Justine Elizabeth Mattera is our celebrity of the month!
She’s a spontaneous, stylish, beautiful and talented actress, showgirl and singer: impossible to forget.
Born and bred in Long Island (New York), the Italian-American artist graduated at Stanford University in Italian and English literature, then decided to move to Italy where she became a well known star thanks to several good chances she didn’t miss to catch.
Often called “the Marilyn Monroe double”, she didn’t stop there: she climbed the european charts with a single, after that she started her collaboration with some italian TV shows and the italian audience welcomed her in a great way, probably because of her contagious smile and positive attitude. A myriad of young girls join the show business just because of their beauty and sometimes are just considered eye-catching bodies. In that way it is difficult for women to survive in the field and prove their abilities: it is almost taken for granted that a girl has to smile and be sexy, and after a few seasons nobody needs her anymore. In a world of appearance, Justine stands out as an interesting and smart figure: she played with her beauty and her american accent, but behind that there’s much more. Not by chance in 2012, she won the “Premio America” of the “Italy-USA Foundation” promoting the cultural relationships between the two countries, side by side with names such as Bocelli, Ferragamo, Sozzani, Fallaci, Bongiorno, Morricone, Biagiotti. Today Justine works a lot as an actress, especially in theaters, together with a brand new full time job: she is now a mother of two beautiful children and lives with her family in Milan. You can usually spot her in the first row at the most interesting Fashion Shows and if you are into Instagram you can follow her busy days and posh life through her pics.
We had the chance to interview this shining star and we were lucky enough to find out she had a wicked shooting by the amazing fashion photographer Maura Soldati to publish, so we sent her a few questions too, in order to investigate the important relationship between model and photographer of such a mesmerizing work.
You will find the most of it inside the “Reykjavik Boulevard: Creative guide for curious people“, our anniversary printed edition; in the meantime, we wanted to give you a stunning preview together with the answers of Justine and Maura, friends in life and great professionals on this melancholic yet seductive set. Enjoy!
You graduated at Stanford University, USA studying italian literature: why did you choose Italy in particular and how’d you find it there?
I studied in Florence my third year at Stanford (with Stanford abroad) and it changed my life. I remember arriving at Santa Maria Novella (Florence) and remaining speechless. Used to the skyscrapers, I couldn’t believe people actually lived and lost their virginity in what seemed to me a fairytale.
Being very attractive can be a double-edged sword in your work?
I’d say it usually helps. People generally believe I’m probably stupid but I abuse them of the fact rather quickly. When I was younger I used it to my advantage – when people think you don’t understand they speak about everything in front of you – I was a font of information.
Acting, shooting, singing… You tried very different ways to express yourself, what is the one that you can really say is your passion and give you complete freedom?
I’d say Musical Theater pretty much sums it up. I get to do it all; sing, dance, act. I love to be photographed because for me it’s like making a silent film. In every shoot I invent a character. In Maura Soldati’s shoot I’m a lonely housewife, a lonely bird in a gilded cage – hardened by delusion yet wishful of comprehension.
You are mother of two beautiful children, how does your perspective on work, world and relationships changed after their arrival?
My priorities have completely changed. They’re first. It definitely cuts down your work options. My choices are defined by their needs.
Have you ever been to Iceland? What do you know about this country and how curious you are to find out more about such a tiny but very emerging place in the world?
I would love to come to Iceland (maybe doing a shoot with Maura for you!!!). I imagine it’s a magical land full of fire and ice all set to a Bjork soundtrack. All I need is your invitation and I’m on the plane.
Your first project, last project and future project: how would you describe them?
I’d like to make an introduction: my passion for photography was born quite late, about 10/12 years ago. It has been a gradual shift from painting. Some events, including my first pregnancy, led me to turn this passion into a profession. After an approach with a street photography and photojournalism, I have become increasingly oriented towards portraits and fashion. My first real fashion project was “Lovin’ Frida”: a series of images where we tried to combine art and fashion, reinterpreting the figure and work of Frida Kahlo. In this project I was involved also in selecting the outfit and in the hair styling. In my future there is certainly fashion. I’m also planning an exhibition which will focus on WOMEN.
What do you find inspiring and how would you describe your lifestyle?
I take inspiration from everything that surrounds me, a book, live events, a dress, a picture, also from the same person that I will photograph. This is why I always try to make contact with the person that I have to photograph, and then try to capture and reflect their most inner side. In everyday life I never do long-term projects, I live day by day ready to grab new opportunities when they arise. I am very interested in culture, art, music, fashion, new trends and I never forget that I’m first of all a mother.
What would you probably be today if you hadn’t followed your dreams of being a make up artist, or what is your actual dream?
I’m very lucky as I get the chance to work with my main passion. The need to express myself artistically is an integral part of me and its reflected in all aspects of my life. Not following my dream would probably mean getting higher exposure… But this would me I’d need to focus on the “commercial” side of things and that would translate in using too much my head more than my heart. Honestly that wouldn’t give me same pleasure and satisfaction…
Artists and events: can you tell us the most interesting that you’ve found/experienced in your career until now?
Certainly the carnival in Rio de Janeiro in 2010. I was involved in a project for the Italian pubcaster RAI. There I also made a series of personal shots, “Birds of Paradise”: many godmothers representing several samba schools and prominent women of the Brazilian art scene. Honestly, it was the most extraordinary event I ever experienced in my life. Regarding the artists: I follow many emerging artists, particularly in the pictorial panorama. Not long ago, I met a very talented Serbian painter named Nikola Prsendic, from who I also purchased several paintings.
The place where you were born, the place where you live, the best place where you traveled with your work: can you tell us something that only you know to describe them?
I was born in Belgrade, from a Serbian mother and an Italian father. I currently live in Rome with my husband and my children and Rio de Janeiro is the place where I feel I belong to and where I’ld love to go back. Belgrade is very active culturally and in many aspects very avant-garde. Rome is beautiful especially at night when traffic slows down and you have the chance to enjoy its beauty. Rio finally, it’s a pleasure for the eyes, it’s a family friendly city, much more than the people think. I adore the positive energy that you breathe in these cities and I actually find that they have many things in common.
Ph. Maura Soldati
Model Justine Elizabeth Mattera
MUA & HS Barbara Bertuzzi
Clothes and Lingerie La Perla
Shoes Giuseppe Zanotti Design
Text by Teresa Vitartali // All images are Maura Soldati © All rights reserved
Like this interview?
Find JUSTINE MATTERA in the Creative Guide!