Swiss-born American actor, singer, model, and humanitarian Kat Graham knows all too well that for far too long romantic comedies featuring international travel have centered around white women and white couples and their adventures. “Very rarely do we get to see Black women explore and have all of these different feelings and dimensions to their experiences,” she said in a recent Zoom interview. “It was a huge reason why I wanted to do this movie.”
that movie, Love in the Villa, is available to stream on Netflix now. It follows Graham’s character, Julie—an American—on a trip to Verona, where she discovers that the villa she’s staying in is double booked, and that she has to share it with a British man, Charlie.
At the tail-end of New York Fashion Week, Graham, who is a UNHCR Goodwill ambassador, and avid traveler, spoke with Condé Nast Traveler about her never-ending love for Italy, staying healthy and energized while traveling, and the importance of seeing Black women traveling, in love, and having a range of life experiences on screen.
How she became an ardent international traveler:
I’ve traveled a lot. A lot of it came from my travels with the Black Eyed Peas when I did a world tour with them, singing and dancing and running around with will.i.am. That was my first real exposure to traveling aggressively internationally. When I was younger I would go visit my father, who is West African and grew up in London, so I spent a lot of time in the UK We [also] spent a lot of time in France together. My mom’s side of the family is Israeli, so I spent a lot of time in Israel and in that area. I’ve spent a lot of time in Jordan for my mission work. I’ve spent a lot of time on the road.
The country she’ll never stop visiting:
I’ve done Lake Como, I’ve done Florence. I’ve done Rome, Milan. I’ve done all of Italy. The Marble Mountains in Calabria. Italy never gets old.
I will always just forever go to Verona. I will return to Italy for any vacation I have because the people are so kind, the food is amazing, there’s so much art and fashion there. It’s everything I could possibly want. That’s my kind of place. My go-to is always, always, always going to be Italy.
How she ended her world tour this year:
for love in the villa, we had about six weeks of filming—and I was basically in every scene—so I didn’t have time to explore. We had great dinners, but in terms of actual tourist things that require a significant amount of time, I only got to do those when I was back this past summer.
I’ve been on a world tour this year and instead of flying home at the end, I decided to stay in Europe. We rented a 40- or 50-acre place in Umbria. I brought my family out and took them to Verona, so they could actually see what they would see in the movie in real life. I was a full tourist. I took them on all of the tours and all the local sights: Juliet’s balcony and the statue and all of those things. It was really, really fun. We also went to Venice, so I’m definitely still a tourist in Italy, even after spending so much time there.