Recently I had a chance to talk with Elisabetta Canalis, Italian actress and model, best known in the U.S. for being on the covers of Vogue and Vanity Fair, as well as a performer on Dancing with the Stars.
At eight o’clock eastern time this past Wednesday, Elisabetta called so that we could talk about her modeling and television work and so that she could share a little bit about a big change in her life: the upcoming birth of her first child with husband Brian Perri, an orthopedic surgeon. Elisabetta is also working out during her pregnancy to stay in shape and stay healthy. As part of her mission to stay fit, Elisabetta has become an enthusiast and is vocal about women’s self defense via her practice and teaching of the Israeli martial arts krav maga.
Photo of Elisabetta teaching krav maga. Photo courtesy of Zimbio
The following is taken from my conversation with Elisabetta on September 2nd:
Jessica Monte: Congratulations on your pregnancy! You look amazing!!! So, how are you staying fit during pregnancy?
Elisabetta: I’m feeling good. So exciting! Just a few weeks away from delivery. To stay fit, I’m exercising and doing a lot of cardio. [I do] water gym. (laughing) Dancing is not my thing. I just try to be in shape.
Dancing isn’t your thing . . . but you did Dancing with the Stars?
Yes!!! Dancing with the Stars wasn’t a fortunate experience because I left after 2 weeks. I wasn’t really prepared for the audience and all the emotions. Between Monday and Tuesday, there are millions of people watching you . . . because of the language barrier, it was a strange experience. I understood my partner (Val Chmerovskiy) and the judges but I couldn’t express myself. Everyone was more confident than I was . . .
Was being on DWTS a fun experience?
Yeah, I had fun dancing. I actually learned a little bit more [about dancing]. I had a great partner with a great parnership. He was a very talented dancer. Val is still on the show.
What other kind of television and ad work have you done in the U.S.?
I have been doing a lot of commercials in the United States. And I am hosting television in Italy and Germany.
Can you tell me about the work you’ve done for Vanity Fair and Vogue?
All the things I did for Vanity Fair and Vogue were related to my television work. I wanted to be a model in college but nobody wanted me because it was in Kate Moss’s time and I had a butt and boobs. An agent noticed me and I wasn’t planning to do T.V. In Milan, it is a very strict fashion city and you need to have the right measurements. For me, television was better. Also, from doing television, I realized how much I liked contact with people and my personality was better for TV.
Eventually though, your television work lead to modeling. Can you tell me a little bit about that?
I’ve never been a model but I’ve done interviews and covers, photoshoots for magazines. I’ve never had the real body for modeling or catwalks — all that stuff. I’ve done campaigns, Cavalli underwear . . . everything came from my work on T.V. I started working in cinema and television and that segued into my work in fashion. Click here to see Elisabetta’s magazine work.
Elisabetta’s campaign for PETA
From what I’ve read about you, you have a huge presence in Europe. Do you plan to focus on your work in Europe? Would you ever consider living in the U.S.?
Italy is where my professional identity is solid. My husband is American but I’m still not sure where to reside.
How did you meet your husband?
We just had friends in common. I met him one year and a half ago. Everything evolved pretty quickly. Our baby will arrive in three weeks. I am having girl. I would hope that she will love animals and people and be a sensitive person. Between my husband and me, we love sports so I think she will [too]. We will set a good example for her to be active and fit.
Prior to pregnancy, what were some of your favorite ways to stay active?
I’ve always done exercise, including 10 years of horse back riding. I’ve also been doing Israeli krav maga. (Laughing) Now that I’m pregnant it’s not the best thing to do. I need to be careful.
How did you become interested in krav maga?
It’s very effective and is mostly taught to women for self defense. I’ve become more confident since I started krav maga. You want to do this for self defense because you hear of women being attacked walking their dogs or in the street . . . this is basically focused on letting you get home safe. It means if someone is attacking you; it is short distance combat and it allows you to counterract. My reflexes became faster. It’s important because when you are being attacked you need to be fast . I am now working with the Italian Federation of Krav Maga.
This is a personal question. Have you and your husband put together a birth plan?
No, we think that everything will be regular and it does help that my husband is a doctor. We know the delivery is all about women and there is nobody else who can replace you in that moment.
I hope I don’t need pain medication but if I need it I will. I am totally pro-epidural and I don’t want to try to be a hero to give birth with no epidural. I will request an epidural if I feel I need it.
Will you be able to spend time with the baby or will you be headed straight back to work?
I will return to work in January for projects in Italy. I do have time to spend time with the baby after she’s born.
What are you most excited about with becoming a mom?
I’m so excited about everything because everyone says it is something you can never imagine. I am happy to try what it means. I never planned to have a baby and never planned to be a model so I didn’t feel that it was something I had to do. But you find the right person, you fall in love and you can picture yourself with a baby and that’s what happened to me.
How does your husband feel about becoming a dad?
My husband is very excited. We went to my country for a month and vacationed for 20 days and did a baby moon. (Laughing) We will do another baby moon with the baby when I go back to Italy in January for work.
Speaking of work, what’s next on the agenda?
I live in the United States now. Everything will start next year for me. There are a bunch of projects in cinema that I will be working on as well.
I have to shoot a big campaign for DEHA [an Italian clothing brand] pilates, yoga and krav maga. DEHA represents the personality of many women—women who like doing martial arts, yoga, pilates, running. It will represent all of the different options. To show women all the possibilities that women have for fitness.
Thank you so much for talking with me Elisabetta!!! I’m glad we got to talk about your pregnancy, your modeling and acting experiences, and your work on behalf of women’s self defense via krav maga.
Thank you Jessica!!! I’m happy to do it.