Tezara Saliba: ‘Never mould yourself into another version of yourself to please others’

Now gearing up to play Oz in FM Theatre’s We Will Rock You in October, Tezra Saliba tells all in our Q&A

Tezara trained at Masquerade for several years as well as with Ivan De Gabriele at The Voice Academy. Apart from being in a slew of productions such as A Celebration of Women Through Time, Mamma Mia!, Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty and Rockestra, she is best known for the character Julia Camilleri on TV series Il-Klikka.

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

Put on the kettle for coffee; while that’s boiling I go and brush my teeth.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

“You’ll never find an ideal man but you’ll find one whose flaws you can live with and not need to plot his murder” – my mother!

What do you never leave the house without?

Sunscreen for my face, perfume, mascara, painkillers. And always without the ability to remember where I parked my car.

Pick three words that describe yourself

Loud, creative, energetic.

What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?

Summiting Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Elbrus and playing Maleficent in last year’s Sleeping Beauty.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?

Maltese bread – nothing better than a fresh Maltese ftira or hobza with a fresh, ripe tomato, salt, pepper, some fresh mint and basil and a good oil. No tuna and capers and all that… there’s this particular baker in Sliema I always get my bread from whenever I get the craving despite living in Mosta.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?

Never mould yourself into another version of yourself to please others. You are YOU with your flaws and your graces and that is who you are meant to be. It’s very easy to fall into the trap especially if you love someone so much.

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

I’m not someone who goes crazy over brands but I caved in and got this designer handbag I would have normally walked right past had I not been on holiday. I was in Sri Lanka on my honeymoon.

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

As much as I love theatre, it is not the be all and end all. I spent so many years being obsessed with getting into shows and looking for opportunities to do with singing and acting that I lost sight of a lot along the way. I quickly learnt that the curtain eventually closes on every show and what you are left with are the people you are surrounded by and you should never forget them and where you are coming from. As much as theatre has given me, it has also taken a lot away.

Who’s your inspiration?

Claire Agius Ordway. She is extremely down to earth and humble and is very relatable and honest as a person. I feel she has very good time-management because she juggles her shows, her family and her fitness regime so well and has given me so much advice throughout the years.

What has been your biggest challenge?

Choosing a career path. I was always so uncertain of the direction I wanted my life to go; one week it was this and another it was that.
If you weren’t a singer/actress, what would you be doing?

I teach drama full-time, which is great because what I do for the majority of my day is so related to what I do after. However, I would have loved to become a midwife, or chef or run my own café.

Do you believe in God?

I believe there is a higher power; someone or something beyond us here on Earth. I believe there is a previously set out path for us and it’s our job on earth to figure out what it is.

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

Julie Andrews! She is such an icon in the theatre world as well as the film world!

What’s your worst habit?

Not wearing my spectacles, and so I squint, making it look like I’m giving someone an evil look when in reality I’m trying to figure out who the hell they are.

What are you like when you’re drunk?

I’m fun until I get knocked out. And it happens sooner than you think… anywhere – on a pavement, on a speaker, on a stranger… I’ll be dancing one minute and knocked out the next.

Who would you have play you in a film?

Alicia Vikander – she’s so insanely talented and I see a slight resemblance.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?

People’s ability to make other’s feel small.

What music would you have played at your funeral?

Good classic rock.

What is your most treasured material possession?

My papa made me this beautiful vanity mirror just like we sometimes have backstage in our dressing rooms with lots of bulbs. He worked very hard to get it just the way he knew I’d like it and it means so much to me that he went through the trouble.

What is your earliest memory?

I remember playing with my sisters in my nanna’s garden and eating a small spicy pepper thinking it was a cherry. I also remember singing into the fan and being so impressed by the change in the sound of my voice!

When did you last cry, and why?

I was reading a good book on a plane a few weeks ago and one of the characters I had grown fond of died and I started sobbing uncontrollably! My husband naturally thought something serious happened. He couldn’t understand me because I was crying so much. When I eventually made myself understood he looked at me and I could tell he was thinking “WTF did I marry?!”

Who would you most like to meet?

Chris Hemsworth… I wish he would hurry up already!

What’s your favourite food?

Carbohydrates – all of them – pasta, pizza, bread! I mean, what’s not to love.

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

No one in particular. I’m not really into that sort of stuff.

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

1920 – love the clothes, music, the way of life, the attitude. When I had my hair very short into a pixie-cut I felt like I was part of the era. My hens do was 1920s themed. What a time!

What book are you reading right now?

Well it’s not really a book, it’s my script for We Will Rock You. I’m playing Oz in October.

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

The ability to fly and also to eat whatever I want without getting fat.

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

Enough to be remembered when I’m gone.  

What music are you listening to at the moment?

Harmonies for We Will Rock You on repeat! I’m also a DJ on XFM so I’m tuned into whatever is on the radio normally.

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

When I’m working out it’s someone like Beyonce or Dua Lipa or Ariana Grande but in the shower it’s a funky mix of tunes from the 60s and 70s with songs like Ain’t No Mountain High Enough (Diana Ross) and Rescue Me (Fontella Bass) and tunes from Aretha Franklin, Etta James, Nat King Cole and Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder… I could go on forever.