Valeria Golino: Did She Become a Director Due to Her Experiences or Natural Talent?

by Laura C. Jones

Victoria Golino is an actress who has a long list of movies and TV shows. She has won many accolades over the years, from her very first movie to her recent production as a film director. The actress has experienced huge success, even as a teenager working as a fashion model.

But she has also endured some formidable challenges. In both cases, her strength and resilience carried her forward through life. This is her story. 

Valeria Golino’s Early Life 

Valeria Golino was born in Naples, Italy, on the 22nd of October, 1965. Her father was an Italian linguist, while her mother was a Greek painter. Golino’s colorful heritage didn’t stop at that, as her grandmother was a product of a French-Egyptian cultural mix. 

With a household that was interested in the arts, it was no surprise that both Valeria and her brother pursued similar paths. The difference was that Valeria’s brother chose music, while she focused more on visual and performance arts.  Their uncle, Enzio Golino, was also a cultural influence in the family, as he was a journalist at L’Espresso

Valeria Golino’s mother loved the movies, and at every opportunity, she took her daughter to the cinema. Valeria became fascinated by movies and quite knowledgeable about movie-making. 

Interestingly, up to that point, Valeria didn’t have any dreams about becoming a movie star or even working in that industry! The young girl only wanted to be a cardiologist and thought that being a cinephile was just a pleasant hobby!

Life was lovely and peaceful for quite some time. One day, the young girl’s life turned upside down. And that wasn’t even the only sad incident she had to face. There was more.   

A Blessing in Disguise 

From the outside, a family such as the Golinos would appear rock solid and live in eternal bliss. Unfortunately, the truth was very different from that romantic image.   Valeria Golino’s parents separated when she was still young and in need of dependable surroundings. She lived between her mother’s house in Athens and her father’s house in Sorrento. 


Image source: Pinterest

As if that instability wasn’t burdensome enough for the young Valeria Golino, she also had to face a much bigger challenge. At the tender age of 11, Valeria was diagnosed with scoliosis, which is a severe deformity in the spine.

Valeria’s case was serious enough that she had to go through a major surgery. She had a steel rod implanted in her vertebrae for five years to correct the deformation of her back. 

The surgery was performed at a hospital in Chicago, and she stayed in the US for six months. That was when she started learning English. The trips between the old continent and the new one didn’t stop since then. 

These dark days ended on a surprisingly bright note. The 14-year-old Valeria Golino started her modeling career completely by chance!     

Career Beginnings in Europe 

Valeria had a natural talent for performing. At 14, she started modeling in Athens. Her first appearance was impressive enough to earn her successive modeling opportunities in Milan, London, and eventually, LA. 

Valeria also appeared in various TV commercials, which helped in making her an easily recognizable starlet. At the time, her modeling and ad assignments were never in short supply. Naturally, she had to choose between school and performing.  The decision was easy. She dropped out of school and headed for the big screen.  

The First Acting Job

Valeria Golino’s first acting job didn’t come through an agent or after a series of auditions for the part. She was at her uncle’s house when he received a phone call from the prominent film director Lina Wertmüller


Image source: IMDb

Wertmüller was among the first women who stood behind the camera and made note-worthy movies. She was looking for a young girl for a part and immediately turned to Enzio Golino to see if his niece was available for the job. 

Both Enzio and Valeria received the news with excitement, and they headed to Wertmüller’s house. Valeria auditioned soon afterward and eventually got the part in her very first movie. That was in 1983 when she acted in the comedy A Joke of Destiny

Valeria hadn’t had any formal training as an actor up to that point, so she started with diction and moved to further her skills from then on. She focused completely on her new career, and she stopped accepting any modeling tasks or TV commercial gigs.  

Hollywood Breakthrough

As soon as Valeria finished A Joke of Destiny, she tried to land important roles in Una spina nel cuore and The Name of the Rose. She didn’t get either part, but she received her first dose of Hollywood rejection. 

In 1985, Valeria Golino starred in My Dearest Son and then Little Flames. Her performance in both movies was evidently exceptional, and she won a Golden Globe award for Best Breakthrough Actress.

My Dearest Son

Image source: IMDb

Surmounting Challenges

In the same year that Valeria Golino got her big break, she also faced challenging times. A car accident left her with a displaced spinal rod, which meant going under the knife one more time. She had to stay in bed for five months, hoping that the world wouldn’t forget her.

The resilient young actress didn’t succumb too long to the inconvenience of her condition. In 1986, she played the lead role in the Italian movie Storia d’Amore

Her performance was met with enthusiasm both from the critics and the audience. She received the Silver Ribbon award for Best Actress and The Best Actress Award at the Venice Film Festival.   

Stepping Behind the Camera

Valeria Golino’s career took off from that point on, and she participated in some memorable movies like Rain Man, Hot Shots!, and Hot Shots! Part Deux. She continued working with independent producers and the European Cinema alongside her work with the big studios. Eventually, she started working on TV shows as well. 

Armandino e il Madre

Image source:

That wasn’t enough for the ambitious star, though. In 2010, she wrote a script for a short movie, Armandino e il Madre, and directed it. Two years later, she directed a full feature film; Miele, which was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival and received an accolade.  

Valeria Golino’s Net worth 

According to various sources, Valeria Galino is currently worth an estimated fortune of $10 million.

I know you expected me to tell you that she has plenty more money, considering all the work that she’s done between Europe and the US. However, this “modest” amount is consistent with her reputation as a picky artist who was dedicated only to her craft.  

Where Is Valeria Golino Today? 

These days, Valeria Golino plays Paola Lambruschini in the TV drama The Morning Show, which was preceded by the recurring role of Vittoria in The Lying Life of Adults


Image source: IMDb

As for her personal life, she has always been reserved. What I know is that she’s dating Fabio Palombi, who is an Italian lawyer. Rumor has it that he’s much much younger than the actress, but that hasn’t affected the romance one bit!  

The Takeaway: A Legacy Across Continents

Valeria Golino’s long and colorful career is full of inspiring takeaways. Here’s what I value the most: 

  1. Strength in the face of tragedy: As a young girl, Valeria Golino’s happy family dissolved. It became two separated parents living in two different countries. She also had to endure a serious illness, difficult treatment, and long recovery periods.  
  2. Dedication to the craft: Valeria Golino was known for turning down many roles that other actresses wouldn’t dream of missing. This wasn’t out of being a diva, though. She was quite selective and only took on roles that intrigued her as an artist. 
  3. Taking risks: Valeria Golino didn’t set out to be an actress or even a fashion model. But she grabbed the opportunities that were presented to her. Directing movies was her most recent adventurous move, and she did pretty well in that endeavor too. 

    Featured image source: Pinterest

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