Jason Scerri: 'I never leave the house without perfume – I would feel naked without it!'

Actor Jason Scerri tells all in our Q&A

Currently performing in Masquerade and Teatru Manoel’s production of Grease as Vince Fontaine and Teen Angel, Jason is a singer/songwriter from Rabat, who graduated from the Millennium Performing Arts College in London, UK, in 2000. For 15 years, he performed in musicals in Germany such as My Fair Lady, West Side Story, Cats, We Will Rock You, Mamma Mia and Evita. He was resident singer in the theatre of the cruise liner Costa Favolosa from 2019 to 2020. In 2022, he performed in the Il-Kbir Għadu Ġej musical and received four ‘Yes’ votes from the judges in the television show Malta’s Got Talent. This year, Jason was a quarterfinalist in the Malta Eurovision Song Contest and a semi-finalist in Muzika Muzika 2023 with his own songs Anything Can Happen and Hares ‘il Fuq.

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?

The first thing I do in the morning is drink half a litre of water on an empty stomach, as this helps detox the body and restore water lost during the night.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

When I was studying to become a pilot, our instructor told us about the acronym ‘KISS’ – ‘Keep It Simple, Stupid’. That was the best piece of advice that has stuck in my head and I try to live by it in every situation in my life.

What do you never leave the house without?

I never leave the house without perfume – I would feel naked without it!

Pick three words that describe yourself.

Happy, calm and hardworking.

What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?

My greatest achievement would have to be when I shared the stage with Brian May and Roger Taylor with Paul Rodgers as frontman of the band Queen at the O2 Arena in Cologne, Germany in 2005. Together with the original cast of We Will Rock You Musical Germany, we sang Radio Gaga, Bohemian Rhapsody and We Are the Champions to an audience of over 30,000 people. The rush of adrenaline and energy you get from such a huge audience is amazing and unforgettable.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?

I eat a piece of dark chocolate every day.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?

When I lost my dad in 2016, I realised that life is extremely short, and we need to spend more time with those who are most dear to us. That is why I decided to move back to Malta for good after having lived abroad for more than 18 years.

Property and cars aside, what’s the most expensive thing you’ve ever bought?

I am not one for expensive things. I don’t even wear jewellery. I invest in a good mattress and a moving bed.

What is one thing you wish you knew when you were younger?

I don’t think there’s anything I wish I knew when I was younger. I had a very happy childhood. I have been blessed to have always met the right people and learnt the right knowledge in life at the right time. I hope to share more productions and stages with the lovely cast of Grease.

Who’s your inspiration?

My inspirations are the teachers and directors that I meet who keep nourishing my talent, such as Anthony Bezzina of Masquerade. But my mum would have to be my biggest inspiration and supporter. Love her to bits.

What has been your biggest challenge?

My biggest challenge has been learning six different shows of 45 minutes each in less than six weeks, to be able to join the cruise ship Costa Favolosa in 2019, just before the pandemic hit – and then spending the last three months of that contract in 2020 confined to a cabin because of COVID-19. Being on the other side of the planet in the Caribbean, surrounded by sea and sky for so long, not knowing when I was going to be able to go back home and how my family was really doing, was psychologically very straining. Singing, physical training and yoga helped me a lot to get through it.

If you weren’t a performing artist and science show presenter, what would you be doing?

I am a full-time science show presenter at Esplora Interactive Science Centre and a part-time performing artist now. I would probably be a pilot because I’ve always dreamt of flying and earnt my private pilot’s licence in 1995. I’m hoping that one day I’ll have enough time and money to go back to it – perhaps when I retire, who knows! The stage was always my greatest passion though.

Do you believe in God?

Yes, I believe in God and He has helped me and keeps helping me in many ways in life. Faith can give so much to a person, but it takes a lot of practice like any discipline one chooses to follow.

If you could have dinner with any person, dead or alive, who would it be?

It would have to be my dad, so we could have a long chat as I miss his advice, jokes and laughter. He was very important to me, even though perhaps I never showed it or told him.

What’s your worst habit?

My worst habit would have to be that of daydreaming – and it could literally be about anything and everything!

What are you like when you’re drunk?

I don’t drink alcohol, but once when I first drank alcohol and got drunk, I was laughing at everything and everyone for no reason.

Who would you have play you in a film?

Hugh Jackman because he is a brilliant allrounder – he can sing, act and dance well and he has the kind of fit body that I always wished I had!

What is the trait you most deplore in others?

Violence, as I am a very peaceful person.

What music would you have played at your funeral?

Oh, my! I’ve never thought about that, as I would like to think that I will not have to plan my own funeral – but I guess I would like a gospel choir to sing happy gospel songs, to make it as joyful as possible.

What is your most treasured material possession?

My apartment, as I designed the interior myself and it’s very cosy.

What is your earliest memory?

It would have to be sitting on the edge of our-then kitchen table, while my mum fed me a boiled egg. I used to love eating boiled eggs and still do.

When did you last cry, and why?

I mostly cry privately, as I can’t really cry in front of others. When I was in India in 2015 to study yoga, I found a way to release my deepest emotions through a set of exercises that also involves drinking a lot of salty water with lemon juice in between exercises, which helps you clean your intestines. That made me open up and cry a lot afterwards, and I felt so good. Crying is a good way to overcome – and most importantly to show – certain emotions and nowadays I find it a lot easier to do both. I guess I grew up in a time when crying for a man was a sign of weakness, but it’s not. Funnily enough, movies tend to make me cry more than I would at a funeral, for example.

Who would you most like to meet?

I would like to meet an alien because I believe that they do exist.

What’s your favourite food?

My favourite food is my mum’s, as she is the best cook in the world. I love Italian food, especially lasagne. I cannot eat spicy food as I’m too sensitive to it.

Who’s your favourite person on social media right now?

My Grease colleague Raphael Pace, who plays Danny – he’s hilarious! Watch his reels!

If you could travel in time, where would you go?

I would go to the 1950s, as the music back then was something out of this world – and that’s why I’m so happy to be a part of Masquerade’s and Teatru Manoel’s co-production of Grease. In 2000, just after I graduated from London’s Millennium Performing Arts College, I had auditioned for the Grease UK Tour and I got the part of Roger – but unfortunately, since Malta was not part of the EU at that time, the company did not want to pay for my Visa so they gave the part to someone else. I was extremely disappointed, but that inspired me to go to Germany, where I worked in various musicals for 15 years.

What book are you reading right now?

The Book of Secrets by Tom Harper. I love mysteries, as I’m a very curious person.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

Healing others, especially those with rare illnesses that still don’t have a cure.

What’s one thing you want to do before you die?

A round-the-world trip.

What music are you listening to at the moment?

Music from the 1950s and 1960s as part of my research for Grease, to prepare for my role of the radio host, Vince Fontaine.

In the shower or when you’re working out, what do you sing/listen to?

Chart songs, mostly – I like to stay up-to-date with pop music.