We had the good fortune of connecting with Gabriele Di Sazio and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Gabriele, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I think taking risks is the only way you can succeed, and I’m not talking only about career, but also – and maybe especially – about our personal life. Being vulnerable with ourselves and other people, and risking rejections, judgments, heartbreaks is the only way we can actually experience real emotions and live intensely. And the same can be applied to our careers.
I’m from Sicily, Italy, and I moved to London when I was 19. My English sucked so much that I felt sorry for those who were nice enough to try to have a conversation with me. I left my home because I wanted to be a film director and felt that London was the right place to go to. Similarly, after spending almost five years there, I left my new home and moved to the States to continue chasing that dream.
I guess I’ve always thought about taking risks as my only option if I really wanted something. As a consequence, I rarely give myself plan Bs. There’s not even a plan A. It’s just The Plan. That’s it. Which obviously puts a lot of pressure on me, and during those many moments in which I don’t feel good with myself and with what I’m doing, it’s even harder. But, in the end, it all depends on what we understand as “failure”. And to me, “failure” looks like the old version of me looking back without managing to remember the intensity of all those dreams. It’s that transition between “dreaming” and “hoping”, that often leads to a tired sigh, as you push away old memories and desires.
Please tell us more about your work. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
I’m not sure what sets me apart from others, but I can say that most of my efforts go towards being or remaining honest. Because I think honesty is the only way to be original and unique.
However, it’s also such a hard job; understanding and accepting what you’re feeling and why; dealing with all those fears and insecurities that follow you both in your loneliness and in your relationships with others. It is really difficult, but it’s also always worth it. Because then, when you’re honest and genuine in your intentions, it’s much easier to convince others to follow you. Work is not only a job but becomes a personal and intimate experience – an opportunity to understand yourself better.
So, was it easy? I’m not sure if it was, but it felt really hard and it still feels that. And the only way to move forward has been to keep in mind why I started in the first place and where I’m headed.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I am the worst guide, and when friends and family come visit me, they are the ones who end up organizing everything.
on the first day, I would probably start with the more touristy things, like walking around Hollywood (especially if my friend comes from Italy, that’s a must) and the Chinese theatre. Then a hike at Griffith Park, including a visit to the Observatory. If they are NOT Italian, I would take them to an Italian restaurant on Sunset, called Delancey (both pasta and pizza are so good there and it’s not expensive at all). I would actually take them there even if they are Italian because I live here and I miss Italian food.
On the second day, I would start running out of ideas since my suggestion to stay at a café for hours would be rejected. I would then take them to Manhattan Beach and we would have breakfast at Uncle Bill’s Pancake House. After that, I would invite other friends as well and we would stay at the beach playing a game called “Schiaccia 7”, which means “Spike 7”. You basically stand in a circle and play volleyball, passing the ball to each other. However, the person who’s about to make the 7th pass needs to instead spike on one of the other players, in the attempt to eliminate them (from the game). The last one to stand wins.
On the third day, we would go for another hike in Topanga, and then we’d go one more time to the beach – in Malibu this time – because the Ocean is beautiful and I never get enough of it. I would invite my LA friends to play Spike 7 (I’m actively trying to export this game in the US), but they are bored of it already and Malibu is too far away, so we would just relax and go for a swim.
On the fourth day, I would encourage my friend to download Tinder, because I can’t deal with him anymore. I’m exhausted and I would blame the pandemic for being completely out of shape. The whole day will be dedicated to finding someone interesting for him to go out with, and luckily on the fifth day, my friend will go on a date. They will end up falling in love and will get married right before the Tourist Visa expires (because they love each other, not because of the Green Card). My friend will move in with his new partner in Culver City. We would talk every once in a while, planning to meet, but that will never happen because I live in Glendale and we are just too far away.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
There have been so many people who helped me along the way; some by just asking me a question that made me realize what I was doing wrong, some others by being very patient and following me in my growth. However, there’s no doubt that most of my gratitude goes to my family.
I’m very lucky. All of them – my parents, my siblings, my uncles and aunts, my grandparents – supported me in so many different ways, and made this path possible. Just a few days ago I was on the phone with my godfather – no, not like the movie – and he was insisting for me to write my next script in Italian so he can read it and help me with ideas.