My celebrity friend in Vancouver, ‘Tina Turner’

By Alex P. Vidal

“I didn’t have anybody, really, no foundation in life, so I had to make my own way. Always, from the start. I had to go out in the world and become strong, to discover my mission in life.”—Tina Turner

ONE of the most charismatic figures in the Filipino-Canadian community I interviewed in Vancouver in British Columbia, Canada in 2012 was Luisa “LUI” Marshall, host of the very popular TV talk show dubbed as “Simply The Best”—The Luisa Marshall Show.

The No. 1 talk show she co-managed with husband, Steve, was shown then every Monday at 10:30 a.m. and 9 p.m. primetime at the Shaw Mutlicultural Channel 116 in British Columbia.

Popularly known as “The Tina Turner Impersonator” in North America, including in Las Vegas and other parts of Canada where she used to regularly perform as an international singer-entertainer, Luisa, who was voted as one of the Top 25 Canadian Immigrants, also became my friend.

When I left Canada more than 10 years ago, she would continue to call me every now and then when I was in the Philippines and when I decided to settle in New York.

Of all the Tina Turner impersonators in the world, Luisa was the most respected and a towering figure, having received countless accolades and citations from various organizations in the music and entertainment industry that endorsed her music talent and intelligence.


When news was flashed in New York May 24 that Tina Turner, the pioneering Rock ‘n’ Roll star, who became a pop behemoth in the 1980s, died after a long illness, I immediately remembered Luisa.

This was what I read when I visited Luisa Marshall’s Facebook page: “MY HEART IS HEAVY AND BROKEN. I have no words right now. Just tears and sadness. I luv you so so much, Tina! May you rest in peace. You will not be forgotten. Your legacy will live on coz you are the one and only queen. OH MY GOD, you’re simply the best!!!”

Luisa’s post was accompanied by a photo of Tina Turner who actually looked like Luisa Marshall herself.

My interview with Luisa happened before January 21, 2012, the “Damayan Concert” or “Handog ng Nagkakaisang Lahi ng Filipino-Canadians sa Metro Vancouver para sa Typhoon Sendong Victims ng Iligan-Cagayan De Oro” at the Broadway Church in the City of Vancouver, where she was one of the invited world-class performers.

Luisa told me she was “honored to perform for another good cause to benefit our kababayans. I have done so much fundraising events in the past years but this one is close to my heart. I am very happy to be a part of what my friends Babes Newland, Reyfort Media and MHHS initiated.  This is a spectacular show of the collective effort of various artists, organizations, volunteers, crew and other media companies in this Filipino Canadian Community.”


One of my questions was: How do you divide your time or handle your role as TV hostess and international entertainer?

Luisa answered: “I don’t divide my time, I just don’t sleep. Hahaha! Seriously, I welcome and embrace my hectic life. I’m used to it. I enjoy it. I take it one step at a time. I determine what’s important at that moment, (and) what I have to do. The very moment that I am Luisa Marshall the TV host, my whole mind and body just switch to a different level. Sometimes it comes very easy because I write the entire show. I know what I want and I basically make it happen. I take care of the concept, guests, topics, filming schedule, location shooting, studio, editing, etc. so I have a lot on my plate. My co-producer/manager/husband Steve Marshall does all the technical editing that takes 3-4 days to complete a 30-minute TV show. During that whole gruesome part of the business, I have time to rehearse, work out, pack, get ready for my live performances. It’s not easy… there are times when my body just wants to shut down, then I decide to slow down. Sometimes I turn off my cellphone and spend my quiet moments at airports, airplanes, dressing rooms, trailers, etc. It surely helps.”

APV: Your advice to aspiring Filipino-Canadian entertainers.

LUISA: “There are so many Filipino Canadians who are so talented who want a big break in the mainstream world. Sometimes you can get lucky and sometimes it’s all a hard long climb to success. My advice is for them to acknowledge their dreams, act on their dreams, learn from the experts, practice, practice, practice, and most of all remain humble.”

The New York Times called Tina Turner, “the earthshaking singer whose rasping vocals, sexual magnetism and explosive energy made her an unforgettable live performer and one of the most successful recording artists of all time.” She died at her home in Kusnacht, Switzerland, near Zurich. She was 83.

(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two daily newspapers in Iloilo.—Ed)