Monica Trapaga can lay claim to being one of Australia’s most versatile entertainers. She is a favourite with the pre-school set, having worked on Play School for over ten years and released a number of children’s CDs and videos. Monica is also a strong presence on the Australian jazz circuit and was a presenter on Better Homes and Gardens from 1997–2003. She started singing at age 19 and has been performing with various jazz bands for over 20 years. She is still singing and now owns a vintage shop in Sydney called RECLAIM. She made over 300 episodes of Playhouse Disney for Channel 7 and has spent the last two years writing her fist book to be published by Penguin this year.
Curly! It’s taken many turns as I’ve gone from jazz/cabaret singer to children’s performer, to video producing and writing children’s music, to furniture restoration and retail, to presenting on TV, to writing again – all the time maintaining my live singing and performing, which is the most important part of my career to me.
Yes. My parents bought me my first feather boa at age five and a bowler hat at age six. There was an abundance of great music in our house. They created a monster.
Absolutely none. I tried to get into NIDA when I was 15 but they sent me away to get more life experience. I worked three jobs to pay for some acting lessons with a fabulous lady by the name of Colleen Clifford, and later on when I was having terrible voice problems I studied vocal production with Don Grayden – he saved my life.
I begged my agent to get me an audition for Play School.
An extraordinary adventure. It was a hoot until it became politically correct, I think I was lucky to work with the best directors and co-hosts of the golden era. They taught me the greatest lessons in TV presenting.
I don’t sleep much. I’ve found you need to take time out for yourself – swimming is my form of meditation and it sometimes gets neglected when I am busy, but it is the only way I get time out to arrange my thoughts.
It depends whether I’m in my shop (RECLAIM by Monica Trapaga), on the road or writing. There’s no real ‘average’ day, but my days are long. I now also have six children – two of my own and four stepchildren, so most days run into nights, and into days, and into nights … There’s no standard average really.
Yes – a lack of stability and regular income. It’s also very hard to maintain your self-confidence when so much of this business is luck.
A relatively thick skin, and a lot of 'chutzpah'!
I am working on putting together my next big band album, my next cookbook and a cabaret show with the fabulous Julie Riley.
I wanted to have my own ice-cream parlour with 100 flavours and my own musical comedy hour on late night television like Carol Burnett.
I was very excited when I landed my Penguin book deal, because I really wanted to work with them and they were the first company we went to. In fact, last night I attended their dinner for a group of authors, and found myself in the company of Stephanie Alexander, Matt Moran and Edmund Capon! It was a tremendous feeling to be included with people I really respect.
To make more albums – good swinging albums. To improve as a singer and entertainer, to travel with my music, and to keep writing more books.
Follow your heart and practise, practise, practise. As far as opportunities, I think it’s not so much about what they are, but about taking whatever comes your way and creating your own opportunities. You really need to take on challenges and have faith in yourself.
These days I look up to people who follow their hearts and do what makes them happy. I also look up to those who are not affected by age and, in fact, who age disgracefully! Ella Fitzgerald was still singing in her eighties. I love people who are not held back by the normal stereotypical ideals of what you ‘should’ look like or how you ‘should’ behave. I also look up to people who have enough faith in themselves to change things around them but most importantly, those who make me laugh!