Emanuela Postacchini and the search for Who Is America?

The Italian star follows The Alienist with a role in Sacha Baron Cohen’s provocative new series

Postacchini as Cristina and Sacha Baron Cohen as Gio Monaldo in Who is America?

“Since I was a kid, I dreamt of performing in front of an audience”, Emanuela Postacchini says. She’s getting her wish. After studying acting in Milan and Paris (“My grandmother is French, so I spent a lot of time there in the summer”), the 26-year-old Italian rising star followed her breakthrough in an Italian commercial with a move to Los Angeles. After appearing as Flora next to Luke Evans in TNT’s period drama The Alienist, she became Sacha Baron Cohen’s sidekick in his provocative series Who is America?, where she starred as one half of Christina and Gio, pranking celebrities such as OJ Simpson. These are exciting times for the Italian actress, currently busy in pre-production of a new film, one that remains a secret. “At this stage,” she says, “I can only say that it will be a big Hollywood production, that I will co-star with American actors and that the director is well known for action movies.”

Emanuela Postacchini as Flora in The Alienist

LA TIMES – “I first came here on holiday to improve my English: I could sense right away a great energy and a feeling of freedom never felt in Italy; I love the vast empty spaces and huge skies. I understood that here I could be at my ease and feeling inspired. Then I met my boyfriend Jameson [Californian musician Jameson Burt] and staying became the most natural thing.”

Postacchini’s Instagram post with a heavily disguised Sacha Baron Cohen

SACHA BARON COHEN – “I’ve always been a huge fan of Sacha Baron Cohen, a truly unique artist in his genre. He plays the part of ‘Gio Monaldo”, the typical Italian millionaire with plenty of mistresses at his feet, but I am Cristina, his official girlfriend, so to speak. The funny thing is that Sacha cannot speak Italian, so I had to pretend to understand what he told me and render a credible dialogue among us, all while improvising and with hidden cameras filming. Sacha is such a pro and he gave me loads of liberty on set. I also ended up dubbing those cheesy, hilarious intros to the episodes. It was very hard not to laugh at times and once I cracked up although nobody saw it; one of our cameraman took a picture of me with tears of laughter, hiding my face behind a magazine.”

Sacha Baron Cohen as Israeli gun nut Erran Morad in Who is America?

KEEPING A STRAIGHT FACE – “The unique experience of Who Is America? has taught me a great lesson: sometimes you only have one chance as an actress, and you can’t fuck it up. I felt the pressure also because it is impossible to know beforehand how you’re going to react to certain circumstances. For example, I love crime stories and I think I’ve seen pretty much every documentary on OJ Simpson and since in the sketch I had to pretend to not know him, I was afraid my face would betray me. But if I failed, then I would have failed the entire episode and everyone involved. That simply wasn’t an option. Because of that experience, I can now face auditions with a bit more self confidence.”

Emanuela takes her place among the Hollywood stars

NEVER GIVE UP, NEVER SURRENDER – “Despite the incredible competition between actors in Los Angeles, I’ve never lost enthusiasm. I’ve always been a determined and independent person. It may sound like a cliché but it’s true: the will to emerge will give you the strength to push yourself forward. Artists are always seeking for approval and, to me, approval from my parents was also very important. If I had to live so far away from home, I at least wanted them to see my career growing, so they could be happy.”

Emanuela at the Los Angeles Italian Film Festival (Photo: Shutterstock)

FOREIGN TONGUES – “The Italian accent was never a disadvantage. I learnt that it is always worth going to auditions, even for parts that do not require any accent because if they believe you are the right person for the role, they would adapt the character to you. It happened with Flora in The Alienist, and since the series was set in the New York of the 19th century, we decided with the screenwriters that Flora would be of French origins, even if I use quite a neutral accent in the show.”

Postacchini with Luke Evans in The Alienist

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