RUNWAY: In ‘Chasing Life’ you play April, a young journalist who is trying to balance work, family and love, all while dealing with the tragic news that you have a terminal illness. How did you prepare for such a complex role?
Italia Ricci: At first, I wanted to do all of the research that I could and know everything there was to know about the type of Leukemia that April has. But after reading the script a few times over, it occurred to me that April doesn’t have any of that knowledge. I decided to learn about it as April did so that I wasn’t anticipating how April was going to feel or act before it was written. Also, I trust the writers completely. They have teams of doctors, researchers, and cancer fighters working with them to figure out how to have April handle each step of the journey. When it came time to deal with chemo, I met some amazing warriors who helped me understand what it was like for them, and that was so incredibly helpful for more than just my work.
R: What has been the biggest challenge of taking on the role of ‘April’ and what has been the biggest reward thus far?
IR: The most rewarding moments are hearing how the show has reached out and given a voice to people who felt they needed one, and not just for people dealing with an illness. There’s so much more going on in the show that people will relate to, and when fans reach out and let you know that they feel represented, it gives me goose bumps every time. The biggest challenge is how I feel when I come home and remind myself that I’m not sick. It hurts that I get to turn it off when so many people can’t.
R: The show revolves around the serious topic of cancer, which affects so many people today. What do you hope that viewers will take away from April’s story?
IR: I hope viewers apply what is going on in the show to life with a broad stroke. Never give up. No matter what someone is dealing with in their world, it only controls your life as much as you let it. You have all of the power; you still make the decisions. It’s okay to make the wrong ones sometimes because we’re human. Just surround yourself with good people and you can get through more than you think you can. We are all stronger than we ever imagine.
R: Many actors transition into directing or producing, is this a path you see yourself taking? Do you have any personal ambitions that are still unattained?
IR: I can see myself producing one day. I don’t see myself directing—I have way too many control issues for that. I’d be a nightmare director. I’m pretty happy to have achieved what I have at this point, but of course there are other personal milestones I’m excited for down the road, like having a family.
R: What is your favorite summer vacation destination and what is your one must-have summer fashion item?
IR: My backyard. We live in LA where it’s always summer. I love my pool, my fruit trees, my dogs, and my friends. And a white flowing maxi dress, hands down.
R: Speaking of fashion, we adore your style and your complexion is simply flawless. Can you share your beauty regiment?
IR: I always wear sunscreen. When I’m outside in the sun, I’m wearing at least SPF 90.
R: What is your weekend style, and what do you like to wear on your down time? Any favorite designers?
IR: It depends on my plans for the weekend. If I don’t have to leave my house, I’m in my robe all weekend long. If I have things to do, I’ll pull it together. I actually just started wearing pieces from LUBLU by Kira Plastinina. Her stuff fits me so well and is incredibly comfortable.
R: Who are your biggest influences when it comes to your acting career? Did you look up to or study anyone in particular growing up?
IR: I didn’t study anyone in particular. I was pretty impressionable and would watch a movie and want to be that character. I would pretend to be like them for a day or two until I saw the next show or movie and then move on to that. I think I’m still like that a little bit. I’m influenced by a different performance every time I watch something new. One constant influence is Kate Hudson; she’s got a sparkle to her that you see in every character. She’s also got crazy range—rocker indie films, jazzy musical, rom-com, horror, you name it. Actually, I remember watching her movie A Little Bit of Heaven the day before my screen test for Chasing Life.
R: If you could work with anyone, actor or director, who would it be? What is it about his or her work that inspired you?
IR: I’d love to work with a ton of people. I learn so much from everyone I’ve ever worked with. The set is such an inspiring environment, even with people I didn’t necessarily get along with. You learn to be patient and professional when you really just want to scream. As of right now, I’m so impressed by Dane DeHaan. I think he’s wildly talented and also has this magnetism in his performances that paralyzes you from looking away when he’s on screen.
R: Having broken into film at just twenty-one, what advice do you have for aspiring actors who have made the move to Hollywood?
IR: Don’t give up. I was ready to go back to law school and say that I gave Hollywood my best shot, but my family in L.A. believed in me and supported me and kept faith in me when I was spent. I ended up staying because of them, and I am so grateful.
Do you have any future projects in the work that you can speak on at this time?
I shot a Sony Affirm film called The Remaining last year that is due to come out this fall. It’s a 100% religiously accurate thriller that recounts how the world would end, according to the bible. I play Allison, the maid of honor at her best friend’s wedding when the end comes. It’s a movie that tells the story of a group of best friends as they navigate the challenging journeys of faith, love, and salvation at the end of it all.