What would you do differently to what you do now?
I don’t think there is anything I would change. An artist’s development requires a constant evolution and betterment, so although there have been moments of darkness and weird choices, they are all so important and each one is a catalyst for growth. The experiences both positive and negative make up the anatomy of every performer and each are as important as the hours of dance and acting lessons. How we change and evolve as a result of our past is what makes us better, stronger and more rounded performers and this, more importantly, shapes us as people.
Who inspires you and why?
Anyone who has the balls to be themselves. To get up every day and step one foot in front of the other and at least have a go at that day. I have had HORRID moments in my past and at times it took everything in me to just sit up in bed and put the kettle on… But look, I am here and flourishing which is remarkable because there were times when simply functioning was a huge mountain to overcome. Anyone reading this – just focus on today and try and be the best version of you for today only. The rest will fall into place. It takes constant effort, but the rewards will be magnificent.
What would you do to make a difference in the world?
Make everyone do drag at least once. It seems trivial and a tad unimportant, but I stand by it. Doing drag for fun is so freeing and what is unleashed can be both fabulous and sometimes scary. It’s the ultimate escapism and who doesn’t need that?
Favourite holiday destination and why?
Safari in Tanzania – I have family there and every time we head out into the wilderness I am a blubbering mess. There is no feeling like it. It’s both thrilling and peaceful. Everyone should try to do this at least once in their lives. I know it’s expensive but if you can find a way to do it… DO!
When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
Soho whilst it’s still there. It’s the best place in London. Gritty, arty, weird and wonderful. It is also the hub of the gay scene – our village. It’s a place that is hugely important to the LGBTQI community and our history. It was our safe haven for decades. Now, well it’s chain restaurants and lots of straight people. Don’t worry though, you’ll be okay. Just don’t look the heteros in the eye!
What are you currently reading?
This interview. Haha – I have gone back to Pride and Prejudice. Can’t beat Jane!
What are you currently listening to?
All The Man I Need – Whitney Houston.
Cheese, wine and great company.
What does the future hold for you?
The pursuit of happiness. Trying to get better, be better. Challenge myself and try not to die.
Velma Celli (West End star Ian Stroughair) stars in A Brief History of Drag at Chapel Off Chapel, Prahran (18 & 19 January), before playing the Brunswick Picture House, Brunswick Heads, (25 January), The Factory Theatre, Sydney (4 February) and Fringe World, Perth (7 – 10 February).
Image: Velma Celli (supplied)