Since 1988, The Santa Barbara Independent has enjoyed the good fortune of having Tanya Spears Guiliacci as an employee, a job the Santa Barbara native started when she was just 19 years old.
From my vantage point outside the office, Tanya is the fascia that keeps that organization together. Though her official job title is “Office Manager/Legal Advertising,” Tanya functions as a mother figure, a nurse, a security guard, a confidante, and a protector. For all you “gladiators” out there, she’s The Indy‘s Olivia Pope, the person you go to fix things.
Although she confessed to being a “fierce” yet very private person, Ms. Guiliacci agreed to answer the Proust questionnaire.
What do you like most about your job?
I love helping people and making sure their needs are well met. Working here as long as I have, it makes me feel really good to know that people can depend on me for whatever they need. I got them!
What is your most marked characteristic?
Most people know me for my voice. I sing and I would say I have a very unique laugh that is quite contagious. When you hear it, you know it’s me.
Who do you most admire?
My mother Mary, a.k.a. “Peter Gunn.” She’s strong, independent, a survivor. She raised me to be me and not what other people want me to be, and also what it means to be a woman, a proud independent woman, and to never let a man define you. You always have a voice. Use it.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Giving birth to my two daughters, Mercedes, now 22, and Nina Simone, now 20. They are truly my greatest achievements in my life. From the ages of 4 and 2, I raised my girls as a single mother. I learned an incredible lesson at that time from my mother that helped me mold my daughters into the women they are today. She told me, “Love your kids more than you hate your spouse.” Today, both girls are happy, successful — the best gifts I could have ever dreamed for.
What is your most treasured possession?
My mother and I had our first-born children at the same age. In my mother’s house, there was this huge, poster-size, old, heavy, brown wood glass frame with two pictures in it. On the top, it’s a close-up picture of my mother holding me and kissing my chin. I’m about three months old. On the bottom in the same frame, it’s a close up of me with my first born, Mercedes, and I’m looking down at her holding her in my arms. She recently gave that to me. It’s priceless.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Perfect happiness for me is to stop worrying and to know that my family will always be okay.
What is your greatest fear?
My greatest fear is losing my mother and two daughters tragically.
What is your greatest extravagance?
It would be cell phones for my two daughters and me. We love the newest and latest gadgets, yet everyone would be surprised that we don’t have iPhones.
What kind of lessons do you teach your family?
How to make homemade mac ‘n’ cheese, how to catch an insane grounder in a softball tournament, and how to never give up.
What is your current state of mind?
Sadly, it’s very stressed.
What is the quality you most like in people?
My favorite quality in people is honesty and being very funny. It’s just the way to be.
What is the quality you most dislike in people?
Mean people. It takes so much energy to be mean and nasty to someone, especially when they choose to be that way.
What do you most value in friends?
My friends are my friends. They don’t judge me, because they’re my friends. You know you have friends if they accept you the way you are.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
“I know, right?”
Which talent would you most like to have?
I always wished I could have been a portrait artist. It’s absolutely beautiful to be able to take a pencil to paper and sketch a human being.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I’m so pessimistic. I want to be more optimistic.
Where would you most like to live?
Born and raised in Santa Barbara, California, this is where I would like to stay.
Who makes you laugh the most?
Chris Rock, Katt Williams, and my children. Seriously, I have to do double takes with the things my kids say, their stories, impressions. It never stops and it’s never boring.
What is your motto?
“Live your life now. You can rest when you die.”