Loly by Zita Moldovan - Media Appearances

Today, April 16, on the Roma Actor's Day, we invite you to read the interview of Zita Moldovan, co-founder of the Giuvlipen Theater Company ( Giuvlipen ) in the new issue of [H] MAGAZINE, special edition "Women".

Zita Moldovan is a journalist with a career of over 15 years in national television.

Zita is a fashion designer with her own line called Loly, inspired by the culture and traditional dress of the Roma, with a modern and contemporary reinterpretation.

Check this out: Loly by Zita Moldovan

Together with Mihaela Drăgan, she founded Giuvlipen, the first independent Roma feminist theater company in Romania, and tells us about activism through culture and the importance of stories and self-representation in theater.

The magazine can be read:

- mobile friendly, pleasant and a touch away here:

- in pdf version (can also be downloaded); just click on the preferred links Google Drive | Dropbox

- flour on ISSUU

Enjoy & don't forget that sharing is caring because... these voices matter!


This project was finely woven together with Identity.Education

#hlgbtqunitedbrasov #hlgbtqunited #hlgbtbrasov #lgbtbrasov #hmagazine

Q&A with Zita Moldovan: Does fashion shake stereotypes?

By Ana Maria Ciobanu

I've been wearing floral shirts, scarves and skirts since high school. However, as I read more and more about the history and culture of the Roma, I began to wonder if I had also perpetuated a stereotypical image when I went, a few years ago, to a concert by the Ciocârlia Fanfare in a long skirt and create.

When I saw that the actress Zita Moldovan, co-founder of the Roma theater Giuvlipen , launched the clothing collection Kali , my eyes fell on a black t-shirt with sleeves made of flowery frills. I put it in the basket, then rolled over and picked out a t-shirt with the message " Support Roma Women ". I thought I'd be a better ally that way, but I really liked those frills.

So we asked Zita who the clothes she creates are for, what we, as the majority, miss when we wear them and how fashion can be a tool to shake up stereotypes.

How did you start making clothes?

I had a passion for clothes since I was little. I was making dresses for dolls, destroying everything I could find with scissors. The first collection was in 2016 and was called Romanian Dreams . I didn't want to make traditional clothes, but to bring in front of people clothes that anyone can wear, as long as they understand what Romani culture means and are as close and ally as possible.

What does cultural appropriation mean in fashion, if we refer to your collections?

People must not understand that if they are not Roma, they cannot wear these clothes. If they understand and know about our identity, yes. Then I can wear them with love.

It was a fashion for people to wear a traditional skirt and go to events just to be cool, like a masquerade ball. But they didn't really know anything about our culture. When these clothes are put in different poses that bring stereotypes and labels, then things are not OK.

Another reason why I made these clothes is because I saw that all the big fashion houses had whole collections and called them gipsy (no why it's not an OK term ). They borrowed the symbols of the Roma, put them in collections, perpetuated a pejorative term and nobody criticized them. It's utopian to fight with different brands, but we have to take small steps in the field of fashion, because there are a lot of stereotypes here too. It's not so much that they use these symbols that are disturbing, but that they have no purpose behind them, they never talked about racism. A wake-up call is welcome.

What is it like for you when you see a majority wearing Romani-inspired clothes and wearing them in a carnival context?

You feel helpless. There are still press conferences where we are asked why "Roma" and not "Gypsy". When you wear something from a culture that was and is under the sign of racism, you have to question yourself a little. See if you have a connection, if you understand something. Support us when we ask for help, don't be an ally just because it works.

(Anna's note: This does not mean that you have to know the entire history of the Roma people to wear traditionally inspired clothes, but to honor them beyond a carnival: to support the fight against labeling, to react when you witness racism. Here 's a guide to being a good ally, who gives voice to the marginalized group first, doesn't turn anti-racism into a self-supporting story.)

4 years have passed since the collection Roman Dreams up to the two collections you launched during the pandemic. Why?

The 2016 collection was made with my money and time, it was all sold out, and then I had no more time.

In 2020, because I didn't have any more shows, I thought of launching a new collection. I also consulted with (no actress) Mihaela Drăgan , that we always consult each other in everything we do. I had the idea of ​​naming it A lolo – lolo in Romani it means red. Mihaela said let's give her a feminine name - Lolly (Red). Red means strength, resistance, life, in Romani culture. (Discover the collection here .)

If you look at our history, of the Roma, it really characterizes us, because we resisted all the misfortunes that came upon us - holocaust, slavery. It's a collection without gender barriers, I also have unisex pieces.

Then I created the t-shirt collection Kali (which means black; reference also to Sara Kali, the patron saint of the Roma), with messages from our Giuvlipen shows, such as: "The future belongs to techno-witches", "Voodoo Mij" ( voodoo pussy ) or "Support Roma Women". I wanted some more powerful messages that have a story behind them.

Zita Moldovan: "For 30 years there has been no political party that has a serious program for the Roma communities"

Zita is a Roma actress and feminist. In 2014, together with the actress Mihaela Drăgan, they founded the independent theater troupe Giuvlipen - "feminism" in Romanian.

Interview by Adriana Moscu

Giuvlipen is the first independent Roma feminist theater company in Romania. Their performances openly present subjects that history, mentality and social or political constraints have silenced. I talked with Zita about the status of Roma women in a society where equal opportunities do not imply an equal start in life and which fuels prejudices against a culture that is as old and rich as it is discriminated against and little understood.

Zita, you were born in 1979. That means we are the same age. I remember my childhood in the crazy '90s. Growing up as a girl in Romania in those years seemed quite dangerous to me. How was it for you?

Zita in childhood

My childhood was very beautiful in every way. I think we weren't aware of the danger because we didn't really go anywhere unaccompanied. Until middle school, I went to school with my grandmother ( Laughs. ) Then, I went with my mother or father. I was alone with my parents and I was quite chubby.

With her father

My father is a mathematics teacher and the discipline was the letter of the law in the house. But he was also my best friend. He really wanted me to do sports and enrolled me in all the sports that were available in a small town like Reghinul - gymnastics, athletics. So every day I was accompanied by one of the parents.

I didn't really have any friends, I was busy with school all day, then, in the afternoon, with the homework I did with my father and in the evening - sports. I was playing more with my cousins ​​at the weekend. I really liked to sing and dance when I had free time. I was putting on a show for them, and mom and dad were the spectators. The neighbors were desperate 🙂 From then on I knew I wanted to be an actress, but my father told me to focus on a serious job.

Has anything changed in the collective mentality regarding discrimination in 30 years of freedom? How do you perceive?

Some changes I think have happened and I want to think there will continue to be, because we still have a lot of self-education to do about discrimination. I also learned a lot in these 30 years, because there were many things I did not know about my race. I learned very late about the painful history of the Roma, about slavery and the holocaust, and I wish I had known these things since school. Even now there is no school textbook that talks about it.

From your point of view and personal experience, what is the truth? The Roma do not want to integrate or are the authorities unable to do so?

Images from the performance "Kali Traš/Black Fear"

This with the Roma who don't want to integrate is a big absurdity and a big untruth. The political class in Romania, since the 90s, had no serious program to improve the life of the Romanian Roma. I personally don't like this with integration. Rather we should ask: where to integrate? In a society where discrimination is at alarming levels? Or in a society where politicians make fun of everything they are supposed to improve: health, education, etc.?

As I said, for 30 years there has been no political party that has a serious and viable program for Roma communities. There has been a strategy to improve the lives of Roma since 2001, but it has not been budgeted. It exists only on paper and that's it.

All political parties used and continue to use Roma communities, once every four years, when they are asked to vote.

I remember, back in the 80s, the summer when my family went to the beach for two weeks on vacation and forgot to lock the apartment door. Day after day, the next-door neighbor of Roma ethnicity guarded their front door. On their return, they found everything as they had left it. In large part, and thanks to her. Gentiles from both "camps" lived quietly and peacefully on the street, while I played day and night with the little girls of the Roma neighbors. There were never any conflicts between us. Today, my youngest daughter, aged 13, also has a Roma friend – one of her best friends, by the way.

Why do these prejudices against Roma citizens continue? Who has an interest in maintaining them? How do you explain?

Your experience is very cool, but more important is how we talk about these experiences and what we learn from them. That if we only had a good friend of Roma ethnicity as a child, but we still say and think that gypsies do, gypsies steal, gypsies are unwashed, it means that our experience is canceled by that mentality. Unfortunately, we all lived and live in a broken society. We don't have anti-racist education, nobody teaches you at school that the Roma were slaves for 500 years on the territory of Romania. We are used to sayings like "If you're not good, I'll give you to the gypsies". We grew up and were formed with all these prejudices.

I think each of us should educate ourselves more about this and understand that racist behavior does no one any good. Look, for example, what happened now, recently, at the football match in which Colțescu refereed. I was terribly annoyed by all the discussions debating whether or not what Colțescu did was racism. It clearly was. But we are so used to such behavior, that the vast majority saw Colțescu as a victim. We must understand that only through anti-racist education can we overcome and improve these behaviors.

Concretely, what should change for equal opportunities in Romania? And especially how?

Fieldwork for the show "Roma's Life"

When we talk about equal opportunities, we should also talk about the same start. Unfortunately, we are not starting from the same positions. And then I think that ways should be found to balance, somehow, the course of our journey, until we talk about the same chances. The Roma did not have the same start as the majority and hence the gaps that some consider bad will.

I think we have a lot of work to do on remedial measures. The same can be said when we talk about women. They have not had the same rights throughout history as men, indeed, their rights have been violated. Even now the situation is not rosy, violence against women is increasing, women are discriminated in the workplace, women are not represented as they should be in politics, etc.

Does your name, Zita, have a meaning?

My name comes from the Hungarian language. But my mother told me that, before I was born, she had seen an Indian film and the actress's name was Zita.

Tell me about your family. How do you get along with them? Do they support you in your work? Are you part of a conservative or liberal family?

Zita's wedding

I come from a Hungarian Roma family. Hungarian was and still is spoken in my family. My parents studied in Hungarian. Reghinul is part of Mureș county and all the people there speak Hungarian.

My parents supported me a lot in all my work, although my father was not exactly happy that I chose acting. He didn't think I would get in the first time and he didn't want me to lose a year and stay at home.

My family also means my husband. We got married in 2018 after a 10 year relationship. For us, that paper was not important, but in the end, at my mother-in-law's insistence, we had an atypical wedding, a garden party to which we invited only close friends and we had a lot of fun. My husband supports me in all my activities, although sometimes we have different opinions.

How did you choose to study acting and become an actress?

Image from the show "Urban Body"

I chose acting since I was little. Mom and Dad were kind of skeptical, we had a lot of discussions about it. After I finished high school, I made a deal with my dad. He told me that if I take the sociology exam first and get in, the following year he will support me to try acting as well. I did as he said and went to Cluj, at the Babeș-Bolyai University, at Sociology, the social assistance department. I entered with a scholarship.

Then, the following year, I took the acting exam, also in Cluj, but without them knowing. After I got in, I let them know I was dropping out of college and they agreed.

How did Giuvlipen come about, how does it differ from other theaters, what shows have you staged so far?

Zita and Mihaela

Giuvlipen came into existence in 2015. In fact, in 2014 was the magical meeting I had with the actress Mihaela Drăgan. That's when our first discussions about establishing a Roma feminist theater began. We realized from the beginning, both me and Mihaela, that there is no theatrical platform for Roma actors where they can express themselves, be represented and self-represented. Since its establishment, we have produced two shows a year, which is a lot for an independent theater without a constant budget. Giuvlipen shows talk about topics that are uncomfortable for some.

Giuvlipen means feminism in the Romanian language and is the first independent Roma feminist theater company in Romania.

The themes of our shows are diverse, but they have something in common: we openly discuss topics that sometimes history, sometimes mentality and social or political constraints have silenced.

What roles have you played so far? Which is your favorite? But the most difficult?

In "Urban Body"

All the roles I played are equally dear to me. All our shows are difficult, because they talk about us, about our identity, and then the energy consumption is higher.

What activities does Giuvlipen have during the pandemic?

We tried to adapt to this pandemic, which I hope will pass as soon as possible, so that we can resume our activities.

Until then, however, together with Mihaela Drăgan, we launched an online show on the Giuvlipen Facebook page: I am the main actress . Thursday, December 17, was the launch, and the first episode had as its theme " Representation of Roma in mass media, theater and film" .

How has this situation affected you from the beginning until now? What could the authorities do better?

As an independent theater, this pandemic affected us a lot, because we couldn't play anymore. As an independent actor you are not employed and you do not have a constant income - this means that from a financial point of view, both I and my colleagues suffered.

You are the host of a show on National TV. Tell us more about her and what's going on now.

Yes, I have a show on National TV, it's called From the life of the Roma . I presented it since 2005, but lately my colleagues have been filming more. It is the only show for Roma on a private television station. I think there should be more shows like this, to counteract the stereotypical representations about Roma presented in most shows in Romania.

You have also created a clothing collection with traditional influences. How did you come up with the idea, what can you tell us about it? How important is traditional port in Roma communities?

Fashion design is another passion. With this pandemic, I had time to deal with the new Loly collection (in Romanian it means "red color").

The idea came to me since 2016, when I launched the first Romany Dreams collection. There is a need for representation in this field as well, because here too, Roma symbols, from a clothing point of view, are interpreted by the big fashion houses and not only in a sensationalist way, without them knowing or even being interested in their culture Our.

My collections present a new and reinterpreted version of traditional clothing through Roma symbols. Red color symbolizes power, life, resistance. All these elements define the Roma, their history and culture.

A Roma woman you admire?

I admire several Roma women. I couldn't name just one. I admire my colleagues from Giuvlipen, I admire the Roma activists who fight every day, I admire the Roma girls who go and work in the Roma communities.

The word "Gypsy" has a pejorative connotation and, moreover, no dialect of the Roma culture contains it. However, some members of the community accept it. How did these differences of opinion arise?

Those who do not mind this appellation means that they do not know the meaning of this word. With a simple Google search, they could find out why it's not OK to use it, but as I said before, ignorance and not wanting to educate ourselves about it creates ignorance and that's how discrimination and racism is formed. And the fact that some of our Roma use this phrase is because they don't know the meaning of this word either. We were all brought up in a society where the use of this word was accepted and legitimized and still is.

Do you have a favorite traditional custom?

I don't know if I have a favorite traditional habit, but I like shahaimas (cabbage with meat, traditional Roma food).

What are the projects you want for 2021?

For 2021, I wish us all to be healthy. Then, the most important project for Giuvlipen is the establishment of the state Roma theater. It is necessary to have this institution of Roma culture, which will speak about us, about our culture and history. It is important that the voices of Roma actresses and actors are heard and represented. We are the largest minority in Romania (two million unofficially and 600,000 officially, according to the census).

All minorities have cultural institutions theaters museums. The only minority that does not have these institutions is the Roma. I think the time has come to occupy the cultural spaces - we have the right to representation and self-representation.

Convey a thought for our Romani readers that you would like them to understand and assimilate about the community, and then translate it.

Penjale te aven zorale, but baht hai sastimos! Stop Romania! I wish my Roma sisters a lot of strength, health and luck!