Women who are currently navigating adolescence and their early 20s are doing so in confusing and contradictory times. On one hand, the feminist movement has made immense progress, while on the other hand, the U.S. president frequently makes blatant anti-women comments. What's a girl to do? Well, for one thing, go to the movies. The new film In Search of Fellini, is a coming-of-age story about following one's dreams and defying expectations that all young women should see, and star Ksenia Solo agrees.
"I just think that’s really cool, whenever someone takes a risk, especially a young woman who is alone," Solo says, during a recent visit to Bustle's offices. In the film, out now, Solo plays Lucy, a shy, sheltered 20-year-old who decides to follow her wild dream of going to Italy to find the legendary Italian filmmaker, Federico Fellini, in order to get his permission to make his movie into a one-woman play. The movie is based on the life of Nancy Cartwright (best known for playing the voice of Bart Simpson) who took the international journey alone, a rare and bold move then and even now for a young woman.
Solo says that she hopes girls and women are inspired by the film, particularly Lucy's passion and determination. "It’s just again a message of, no matter how crazy something seems [and] even if all of the odds are against you, if you find strength to go after whatever it is you dream of, usually you reap some really beautiful rewards that can really enrich your life," the actor says.
It's crucial that young women see examples of people like themselves going out into the world and taking chances. According to the Harvard Business Review, women are perceived as less inclined to risk-taking than men. At the same time, women actually have been found to take fewer risks than men when under stress, Sage Journal reports. If more young girls see examples of women being go-getters, chasing after their dreams and taking risks while doing so, both of those statistics might likely change. For Lucy in In Search of Fellini, leaving home is both terrifying and exciting, but she pursues her passion nonetheless — an attitude viewers can certainly learn from.
If grit and bravery are themes in In Search of Fellini, then Solo was the perfect choice to star in the film. Recently, she appeared on a season of Orphan Black, as well as AMC's Turn: Washington's Spies, but she had to take a big risk to land these roles. "I was on a fantasy-noir sci-fi TV series [Lost Girl] for many years where I play the comedic relief sidekick," she explains. "I had black hair with bangs and it was a very specific image and I decided to leave the show at a certain point because I was worried that I would be typecast for the rest of my life... It was very difficult to shake off that role and I had to really prove myself again."
Considering that her role in Turn was as a blonde-haired, British socialite in a revolutionary drama, it's clear that Solo succeeded in switching things up. And, as she states, it was all her own doing; her achievements weren't simply handed to her, but were the product of her making serious effort. "It was not an overnight thing, and it just was a process of knocking down some doors and being like, ‘look I know you see me as this, this is what’s all over Google, this is the image you have of me, but please let me prove myself to you and show you that I can be many different things,'" Solo recalls.
As an actor, Solo makes sure to take on roles that are unfamiliar and even frightening to her, just as Lucy does when she leaves her sheltered life in Ohio to get what she really wants from life. "It’s imperative for people to dream," Solo says, "no matter who tells you like, ‘it’s dumb, it’s never gonna happen.’" Continuing, she adds, "I just think life is only worth living if you’re following that magnetic pull, whatever that pull is for you, if you’re following it."
Just like how Fellini's films inspired the real-life Nancy Cartwright and the fictional Lucy to follow their passions and venture off to Italy, young girls now might be inspired by this film and Solo's role to get out to find the magic in the world. Sure, times are uncertain, but, as the movie emphasizes, it's a universal truth that art and film can create hope during even the most difficult situations.