International Women’s Day: Meet one of the amazing women working on Gandeys Circus

To celebrate International Women’s Day, we chatted to our fabulous crew member Omaima Debbach, from Morocco, about her experiences working and studying across the world as part of a circus family and as a young Muslim woman.  

If you think Omaima looks a little familiar… it’s probably because her dad is long-standing Gandey World Class Productions employee Said Debbach, an acrobatics coach who has worked hard behind-the-scenes of Gandeys Circus and the Chinese State Circus, keeping our cast happy on tour for a number of years.  

Father and daughter Said and Omaima Debbach

Q: Hi Omaima, can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m 21 and am on tour with Gandeys Circus in 2019, working front-of-house.  Although I’m from Morocco, I moved to Canada for the end of high school and to study at Saint Mary’s University Halifax because, as a woman, there were a lot more opportunities there, especially when it came to the education system.  

Q: What were you studying?
I was taking an undergrad in psychology with a biology and forensics minor. I was planning on pursuing a career in forensic pathology. My experience at university was fun, my university was a very diverse school so I met people from everywhere and it opened my eyes so much after going to a very close-knit community high school.

Q: So how did you end up at the circus?
I always knew about the circus from my mom and dad, and from visiting my dad, but I didn’t get involved until last summer when I came over for a summer job… and ended up staying because I liked it so much!
Omaima practising her acrobatics on the beach as a teenager
Q: What did you want to be when you were younger?
When I was younger, I wanted to be in the circus and I would practice with my dad doing acrobatics and trapeze. But I fell out of it and started focusing on other stuff, since I lived so far from him. I never thought I’d be here working now!  

Q: How was it growing up, with your dad as a circus performer and trainer?
It was amazing when I was little to brag about how my dad was in the circus but it was hard obviously never getting to see him, as we didn’t tour with him. But he trained us to do stuff ever since we were little and that was always fun.

Q: And how is it working with him now?
It’s good and bad, since circus life is so close-knit it’s hard to get away from him sometimes. But obviously I love being with him and having him around especially now we’re both older.

Omaima now works with dad Said on Gandeys Circus, currently touring the UK

Q: What do you do day-to-day on Gandeys Circus?
There’s always something to do either front-of-house or behind-the-scenes, I don’t like sitting around so I love always being involved, and working on something for the show. I love the life personally!

Q: Do you have any circus performing skills of your own?
Right now I’m still training, hopefully to get an act in the next year or so. I’m aiming for trapeze so we’ll see, obviously having my dad as a trainer is an advantage for me with that. 

Q: What do you love most about the circus?
I love the people I work with, it’s like having a giant family. I also love working for a common goal and seeing it all come together and be amazing – it makes you be proud to be part of it.

Q: How do you think the circus helps celebrate women?
Through empowerment. I think it’s very powerful to see strong women perform thrilling acts in the show and it makes you admire them, as performers who can do as much as men can, or more. I admire the women who do the management-side too, like Hayley running Gandeys - she has shown you don't need a man by your side to run a business or be a success.

Q: Why do you think International Women’s Day is so important to celebrate?
I think it’s important to celebrate women and everything they have fought for to be where they are today. It was never easy for girls, and I’m glad we have gotten to a point where we can see women as more than objects, and instead as powerful artists or performers or business women in the world.
Q: What more do you think needs to be done to improve equality?
I think we need to improve our attitude as women towards other women and stop judging each other and stand by each other more because if we tear each other down we give others more power to tear us down whereas when we support and uplift each other we can fight for equality as a team together.

Thanks Omaima! 

Gandeys Circus is currently touring the UK. Find all our tour dates and book online here.