In Conversation: Condola Rashād on Coronavirus, Self-Quarantine, & Italy

by Team ATPB


The mood of 2020 has shifted quickly. We started the year with enough enthusiasm and vision to last the decade, yet here we are mid-March… exhausted, brimming with uncertainty and, for those on lockdown or in self-quarantine, a certain touch of cabin fever. With a fresh voice and positive perspective, Condola Rashād says we’ll get through this together because we are in this together. 



Meet Condola Rashād

Condola Rashād is a multi-hyphenate (actor/musician/songwriter/storyteller) as well as the daughter of sportscaster Ahmad Rashād and beloved actress, Phylicia Rashād. She also has a dog named Penny, is not afraid of snakes, and was recently featured in BET’s Black Excellence Trilogy, which you should watch (then go down a rabbit hole listening to Chloe x Halle and reading everything about Hatshepsut, it makes sense if you watch it!). You can gather this information and more on her Instagram @dolabunny, which you should also check out. 


Rashād was traveling around Milan and Rome when she learned about the Coronavirus outbreak in Italy. She traveled back to the U.S. on February 23rd and has been in self-quarantine since March 11th. In this time, she made a call for Italians to send in videos sharing their realities, experiences, and narratives within this global pandemic. In this project, she intended to facilitate human connection while raising awareness about Coronavirus. Each of the 12+ videos posted, from Italians and expats from Modena to Milano, encourages people to stay home, practice social distancing, and remain calm.



The severity of this virus and governments not acting quickly enough has had a huge impact on Italy and these videos are specifically geared to reach the ears of Americans and others who are not taking the outbreak seriously, in hopes of changing their attitudes and behaviors for the betterment of their loved ones, neighbors and fellow humans everywhere. This open dialogue allows us to connect in a personal way, but on a global level. Social media has led an important role in this Coronavirus catastrophe by allowing us to share, connect, and meme alongside our friends and followers.

ATPB chats with Condola Rashād

We spoke with Condola Rashād from her home in Brooklyn to hear more about her love for Italy, her goal in sharing these videos on her Instagram, and a mantra of hope.



All The Pretty Birds: What is your connection to Italy?

Condola Rashād: I traveled to Italy for the first time when I was nine years old. I had traveled to many countries with my parents, but I never felt a connection like I did with Italy. I felt at home. I connected deeply with the soil. It took me a long time to return to Italy, I traveled back in 2018, and immediately felt at peace. Since then, I have been traveling back and forth every four months. I am 90% fluent in Italian and for these past two years, I have been manifesting and perfecting a personal dream of living there.


ATPB: You were traveling in Italy a month ago at the start of the Coronavirus outbreak and learned of its initial spread through a close Italian friend. What were your thoughts at the time?

CR: I was in Rome around the time that news had come out that it had hit Italy in Codogno. I was leaving for the states the next day and was out with a dear friend who told me that he was worried that this was just the beginning. When he told me this, there was this moment where I looked around the restaurant, saw everyone laughing, toasting, eating, and enjoying each other’s company. I was fighting this eerie feeling that things were about to change. But I remember shaking this feeling off, not wanting to think about it too much, and I continued enjoying my evening. 



ATPB: You returned to Brooklyn shortly after. At that point, the number of cases had exploded, and the disastrous toll that the virus was having on the elderly, immunocompromised and vulnerable populations was being documented in the Italian news and through your friend circle. How did it feel to be back at home with the virus spreading rapidly in a country so dear to you? 

CR: I experienced a weird disorienting feeling. I felt like a time traveler who had traveled to the future and back to a place where citizens were not realizing the risk of this highly contagious virus. Although there had been reported cases in the US, people (including myself until a week ago) were out and about, life was moving forward as business as usual. I don’t blame Americans for their initial reaction to the outbreak. Our leadership initially provided inaccurate information related to the risk virus posed to our citizens. Plus, often there is a general distrust of the news due to our socio-political climate these days. 


ATPB: How did you come up with the idea to post videos of Italians or expats living in Italy?

CR: My group of fierce Italian girlfriends and I wanted to facilitate human connection and communication between us Americans and other citizens of the world, as well as our Italian friends in the thick of this serious situation that the world is facing, to inform those here in America who have not yet decided to quarantine why it is in everyone’s benefit to do so at this time.



ATPB: What impact do you and your friends hope the videos will have on Americans and other global citizens?

CR: Because of the nature of our news today, the situation in Italy seems so far away. We want our friends who are sharing their stories to connect with viewers in a way that is free from panic. We want our viewers to see the individuals in the videos as friends who have a message that can help us.


ATPB: What early lessons if any have you learned from using your platform in such a positive way?

CR: I guess, that at the end of the day, this is why we have platforms, to facilitate connection between ourselves and others, between communities, whether it’s through art, photography, activism, information ie. if we use social media to ACTUALLY connect with each other, then we have put it to good use. 



ATPB: What tips would you give to anyone interested in spreading the message about the importance of global dialog related to the virus and the importance of self-quarantine?

CR: You can’t force anybody to do anything, and sometimes if you try to frighten people into action it can also backfire. And also at this time, it’s super important to also take care of one’s self and not burn yourself out by trying to get people to understand. In my case, I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to tell anybody to do anything, my only intention was to gather information in the most personable way and open the door for that information to be accessible. And thankfully, for many people that was what they needed to make their decision. But I think the main thing to remember that keeps getting lost is the actual intention behind deciding to stay home. We stay home not out of fear but in the hopes that by staying home at this time we will most likely be saving the life of another. We stay at home in solidarity with our fellow human beings. We stay at home so that the day where we don’t have to stay at home will come sooner.


ATPB: Can you please leave us with your favorite uplifting quote or mantra?

CR: There are so many, but it only feels right and brings the biggest smile on my face to say and remember, “andra tutto bene” : )


Image credit: Victoria Stevens/WWD


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