Dorothy Bezzina: 'We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong'

Actress Dorothy Bezzina tells all in our Q&A

Dorothy Bezzina is no stranger to the local creative scene. Earlier last month, her spellbinding portrayal of Nancy in Masquerade’s Oliver! brought the house down every night. She is also a regular classical performer in Udjenza’s Valletta Resounds at the Oratory in St. John’s Co-Cathedral, and she is currently gearing up to sing with the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra in an Orchestral Progressive Rock Concert at Teatru Astra, featuring original compositions by Edward Mifsud. Her latest, The Band’s Visit, was nominated as Production of the Year for Premju għall-Arti. Additionally, her production company has revealed plans to premiere two more musicals on the island: School of Rock in 2025 and Everybody’s Talking About Jamie in 2026.

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

I often wake up to find my two-year-old sandwiched between myself and my husband early in the morning. He’s usually the first one up and greets me with the cutest “Good morning, mamà”! It always starts my day on a positive note!

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

Keep calm.

What do you never leave the house without?

Keys and phone alone just won’t cut it for me, especially on days when I’ve got back-to-back commitments to attend. Unfortunately, I do tend to lug around a ton of stuff practically daily … from laptop to formal wear to makeup, a PA system… I can hold a concert in my car any day!

Pick three words that describe yourself.

Patient, determined… and I asked my husband for a third one. He said I’m “a handful”… whatever that implies… but I know he won’t have it any other way!

What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?

My beautiful family… and being able to balance doing what I love and enjoying time with my family thanks to a very supportive husband.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?

Having ice-cream or hot chocolate with all the extras available, eating sweets that belong to my kid, and sometimes it’s driving too, because that’s when I get to listen to some relaxing music.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?

We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same.

Property and cars aside what’s the most expensive thing you’ve ever bought?
I’d say the whole process of producing a musical, including licence fees, renting a venue, sound and lighting, set, props, artist fees... the list goes on. Independent collectives and freelance artists work so hard to put on high-quality shows, often juggling public funds if they are lucky enough, and whatever savings they can muster. It’s often basically equivalent to buying a property or an expensive car.

What is one thing you wish you knew when you were younger?
That I was not as old as I thought I was, that a career in the arts does not have an expiry date, and that change isn’t something to be feared.

Who’s your inspiration?

My parents, most definitely. They’re the best example of true love and dedication for myself and my siblings, and I am ever so grateful for that. I’m sure that raising a family of seven children was not easy and required great sacrifice. But they did this with so much happiness, positivity, and serenity. Stress was never something we experienced growing up, and they consistently taught us that every challenge can be overcome if we approach it calmly. If we struggled with something, like a tough subject in school, they never played the blame game. Instead, they actively sought solutions, often by studying the subject alongside us. Their hands-on approach and investment in our growth taught us invaluable lessons, instilling a can-do attitude that has empowered us to pursue beautiful opportunities in life, while always aspiring to emulate them.

What has been your biggest challenge?

On a professional level, venturing into production and direction beyond just performance has been quite the journey. It is one I’ve eagerly wanted to pursue since I was young, and I’m grateful to have found like-minded individuals who support and share the same vision, including my husband Karl, and Edward Mifsud, a talented musician and dear friend. Sharing such experiences with them has been incredibly rewarding. On a personal level, I hesitated about starting a family for a while, fearing it might impact my career as a performer – something I was never ready to give up. I remember being extremely concerned about the lack of research on how having children affects the singing voice, and whether it would mean giving up further studies or opportunities. But talking it out with so many supportive people, both within the family and the industry, helped tremendously and dispelled all my concerns.

Today I’m so grateful I didn’t miss out on the beautiful experience of raising our son, Michele. As cliché as it may sound, nothing comes close to the pure joy I feel when he is around. And, surprisingly, parenthood didn’t hinder any aspect of my career; quite the contrary. I feel I now approach it with more maturity, determination, and a newfound confidence. In the past two years, I’ve experienced so many precious moments for which I am truly thankful, and we’ve effortlessly been on at least ten holiday trips together. I believe that, along with family support, the right mindset and outlook on life enable you to overcome any challenge. Of course you can have the cake and eat it! 

If you weren’t a producer or performer, what would you be doing?
Aside from theatre and performance I do wear several other hats. I love languages, and I have specialised in translation, interpreting, proofreading, and language teaching. I’m also currently reading for an MSc in Marketing through the University of Glasgow. I enjoy studying and I feel it enriches me personally, academically, and artistically. However, if I had to pursue something completely new, I would probably choose photography and set/interior design.

Do you believe in God?

Yes, I do, and it gives me a great sense of peace. I also make it a point to pray together as a family before bedtime. I realise it is cultivating in my son a beautiful sense of appreciation for all that he has and all that he experiences during the day.

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

My grandparents.

What’s your worst habit?

I used to overthink things a lot. Nowadays I think I’ve learnt to let go a little, especially when something is out of my control. I also tend to be overly generous with my time, and I do regret it when it’s unappreciated.

What are you like when you’re drunk?

I very rarely drink alcohol and I never got drunk, so I have absolutely no idea!

Who would you have play you in a film?

I’d say Vincienne, one of my sisters. She’s my spitting image… just a decade younger. It’s always amusing when people mix us up!

What is the trait you most deplore in others?

Misuse of power or influence.

What music would you have played at your funeral?
Beethoven’s second movement from Symphony no. 7 in A major, Op. 92.

What is your most treasured material possession?

A rosary bead made for me by an ex-student of mine who passed away after a long struggle with cancer.

What is your earliest memory?

I do have several early memories. As a child I loved tiny, enclosed spaces. I had a favourite spot at my grandparents’ house, between their dining room and the backyard, where I would line up all my Playmobil dolls or build classrooms for them. This came back to me recently when I saw my son doing the same thing with his cars and dinosaurs. I also vividly remember the textured carpeting at the old airport – my POV at the time. I remember making up plays for my cousins and designing costumes on old diaries so that mum could sew them for me, and I also remember being in awe watching an Easter pageant when I was about four years old, and the anticlimactic feeling I got when I later went backstage, only to discover Jesus was still alive, smoking, and casually playing snooker with Barabbas.

When did you last cry, and why?

I was asked to audition for a role I wasn’t too familiar with. The first time I heard the song I had to prepare, I was driving to another rehearsal, and it was so full of raw emotion that I found myself bawling my eyes out and having to compose myself before getting out of the car.

Who would you most like to meet?

My grandparents’ families in the States and Australia.

What’s your favourite food?

I’m a huge fan of anything related to fish and seafood.

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

I follow lots of creative people in the arts, set designers, comedians, people who are passionate about food, others who are not afraid to say things as they are… it’s difficult to pick a favourite!

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

Back to when I met Karl at St Aloysius Sixth Form… I would love to relive that time, and I wouldn’t change a thing! Whatever we’ve accomplished, it’s because we always had each other’s backs.

What book are you reading right now?

I’ve just finished reading a very interesting and insightful chapter by Philip Ciantar from The Different Faces of Politics in Literature and Music (edited by Mario Vassallo and Andre P. DeBattista), and I’m waiting to get my hands on the entire book. Meanwhile, I’ve started a children’s book: Żraben, by Trevor Żahra.

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

To end any form of suffering to humans and animals.

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

I just want to make sure I’ve lived every moment. I value relaxation a lot, but I’m not one to waste time or be idle for too long. The awareness that life is too short often lingers at the back of my mind, motivating me to make the most of my time. I love spontaneity, trying out different things, studying different music and theatre genres, without snubbing one or the other… I try to avoid rigid routines, I try not to take myself too seriously, and I try to view challenges within the broader context of life.

What music are you listening to at the moment?

At the moment it’s progressive rock by Genesis, Yes, ELP, and some beautiful compositions in the same genre by Edward Mifsud, in preparation for an Orchestral Progressive Rock concert with the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra at Teatru Astra on 18 May.

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

I rarely sing or listen to music in the shower. I prefer to enjoy some peace and quiet. However, when I’m working or working out, my music choices vary depending on my mood or need for motivation or concentration. I particularly enjoy soundtracks, with Madagascar’s main theme by Hans Zimmer being a constant favourite on my playlist. It gives me that positive rhythm to take on any day!