Overachiever feels ‘quite lazy’

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Tori Keating’s got 99 things to do before she’s 50 — and while learning to meditate’s one of
them, she can’t stop long enough to do it. The Kingston resident talks to TRACEY ROXBURGH about why she still feels lazy

Someone, somewhere has on film the moment Tori Keating’s stage career began.

She was just six, dressed as a fairy in a fluoro green tutu, laying out pretend flowers to
make a fairy bed.

‘‘This person who was next to me and supposed to be doing it got stage fright and she just stood there, swinging a basket.

‘‘Someone … has a video of me … stamping my feet and getting really shitty that we weren’t doing what we were supposed to be doing on stage, so that’s probably where the
directing comes from.’’

While most recently Keating’s made a name for herself onstage as Cherry in Cosi — the role, she says, ‘‘kept me sane’’ this year after Covid decimated her industry, as a travel agent — she’s trod the boards, and helped others to, ever since university.

From a tiny town called Sapphire, in central Queensland, Keating was shipped off to boarding school when she was just 12, and moved to Brisbane for uni at 17 where she studied theatre.

‘‘I still love to act, obviously, every now and then, but directing would probably be more of my passion and I think it’s because I’m a control freak.’’

After a stint in Melbourne she moved to the UK for a couple of years when she was 23.

Based in Edinburgh, Scotland, Keating says she met ‘‘the most amazing group’’ of expats, away from home for the first time.

It wasn’t all fun and games, though.

She went to Oktoberfest for three weeks, but blew all her money in the first seven days,
using her last 20p to make a call to a friend at the hostel in Edinburgh to ask for a loan.

‘‘He went, ‘nup’, and hung up on me.’’

But Keating managed to land on her feet and after a while started travelling again, heading to South Africa with her then-boyfriend where they decided to learn to snowboard, and heard Queenstown might be worth a nosey.

While they broke up before they got here, they stayed friends and after he landed a hospo job he invited her in to the bar he worked at to meet his new friends.

‘‘I walked in to the bar and he said, ‘this is Malcolm [Mackay]’.’’

The pair have been married about 10 years now.

It was after she met Mackay she got into the travel agency business, having decided she
wanted to be with him but also wanted to keep travelling.

She landed a job with House of Travel, but lost her job five years later after the GFC hit, then was made redundant after five years with World Travellers.

After that she and now-business partner Niki Davies decided they weren’t going to let anyone else make ‘‘those big life decisions for us’’ and opened up xtravel.

In spite of the turmoil Covid’s inflicted on their industry, they’re yet to make anyone redundant and have instead focused on repatriation flights — to date, they’ve repatriated about 400 people.

She’s now focused on next weekend’s RenewArt, where she’s part of a salsa performance group.

That was on her list of ‘‘99 things to do before you turn 50’’, which she’s been working on since she was 19.

Almost 42, Keating says she’s ticked off 52 things so far, including learning salsa, something she loves because when she’s dancing ‘‘everything else falls away’’.

The Kingston resident’s also just completed her diploma in ambulance practice and is aiming to become an emergency medical technician.

While that wasn’t on her list, it “just gets longer and longer’’.

“A lot of people ask how I manage to fit so much into my life.

‘‘Funnily enough, I actually feel quite lazy.

“I feel like I procrastinate a lot and I could achieve so much more if I was more structured, but I’m really lucky.

“I’m not rich … but I’m still in that 1% of privileged people in the world who can jump on a plane and travel and who can have a roof over my head and I don’t have to worry about where my next meal is coming from.

“I’m just trying as best as I can to squeeze as much juice out of that lemon into my gin and tonic as I can.’’

tracey.roxburgh@scene.co.nz