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Meet the 87-year-old Instagram influencer helping fight COVID-19

Grandma Tata filming with her nephew, the Spanish actor Miguel Ángel Muñoz
Grandma Tata filming with her nephew, the Spanish actor Miguel Ángel Muñoz Copyright Instagram/Soylatatareal
Copyright Instagram/Soylatatareal
By Lorelei Mihala
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Across Europe, the older generation is hoping that if people won't listen to the police or health authorities about why they should stay home, they will listen to grandma.

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Nonna Rosetta, 87, is probably the most famous grandmother in Italy.

Rosetta, who lives close to Salerno in southern Italy, is a regular presence in the videos of Casa Surace, a web video production company based in Naples.

She is actually the real grandma of Beppe, the set designer of the team and most of them have known her since they were kids.

“I've always wanted to be an actress, but I never had the chance. You know, the family, the responsibilities, they got all my time,” she told Euronews.

So when her grandson asked her to appear in the videos, she was happy to spend some more time with the grandchildren.

“Being famous was not in my priorities, it came after,” she declares.

Now, Rosetta is using her power for good - hoping that if her fellow citizens won't listen to the authorities and abide by the rules of the lockdown, they will listen to their grandparents.

She may well be right. Her most recent video, in which she gives her tips against coronavirus in Italian, has almost two million views and has been translated worldwide.

“When we meet, instead of hugs and kisses, we wink,” she says.

She also criticises those who blame the Chinese for coronavirus or are racist against those of African origin.

“Coronavirus goes away, but the discrimination stays,” she says.

She has counterparts elsewhere in Europe. In Spain, a 95-year-old grandma from Madrid, Luisa Cantero Sanchez, known as 'Tata', has used Instagram to encourage people stay at home and combat the virus.

“Good evening. I am here at your service to spend a few nice moments together,” Tata says in the introduction of CuarenTata, her daily Instagram live.

Her growing popularity may soon even surpass that of her nephew, the Spanish actor Miguel Ángel Muñoz, who appeared in Un Paso Adelante (One Step Forward) and also won MasterChef Spain.

In just three weeks, Tata’s account has gained more than 38,000 followers.

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Prior to becoming an internet sensation, Tata worked as a cleaner. Since the crisis, Ángel has moved in with his great aunt and appears in her videos.

"She needs complete attention," Ángel said. "I was scared of not having anybody to stay with her, so I came here to live together."

“CuarenTata is an example of a way of living positively, no matter what the circumstances are, the age or your health. If you are positive, life’s always better. I’m 36 and she’s 95 and we both enjoy life the same way,” says Miguel Ángel.

During their broadcasts, the two improvise on various issues. Tata shares her memories and the pair reserve a moment to pray for the people who died from COVID-19, and for their families.

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“The only topic of our lives is to have fun and be positive. […] If she is happy and we share this, people will be happy as well,” Ángel says.

“People who lived almost a century know the life much better than me, for example. She lived through a civil war in our country and the Second World War. All my respect for what she thinks and says."

Meanwhile, in Romania, 72-year-old Lenuta Moldovan - a YouTube celebrity since 2016 - has also taken to sharing advice about the coronavirus from her home in the Transylvanian village of Chinteni.

“If you stay home, don’t panic. Stay with your family, clean the house," she says.

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Moldovan found fame after Mircea Bravo, the stage name of the actor Mircea Popa, approached her for their videos with social messages delivered with humour.

She was a star in local media, being featured on TV during the reports about residents' preparations for Christmas or Easter.

Bravo said Moldovan was a “hidden treasure of the area.”

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