Article/interview with Amelia Adamo, Sweden’s Queen of the Magazine Scene.
‘I have a new man, you know. I’m 65 and I’m in love!’
Love has been the driving force in Italian-born Amelia Adamo’s life – and that life is the stuff movies are made of.
Born in Rome, Italy to an orphaned mother, Amelia moved to Sweden before her first birthday. The hardscrabble youth, including four years at a convent, was followed by love, death, and birth, divorce…and becoming a household name.
‘It was love that got me into journalism. Not love of the craft – I had no real passion for it at the time – but love for a man, that was the springboard for my career,’ explains Amelia.
‘I was working as a secretary at Svensk Dagtidning while completing my degree in Social Sciences. This was 1968, a very political time, and most journalists considered gossip magazines frivolous. I didn’t have any problem with that and became a reporter, with Lasse coaching me.’
Lars ‘Lasse’ Ericsson was the summer editor-in-chief at Svensk Dagtidning and it was there that he and Amelia fell in love.
‘He had this romantic vision, seeing us sitting in Rome writing articles, so I became a journalist and we lived our dream.’
After marrying, Amelia became pregnant but the boy was stillborn. It was a difficult time and she and Lasse briefly split. After reconciling they had two more children, Philip and Alex, who were just 8 and 5 when their father died of cancer.
‘Losing Lasse was much harder than the losing the baby, whom I never saw. Lasse was my biggest supporter so the loss was tremendous,’ says Amelia.
By this time her career was on the rise; she was managing editor of Swedish weekly Veckorevyn, where her Social Science background came in handy.
‘I was talking about target groups, which was new to Sweden. At that time journalists wrote what they wanted but I was asking readers what they wanted.’
Her tenure at Veckorevyn honed Amelia’s skills as an editor and she eventually was headhunted to the national daily Aftonbladet.
‘I was hired to bring in women but the paper, despite being very left wing, didn’t want the feminists. They also didn’t like my glamour or capitalistic ideas so I shed a lot of tears that first year.’
Despite the difficulties Amelia’s Sunday supplement proved a roaring success, with readership rising dramatically. Aftonbladet is also where Amelia met her second husband, Thorbjörn Larsson, the paper’s legendary editor.
‘I had thrown myself into my work after Lasse died and this continued after marrying Thorbjörn. We lived and breathed the paper, but after seven years I wanted a new challenge.’
Enter Swedish publishing giant Bonnier, which, she says, made her an offer she couldn’t refuse.
‘I became Veckorevyn’s editor-in-chief, but it was operating in the red. Bonnier gave me a wonderful incentive: bring it into the black and I’d get a large bonus – it was my first opportunity to make real money.’
After successfully turning Veckorevyn around, Amelia wanted another challenge and in 1995 Amelia was launched to immediate success.
‘I gave readers a voice: I wanted to know what kind of lives they were living, what their dreams were, and then I addressed those things.’
Next came Tara, which Amelia says she started for her Amelia readers who were maturing and entering a new phase of their lives. She eventually returned to Amelia but after a time felt the need to move on.
‘I felt too old for Amelia’s readers, so we launched M Magasin in 2006. I created it for MAPPIES: Mature, Affluent, Pioneering People. M speaks to older women, allowing them to feel confident in their own skin.’
At 65 Amelia says she’ll slow down in a year or two, laughing at suggestions she’ll start a magazine for women in retirement.
‘Funnily enough my CEO was just talking to me about this but I don’t think the time is right. Women who are older now aren’t ready and women who would want it aren’t quite old enough. Its time will come but I don’t think I’ll be the one to do it.’
More laughter at suggestions she will write an autobiography.
‘What is there to tell that people don’t already know? My life has been an open book and my story has been told. I have my health, I have fantastic children and grandchildren and I have my wonderful work, both at the magazine and with the charities. I don’t need to look back.’
‘I’ve had a fantastic life but I’m no saint. I wish I had been a better mother at times and I wish I had been kinder to my own mother. I was ashamed of her growing up but she sacrificed her life for me.
‘And I want to enjoy this new man. He’s Italian you know, my first, and we share the same food, laughter and culture. Part of me is Swedish, but my heart, my soul, my libido – they’re Italian.’
From The Swedish Bulletin/Winter Edition; page 42: