INTERVIEW: Malta-based drag artist Olivia Lilith

INTERVIEW: Malta-based drag artist Olivia Lilith

We sit down with campy and  glamorous Malta-based drag artist and Malta’s Got Talent Golden buzzer girl

Q: What inspired you to start the art of drag?

A: I’ve always been drawn towards the performing arts. I used to be absolutely fascinated by the fact that as an artist, you can transform into anything that you could possibly imagine. It was never part of my artistic plan to become a drag artist. In fact, I discovered drag at the age of thirty-four. Whilst growing up, I started to attend drama classes as a way to explore who I am and as a medium to come out of my shell and build my own confidence. This beautiful journey also led me to an employment in the entertainment industry that later became my full-time job for around ten years. Here, I developed a greater passion than ever in dance, learned more about music, and also honed my creative abilities.

It dawned upon me that I find these skills very empowering, and I feel great and motivated when I am creating and developing something myself. At this point, I felt strong and safe enough and became curious of what I would be able to do if I combined all my various artistic skills together into one project. This is where drag really took flight. I realised that I could overcome challenging periods in my life by using my sense of humour. I realised that through this art I might be able to express myself artistically but also pave the path to others who can relate to my journey.

Drag is an intense art form. You have to be so confident in yourself and come up with a drag persona. You are also expected to learn how to design and sew costumes. On top of making outfits, you are expected to be able to take care of all the other piece of your aesthetics such as styling wigs and do your own make up and nails. This of course comes with an extensive financial burden as you need to by all your make up, shoes and undergarments. Then when it comes to performing you need to have the necessary skills to market yourself and scout for opportunities, create your own routines, jokes and much more. With all this said, I felt that I was able to handle all of this thanks to the support of my partner and close friends.

Q: Do you feel more comfortable in drag rather than out of drag?

A: I do not see any difference in relation to how comfortable I feel in or out of drag. With this being said, I feel a considerate increase in confidence when I am in drag. I feel that this superpower is there all the time, however I tend to be much more reserved when I am out of drag.

Q: You recently had the opportunity to co-host Malta Pride 2022. How was this for you?

A: As a famous quote states: “We are all born naked and the rest is drag”, we all perform in drag in one way or another in our lives. I had pervious experiences in hosting events, but to be honest, nothing made me so proud of myself and my community than when I hosted the Pride concert 2022. Firstly, I was absolutely honoured to be entrusted with such a big opportunity by ARC (Allied Rainbow Communities), and secondly, I was overjoyed to be paired up with Eileen Montesin amongst others. 

Q: Do you think the Maltese drag culture is evolving? If so, how?

A: I think that the drag culture is evolving on a global level not just locally. Ever since drag was launched on national television stations across the globe, this imposed the need for change and the need for drag artists to up their game. Moreover, it also expanded how the general public understands the core values of drag. Our islands are not new to drag performers. During the war and in the eighties, we had a very strong drag culture. Unfortunately, the drag community was very competitive and for some reason or another the interest and the whole art slightly faded away, leaving very few artists and opportunities.

I believe that the amendments of our legislation together with more awareness and open discussions, our island is leaping forward. This allowed people to be happier, more open to new things and have fun. Drag is art, and like any other good show, it can be enjoyed by anyone not just the LGBTIQ community. In my opinion the drag culture locally is creating a lot of curiosity and the public would like to see what we can do on such a small island.

Q:  You were recently in ‘Kwijns’, Malta’s inaugural Christmas drag show. How has been this for you?

A: Kwijns was a mind-blowing learning experience. What made it really special was the team of professionals that worked with us drag artists to help creating the show. This project was directed by Ray Calleja, who is no stranger to the drag art, together with numerous professionals from all sectors. When you plan a drag act such as a lip sync, most of the time it is a solo act, and you have to plan and prepare everything yourself. Kwinjs required so much coordination and rehearsals as it brought five drag artists together in one story.

This very energy consuming production was worth all the time and money invested and the audience feedback was fantastic.

Q: What would you like to say to future drag queens or kings?

A: In my opinion, drag is art and it is also fun. Drag is intimidating sometimes as it is quite demanding and costly especially if you want to create a unique costume and concept from scratch. My secret is research, read and watch videos, take notes, ask questions! Drag is an art that allows you to entertain and express yourself in ways that you never thought of before.

Q: What’s next for Olivia Lilith?

A: Well, Olivia now is heading straight to the final on Malta’s Got Talent season 2. This came as a huge surprise after we achieved the golden buzzer during the audition. After a short breather, Olivia is ready to prepare some exciting new surprise for 2023 that will be launched at a later date.