Maria Teresa Ruta is an Italian TV presenter and actress. At the age of 16, she won a beauty contest, thanks to which she had the chance to get into showbusiness and start to work as a model, actress and walk-on actress.
From 2000, she started hosting a great number of TV programmes, such as game, health and football shows, and she also presented six editions of Zecchino d’Oro (from 1988 to 1989, and then from 1991 to 1994), an international children’s song festival broadcasted by Rai 1. In 2004, a Rai manager made sexual advances to her, but she had the courage to refuse, although, in the end, it’s cost her her job.
After many years of absence, she came off the bench once again by participating to “Pechino Express”, an Italian reality in which a series of couples – some lifelong partners, friends, or even strangers before the show – engage in a charity race across one or more developing countries. Participants have only one euro a day and have to ask for help from locals to get rides, sleeping accommodation and food.
In the end, after a long adventure in Africa, where she distinguished herself through her determination, strength and coherence, she won the 7th edition of Pechino Express together with her partner Patrizia Rossetti, showing us that will and strength are key to succeed.
Fresh from the victory in Pechino Express together with your partner Patrizia Rossetti, what are the positives and the negatives of this unforgettable adventure?
This extraordinary adventure didn’t have any negative aspect: it has been a wonderful journey which generated a touching, thrilling and exciting docu-reality. I will always remember the people’s eyes, their generosity and their astonishment when they found out that we, two European women, were looking for a place to sleep for one night and for food, without having any money.
Beyond the discovery of Africa, I believe this has also been a journey of self-discovery. Why did you decide to participate and what can such an experience teach to a person?
I have watched Pechino Express from the very first edition in 2012, and I have always hoped that Rai would call me to take part in it. I definitively love traveling to discover people’s customs and traditions all over the world, to taste new foods and to collect new memories. I believe that it was an enriching experience because I had the chance to meet and confront a lot of people with a completely different background. I came back to Italy full of joy, new friends and love.
You sure know that today, in Italy, there’s a debate on immigration: after your African experience, what would you say about this issue?
It was really challenging, hard and embarrassing to ask for hospitality to people who normally come to our countries looking for a better future. A great number of people escape from wars, persecutions and violence, others, instead, hope to improve their lives. Amongst these individuals, there can obviously be criminals, but the majority of them are good people. It is possible to affirm that the roots of this unstoppable migration crisis are in ourselves, because we, the Europeans, were not able to help them developing uncorrupted, stronger and richer African states. However, Italy cannot act alone, we need to cooperate with others European states in order to create a more a supportive union.
Woman Power: we have seen this slogan is part of your personality both in Pechino Express and in your professional career, especially when, in 2014, you, reported the sexual advances made by a RAI manager: what advice would you give to all women who want to achieve their professional goals?
First, it is necessary to have a wide knowledge of the chosen field, and to be always efficient and not querulous. Then, always remember to claim your rights. You must always take into consideration that the employer counts on you, so all deadlines have to be respected and there must be a constructive dialogue between the employee and the manager. Finally, I also believe that conciliating our femininity together with family and work is possible.
Over the years, you had the opportunity to work both for public and private TV channels. What do you think about the evolution of information?
Everything has changed so quickly. At the beginning, when I was young, there were only two channels. Now, instead, we can choose from hundreds of them. Moreover, today it is possible to watch television through a smartphone, or even create new contents on Instagram, which can be considered a sort of private channel. An unexpected event, for example, can be recorded by a passerby with a smartphone and be posted on the Internet; in conclusion, everything is so quick, but it can be considered positively for the dissemination of culture.
Do you have wishes and project for the future?
As every year, I want to have more time for myself, do more exercise and, maybe, go on a diet. I wish to travel more and enrich my FIABOTECA — a small library with fables and fairy tales books — that I created in Luino, the place where I live. I would also love to continue to act with my daughter, as I have been doing it for three years now, and enjoy my son’s graduation.