‘I don’t have to carry it around à la Gwyneth Paltrow’: Julia Zemiro on what’s most useful

Lifestyle

For 14 seasons, Julia Zemiro hosted the SBS music trivia show RocKwiz. In the notoriously fickle land of television, it was one hell of an innings.

RocKwiz eventually hung up its hat in 2016 but Zemiro is still a regular on our screens. Today, the French-born talent helms Julia Zemiro’s Home Delivery for the ABC, where she escorts local celebs like Celeste Barber and Yael Stone on trips back to their hometowns. And on Saturday 5 June, Zemiro will return to SBS to co-host Australia’s Biggest Singalong, a special event set to put community choirs like the Gondwana Indigenous Children’s Choir in the spotlight.

Her TV hosting gigs take her around the country and no matter where she’s headed, Zemiro always packs one thing: a yoga mat, which helps her stay centred on the road. Here, she tells us about the soothing properties of that bright orange mat, as well as the story of two other very important belongings.

What I’d save from my house in a fire
It has to be hard copy photo albums from my childhood. I know that seems obvious, but I haven’t scanned them into any cloud yet.

In a way, though, it’s the glossy cardboard or sometimes matte paper feel of them that I love. I was born in 1967, and now in 2021, these photos really feel like little artefacts. Some of the photos have scalloped edges, time and date stamps. Of course they’re both colour and black and white.

My family and I came on a boat from France in 1970, so the pictorial changes between rural Provence, Maryborough in Queensland and Sydney are fascinating.

My most useful object
No matter where I am – backstage in a dressing room, overnight in a hotel, a friend’s place staying over, even corporate gigs – there is something comforting about unfurling my yoga mat.

I wouldn’t say I have a 30-minute practice that I do every day, but there is something so grounding about stretching on that mat when I am tense before a show, or feeling lonely away from home. To sit and to breathe are two of the most generous acts you can do for yourself.

The mat is really thin and easy to fold into a suitcase too, so I don’t have to carry it around à la Gwyneth Paltrow hoiked on my shoulder, swanning through an airport. It’s also bright orange, which I love.

The item I most regret losing
An Olympus SLR camera. It was my Dad’s, he lent it to me in 1980 and it sort of became mine. I was obsessed with it, I took it everywhere. It was heavy and chunky but I loved it.

I never graduated to developing my own film, but I loved experimenting with light, outdoors, indoors, fashion shoots with friends and I took lots of ‘selfies’ facing the mirror. I think it was an exploration of wanting to see what I looked like, but without having to smile. And with 35mm rolls of film, anything could happen.

Then I took it on a tour where I was performing Shakespeare in high schools and I just… lost it. I would so love that camera now.