Daphne Di Cinto is a Black Italian screenwriter, director, actor, and producer who has studied and worked in Rome, Paris, New York, and London. An Actors Studio Drama School alumni, she has played the Duchess of Hasting in the Netflix series Bridgerton. Daphne is the screenwriter and producer of the short film Il Moro The Moor, her directorial debut, winner of Best Italian Short Film at Fabrique du Cinéma Awards 2021. The IL MORO Film — A Story of Alessandro De’ Medici — The Black Italian Duke of Florence premiered at Pan African Film Festival 2022.
Daphne was a finalist of both Screencraft Film Fund Spring 2021 and the Phil Fox Award for Playwriting 2020 and a quarterfinalist of the Emerging Screenwriters Genre Screenplay Competition. As a screenwriter, she has developed both features and series within various genres, from comedy to sci-fi. Daphne is interested in topics such as immigration, integration versus assimilation, racial identity, and the female gaze.
As the screenwriter and producer of the short film Il Moro, why do you think it’s important for audiences to see the film?
There is a global lack of consciousness of the Afro-European experience and of its history. When you grow up black in Europe you look at the US for representation. At the same time in the US people are surprised to hear there are Black-Italians or Black-Germans, or Black- Greek, let alone that they were present in our past history. Il Moro is just one mosaic tile that I hope will be part of something much bigger.
What was the film journey like for you from start to finish?
It was such a rollercoaster. It was an indie born out of getting stuck at my parents place during lockdown, but when the ball started rolling it quickly became much bigger than any of is imagined. It has been challenging at times. Someone told me I was aiming too high. I think their words were something along the lines of: “it’s just a short film, not like you have to go to Hollywood”. So funny!
Also, as the trailer came out, I started to get some hate on social media from people that want to deny the character’s background. They base their theories mainly on Wikipedia. I encourage people to really delve into researching the character’s life, not just stay on the surface.
How does it feel to have the film premiere at the Pan African Film Festival?
Well especially after comments like the ones above, it feels particularly fantastic!
What inspired you to enter the entertainment industry?
I loved reading and writing from a young age and the first time I stepped onto a stage and felt the emotion of gifting an emotion to other human beings I couldn’t think of anything else I wanted to do.
How was your experience on Bridgerton?
Fantastic. Shonda Rhimes is one of my role models, she inspires me. Working on her show has been a privilege. The energy on set was great.
What keeps you motivated to stick with this industry?
It’s like the hunger games isn’t it? It’s not over until you’re dead!
What else are you currently working on or have in the works?
Quite a few projects. First of all, I am working on turning Il Moro into a series. There also is another series in development and I am moving forward with a couple of other ideas. A few of them are based on historical characters. I also will be directing a very exciting sci-fi short film. I can’t wait to share all of these with you!
What impact do you want to make in the film industry?
I have underestimated the power of my voice for most of my life. I hope that I can be of help to inspire people not to hide theirs away, to own it, and to use it. I also hope to touch people and to stimulate them, to get them to ask questions and consider points of view that may be foreign to them.
What advice would you have for those who aspire to follow your career path?
Make space to listen to yourself and to take care of yourself and surround yourself with a tribe that sets the bar really high, but has the maturity of not falling into the toxicity of competition.
How can our readers keep up to date with you?
They can follow me on social media, on Instagram @daphnedicinto and @ilmorofilm. I also use Facebook, but the truth is I am not the best at keeping up with social media. I’ll be better though, I promise. And also please, keep supporting rising storytellers of diverse backgrounds. We need more of us. And we have so many different stories to tell. You’ll enjoy them, I promise.
About The Short Film- Il Moro
The award-winning period drama, Il Moro will have its in-person world première at the Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles. This stunning directorial debut by Daphne Di Cinto has won 2022 Best Italian Short Film at Rome’s Fabrique du Cinéma Awards and will feature at the 30th anniversary of the Oscar-qualifying festival, running from April 18th to May 4th 2022.
Il Moro, which translates to ‘the Moor’ — the obscure Duke’s nickname, is a beautifully shot 22 minute short based on the life of Alessandro de’ Medici, the very first Duke of Florence, who also happened to be mixed-race, son of a woman of African descent and of Pope Clement VII. A timely story, with strong, subtle performances from seasoned actors, Alberto Boubakar Malanchino, Paolo Sassanelli, Balkissa Maiga as well as from newcomer Andrea Melis and an incredible soundtrack by The Niro, performed by Loretta Grace and Lorenzo Tronconi, have only added to the anticipation of the film’s release felt by the growing global community around the film.
The piece aims to give voice and representation to Europeans of African descent. Di Cinto, who played Sarah Basset in the Netflix series Bridgerton, explains “Il Moro aims to be an ode to self-love for Black-Italians, Afropeans and the African diaspora, a reminder that we are an integral part of European history beyond the way it has portrayed us up until now”. She adds that “this isn’t just black history, it’s an intersection, the prelude to a diverse society that should have been honored generations ago. Part of Greenlight Project’s mission is to spotlight characters that have been painted out of the picture and restore a positive and inspiring perception of black identity today.”
Associate Producer Taylor Re’ Lynn stated: “I was so moved by the first black Western European head state’s story, told through an Afro-European female director’s lens. I am so glad this narrative of hope is being shared with such creative power.”
Co-Producer Yasmine Holness-Dove adds that, “Il Moro isn’t a film about race and being black, it’s about belonging, self-identity, and stepping up into leadership. It’s about taking ownership of your circumstances regardless of how uncomfortable or ugly things get. These are universal themes that most of us can relate to and, I’m sure, real issues the first Duke of Florence would have had to contend with.”
Alessandro de’ Medici is legitimized into the Medici family, one of the most prestigious Italian families of its time. But the son of an enslaved African woman and Pope Clement VII is haunted by the stigma of his low birth and a mother he only barely remembers. When he unexpectedly becomes the first Duke of Florence, Alessandro must come to terms with his roots and is forced to face his father’s inability to accept him, while fending off his cousin’s power-hungry attacks. Based on true events.
“Alessandro de’ Medici was the only person of color in the room over five hundred years ago. His is a story of extraordinary human grace bounded by a structural hierarchy designed to assassinate his humanity. This first Duke of Florence indeed inhabited some remarkable spaces and this motion picture shines a light on all of it. It was a deep joy to help bring this one to the people,” noted Associate Producer Franklin Eugene.
Produced by Greenlight Project and Onda Film, the movie stars Alberto Boubakar Malanchino (Alessandro de’ Medici), Paolo Sassanelli (Papa Clemente VII), and Andrea Melis (Ippolito de’ Medici). Producers include Daphne Di Cinto (executive producer), Yasmine Holness-Dove (co-producer), and Franklin Eugene, Taylor Re Lynn, L.A. Burgess and Jennifer R. McZier as associate producers.
The director is working on expanding the short film and developing it into a series.
To see the film, get your tickets at https://paff.eventive.org/films/61fd8411bb78700083f716b0 More film information can be found at: https://linktr.ee/Ilmorofilm
In the meanwhile, if you can’t catch a screening at PAFF, your eyes may feast on the movie trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QbeOerqzRLE
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