Writer Debbie Di Verde
Chicago native Debbie Ippolito Di Verde, who now resides in Antioch, definitely has much going on in many facets of the arts. Whether she's appearing in national commercials, working on her first young adult novel, or completing a master's degree, she's found myriad ways to grow and express herself -- even as she hones her various ambitions.
Di Verde has Sicilian roots on her father's side, from the town of Santa Catarina Villarmosa. (Her mother is of Polish heritage.) Her grandparents came through Ellis Island, and soon thereafter moved to Taylor and Loomis in Chicago's Little Italy neighborhood.
"Many of my relatives including my father were singers," she recalls. "My Aunt Mary Zucarro was a singer and my Dad, Joseph Ippolito, sang in a band in the '50s. His stage name was Joey Lido. I think that's where I got my love of music and the arts."
Instead of absorbing that love passively, Di Verde has taken it to whole new levels. She has an acting background and has appeared in many productions at the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre in Arlington Heights. Her roles include Truvy in "Steel Magnolias" and Vicky Chickory in "Speedating," an original musical. She also appeared in a production of Charles Grippo's play, "When Angels Wept," as Sister Ascensione.
And right now, she has a new TV commercial for Trident gum airing nationally, where she plays Dentist No. 3 (part of the "Trident Squirrel" series).
Then there's her writing and degree work. Di Verde will graduate in September with a master's in Written Communication from National-Louis University; she has appeared twice in the college literary magazine "Mosaic." She's also working on a young adult novel being edited by Laurie Lawlor, an NLU instructor and respected children's author.
"It's a journey story about two young boys in their late teens who, after graduating high school, start at the beginning of Route 66 in Chicago and make a road trip to L.A. to start a band in the hipster area of Silver Lake," Di Verde says. "Both of them have disabilities and pasts that haunt them and they encounter some difficulties along the way."
For Di Verde, writing and acting represent a natural blend. "I feel that being an actor helps tremendously with my writing," she says. "When I am doing a character on stage I always develop a backstory for that character so it's not one dimensional; the character has depth. I do the same for the characters I'm writing about. I give them backstories so they become more relatable. They have a past that may not always be pretty but makes them human."
Di Verde plans to continue work on the novel as she finishes up her degree, and in the fall begins a co-teaching stint at The College of Lake County in a Children's Literature Class. As for the future, she shows no signs of slowing down.
"I would like to see my young adult novel get published along with some of my other short stories and children's books," she says. "I want to be able to teach writing at the university level once I finish my masters. And I'm still auditioning and will probably continue to act onstage and on camera -- for as long as I can."