IN CONVERSATION WITH SISTINE STALLONE
Interview by Jana Letonja
Sistine Stallone recently debuted her 8-episode reality series ‘The Family Stallone’ alongside her family. The series was so well received by the audiences that filming of season 2 is already underway. In addition to that, Sistine also hosts the podcast ‘Unwaxed’ with her sister Sophia.
Sistine, this May we got to see your family’s dynamic in the reality series ‘The Family Stallone’. Tell us how did you as a family make the decision to film your everyday lives and let people in.
There was definitely a lot of hesitation and worry and nerves behind opening yourself up and opening your home up to the world to see. My parents did a really good job raising us and keeping us away from the public eye. They were trying to raise us as normal as possible and not put us out besides going to my dad’s red carpet premieres, which is pretty much when you ever saw us when we were little.
We’ve been approached to do a reality show since I was probably 11 years old. Everyone wanted to make it and we were too young. We kept saying no, as the timing wasn’t right. But it was actually my dad who kind of, shockingly, orchestrated it to move forward. He thought we are getting older and that people stereotypically do a reality show when it’s sort of the end of their career, but he feels like he’s on a high right now. I think for my parents it was a good excuse to have us all in the same home again since we all live apart from each other. And everyone always says “You guys are so funny and you’re so normal and you’re so nice”, so we thought why not recreate what reality TV is known to be and not have drama and fake fights, but really just show a wholesome, grounded family that didn’t exactly grow up in an orthodox way.
What were your expectations before the series premiered and how nervous were you to see it on TV and see the reactions from the people?
We didn’t really have many expectations. I think my sister Sophia and I were like “Oh my gosh, are people going to come up to us on the street? Are people going to notice us? ” But it was a little humbling cause we haven’t exactly experienced any of that yet. We were so nervous because with editing you’re only showing about 10 % of what the final cut is. We have such strong personalities in our family and being able to get all of our points across is really hard, so we felt nervous about what if someone misinterprets that or what if someone doesn’t get my sense of humor or they think I’m being mean because I have a very dark sense of humor.
We’ve seen hardly any negative comments. Having people’s reactions be so overwhelmingly positive has been very reassuring and very heartfelt to us because we really did put our hearts and our souls into it and we didn’t leave anything out. So if people are liking what they see on TV, that means they like who we are as people and that’s really nice to see.
The series was so well received that it’s been renewed for a second season. Have you already started filming it?
We actually just started. We had the first week of filming, which is always the most nerve-wracking. When you do that first frame on camera, you get the butterflies out. So they came to New York since Sophia and I just moved here and filmed us in our apartment. And we’re leaving for Los Angeles now to film with the whole family. I’m really looking forward to that.
Will there be any changes in the second season, now that you’ve seen the response to the first season?
There’s going to be a few changes. The one comment that everyone kept saying was that it’s too short, there aren’t enough episodes. So this time we’re going to really focus more on each person in our family and have an episode sort of dedicated to them to show their personalities. We felt like the first season was a really good dipping of our toes in the water, introducing us, but I’m really excited because we’re showing more vulnerable sides, more silly sides. I think we were really nervous to almost be perfect and not mess up and not make a mistake, but that’s not happening this season. This is who we are a hundred percent, so there’s going to be a lot more authenticity behind all of us.
How is it watching yourself on TV in a reality series? What feelings did watching the episodes evoke?
When we first saw promotions come out and there was an ad in Times Square, we were running around like chickens with our heads cut off. It didn’t feel real. And when you come from a home where both of your parents are wildly successful, the attention is always on them. So now, having our own little moment in that spotlight is so surreal. We were watching the first episode and we kept screaming and having to rewind it cause we couldn’t believe that people are actually seeing this. It’s very overwhelming, it’s very exciting and we just can’t wait to keep doing it.
In addition to this, you co-host the podcast ‘Unwaxed’ with your sister Sophia. Can you tell us more about your podcast and the topics you discuss on it.
The reason we call it ‘Unwaxed’, which is very confusing to a lot of people, is that we wanted to be as real and raw and authentic as we possibly can. I think people really love our sister dynamics, so we want to play on the fact that we’re like the sister you never had. We love to bring on a multitude of different guests that have different careers, so there is someone for everyone. We’ll have a plastic surgeon on, we’ll have a therapist on, we’ll have a sex therapist on, we’ll have athletes and doctors and authors and musicians. There really is such a wide range of what we talk about. We didn’t want to ever pigeonhole ourselves into just talking about boys or gossip or what’s happening in pop culture. We really want to show an emotional deep side, an educational side. And we of course still have our fun girl talks, which are my favorite.
Why did you and Sophia decide on doing the podcast in the first place?
It was actually my sister Sophia’s idea. She wanted to do a podcast alone and she wanted it to be about interviewing authors. She’s really into literature and she’s a writer herself. And I, as an annoying little sister, was just bugging her to let me do it. She said no at first, that this is her thing, but I broke her down enough to let her have me on and then we sort of just reworked the whole podcast idea. But I’d have to give credit to my sister.
What would you say is the main inspiration behind each episode?
We really try to do it week by week. So whatever’s happening that week, we really want to be able to have viewers feel like they were there and it’s real and it’s in time. We try to write about four episodes a week and we break it up with a weekly recap. We also love to do like fun conspiracy theories, so it really just depends on what we’re feeling.
I remember a few episodes ago, I really struggled with opening up about my mental health and how I’m feeling. I feel like the podcast is like a therapy session for us. Oftentimes when we record, we really feel like no one is listening and it’s just nice to feel heard and hear the response. It’s actually crazy what comes out of you when you put a microphone in front of you.
You’ve mentioned mental health, which is a topic that is still such a taboo in today’s society. What would be your advice to young generations that are struggling with their own mental health?
It is really sad to think about how many people go through it and how it’s still so almost frowned upon. I am grateful that my generation is very vocal about it because it does show that you don’t exactly have to feel like you’re battling this alone. My advice would be, which is something that I try to remind myself and really commit to every day, to just give yourself grace.
I saw on Jay Shetty’s podcast, and I’m a big fan of his, that he suggested you should put a photo of yourself as a kid in front of yourself. And I have that on my phone, a photo of myself as a baby. Whenever I’m so hard on myself or I beat myself up or I find the things that I don’t like about myself, I have that as a reminder to just say “You’re not being mean to me. Sistine as a 25-year old, you’re being mean to her”. And I think that’s really important. Just give yourself grace because you’re human and your struggles are valid and what your’re feeling is valid. Don’t feel like you’re having to deal with it alone and be able to talk about it. I’m not a vocal person and I always feel like I need to remain strong and be the one that has it all figured out, but eventually you’re gonna crash and burn if you don’t open up to someone who’s willing to listen.
You grew up in LA, but recently moved to New York. What was behind your decision to move to NYC?
Honestly, really sad to admit, but I was very lonely in LA. All of my friends out of college had moved to New York, my family moved to Florida, my little sister studies at school in Florida and so I was just there with Sophia alone. Going to bed at 9 PM every night with a book is not how a 25-year old should be living. And I said I need to get out, I want to have fun. My family are very big into change your environment if it’s not working for you. Everyone says when you’re going to make the move to New York, you’ve got to do it in your mid-twenties and just go for it, so we really made that decision and two months later we were here. We didn’t even think about it, we’re like “If it sucks, we’re in it together. We’ll relocate somewhere else”. But so far, it has been the best decision of my life.
What do you love the most about New York?
People watching is my favorite. I’m very lucky to live on a very busy fashion inspired street, so I’ll just sit outside and watch people pass by. I just love to see all of the ways that people are doing self-expression. And I think that in New York, there’s such individuality here, which I didn’t really see in LA. Everyone is sort of cookie cutter, dresses the same, looks the same, talks the same. And in New York it’s like “This is me. If you don’t like it, I don’t really care” kind of attitude. And I love that.
New York is also one of the biggest fashion capitals in the world. How important is fashion to you?
I think I wake up thinking about it and I go to bed dreaming about it. I’ve been into fashion since I could walk and be able to dress myself. I love it. I still rummage through my mom’s closet. When she was a model, she was able to keep all of these gorgeous archived pieces. But fashion is everything. I think it’s so incredible that something as simple as clothes can really define who you want to be that day. And that’s truly how I look at fashion. Sometimes I wake up and I’m feeling very flirtatious and girly and I’ll dress accordingly. And other times I dress like a 12-year old boy. There’s such an art and intent behind it and I truly see it and I study it and I’m just absolutely obsessed with it. And that’s why I feel so grateful to be doing shoots like this one, where I am in these garments that are truly pieces of art. It’s just a very pinch me moment.
As a young successful woman living in a world, where we daily see new issues arising, which causes you would like to speak up for and help share awareness about?
One that is very personal and near and dear to my heart is the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles. My sister Sophia was born with a congenital heart defect and she’s had two surgeries since then and it’s still something that she’s having to deal with today. We love to volunteer at Children’s Hospital in LA. We’d love to find a Children’s Hospital in New York and start to work with them. They have this amazing organization that we were introduced to, called Camp Corone. They have all of these kids with CHD that go to a summer camp in Catalina Island, just to give them a normal summer experience that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to have. It’s incredible that these nurses and doctors volunteer their time in the summer to be the counselors and help them. And I think that CHD is something that people don’t always talk about, but you’re shocked to find out how many people have dealt with it. It breaks my heart every time I think about it.
We would love to find a hospital in New York and get more involved because these kids are so strong. I walk in the room and I can’t believe that they’re sitting there with a smile on their face. And I’m the one in a puddle of tears in the hallway. It’s a big reality check when you have moments like that because it opens your eyes that these are real problems, what they’re going through. They are stronger than me and they’re 10 years younger than me.
Sistine, what are your ultimate career goals in life?
My parents always say “Try everything and if it doesn’t work, just keep on trying”. So I’m one of those people that want to do it all. Long-term, I would love to create a line of my own. I’m obsessed with lingerie and hoisery and sleepwear, so that is something that I’m working on right now. And even in the podcast space, Sophia and I would love to go on a tour and create merchandise and maybe create a live show of some sort. So lots of goals, lots of dreams.
Talent: Sistine Stallone @sistinestallone
Photographer: Lia Clay Miller @liaclay
Stylist: Marisa Ellison @marisa_ellison
Styling assistant: Oriana Aponte @oriana_aponte_
Makeup: Nadia Tayeh @tuddynana
Hair: Erickson A @erickinvisible
Shot on location at the legendary house of @sateenmusic
Editor: Timi Letonja @timiletonja
Cover design: Arthur Roeloffzen @arthurroeloffzen
Interview by Jana Letonja @janaletonja