Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be on stage performing a one-woman show written by one-woman -- me.
I am a first-generation American from an Italian family of immigrants who came to America looking for a better life for themselves and their family.
My family came through Ellis Island with the clothes on their backs and the desire to become Americans. I cannot even imagine what it was like to come over crowded in steerage,
And, then sail into New York Harbor passing the Statue of Liberty.
I got a glimpse, though, when my sister and I surprised my maternal grandmother and my father by adding the family names on both sides to the “Wall of Honor” leading to the Ellis Island museum.
My Nana had a piece of tracing paper and put it over the names of her parents and penciled over the names to capture them on that little piece of paper.
My father cried as he went through the museum and realized what his mother went through coming across the Atlantic with my uncle and twin baby boys. Her husband was already in New York working as a tailor in the sweatshops to carve out a living.
My father was born in Italy, and only an infant of 8 months when he came to America. My great grandparents on my mother’s side came over and were married in New York City.
Nana Rose had a sixth grade education and worked as a seamstress in the garment center specializing in women’s lingerie.
She was a tough cookie. She scrimped and saved to buy the house where I grew up in Brooklyn.
alongside my parents, sister
aunt, uncle, cousin and cousin, step-grandfather and our great dane.
Family was everything, and so was security. That meant always keeping family close and always having a job to take care of your family.
I followed in the family pathway -- keeping family close and always working. I was the “free spirit” who did not quite fit into the family mold. I was the lone cannoli sitting alone on the plate of biscotti.
Since I was four years old, my family called me the little actress; however, I needed to be responsible. Like my sister and cousins, I was extremely fortunate to get a college education. I worked my way up the corporate ladder in the beauty industry -- always feeling like a square peg in a round hole. I did well, but something was missing. That “free spirit” wanted to burst forth.
It wasn’t until later in life, through unusual circumstances, that I started to discover my destiny. I realized I was doing what seemed to be the “right” way to make a living; but it wasn’t right for me.
I had to go through a process to embrace who I really am; I took a deep breath and a big step of faith to go after what I always wanted.
Through my one-woman show, It’s Only Lipstick, this blog, and future projects, I will share how I got here from there. Audience members have told me that my story resonates with them -- It’s about family; it’s about work; it’s about faith and it’s about realizing . . . it is never too late to go after your dreams!