Last December 2020, I held a special guest lesson about my work as a Diversity Stylist in Italy, at the Università Europea di Roma in Italy in occasion of their Disability Management master. The class was so active and the professionals involved filled my head and my heart with questions and thoughts.
A few days later I was already on the phone with some of them promising we would stay in touch.
When Lachi and I decided to compete at the Easterseals Disability Film Challenge 2021, before even knowing what we were going to shoot exactely, I knew I wanted some of my students to star in the film. We both agreed that we would have found a way to talk about disability, fashion, music and lifestyle in a fun and original way.
Elisa Vavassori was among the first I wrote to and, to my extreme pleasure, she immediately said yes! I’m in!
So here is Elisa’s experience, starring in The Focus Group Film!
WHO IS ELISA?
I am a communication expert, I like writing as a means to convey emotions. I suffer from Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), but my severe disability has not prevented me from creating a “normal” life. That is also thanks to technology, which has helped me to succeed in my career.
I am also a disability manager and have the ambitious goal of spreading the culture of integration and diversity in various businesses.
I like reading, but above all I like travelling: I have been lucky enough to visit many countries, including America, Europe, Lapland, Hawaii, Australia, Singapore and even the tiny islands of Tonga.
I’m an eternal dreamer, inspired by Walt Disney, my motto in life is: “If you can dream it, you can do it!“
Elisa, white woman with dark blonde curly hair, is sitting on her wheelchair working on her laptop. She is wearing a beautiful flower-print blazer and pink pants. Next to her computer a wooden calendar stating 19th March.
WHAT MOTIVATED YOU TO PARTICIPATE IN THE EASTERSEALS DISABILITY FILM CHALLENGE WITH US?
I decided to participate because I believe that raising awareness around disability issues is fundamental to build a better world for All.
DOES THE CHARACTER YOU PLAYED REPRESENT YOU? IF SO, WHY?
Yes, it does! Jessica, my character represented me in full! She is a strong woman, who is not afraid to express her opinions no matter what her boss thinks!!!
IN RECENT YEARS WE HAVE SEEN A BETTER REPRESENTATION OF SOCIETY IN TERMS OF GENDER, SEXUAL ORIENTATION AND ETHNICITY BOTH ON BIG AND SMALL SCREENS; DO THINK THE SAME CAN BE SAID ABOUT THE REPRESENTATION OF DISABILITIES?
Yes, I think there is an increasing focus on disabilities issues across all industries.
Portrait picture of Elisa, with brunette straight hair style in a bob; her face is valorized by nude make up. You can see she is wearing a black blouse with white, yellow and pink small flowers print.
WHAT ARE THE MAIN DIFFICULTIES IN DEALING WITH A FASHION INDUSTRY THAT OFTEN FORGETS THAT WE ARE NOT ALL THE SAME?
Unfortunately, fashion is still focused on perfection and aesthetics. If you are not beautiful, tall, thin and do not fall within certain canons, designers and stylists do not consider you. The real world, however, is not made up of models, but of ordinary people. We need to fight against stereotypes and towards a more diverse scenario where everybody, people with disabilities included, are represented, celebrating unique, and not standardized beauty.
TO ALL THOSE WHO LIVE WITH A DISABILITY AND ARE STILL LOOKING FOR THE COURAGE TO GET INVOLVED, TO ALL THOSE WHO LIVE THEIR DISABILITY WITH SHAME, WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE?
I would like to encourage all those who are ashamed to come out of their shell. We are all people first, and our disability is not what identifies or labels us. Even with disabilities we are all people, with strengths and courage to be proud of.
Walt Disney said: If you can dream you can do it!
Here is what I advise: be yourself! Let’s show ourselves for who we are and not for the disability we have.
NAME THREE BRANDS THAT HAVE MADE YOUR LIFE EASIER AND ALWAYS MAKE YOU FEEL COOL!
[Oh by the way: make sure you watch the film, comment and share!]
If you want to learn more about Elisa please follow her on