• Golden Globe Awards

Lady Gaga, 2015 – American Horror Story, The Countess, Family and Fame

When we met Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta on October 1, 2015, she already was beyond Lady Gaga, the musical sensation – she was taking her first steps on the perilous Hollywood acting road. A year later, in 2016, Lady Gaga would collect her first Golden Globe as Best Actress in a Television Motion Picture for her work as The Countess in American Horror Story: Hotel. Three years later, she won other major accolades – a nomination in the Best Actress, Motion Picture Drama category for A Star Is Born, and a win for composing and singing the movie’s theme song “Shallow.”
Lady Gaga is back on the screen this year as Patrizia Reggiani, a dangerous outsider who wins her way into the Gucci family in director Ridley Scott’s House of Gucci.
But let’s go back to that October in 2015 and the set of American Horror Story: Hotel where Ryan Murphy is enthusiastically introducing the Lady: “I am just so thrilled that you guys get to meet someone who I consider to be the most talented person on the entire planet and we are so thrilled that she is on our television show this year,” Murphy said, as Gaga waited for our questions.
Interestingly enough, she shared with us that moving from musical performance to acting was a complex challenge – scary, even: “The first day of filming I remember I was riding in my car to here from where I live and it’s about an hour and half drive and I threw up in the car [laughs] on the way because I was so nervous and I have never filmed on a sort of actual set before. I have done some work but it is usually with green screen which is a bit different . . . Whereas this is me shooting moments that belong to a sequence and trying to understand the language of television, so I was extremely nervous and I threw up into a Ziploc bag [laughs], and I walked into my trailer where my very now dear friend and brilliant director/creator Ryan Murphy was waiting for me.”
Fans of the American Horror Story franchise would recall that Lady Gaga was playing the powerful and sinister Countess, the owner of the hotel where the horrors take place for the enjoyment of all. She had her own approach to becoming the vampiric grande dame: “I do not think of The Countess as an outsider and whenever I am thinking about her that way, I am always thinking as her. In her mind I am decidedly not feminine or masculine, I am a monster, but in the most kind of grand, amazing glamorous kind of way.”
A fascinating theme in this long conversation with the HFPA journalists was Gaga’s meditation on the layers of personalities she carries, and how she fine-tunes her approach to acting and music. “I am not acting when I am Gaga,” she explains. “That is part of me and in a way, I am not acting when I am The Countess. Where I am in my life and which stage it is, that is who I am and where I exist in that moment, and I am grateful that I am allowed to have that. I actually found it very difficult to go home after every night of work and it’s been a challenge, and this is something that I did not anticipate. In my life, since the beginning, I have always thought to myself, if I am ever to be on a stage, whether it be five people, ten people or fifty thousand people, I will always my honest to what my convictions are as a woman and as a human being.”
Gaga opened her heart about her inclinations for the performing arts, and how they have completely taken over her life. “I have been in the business since I was 15, and I have been famous for seven years. And although I have been famous for only seven years and lived 29, I feel like I have lived 100 years. So what I would say is, I feel old.  But when I came on set with Ryan Murphy, he reminded me that I could put that age and wisdom into something powerful and that makes me feel young again. I was a classical pianist since I was four and something about returning to the repetition of these scales has reminded me of kind of being a little more fearless or much more fearless as a child and you don’t know what is ahead. “
Her connections with her roots, and the multi-layered elements of her past came to light in a moving narrative: “I grew up with a tremendous amount of depression that is hereditary in my family. I am Catholic and Italian. So that means that medication and therapy and doctors and mental wellbeing being related to something real is not really in the cards. It’s just la vida. So as I got older and isolated myself, it was the music that gave me freedom, it was the art that gave me freedom. And I also grew up in a very disciplined household. It’s good for someone as rebellious as me to have parameters.”
The Stephani Germanotta that lives in Lady Gaga comes up in the story of the immigrant family: “My grandparents came on a boat from Sicily. My grandfather was a shoemaker and my grandmother helped him.  And my other side of my family is from Venice. My grandmother didn’t work and my grandpa worked in insurance, so I have a fighting ambition within me to transgress the limitations of your economic status, where you were born and how you were born and where you lived. My father is from Jersey and I grew up in New York.”
And of course, we had to ask the style icon about her fashion choices since her breakthrough as a pop star. “In terms of the clothing aspect of what you just asked, absolutely. The clothes used to be and are still for me a personal freedom. It’s always an expression of how I am feeling. If it looks insane, I am probably feeling insane.”