are you? It’s her younger daughter. Mum, I’m going to look after you, don’t worry, I won’t leave you on your own.

 
 

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JACKIE KENNEDY

This is Jacqueline. She was born in 1929 into one of New York’s high society families. She’s an introverted and reserved girl, closing herself in her room, reading lots of books. Her mum says it’s not right, drags her to riding lessons, water skiing, dancing class. My little one, you’ll grow up, you’ll be the perfect wife of an important man. Jacqueline goes to the best schools and mixes with the best people, but she’s unsettled and a rebel.

She grows up, she’s 18, finishes high school, signs her high school photo. I want to be someone, not a housewife. She graduates in History of Art, works for a newspaper, meets a boy, wants to marry him. Her mother sips her tea. My dear, his bank balance is not worthy of you, it’s power and money that bring happiness. Jacqueline wants to scream, but she gives in and gives him his ring back. She concentrates on her career, interviews John Kennedy, a young congressman, handsome, intelligent, incredibly rich. Not too many months later an enormous diamond appears on her finger. Her mum is pleased, and chooses her daughter’s wedding dress.

It’s 1953. Jacqueline gives up her career, becomes the perfect wife. She turns a blind eye to her husband’s affairs, goes with him to rallies, gives birth to two beautiful children. John is elected as the President of the United States, she becomes Jackie Kennedy, the First Lady.

It’s 1963. Jackie and John are gorgeous, rich, powerful, they have the world at their feet. They are in a procession making its way through the streets of Dallas, there’s a gun shot. Jackie clasps her husband’s body. She’s lost everything. She’s alone, and frightened. She follows her mother’s advice. She marries Aristotle Onassis, the richest man in the world. They are together for a few years, before he passes away.

Jackie is only 46, she’s still elegant and beautiful, she can aim high. But she’s tired. She looks for a job, becoming a consultant for a publishing house. She doesn’t want to be anyone’s wife or daughter. She just wants to be Jacqueline.

 
 

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VICTOIRE GOULOUBI

Victoire Gouloubi, born in Brazzaville, the Republic of the Congo, on the 8th May 1981, grows up in a large family of 15 brothers and sisters.

After finishing high school, specialising in languages, she enrols in the faculty of law at university, but continues to nurture her love of cooking, which soon becomes a life style choice.

She comes to Italy in 2000, settles in the Veneto region, honing her cooking skills first in Feltre and then in Vicenza, finally she moves to Milan.

There’s no end of hopeful chefs lining up to work at Claudio Saber’s 2-star Michelin restaurant. With great excitement, Victoire joins this team, the team of a professional who takes her in hand, helping her, teaching her.

She wins the Touring Club Italia award for good cooking, L’Espresso, is a “WE-Women for Expo 2015” ambassador. She is declared “Woman of the Year” 2015 at the Africa-Italy business awards.

She’s one of the chefs featured in “The Goddess of Food”, an award-winning film by French director Verane Frediani.

She’s the president of the “Le Toques Africains” association, and developed and presents “Il Tocco di Victoire” on Sky’s Gambero Rosso channel.

She’s married to Simone, a Milanese lawyer. They have two children.

 
 

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ELSA SCHIAPARELLI

This is Elsa. She was born in Rome in 1890. Her parents are from aristocratic stock. Elsa is a lively child, her nannies have no control over her, she shuts herself in her room, comes out with a face full of seeds. Look, I’m a flower garden!

She’s 6, comes home from school sulking. The soup at school is awful! Nobody believes her. Elsa steals some and secretly serves it at home. A night of upset stomachs ensues. Her uncle Giovanni is a famous astronomer, Elsa shows him the freckles on her cheek. Uncle, what do they remind you of? He looks, weighing them up, his face lights up. My girl, you’ve got Ursa Major on your face! Then he shows her the stars with his telescope. I’m going to tell you a secret, there are people just like us on Mars. Elsa is enthralled. What does that mean! Her uncle laughs. You’ll understand soon enough my little one.

She grows up, she’s 21, she dreams of becoming an actress, her parents want her to be an academic. Elsa writes a book. Her father reads it, reddens, is outraged. This is obscene! She is sent to a Swiss convent. Elsa flees to London, meets Count de Kerlor, a fortune teller, ladies’ man and chancer. She marries him.

It’s 1920. Her daughter Gogo is born, her husband abandons them. Elsa moves to Paris, goes into a boutique, feels the fabrics, gets lost in the colours. I’ll be a designer! Her friends try to put her off. Darling, you’d be better off gardening. Elsa works from home, then buys a shop near Coco Chanel. Rivals, there is no love lost between them. Elsa goes to a ball in a tree costume. Chanel pushes her onto a chandelier, causing her dress to catch fire, Elsa puts it out with soda water. She creates the colour shocking pink, designs a lobster dress and a hat shaped like a shoe. Her clothes defy logic, but women love them.

It’s 1939. Her Astrology Collection confirms her place in the fashion universe, a brooch in the shape of the Plough being the highlight. Elsa Schiaparelli pins it on her dress. Dear uncle, you were right, I’m an alien, a mad woman, a girl full of imagination who dreams of the stars.

 
 

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MARIA CALLAS

This is Maria. She was born in New York in 1923. The midwife wraps her in a blanket, her mum, incredulous, pushes her away. She wanted a boy. It’s four days before she can bear to hold her. Maria is growing up, she’s a short-sighted, plump girl. Everyone dotes on her older sister, who is also allowed singing lessons. Maria hides behind the door, listening, and then goes into another room and copies the vocal exercises. Passersby stop and listen enthralled. Her mother gives in, gets her a teacher too. Maria sings, works hard, wants to make her mum proud.

She’s 11, she finishes first in a competition, winning a watch. Her mother will hear no argument. Give it to your sister! Maria, crying, does as she’s told.

It’s 1937. Her parents split up, Maria ends up back in Greece with her mum. She goes to the conservatory of music, performs in theatres, sings until she drops. Music is her only friend, her reason to be, her place in the world. Her voice is her protective shield.

It’s 1945. Maria packs a suitcase and sets off, trying her luck first in the U.S., and then in Italy. She gets an audition in Verona. She’s overweight, clumsy, ungraceful, but her voice is spectacular. Businessman Giovanni Battista Meneghini is completely bowled over. Maria is too. He is the first human being to ever pay her any attention. First he becomes her manager, then her husband. Offers of work come flooding in, theatres the world over fight to have her. Maria loses 36 kilos, changes how she dresses, becomes The Callas, the Divine one.

It’s 1957. She meets Aristotle Onassis, the richest man in the world. Maria leaves her husband and throws herself into Onassis’ arms. She dreams of having a home and family. After nine turbulent years, he leaves her and marries Jackie Kennedy. Maria dries her eyes, adjusts her makeup and goes on a world tour, head held high.

It’s 1974. She’s on stage in Sapporo, Japan, her last performance. She’s frightened. Her voice fails, abandons her. Maria finds herself alone, fragile, vulnerable. The audience rises to its feet and applauds her.

 
 

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Miriam Makeba

This is Miriam. She was born in a township suburb of Johannesburg, in South Africa, in 1932. Her mother gives birth on her own, in a hut. She cuts the umbilical cord, wraps the baby in a cloth and places her on the floor, on the mud. Cry my little one, live. Miriam lets out a cry, it almost sounds like a song.

She’s 5. Her mum is a servant in a white family’s house, Miriam goes to see her once a month. She gets off the train, is running towards her. Somebody shouts, the police throw a man to the ground, they kick and punch him, spit on him. Miriam is terrified. Her mum hugs her tight to her chest. Don’t cry, sing, always, everywhere, life is wonderful.

Years go by. Miriam joins the school choir, she’s really good, she’s chosen to sing a solo for King George VI. Miriam waits for hours, in the rain, her voice making the soldiers’ bayonets shake, the king passes by, without even looking at her, he just goes straight past. Miriam carries on singing.

She’s 17, she has a baby. She looks after her daughter, works, is a servant, a babysitter, a washerwoman. A cousin suggests that she performs with his band, Miriam bursts with excitement.  Some record producers hear her singing, they offer her a tour. Miriam sets off barefoot, with no luggage. She sings on stages around the world, denouncing apartheid, shouting at the top of her voice about the suffering of her people.

It’s 1960. Her mum dies. Miriam is in the US, she gets ready to go home, but South Africa slams its door in her face and bans her music. Desperately Miriam sings. She moves around from country to country, is unable to do anything when her daughter dies, her only home is the stage.

It’s 1990. Nelson Mandela is freed, he calls for her. Miriam Makeba arrives in Johannesburg, rushes to her mother’s grave, cries. A crowd gathers around her, adults and children sing her songs, they dance, she’s awash with their smiles. Thank you Mama Africa, thank you for what you’ve done. Miriam can’t believe it, she dries her tears. You were right mum, it is a wonderful life.

 
 

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Gloria’s Art: women’s bodies

“I UNDRESS THEM TO SET THEM FREE”

Born in a small town in Liguria, she grows up tormented by her thoughts and studying people.

A student of the Heritage of Art based in Florence, in some ways a painter, sometimes lost in centuries gone by trying to feel the fierce love (passion?) that’s hidden behind a text, a painting, a conversation.

She loses herself in the canvas and in her thoughts to create inclusion in nudity, breaking down the standards of beauty.

The philosophical and human temperament is that of an artist, inclined to reflection and to obtaining an inclusive artistic space, a shelter for the fragile.

 
 

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Diana Vreeland

This is Diana. She was born in Paris in 1903. Her parents move in high society circles, her mum is instantly noticeable, she lights up the room with her beauty.

Diana is a child, she goes through her mum’s clothes, wrapping herself in silk, smearing lipstick on her face. Mum, how do I look? Her mum touches her face. My darling, you’re ugly. The family moves to New York.

Diana is 16. She brings a boyfriend home, her mum flirts with him. Diana is furious. She shuts herself in her room, in front of the mirror, and comes out with a white-painted face and ruby red lips. No more hiding away, it’s time for living. Dressed as a geisha girl, she goes to dance the bolero and bewitches everyone.

It’s 1924. Diana is the queen of the socialites, her rosy cheeks charm one of New York’s most eligible bachelors. Reed invites her to play golf, Diana accepts, but she’s never even held a club before. She shows up with a bandaged arm. Sorry! Reed bursts out laughing, and marries her. They travel around the world in a Bugatti, he having the odd fling, Diana dancing till dawn with an Argentinian gigolo.

It’s 1936. During a party, Diana dances a bolero in a white lace dress. The Editor-in-chief of Harper’s Bazaar is enchanted and opens up the doors of the fashion world to her. Diana Vreeland becomes the most important name in the magazine. Her eccentric suggestions make a style icon of her, she popularises the bikini, uses unusual models. Where others see imperfection, she sees personality. She’s got two sons who she only looks after on Wednesdays, because she’s become the dreaded Editor-in-chief of Vogue.

She’s 70. She’s sacked without warning, her husband dies. Diana cries in the hall of a luxury hotel while the orchestra plays. Her sons have never seen her so vulnerable. She lifts her head, adjusts her make up. If I have to let myself go, let it be in the most befitting setting. She takes to her bed, lets her hair go white.

She passes away at 86. They called me crazy, a visionary, a liar. I was all and none of these things. Women you have to live, live, live.

 
 

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Inspired by Diana Vreeland

 

ALESSANDRA AND PATRIZIA, IN SEARCH OF HAPPINESS

LOVE, LIFE CHOICES AND A CHILD ON THE WAY

Alessandra and Patrizia meet in Milan in 2013, and from that moment their life changes.

They understand that the time has come to make their dreams come true together. They quit their jobs and leave for the south of Italy.

First stop, the island of Pantelleria.

They haven’t a lot of capital to invest, nor old family ruins to renovate, nor businesses run. Their only certainty is their desire to live in a more natural, humane way.

It’s an economic challenge, but also a compassionate one.

Day by day, Alessandra and Patrizia get to know and discover each other, become each other's shoulder to lean on. They reinvent themselves, fall down and get back up again, with constancy, effort and satisfaction.

Now they are about to realize their biggest dream, that of becoming parents. Tiny Michele will be born in August in their new home, an old inn they have renovated in central Italy.

Alessandra and Patrizia desire a family built upon values: inclusion, sustainability, determination and the pursuit of happiness through simple things.

 
 

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Simone de Beauvoir

Simone and her partner Jean-Paul Sartre stipulate a proper contract governing their relationship.

It is renewable every two years, and is based on infidelity, which in their view should not be experienced as a betrayal, but a duty against the hypocrisies of bourgeois marriage.

They never live under the same roof, but their story spans 51 years, and today they are buried together in the Parisian Montparnasse cemetery.

In 1943, Simone was fired from her university and banned for life from teaching due to an affair with a student.

She wrote the "Manifesto of the 343 prostitutes" signed by intellectuals, actresses and ordinary women who admitted to having resorted to abortion, despite it being prohibited by law.

Simone argues that before being a wife or mother, a woman is a human being, free to choose, just like men are.

 
 

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Inspired by Simone de Beauvoir

 

GIORGIA'S HYMN TO LIFE.

Giorgia is 23 years old, lives in Piedmont, has a degree in Intercultural Communication. She studied for a period in Finland, thanks to the Erasmus project.

A recent survey by Sole24ore indicates she is among the top 10 Italian sustainability and environmental influencers.

Through her blog and a very popular Instagram profile, Giorgia runs strong social campaigns. She defines herself as a giver of unsolicited advice.

Why is she doing it? Because she can't keep quiet in the face of injustices and is committed to stimulating collective awareness.

"The planet is not at risk; the planet does not die. We are the ones in danger."

Her does not want to be a cry of alarm but a hymn to life.

 
 

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Katharine Hepburn

Her mother is personally involved in women's emancipation battles. Katharine as a child accompanies her to demonstrations and distributes balloons shouting "Votes for women!"

Katharine is a great sportswoman, she plays golf, rides and swims. She loves diving into the icy water of the ocean and swimming without looking back.

She wins four Oscars, but doesn't show up for the awards. She doesn't like the environment of cinema and actors.

To those who advise her to build a family because she is over thirty, Katharine replies: "I chose not to have children because I am too selfish, and a good mother must never be."

 
 

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Inspired by Katharine Hepburn

 

SARA'S COURAGE!

"WE SET OUR OWN LIMITS"

Sara is 25 years old, lives in the province of Brescia, works as an interior designer and performs snowboarding at a competitive level.

The meningococcus did not stop her willingness to achieve, as soon as she was able to use her prosthetic legs, she took her snowboard and went up the ski slopes, under the incredulous eyes of her parents. Sara fell many times, got up, lost her balance and got up again and again. In snowboarding as in life.

Sara Baldo is a strong, tenacious and ironic woman. A woman who has decided not to lose heart, but to look to the future.

She has overcome the limits that her life has placed in front of her, she has believed in herself, and has discovered that there is nothing she cannot do. Her bright smile conveys to all her will to live.

 
 

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Concordia Cardigan egyptian blue

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Valentina Tereshkova

Meet Valentina. She was born in Bol’šoe Maslennikovo, in Russia, in 1937. Her parents are farmers, scraping a living. Valentina is 2. Her father goes off to war, and never comes back. Her mother packs her and her two brothers up, and moves them to the city. Valentina has to grow up fast, cleaning the house, cooking, studying at night, when everyone else has gone to bed.

She’s 17, working her fingers to the bone in a factory, when her shift’s over she’s so tired she can’t think straight. She cries in anger, this life is dragging her down. Valentina reaches for the sky, wants more.

It’s 1955. She’s walking down the street, she stops, rubs her eyes, focuses. There’s something, up there, in the clouds! Something, getting closer, bigger. It’s a man, tied by ropes to something that looks like a giant seashell made of fabric. Valentina watches stunned. She feels a shiver run down her spine, her legs take on a life of their own, going straight to the city flying club. Without telling her mum she enrols on a parachuting course. She goes to class, puts on the skydiving suit and backpack, gets into the plane and jumps.

She feels free, weightless, happy. She wants more. Valentina trains in secret, her mum finds out and looks up at the sky. My dear daughter, have you ever seen a factory worker up in the clouds?

It’s 1961. Yuri Gagarin becomes the first man in space. While Russia is celebrating, Valentina’s blood boils. Why not a woman? She enrols in the cosmonaut training, her mum despairs. Valentina starts the training. Isolation, centrifugal force, decompression chamber, lots of theory. It’s hard work. Valentina grits her teeth, she’s not the best one on the course, but her parachuting experience is a bonus.

It’s 16th June 1963. Valentina Tereškova puts on her spacesuit, gets into the space capsule, holds her breath, hears the engines exploding into life and quickly finds herself up amongst the stars. She looks out of the window. See mum, your factory worker daughter has become the first woman in history to go into space.

 
 

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JOSEPHINE BAKER

Meet Josephine. She was born in St Louis, USA, in 1906. Her father was a dirt-poor musician, shifting from city to city, until one fine day he never came back.

Her mother got down to work. Josephine is 8 years old, she roams the streets in tattered clothing, singing, swinging her hands and feet, passers-by make compliments, give her some money.

Josephine runs home all full of excitement. Mama, I’m gonna be a dancer and I’m gonna buy you lots of gifts. She gets a smack. Don’t talk trash girl and think about work!

Josephine is a housemaid in white folk’s homes. Her owner treats her like a dog. She insults her, beats her, and when she makes a mistake she gets her hand held over the fire.

Josephine cries with anger. That evening she goes back home, looks her mother dead in the eye and challenges her. I’ll never be anyone’s slave ever again.

She works street corners, singing and dancing for spare change. She feels free. She’s 13. A club owner has her perform in his nightclub. Her mother goes to see her, at the end telling her she finds her ridiculous.

Josephine doesn’t give ground. Performing every evening. She can’t get her head around the dance choreography, but she doesn’t give up. She improvises, wiggles her hips, the public goes crazy.

It’s 1925. Offered a tour in Paris, Josephine packs her bags right away. Backstage of the Champs-Elysées Theatre she’s wearing a hula skirt made of bananas. The curtain goes up, the music starts.

Josephine launches herself into a crazy Charleston dance and floors everyone. From then on she is known as The Black Venus.

All Europe is at her feet, more than a thousand men ask her hand in marriage, one commits suicide, two fight a duel. Her topless dance is spellbinding, seductive and causes scandal.

In America they see her as a troublemaker, but they can’t ignore her anymore, the public acclaim her. Josephine refuses to perform in clubs where coloured people aren’t permitted.

It’s 1947. She marries a conductor, buys a castle in France, adopts twelve children. She protest-marches besides Martin Luther King, dancing against segregation and racism. Josephine Baker is a diva, a goddess, a little girl dressed in rags, famished for freedom.

 
 

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Inspired by Josephine

 
 

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Marlene Dietrich

Meet Marie Magdalene. Born in Berlin, Germany, in 1901. Her mother uses an iron fist, lots of education and little recreation. She teaches her how to dress and curate her look. Marie Magdalene is 4 years old. She plays the violin, the piano, she’s an eccentric child.

Looking at herself in the mirror, she repeats her name aloud. It doesn’t ring true, not at all to her liking. Marlene sounds better. She wants everyone to name her that.

She grows up. The small girl with the plaits becomes a woman who knows what’s what.

Marlene sings and dances in Berlin’s cabarets. Her long, sensual legs and husky voice, fascinate the public, but not only them. She is wanted by the big screen.

Marlene concedes, on condition that they’ll do it her way. She goes on set wearing a male’s evening dress, a top hat and a cigarette hanging from her lips. She is irreverent and ambiguous. She has allure to sell.

The film “The Blue Angel” opens up the doors of Hollywood. She’s 28. Marlene Dietrich attires herself as a diva, it becomes her armour, making her feel safe.

She dyes her hair blonde, designs thin eyebrows, has molar teeth removed to make her face slimmer. Nothing is left to chance.

She gets married, has a daughter, raises her, protects her, wants her all to herself, but playing the role of a wife doesn’t suit her. Work comes first.

It’s 1930. The film “Morocco” is released. Marlene sings in a tailcoat, comes down from the stage, kisses a woman on the mouth. The press screams scandal, she smiles. This is who I am, take it or leave it. She never accepts restrictions, never lowers herself to compromise.

It’s the fifties. Men and women enter her bed, they come and they go, nobody remains.

Alcohol helps her fight loneliness. She drinks, but is not a drunkard.

It’s 1972. Marlene is in London for a show. Leaving the stage, she falls. The time has come for her final curtain.

She retreats to her Parisian home, discards her diva persona and passes away in silence. Her only request is to be buried in Berlin, close to her mother. Because when I’m with her, nothing bad can happen to me.

 
 

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WOLFORD WITH WOMEN

Stories of Empowerment

EPISODE 1

 

About Carmelo Abbate

Carmelo Abbate is an Italian journalist who worked as a special correspondent for the weekly magazine Panorama for many years. Carmelo conducted critical investigations as an undercover reporter, especially in social and economic issues, illegal immigration, and scandals related to the Catholic Church. He has published ten books with Mondadori, some of which have attracted the media's attention around the world. His book Sex and the Vatican, A Secret Journey of the Chaste, became a bestseller in France. A careful observer of news and current affairs, he is a television commentator for the Mediaset networks. The great experience gained and the desire to accept the challenges of our times led him to make the big leap: he created Stories of Others, a new digital platform, which through the telling of real-life stories, aims to stimulate and raise public awareness on major civil issues. The Instagram, Facebook, Youtube, Tik Tok, Twitch pages have become a new digital channel full of innovative formats and contents.

The Stories of Others are stories that are born to enhance people. You are worth for what you do in everyday life, away from the spotlight, for your choices, your aspirations, your sacrifices, your goals, your small and big victories. Each story has a strong motivational drive. Whatever the path, the landing is always positive: the light at the end of the tunnel to give courage, transmit optimism and strength to those who read and live a similar story. Stories of Others has a specific mission: to build a better world.

Storie Degli Altri