Xhilda Lapardhaja / The Albanian Girl That “Conquered” Rome

Character / English / May 25, 2010

Photos Courtesy of Pierpaolo Redondo

She’s Albanian. You can tell it from the voice on the other side of the phone, when Xhilda answers in Italian “Pronto”; then her voice switches language, speaks Albanian and smiles sweetly as to let me know that she’s Mediterranean – thus her voice flows warm and affective. She lives in Italy from 17 years on; she left since a baby with her family. They settled in Rome. They still live there today. She’s not anymore the little girl in a big city, now she’s the young girl, whose fame got over Rome, a girl full of dreams, passion and obligations to herself and the ones close to her.

Accidentally Actress

Actually, she’d never dreamt to become an actress, but simply a ballerina, while in her childhood studied flute also. She says that at that time in Albania the art schools were dominating and those schools were very good, while she adds that she hasn’t any information on how those schools are now in Albania. Everything started accidentally. Ten years ago, when she frequented the National Dance Academy, a filming group came at her school for a movie audition. She ran, nonetheless the character required that the actor had Italian as a mother tongue. She never happened to know how her photos ended in an actors’ agency that contacted her and made the first propose for an actress. “I had no interest at all and firstly I gave a short NO as an answer, but they didn’t give up till she accepted and after the second rehearsals, her fate was determined. During this time, she starred in some TV series, also in the biographical movie of Sofia Loren; then she was the image of the mobile company Omnitel and was a model for Valentino’s fashion show. These last two activities for her are not considered as the best achievements, since she aims to be an excellent actress.

Professionally Capable

Now that she’s in the big universe of cinema, she doesn’t distinct the details of difference in all these years of experience. Her enormous moment of pleasure was when she was awarded the First Prize in “Nuovo Talento Italiano” (The New Italian Talent) in Roma Fiction Festival. When asked how much Xhilda has changed from her first role to her last one, she answers: “I’ve grown up as a human and as a professional. I have a greater conscience of my actress life and of my human being life as well. I’ve changed a lot of course due to my studies and new encounters. My first roles were episodic and gradually they grew bigger. I’ve worked with different directors with different methods; I’ve had colleagues that have given me a lot.” Actually, Xhilda is working for two projects; the first one is a show she’s rehearsing on – Enrico IV of Pirandello – and the other one is a fiction for RAI entitled “Cousin, Cousin”

Off The Ballet

After the physical problems, she won’t return to her passion – the ballet. Since she had no chance to exercise, she studied journalism, till acting drew totally her attention and made her vocation of becoming a journalist grow pale. She quit the journalism studies, but she considers going on in the future. When asked if she misses ballet, she says: “In the beginning I missed it a lot, but things run into changes, they don’t get lost totally, while dancing is necessary for my being an actress. That’s a plus I have. I didn’t choose to become an actress to stay close to the dance. When I quit it due to my physical problems, in the meantime I was on my way as an actress, so it has been a natural transformation”. During the conversation with her, I’m amazed from her finesse in attitude, the correctness and smart answers. I ask her whether she would go back to her career beginning, if there was something she would have done way different, she answers: “I don’t think I would change anything if I was to turn back time…because all my experiences, positive or negative be them, rich or poor, have contributed in making me what I really am today”. A dream for Xhilda Lapardhaja? Travels for sure. She would live to travel the world and to learn all its languages.

Family And Love

Family is the essence of all things, the soil where we land pure roots. Its’ very important for a family to be healthy. Xhilda says she’s had such luck. “I have a wonderful and very united family. My parents have always supported and advised me, letting me free at the same time – something that made me very responsible. I owe them a lot. To my mother and father that gave to us a lot. To my brother and sister that support me in everything I do and if I don’t call them ten times a day, it’s impossible for me. They’re so important. While, concerning love, she answers in a few words (l’amor che muove il sol e l’altre stelle) love makes sun and other stars move, referring to Dante. Smiling, she adds that this is a human feeling that everybody knows and is not limited only to a relationship between partners.


She doesn’t believe in Fate, she considers her achievements as a result of her work, of the fact that she never quit to get the best of her. While she considers her attitude style as difficult. Thus, she says that in her career, her uneasy character has helped her sometimes and some other times it has impeded her considerably. “More than a style of attitude I think that’s professionalism that matters”, she says. To Xhilda, her defects are that she feels kind of lazy; sometimes she postpones her duties for tomorrow or later or likes to sleep longer in her bed. That’s the only thing she’d like to change in her. Actually, Xhilda’s days are full of engagements till the late hours. With new contracts that she signs in Albanian Xhilda Lapardhaja. It’s her name that she loves and conserves as a fanatics. She never signs a contract if her name it’s not the one she was called since a one day baby – Xhilda – and not as written in Italian – Gilda…

Confessions On Herself
Are you sensitive, tough, darer or self restrained?

I think I’m a little bit of each; even some of them contradict eachother. But we (human beings) are a contradiction ourselves.

What about the relations with your friends?

I hope they’re fine. Few regarding the quantity, but I believe in quality.

Do you visit Albania often?

Unfortunately, not much. That’s why I’m so fond of it, with my memories of the common past.

What's your best memory from the childhood?

The smells and tastes for sure… then Berati, a wonderful city… with its infinite climbs up the causeys.

Do you like books? Any preferred writer?

Books are vital and can do nothing without them. I devour them. Concerning any preferred author, I like Beckett, Dostoyevsky, Dante, Pasolini, Efraim Medina Reyes, Kadare, Agata Kristi… it would be such a long list I’m not citing for different reasons. I like two Italian writers living in Italy – Ornela Vorpsi and Anilda Ibrahimi. I like the way Ornela Vorpsi writes, she emanates the literature from within.

Do you travel often?

Yes, as much as I can. No plans at all. I love driving, because this kind of travel gives you chances to explore places that with other transport means cannot enjoy. Whereas it’s important everything that happens between the departure and arrival, meaning the travel.

Where did you have the most beautiful vacations?

All of them have been such in their own way. I can never forget last year’s vacations; I had a car trip for a month in Austria, Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary. But fortunately I didn’t drive. I’m a public hazard

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Irena Shabani
Is an Albanian freelance journalist and human rights activist specialising in investigative journalism. She co-founded Panorama, the leading newspaper in Albania, where she served as managing editor from 2002 to 2003. Prior to Panorama she was a journalist at Shekulli and Gazeta Shqiptare and has been part of the Albanian Human Rights Group from its beginning. She has collaborated on programmes for the International Research and Exchanges Board, investigating topics involving crime and political corruption and continues to collaborates with foreign organisations and local media focused on social problems and minority rights.

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