Therese Malijan: Triple Threat


Therese Malijan in New York

By Danica Calalang, Staff Writer

Getting up in front of the class and presenting is challenging for many students; however, performing in front of a big audience comes naturally for senior Therese Malijan, who thrives on stage. Her talents shine bright in all the extracurriculars she’s participated in, including theatre, High Fidelity and Orchesis.

Malijan has been involved in theatre since her sophomore year. She plays one of the lead roles in the upcoming theatre production, Akiko and The Unknown. Her character, Akiko, is a curious and adventurous teenager who uses her tough personality to find her way back to her siblings.

In preparing for her audition, Malijan did her best to not over-prepare. She often rehearses repeatedly, causing her to feel nervous and stressed. This throws her off, so Malijan did her best to distract herself before her audition. “The only things that I had made sure I rehearsed before the time came was to make sure I had a set characteristic for each character that I read for. I wanted to make sure that the individual personalities that I read for stayed consistent throughout my rehearsal process and during my audition,” Malijan said.

Akiko was written to be a half-Japanese girl. Unfamiliar with Japanese customs, Malijan has been in touch with the playwright, Devon Hayakawa, who has been helping her figure out the best ways to execute their vision of Akiko. She learned how to properly pronounce a Japanese saying in the script and the siblings’ names, while still integrating her Filipino culture into her role.

Her favorite thing about playing Akiko is the freedom with who she wants her character to be and her backstory. Akiko is a very outgoing and bubbly teenager, unlike previous roles Malijan has played, who were more strict, wise and mature adults. “Playing Akiko has been such a freeing and exciting part of my theatre career and I love how I feel like I am not restricted at all. I feel like I am able to act as myself with just very few differences. I also love yelling at the other characters in a non-serious sibling way,” Malijan said.

Being a part of multiple activities is hard for any student. Malijan has gone above and beyond and has been a leader in her activities for most of her high school career. In doing so, she’s learned how to get the job done while putting in her best effort. Alum, Jake Pranian from the class of 2022, met Malijan in 2019. He is proud of the tremendous growth that Malijan has done since the beginning of her performing arts career.

“Her freshman year, she was more shy, timid and still dabbling in this new world of performing arts she was exposed to. Now, especially after the pandemic, Therese takes over any room she performs in. Seeing her grow not only as a vocalist, but also as an actor and dancer. When she steps foot onstage, she knows that the audience is hers,” Pranian said.

Although Malijan is a driven and focused performer, she also knows how to have fun with those she works with. It is clear that she loves what she does and who she meets along the way.

“She has the most contagious energy and knows how to make an entire room of people laugh. Her energy lights up a room, and I feed off of her extroverted, charismatic personality. While she’s such a joy to work with, she’s also incredibly inspirational from the amount of time and passion she invests into theatre,” senior Emily Lim said.

Malijan’s talents don’t stop at theatre. She is also the co-vice president of Niles West’s all treble a cappella group, High Fidelity, which she’s been a part of since her freshman year. That’s when she met senior Briyanna Manzanares-Etienne. They both devote so much of their time in the choir room, which is reflected in their friendship.

“We were two out of the four of the only freshmen to make High Fidelity when we were 14 and ever since then, we’ve done nothing but grow together. We’ve been co-vice presidents together, co-presidents together and we’ve even performed such an empowering duet, so i think it’s safe to say that my favorite thing about her is that she’s always been there for me and the rest of the group through every step of the way,” Manzaneres-Etienne said.

The performing arts are no joke for Malijan. She and her mother recently took a four-day trip to New York, where she toured Pace University and New York University. She also toured the city, watched the broadway musical Funny Girl and spent time with Pranian, who is a current student at Pace University. Because New York is a big place for the arts and Malijan felt that visiting would further her knowledge of what the performing arts environment looks and feels like.

Break a leg, Therese!