Today we embark on a very important and inspiring dialogue about what it means to be a woman in today's world. Kicking off our "Women In Control" series we met with Erica Andracchio, a San Francisco resident who is pursuing her dreams and working to make a difference.
Erica is a Bay Area native who moved to San Francisco in pursuit of a Bachelor's degree at San Francisco State University while simultaneously honing her craft as an actor. She is no stranger to life's balancing act of work and fulfilling passions, and we couldn't be more intrigued by her philosophy about woman in control and how she is making that a priority in her life.
What do you do?
Everything, I feel like! I am an actress. I have this running joke that to "support my habit", I have two jobs. One being a receptionist at a high-end hair boutique in San Francisco, Harper Paige Salon, and the other an usher at the SFJAZZ Center. I am also the co-founder, board member, and co-organizer of a non-profit organization, Roanne's Race. I am a self-diagnosed over-achiever.
Tell me about Roanne’s Race?
I would like to think that most people growing up have some core friendships. They are the people you got into mischief with, remember every break-up and goofy moment, and who you would do anything for if they needed it. Well, Roanne was one of those people. She had been one of my best friends since we were 13.
About a year after high school, she was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer, a huge shock to all of us as most had no idea what colon cancer even was, let alone a clue about there being stages. We were determined to stay by her side through it all, and over the course of 5 years we did the chemo, the surgeries, the remission, the relapse, more chemo, more surgeries, the eventual stage 4, and the hysterectomy at 23 years old. Then, our worst fears came true - she had to be put into hospice care. Nothing changes people more than facing mortality, especially at 24 years old. She was scared. We were all scared, but we never let her see that, and when she expressed fear that she would be forgotten once she passed, we were determined to not let that happen.
Roanne's Race was her idea. We asked her how she'd like to be remembered, and she told us a 5k to raise money for colon cancer. We created this organization as a 5k/10k/Kid's Fun Run that takes place every November in our hometown of Livermore, CA. We raise funds to donate to the Colon Cancer Alliance's under-50 research and awareness programs. This year will be our 4th race, and it's already gearing up to be another spectacular event. Roanne's Race set out to do two things, contribute to colon cancer research and remember Roanne, and within 3 short years we've more than reached that goal.
What does “a woman in control” mean to you personally?
A woman who holds the reins to her own life. I think 1950's "Pleasantville" is archaic, and, flash forward, we are no longer expected to be stay-at-home moms or housewives. In the movie, she makes decisions based on what she wants and needs, not based on what someone else tells her to do. I think she has to be a financially independent person, because I just don't know how you can be in control when you depend on someone else for money. She is confident, she is proud of her life, and when it comes down to it, she is happy with her decisions because she made them, they are hers.
How do you embody “a woman in control”?
I'll be honest, I don't always feel like I'm in control! I'm a 28 year old woman living in one of the most expensive cities in this country, (which is maddening about 90% of the time). I have two jobs, three if you count my acting career, a non-profit, and a limited social life. It's a lot, and it doesn't always balance, but I do it on my own. I have a live-in boyfriend, but neither of us depend on the other one financially, which is important to me. I also have made decisions regarding my life that I don't regret, and even though I sometimes think maybe there was another way to go about it, when I sit back and think about what I've accomplished and how I live, I'm happy. I set goals for myself, based on what I believe I'm worth, and I don't waiver.
What qualities/obstacles promote/hinder being a women in control?
I think the main quality of a woman in control is a mixture of confidence and self worth. With both of those attributes a woman can feel like she can rule the world! If she's not confident in what she's trying to do then it simply won't happen, but if she also lacks the ability to see herself as deserving of the opportunities she's trying for, then she's being destructive of her own goals. Even though there will always be someone telling you "you're not worth it" or "you can't do that", the fact is you can if you believe you can. It's no longer a world where a woman's place is "in the home", unless that's where she WANTS to be!
What inspired you to start acting? And what continues to drive you to stop at nothing to pursue it?
I realized when I was maybe 8 or 9 years old that I was more comfortable being on stage reciting lines of a character than I was just being myself in class. Plus having a slightly out of control imagination didn't hurt. Nothing is more accepting of craziness than the stage. When I was in college, I was in a production of "The Laramie Project". At one point I was onstage and could hear members of the audience crying. It was this experience that made me realize how powerful theater and film can be, and how storytelling can be more than just entertaining. It can be eye opening.
What does acting mean to you?
Acting is a state of mind. It's being able to look at another person’s life and interpret it with a little flare of you in there. Asking hard questions where you have to look just as hard at yourself as you do someone else. Everyone has a bias, and everyone has been hurt by something. You have to set all that aside in order to portray a character honestly and truthfully.
Who are some of the people in the Film/Movie/Theater industry whom you admire or inspire you?
I admire people who just want to do honest work, like Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks.
If you could say one thing to a young girl encouraging her to be a woman in control, what would you say?
Always know that you are good enough, and you deserve whatever you set your mind to. People will tell you otherwise, and you will run into obstacles, but as long as you believe in yourself and work hard, you will have all the power your life possesses.
SOME FUN FACTS:
Who is your spirit animal?
Jennifer Lawrence! Haha, I know she's not an animal. However, she is completely who I would be if I were famous.
"If you can dream it, you can do it." - Walt Disney
A must have in your life? Something you just can’t live without?
My iPod. I love music, all kinds of music. It's the best thing to jump start my imagination because I can be sitting in a symphony hall in the 1850's or at a rock concert within 5 minutes. I use music to get myself into character when I'm acting.
If you could meet 3 people alive or dead who would you want to meet?
Meryl Streep. Audrey Hepburn. Michelle Obama. Three amazing and inspirational women if you ask me.
Who is your hero? Why?
My mom. Cliche I know, but it's true. She told me when I was a kid to live life the way I wanted to, and not to be dependent on someone else for my happiness. It's something she has lived by throughout her life, and I admire her for it.
I'd also have to say Roanne. Because of her I realize how valuable life is, and how you only get this one chance to make your mark on the world. You don't get redo's. You get one chance, and you have to make the most of all of it because you never know at what point the lights will go out.
By - Ashley Tateo | Photography - Ashley Tateo