Gianni Selvaggi: ‘Be humble, be proud of what you achieve without shoving it in people’s faces’

Ahead of his one-man dramatic comedy “…You Make Lemonade” touching on subjects such as cancer in men and mental health, Gianni Selvaggi takes the Q&A

Gianni Selvaggi
Gianni Selvaggi

Before taking to the theatrical stage, Gianni’s primary focus was singing and songwriting, having trained from the age of eight, after joining his school choir. He became a member of the Malta Amateur Dramatic Club in 2014 and in 2015 began performing with Teatru Manoel Youth Theatre company. His most recent writing effort, “…You Make Lemonade”, is a one-man dramatic comedy touching on subjects such as cancer in men and mental health. The play is expected to be staged across Malta in 2019.

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

I jump into a cold shower and either listen to news updates, podcasts or my morning Spotify playlist.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

I was always taught to always remain level-headed – “Never look down on yourself because no one is better than you, and never look over people because you’re not better than them.”

What do you never leave the house without?

Keys, wallet, phone, watch. It’s the usual checklist before I leave the front door. Most of the time, my backpack is in the list (I usually don’t get home till late in the evening because of rehearsals)

Pick three words that describe yourself

Enthusiastic. Quirky. Loud.

What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?

Co-writing and performing a musical with a UK production company and taking it to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe for a month. It was a great experience that I learnt from and has helped me understand new elements of producing.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?

If it’s raining outside, I love lazying about in bed with a good book or bingeing on a TV show.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?

It will always be painful to lose someone, even when you’re expecting it. But you get up, dust yourself off and keep moving forward, and keep the memories alive.

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

It would have to be one of my guitars or my Mac.

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

It’s okay to not know the answer to someone’s question. Asking for help doesn’t make you look stupid.

Who’s your inspiration? Why?

I draw a lot of inspiration from my family, being brought up in a loving household with a strong work ethic.

What has been your biggest challenge? Why?

Saying no. I hate saying no to projects because I find excitement in each and every one. Unfortunately, there isn’t enough time in the day to do everything and maintain my sanity.

If you weren’t an actor, what would you be doing?

Probably I would be working in design, photography or video-journalism.

Do you believe in God?

Yes, but even though I was born and raised Roman Catholic, I strongly believe that no single religion is right or wrong. Too many lives have been lost battling out on who’s wrong or right.

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

My grandfathers, Nannu Oliver and Nonno Piero. The little I knew them, each always had fascinating stories.

What’s your worst habit?

Biting my nails and probably having a bit too much of a potty mouth.

What are you like when you’re drunk?

A little hyper and smiley. Though I’m a social drinker, I don’t make it a habit to overdo it with alcohol.

Who would you have play you in a film?

Ryan Reynolds, because I love his humour, or Dan Stevens because I’ve been told we look alike.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?

Excessive vanity and plastic lifestyles.

What music would you have played at your funeral?

Frank Sinatra, Lucio Battisti or Linkin Park.

What is your most treasured material possession?

Believe it or not, a little white teddy bear I was given when I was 5 or 6 years old.

What is your earliest memory?

Sitting on my dad’s lap in the living room, watching football together.

When did you last cry, and why?

Last week, while watching a musical in London that really hit close to home.

Who would you most like to meet, Why?

Mike Shinoda – He’s a fantastic artist and musician.

What’s your favourite food?

Pizza.

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

Ryan Reynolds hands down.

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

Probably to the 70s, and Woodstock before that.

What book are you reading right now?

I’m on the last few pages of “The Subtle art of not giving a f***” by Mark Manson

If you could have any super power, what would it be?

I’d love to be able to fly so that I can beat the traffic and be able to travel more.

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

Go Skydiving.

What music are you listening to at the moment?

Hozier’s new album “Movement”

In the shower or when you’re working out, what do you sing/listen to?
A bit of everything depending on my mood, mostly rock and hip hop.

TELL US...

Can you tell us a bit about Glitter Punch?
Without giving much away, it’s about two people who don’t fit in, but fit in together; finding comfort in each other, in an unconventional way.

What advice would you give anyone interested in acting in Malta?

I guess it’s things I try to live by, regardless of whether you’re in stage or not:

Be positive – if you generate positivity, you can help generate smiles and make people happy. It also helps during production week. Be understanding – you don’t always know what others are passing through. Be humble – you can be proud of what you achieve without shoving it in people’s faces.

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