Note: this interview was conducted over email in English in April 2014. English is Andrea’s third or fourth language, behind her native Slovakian and adopted Italian.
Andrea Lehotska is a Slovakian born journalist, model, actress and sometime translator who has spent much of her career living and working in Italy. She has appeared on a number of Italian TV shows including, Markette, Chiambretti Night and Circo Massimo – Estate al circo and in 2012, Andrea took part in the 9th edition of Isola Dei Famosi (the Italian “Celebrity Survivor”).
Andrea has recently started a journalistic blog on her official site, www.andrealehotska.com with articles ranging from social commentary to travel. The articles are in Italian, but despite only understanding English, I can certainly recommend them as worth reading. The effectiveness of Google translate is improving 😉
Firstly, something I’ve been curious about: you were born in Slovakia but have spent most of your adult life working and living in Italy. How did you come to speak Italian? Is there a family connection or is it just something you studied?
Well, I was born in Slovakia, but my mum is German-Jewish and my daddy Hungarian. I grew up in Austria, and then in the French part of Switzerland and my only connection with Italy was a pizza once per week 🙂 I always loved languages, the only ‘escape way‘ from our East European countries. So, after Slovakian, that I knew I would never use for more than a call to my mother, and German, English and French, to learn Italian wasn’t that hard. I just bought a book for kids and translated it word for word with a dictionary. It took me 18 days 😀
Since moving to Italy you have had a varied career, from modelling, television and acting to journalism and translation. What work have you found most fulfilling?
Every work fulfills me in some way. ( I wonder if this verb can be used also in a porno-actress interview? LOL ) Modelling makes you travel, catches the best of your pose. You are ugly in this pic? Oh, just delete it. Television makes me sweat every single cent, cause in Italy, the more your job is harder and serious, less they pay. Acting helped me to express myself without people thinking I’m completely crazy – I always have the excuse that ‘I had to do it, it was the character’.
Journalism, well… doesn’t fill your wallet but is damn exciting for me. If you make me chose between a paid Maldives – vacation and a refugees camp in Palestine, there is no doubt you will find me in the AIDA camp. ( As I did the last week 🙂 I ache for the justice, truth, real realities, not fake info and all the shit the world wants to make us believe: I need to see, experience, touch, hear, capture. And now I know charity never exists when it comes to it, amnesty is often an error, laboratories still test their ingredients on animals, orphans never get the money you send, armies use prohibited gasses on people.
Translation is a passion, I need to keep my brain working and creating, that’s why I’m actually studying Thai right now 🙂
Is there any job you have regretted taking, or regretted not taking?
No, cause I’m too proud to regret. I always find a way to take the best even from a negative experience. Of course now I regret I’ve written for a magazine that later never paid me, but it brought me to an important step: to create my own journalism web site, so if I don’t earn money, I only can blame myself 🙂
I have a sixth sense: if I feel a strange vibration in my body by taking into consideration a job (no, I’m not meaning my iphone ;), I refuse. I don’t know why; but something inside me does.
Fakes and fame seekers. I take it you have little time for either. From the outside it would seem you could not find an environment more full of these than the fashion and TV industry in which you have worked (ok, maybe politics). Is this a fair comment, or is it different when viewed from the inside?
Of course it’s different, it’s worse!:) Kidding; let’s say the problem isn’t a specific kind of industry, but a specific kind of people. It only looks like models, actresses and so on are more suitable for committing certain ‘sins’, but it’s only because they are more publicly exposed and easier to monitor. But believe me, in every social ‘cast ‘ you would find a girl, even the cute one from your favorite supermarket, that would sleep with her boss for a higher remuneration or social status.
Opportunities for young women on Italian TV (especially during the “Berlusconi era”), would seem to almost entirely be about beauty with intelligence given little import. Although, to be fair, this is little different in America or my home country, Australia. Do you agree with this generalisation, and how do you feel about it?
I agree. I think Italy is THE country, if it comes to analyze this question. I’m pretty sure it was Italy to invent not only the public debt, but also this naked-girls-everywhere-and-without-reason. No, they are not intelligent, they are only fame and money hungry. Some of them are smart; they know their only possibility to ‘improve’ their poor lifestyle is their bank that they save every day. Loooooooot of famous actresses, students, hairdressers, barkeepers, … accepted the compromise of Berlusconi ‘dinner’ in his home. And you know what is the most horrible thing? Everybody knows it, but they still keep on smiling at us from our small tv screen, working, hosting important shows. I’ve never told it before; but as I was publicly exposed too, there was a time when I have been called for a ‘dinner’. I know I could have just gone and smiled and be damn famous and rich the day after. But I know myself and I also knew that I would have been myself and would have insulted him; shit, i’m a foreign worker paying taxes, and those taxes are used to rent a helicopter and move ladies from north to south? No, thanks, I’ve already booked my table in a terrible Chinese restaurant.
In a similar vein, are there certain shots or uses of images that you feel diminish respect for women? Have you ever rejected a job on this basis?
An example: Italians, even for a political campaign, use girls. To convince people to vote for them, they have done a poster with only a girl’s legs, a mini skirt fluttering around them, with the slogan “The wind is changing.” Can you believe it? Another one has been done for a Ski center on Italian and Swiss border: on the Swiss campaign, a boy is smiling, with his girlfriend behind him. On the Italian one, his girlfriend is kissing another girl behind his shoulders! I’m not a moralist but that’s too much, it’s kind of free vulgarism. That’s why I’ve rejected a lot of well-paid jobs, calendars and so on – how can I be credible reporting the dictatorship from Burma if I straddle a horse, naked, on April 2013 ? LOL.
One of the main reasons for this interview is that you appeared on Isola Dei Famosi with Aida Yespica in 2012, so I’d like to ask a couple of questions about that…
In other interviews you have stated that the main reason for appearing on the show was financial. This at least makes sense to me, because without that incentive it does not seem an appealing prospect. But, did you end up finding anything to enjoy in the experience? And on the other hand what was the most difficult or unpleasant aspect?
If I’ve found anything to enjoy in that experience…let me think…done….NO ! 🙂
It wasn’t only for money. I had to, let’s say. I needed to lose my ‘tv virginity’ so i could keep my job on the same channel, and ‘justify’ why it’s still me hosting it.
I enjoyed the nature, snakes, animals. The most unpleasant aspect was that I had to share this divinity with some individuals i would never have chosen to meet for not even 5 minutes.
Since leaving the island you have stated that Aida was your favourite amongst the castaways. What was your opinion of Aida before entering the island and how, if at all, did it change?
My best human surprise was Aida; I think I’ve rarely seen such a human and simple girl. She may have changed after becoming mum, who knows, people talk and invent and I don’t care. I’m sure she has always been human. She doesn’t lose time with small insignificant details, and she knows what fealty and sharing means. She may have a lot, but she can give even more. And she is a real mother – she never named her son only to impress people at home, she never was yelling like the others ‘keep voting me, do it for my kids’.
We have laughed, talked, cried, slept, pied and eaten together. I personally never cry; but when she has been eliminated, I did 🙂
For me, one of the more unsavoury aspects of programmes of this type is the viewer feedback. Having the power to vote on who they like seems to (understandably, I guess) bring forth very strong opinions on every aspect of a person’s character and appearance. If you followed any of this feedback, how did you feel about it?
I have been name-called by viewers The Killing Doll. ( I’m really laughing right now. ) Cause I’ve never cried, complained, yelled ‘mummy come and take me back home’, kissed anybody, I haven’t said ‘I love you‘ after two days to anybody and I never swore ‘I won’t nominate you for elimination’. So I was too cold for Italian people. And too strange; instead of talking behind somebody’s back, I would prefer to feed snakes with ants and so on.
But I would say the final effect on myself was good: not immediately, but long – lasting; I have my credibility, my fans, and as I’m not pursuing a non-sense career, I don’t need to please the medium range 🙂
So, that wasn’t exactly your ideal form of employment… ignoring the constraints of reality, what job would you most want to do if given the chance?
My ideal job is taking form: what I most love, is to travel, narrate, report, write, describe, discover, explore. And a lot of people can’t, even if they want to: for health, money, family, children, fear, laziness. But they still can read and move their minds for a while to THOSE places, and it looks like I’m not that bad in making them move quickly from their chair to another continent 🙂 So I want to keep on doing what I’m trying to do since one month on my blog www.andrealehotska.com. Hoping I’ll have time this week to extend my articles in English.
Moving away from what you do for a living to how you live…
You are a vegetarian? How long since you made this decision and was it made for idealogical or health reasons?
Since i’m 14. You know, to be born in a communist country, offers you a very small amount of choice for your epitome, future, life style. But I took as an example my mum who never had baptized me, in order to make me decide what I want to do. So the freedom of choice was the most important valor for me. And if I kill a pig, who gives me the right to decide for his death? You know, the buffalo is the strongest animal on earth, and it’s herbivorous. Why I couldn’t survive too?
So, you will not kill for food; how about for fashion? Will you wear leather, fur, etc?
We say ‘fashion victims’ and we never consider the real victim, the animal. I’m not a fashionista, I wear anything I’ve have for years as I’m not growing anymore, and I don’t wear furs at all. It look cheap, It’s a paradox cause it isn’t at all. I never spend for clothes, I prefer to travel. But price apart, I try not to choose products without previous certification they have only used waste, discards of already existing pieces to assemble a new piece.
It’s funny but I’ve been at an auction last month, where a few people were selling their clothes and their proceeds went to a kennel. I bought a fur cause I wanted to help them with some money, and than I had to sell it again on ebay. LOL
You identify as a Buddhist. How does your adherence to Buddhism inform the way you live your life?
During one of my 27 visits to Asia, I discovered I already was acting like a Buddhist, I never thought ‘Now I will become something that makes me earn credits for my future life’. I‘ve always paid attention to what encircles me, from stones to plants. Maybe not always to humans, but they not always deserve. I’m zen. I live only once, I only do what makes me happy, I only act as I feel I should, I feel the ‘right’ things inside me. When your head is happy, all your body will be too.
You spurn money (except for necessity), take little pleasure in food and abhor opulence… so, what is it that you do enjoy?
Jesus it looks like you know me very well 🙂 Think, people here still didn’t get it, and you did. Cause you are not Italian 🙂
I have to repeat myself by saying I only enjoy my money by traveling. No, wait, I also enjoyed to spend 1000 euros to save my rat’s life, she had a cancer.
On the one hand Milan, on the other Thailand. You have spent time living in both of these very different worlds. How do you resolve these two worlds, both in your mind and in actuality? Do you enjoy both or is one more of a necessity and the other an ideal dream?
I learned to accept Europe because it’s my only way for the moment to earn money which then allows me to stay in Asia. I was about to stay in Thailand forever, than my mum came, kicked my – may I say ass? :)- and told me: “You are a tv star, you are ruining a dream of thousands of girls who would exchange their life with yours, and you are throwing it away half-way. You’ve always been smart but this idea of yours to sell coconut on a Thai beach is stupid, it grows here everywhere for free!”.
So I came back. And I knew I only can fully appreciate my traveling if I suffer before in Europe, so I have a goal, a dream, anticipation time, a reason to get up and work 🙂
Do you consider yourself a feminist?
I’m a chauvinist. Because men drive better, are logical, concise, practical, not spiteful, competitive. Few months ago I’ve been called for a shooting, I should have represented one month on an anti-violence against women calendar. I refused; I’m sorry girls but sometimes is better to slap you than to hope you will change.
If you had a young daughter about to enter adulthood (I understand this would mean you’d have been a mother at about 15, but anything’s possible in a hypothetical ;)), what is the one piece of advice you’d give her
My mum, when I was young, didn’t want to buy my a bag for school. I teased her for months. Then she told me that if I learn to swim, she would buy it. So I jumped into a swimming pool which terrified me a lot, and somehow managed to cross it, come out alive and ask for the bag. She told me NO.
“But you promised!“
“Never trust nobody, not even yourself. By the way, now you know how to swim.“
I have to ask about your rather unusual pets. For how long have you been keeping rats, and what about them appeals to you? Are they not simply vermin to be eradicated? 😉
Ok let’s say i haven’t seen your last question 🙂
I saved them. They are usually sold as snake-food or the ‘lucky’ ones just survived some laboratory tests. I never use products tested on animals. I would prefer to wash my hair with yogurt than to know thousands of animals have been killed just to make my hair shine. So the last step, to be coherent, was to save two rats. One was really doing bad; cancer, dermatitis, no hair at all, cough. The other one scared so much that when I tried to come closer, she would shake for hours. It took me months and months, lot of patience, love, devotion and doctors to make them feel safe, happy and comfortable. One is dead few weeks ago, the other one is sleeping in my bed right now, after I’ve ordered a sushi roll for her… So you can imagine how happy I feel when I compare her mental and physical advancement: she even kiss me every morning with tongue, she takes bath with me, and runs after me when we are out!
No, they shouldn’t be eradicated. They will even survive us, you will see. I’ve never met smarter animals in my life, and is the only being that feels days before an earthquake is coming. There is a disinformation about rats; they have never brought illness, people did, and that’s truth, not my heart-in-love talking 🙂
And finally, what does the future hold? Any plans or hopes you’d like to share? Do you still have the desire to one day live permanently in Asia?
After all these questions about Asia, I need to tell two things: you are the FIRST one after 10 years of interviews that has only posed interesting questions, not boring at all, constructive. And, … damn, I think I need to pack for Asia, there is a red-shirt conflict right now, you want to read about it? 🙂
Thank you, Andrea, for giving me so much of your time, and for your generous compliment. I will of course be closely following your blog, whether you are writing about the red-shirt protests in Thailand, or why rats should be given person status 😉