Date of Birth: 18th December, 1951
Location: San Ġwann
Status: Married to Ray Vassallo since May 1984
Star Sign: Sagittarius
Main Occupation: Media & Information Assistant at the European Commission Representation in Malta
Media-related Occupation: Actress
Considering Lilian first took part in the teleplay, Huwa, back when she was just 16, it’s no wonder that many people instantly recognise this actress. In a career that spans almost 50 years, Lilian Pace Vassallo has captivated local TV audiences with her roles in Triq Waħda, Viva l-Ministru, Tlieta Kontra Tlieta, Villa Sunset, Vittmi and the much loved comedy Simpatici being the most memorable. Currently, she’s also on Tereża, which airs on ONE.
Yet Lilian’s mark on the local scene isn’t just in television. Back in 1980, she signed up with the Manoel Theatre Academy of Dramatic Art , and became a founder member of the Actors’ Studio two years later, which used to meet up at the Tigne barracks in Sliema. Lilian has since played with most of Malta’s theatrical companies, including Staġun Teatru Malti, Atturi Productions, Politeatru, Maltafest, MADC, Talenti Productions and Maleth.
What may be surprising to some, however, is that Lilian has also had a successful career in various industries outside of acting – including tourism and the civil services. As she gets ready for her upcoming role in Alfred Buttiġieġ’s original Maltese play, Mela Hawn Xi Manikomju?, we sit down with her to talk about when she first started, her biggest achievements and how playing Gużeppa has changed her view of rehabilitation homes.
How did you first get into acting?
I started as a young girl in school productions, and then moved on to school broadcasts followed by radio plays. I practically grew up at the Rediffusion studio, where my late father, Francis Pace, was the operator for sound effects.
What is your favourite medium of acting?
Theatre, as I feel it has more soul. It also fulfils me professionally and allows me to delve deep into the role I’m portraying. Television and film, on the other hand, gives actors a lot more exposure, and you become a familiar face in households across the country. In fact, it’s quite nice that people recognise you, and that even when they see you at church, in a shop or at open-air market, they stop you just to say ‘Prosit!’
What can you tell us about your character in Mela Hawn Xi Manikomju?
I play Gużeppa, an 80-year-old woman lying in bed in the rehabilitation hospital, complaining of pain and feeling depressed. She awaits the visit of her son, and eventually reveals to him something which upsets him greatly.
It wasn’t easy to relate to her, however, not only because I’m playing the part of an elderly woman with health problems, but mostly because I’m playing the part of a woman who starts off as very lucid but then ends up mumbling stuff which is dubiously true.
Has this play taught you anything about the elderly and their treatment?
The play has made me much more aware of the care and attention these people need. The play may be humorous but the playwright has very clearly demonstrated that the four elderly characters, like patients in real life, need compassionate care.
What are you most proud of in your life to date?
I’ve worked continuously since I finished school, although I’ve continued to study. Over the course of my life, I’ve worked in the civil service, the tourism industry and for the last 22 years, at the European Commission Representation in Malta, which has given me a great deal of satisfaction.
What are the three words that describe you best?
I couldn’t decide for myself, so my husband suggested the following – loyal, reliable and efficient.
I’m hoping to have more time for myself when I retire from my full-time employment. I hope to keep active in drama, though! My husband and I will hopefully be retiring together and, God willing, we’ll have more time to travel and see more of the world!
Alfred Buttiġieġ’s Mela Hawn Xi Manikomju? will be performed at St James Cavalier on the 11th, 12th and 13th March. All shows start at 8pm. Tickets can be booked from the St James Cavalier website or by phone on 2122 3200. Tickets are priced at €15. This play is certified 18+ and is being supported by the Malta Arts Fund.