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Paola Locatelli: “Influence is comfortable but cinema gives me adrenaline”

Far from the artifice of Instagram and superficial poses, Paola Locatelli appears at our interview without makeup, with her hair tied up on the top of her head, dressed in slightly too long jeans and neon yellow sneakers with a big khaki coat.

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Paola Locatelli: “Influence is comfortable but cinema gives me adrenaline”

Far from the artifice of Instagram and superficial poses, Paola Locatelli appears at our interview without makeup, with her hair tied up on the top of her head, dressed in slightly too long jeans and neon yellow sneakers with a big khaki coat. Ready to talk about her two professions, influence and cinema. More specifically, her first role on the big screen: Max, an F1 driver.

Discovered on YouTube in 2016, Paola is what we call an influencer and content creator. Followed by two million people, her community knows her under the nickname Paolact. His job ? Create videos, post photos of herself, her life and the brands she collaborates with. “I love influence! I’m comfortable with it, I love fashion, I’m super grateful to attend fashion week shows.”

Since she was little, even before the appearance of Instagram, it was cinema that made her dream. “When I was little my mother filmed me with a camcorder. When she asked me what I wanted to do when I grew up, I already answered actress.” The twenty-year-old young woman knows that “it’s an untouchable profession, especially since [her] parents aren’t in it.” Daughter of a civil servant and a banker, they always supported her. “My parents are reassured that I have influence on the side because it allows me to pay my rent and live. Cinema is still too unstable.”

The trigger? “I did a casting call for La Grande Récré, and I played in five five-minute episodes to present toys.” At eight years old, this web series completely seduced her. “I told my mother: that’s what being an actress is,” she smiles. When she was thirteen, she was cast to play in Camping Paradis on TF1. But without success. Paola did not attend film or theater schools but she works. A lot. In particular by attending cinema workshops in a school in the 11th arrondissement in Paris. “I did 156 billion castings and I was taken for only three roles.” Notably on Netflix in Dangerous Liaisons, an adaptation of the epistolary novel, but also in So far everything is fine, the series by Nawell Madani and on France TV in the series Flesh tender. Faced with failures, the young woman remains positive and takes “these castings as work sessions”.

Paola can't sit still, speaks with her hands and her hoarse voice and the "adrenaline" she feels when she receives a script is felt as soon as she talks about it. She is aware that her two million followers can help her get a role: “I’m not naive, influence pushes certain producers to take me because they say it will get more views.” However, this also closes doors for him. “paradoxically, in the prestigious world of cinema, some will never hire an influencer.” For what ? “Cinema is beautiful France, art, culture. Influence, in people’s minds, is superficial, it’s easy money, it’s taking Instagram photos.” She has already been refused roles without having had the opportunity to go to the casting because of this cap.

“Enjoy your role”. That's his mantra. “I only participate in castings that allow me to have another life, like being a pilot.” In her first role in the cinema she plays Max, the main character of the film Rapide, scheduled for release in February 2025. This young girl attracted by speed, in love with F1, fights to find her place in a “very masculine” sport. “When I read the script I was hooked. It’s quite rare for me to read one in one evening, I usually procrastinate. I said to myself, if I don’t get the role I’m going to have too much trouble.” Bingo, she passes the casting and meets young girl pilots “to immerse herself in the role”, like Lisa Billard, F4 pilot at Alpine Academy. The actress took up sport intensively for two months to get in physical condition. When she talks about her new character, she says "I." Paola is Max. Max is Paola. Two young girls, career dreams, strong characters and delicate decisions to make. “Max wants so much to follow her dreams but she can't because of her family,” says Paola. Me too, I feel like it’s happened to me before.” The actors Alban Lenoir and Anne Marivin give him the answer. This feature film by Morgan S. Dalibert, director of Aka – the most viewed French film in the world on Netflix when it is released in 2023 – is a challenge for the young actress: “I think I would realize when I see my face everywhere in the cinema.”

Paola Locatelli made a promise to herself: the next time she climbs the steps at Cannes it will be thanks to a role in a film, and not as an influencer invited by a brand, as she has already done. The superstitious person will surely have been on set with her charms: “a green shirt that I wore the last time I saw my grandmother. It still has his smell on it.” And, a ring with significant initials, “those of my grandmother and my best friend, who are gone”.

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