GREG KRITIKOS INTERVIEW

Interview by Vassilios Nicolaos Vitsilogiannis

(IG: @vassiliosvitsilogiannis)

Greg Kritikos was born in Athens, Greece and raised in Astoria, Queens. He is a producer, comedian, actor, voice-over artist, and creator. An event-–producing machine, his energy and creativity know no limits. His mannerisms and stage presence have often drawn comparisons to those of his idol-–the late, great Jackie Gleason. He channels his past through his comedy, making light of the darkest chapters of his life battling poverty, addiction, and obesity. His material is based on real-life— turning personal tragedy into comedy. Audiences of all types embrace his act. No matter the venue, or size of the crowd, his goal is to make sure everyone in the room leaves with a smile on their face. He is eager to greet his fans after every show, posing for pictures and signing autographs. He embraces his second chance at life with a smile. “Everybody dies, but not everybody lives. I like to laugh with life, not at life.” Greg’s comedy has taken him all over the United States— with stops in Oregon, Idaho, Ohio, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Florida, and Delaware. He lives and loves to entertain the masses. 

At what age did you feel acting was your way of expression? Were your parents supportive of this?

As a child I always enjoyed entertainment. In Greece, we were poor and did not have a television. My father would take a sheet, pin it in a doorway, and add some candles behind it, and there you go! Movie Magic. It was a screen. He would play with hand puppets (Karagiozi) I was mesmerized! I was also in a school play where I played the Sky God and got a taste of theatre. My parents were not supportive, unfortunately. Things were tough. Especially after my mom was hit by a drunken driver and left her handicapped. I was 12 years old. 

Why did you choose comedy and what type of comedy do you perform?

 I didn’t choose anything comedy chose me. After losing everything in my life, due to alcoholism, drugs, obesity and depression, I decided to go after my dream. It was my calling. My comedy is based on my hardships in life. Comedy comes from pain and I channel all my pain through comedy. People love to laugh at others’ pain. Such is life. 

What motivates you and how this makes you a better person?

Being sober and in sobriety has given me a whole new meaning in life. Helping others achieve their goals really motivates me. 

Was life hard on you?

Life is tough. I grew up in a totally different environment. I was taken out of my comfort zone at a young age. Coming to the United States in the 70’s and moving to a tough Irish, Italian, German neighborhood and not being excepted made it very challenging. 

Does life experience have influenced your personal and professional life?

Absolutely! My experiences have made me who I am and what I’m about. My hardships are my foundation and have made me build and continuously keep building upward toward my goals. 

How important is family for you?

Family is extremely important. Unfortunately, I’ve lost my parents recently. I have a son that’s a graduate of Hunter College and I keep in touch with him as much as possible. I’m also happily divorced. 

Does friendship have a positive or negative denominator in your life?

Communication in life is extremely important. Conversing with my friends, and having them in my life is priceless. 

Do you have any hobbies?

Shooting pool, horseback riding and love watching movies. Mostly bike riding and walking are some things I love doing. 

What are some collaborations you remember wistfully?

As a young adult, I played a lot of organized sports. I was a quarterback and really enjoyed football.  My father was a professional soccer player also. I miss playing sports.

What are some of your future projects and the great collaborations youre doing with?

Working as a producer is a wonderful challenge for me. Being in the creative industry is something that I truly love. I’ve created a cartoon called “The Witless Protection Program” working with Mike Rockwitz from Marvel Comics has truly been a blessing for me. He was the youngest editor to work with Stan Lee and him and I are doing the voiceovers for the characters I’ve created. In the movie industry, I’ve recently worked with Kelly LeBrock and Burt Young in the movie I wrote and produced called “Tomorrow’s Today” which is on Amazon Prime and streaming all over now. I’m also working with James Orfanos and Teddy Orfanos in a new production called “Crooked” I’m always looking to work with great talent. I enjoy doing what I do as a comedian I’ve shared the stage with Tracy Morgan, Charles Murphy at the Bing Crosby Theater and have headlined in some of the biggest venues in New York. I’m truly blessed and living my dream. I’ve hit rock bottom in my life and today I’m blessed. 

MICHEL ADAM INTERVIEW

Interview by Vassilios Nicolaos Vitsilogiannis

(IG: @vassiliosvitsilogiannis)

Michel Adam Lisowski is an Austrian businessman and successful entrepreneur. He spent his high school years in Vienna and was granted a scholarship for Mathematics at Princeton University. Fashion was always his passion: In the early 80s, he started his first fashion business, operating a big factory producing his own brand of clothes for a big retail chain. During his time in Paris, he founded FashionTV in 1997. Today, FashionTV is a multi-media platform offering a 24/7 review of global fashion, beauty, and lifestyle. 

Today, Michel Adam is the president and CEO of the global 24/7 television network FashionTV. The company has become one of the most widely distributed satellite channels in the world: 31 satellite and 2,000 cable systems, with a total of 500 million households in 192 countries across the five continents. FashionTV is a multi-media platform, which includes TV channel, app, OTT and SVOD services, worldwide that provides glamorous entertainment with an emphasis on the latest fashion trends. 

Have you achieved as much as you thought as a child today? Do you have sweet reminiscences of your childhood years? 

I always dreamed big. My ability of strategic thinking helped me to build several big companies. On the other hand, I always enjoyed what I was doing. During my high school years in Vienna, I spent a lot of time with my friends. Many of them had an international background like me. 

If I would ask you to change everything in your life and create a new one what would that be? 

I would do everything the same way again. 

How important is family for you and what role has it played in your life? 

Family is very important to me. I grew up with my mother, who always supported me, and my brother. Now, I’m a proud father of four children. My family is the center of my life, even if I’m far away travelling.  

You are the founder and owner of Fashion TV. Have you thought of expanding your businesses in other areas too? 

Yes! And we did. FashionTV is more than a TV channel. FashionTV has its own fashion brand, in collaboration with action hero Jean-Claude Van Damme as well as F beverages such as F Vodka, F Prosecco, Fashion water and energy drinks and several franchise businesses like F parties, F bars, F clubs, F beauty salons and F hotels. We recently opened a fashion club in Poland, the “Fashion House”. 

Can you tell us a few things about Fashion TV? 

FashionTV provides access to the latest & hottest fashion trends. The globetrotting and international audiences associate the channel with luxury locations, hotels & high-class venues. It is the only TV equivalent to thousands of various fashion magazines and appeals to everyone who is interested in fashion, design, lifestyle & latest beauty trends. FTV’s unique mix in production and distribution, innovative technology and distribution give the viewers a VIP access to the best available quality. 

FashionTV is available in SD, HD and UHD and can be received through satellite, IP or mobile application. The F+ multi-content platform features 12 visually stunning streams with all types of themes such as Fashion weeks, Swimwear, Models, Designers, Bridal, Hair and Makeup, Fashion Men and more. The F+ app is available on the web, Apple Store, Google Play, Apple TV, Android TV, Amazon TV, Roku and on many OTT platforms. 

Is there fashion today and how do you see it through your own eyes? 

Fashion is my passion! We express ourselves through fashion. It’s non-verbal communication that is internationally understood. Fashion is art for the eyes and my biggest incentive for most of my businesses.  

This year Fashion TV turns 25. What are some of the big events you have created around the world? 

FashionTV events were attended by international top models, star designers and celebrities from all around the world like Jean-Claude Van Damme, Ivanka Trump, Roberto Cavalli or Flavio Briatore.  We just had the glamorous World’s excellence gala in Athens, Greece at the foot of the acropolis with FashionTV singer Ania J. Hundreds of VIP guests attended the gala which was displayed on huge video walls next to the historical sight.  

What was your motivation to write and produce the film “Exodus to Shanghai”? 

The project was quite a long time in my mind. I wanted to honor the Jewish people who escaped the Holocaust. A Chinese Consul called Dr. Ho helped thousands of Jews by issuing exit visas to Shanghai. The idea was to create a movie that is entertaining and honoring at the same time. “Exodus to Shanghai” premiered in 2016 at the Berlinale in Germany and was a huge success. 

What’s your life motto? 

Everything is possible!

ZOZO SAPOUNTZAKI INTERVIEW

Interview: Vassilios Nicolaos Vitsilogiannis

(IG: @vassiliosvitsilogiannis)

Zozo Sapountzaki was born in Salonica, Greece and studied drama and music at the Musical Theatre School. She first appeared on stage as a child, along with her sister Vaso, as the Sapountzaki baby sisters (ta Sapountzakia). She bloomed into what can only be called a brunette bombshell and appeared in musicals, comedies, vaudeville and burlesque not only in Greece but all around Europe, the Middle East and the U.S. At one point, in the late 1950s, she appeared in Las Vegas where the local press dubbed her toast of the town. Her film career included mostly comedies and musicals and some costume dramas. Her celebrated legs were always the focal point in most of her movies. Zozo is still going strong even today, making appearances in talk shows and music halls in Athens.

If I would ask you to remember your childhood years in Thessaloniki, what would you recall as easy or difficult ones?

They were the most beautiful years of my life. My childhood was very nice.  We lived in the center of Thessaloniki. Right across from my house, there was TITANIA cinema, where I used to go and watch the films with the famous actors of that period. At the door, there was a clerk who worked at the cinema and he would let me enter for free in order to watch the films. Afterward, I ran home and did what exactly I had seen in front of the mirror, impersonating the protagonist.  

Who was the person who discovered you and saw in you this innate talent?

At the corner, across from my parental house, Giannis Dalianidis lived and he used to gather his friends to read them poetry. And we would go, my sister and I, he set two small chairs for us and we would sit and listen to Dalianidis recite. It was a very nice moment. I owe him my debut. He would come home and say to my father “Socrates, the child has talent”.  He took me and my sister to meet Paraskevas Economou, a great teacher and actor. After a while, my sister Vaso left and I was left alone. Dalianidis taught us dancing, he was telling my sister Vaso that she had very nice legs and I was angry and I was telling him about my legs if they were nice too. 

Do you love theatre more than cinema and television?

I mostly loved theater. I also loved cinema, however not with as much enthusiasm which is why I participated in very few films. Theater for me was my number one choice, and gave emphasis to theatrical performances. Another big love was being on stage and did my acts at the big music halls (bouzoukia).

Your impressive performance and outfits on the stage at the Greek music halls led people to give you the title of ‘The Queen of the Night’. What made you abandon the idea of performing at the big music halls in Greece and leave for the States?

The person who baptized me ‘The Queen of the Night’ was Maroudas.  And this title followed me and follows me until today. To tell you the truth, I like it as a title. But the reason I left for The States was purely out of stubbornness. I was with a famous gentleman and his ex-wife wasn’t giving him a divorce, so I got upset and got up and left. In the States, I had a great time. I enjoyed some great joy, I sang without knowing the language where people were looking at me quizzically. I would also jolt down some words and I would go on stage and sing them at night. I had a great career in the States and when I returned to Greece I was wondering if I had made the right choice. At that time, I remember Skouras contacted me to shoot a film in the States, but I told him I was leaving for Greece. When I returned to Greece, at first, I regretted it, but when I saw how much people loved me and I started to work then I let it go.

You have worked with many of the famous Greek actors, which of these collaborations do you reminisce about? 

I have worked very much with Nikos Stavridis, he was a great actor and this was important as a collaboration. I have also worked with several others, who were great actors and I am very happy to have worked with them. With Kostas Voutsas, we were very much loved, I had shot films with him, but also as a person he was amazing. I have worked with Martha Karagianni and I was very devasted by her passing. She was an amazing actress but also a great human being. But she didn’t pay attention to her health to the fullest.

Are you good at managing your finances or are you a big spender?

I’m not good at my finances, I might get the money and spend it within the first hour and then I don’t have money at all. I’m a big-time spender and not good at managing it. I have not regretted it, because I think for my work it is the best. I was giving my money to be well dressed so that I could do my acts on stage every time I worked at a new music hall. 

Is there something with hindsight you miss from the past? Is there something you wanted but couldn’t achieve?

I do not regret anything. If you ask me why I didn’t have a child, well I haven’t regretted it. When I was pregnant, I continued acting and dancing and my mother asked me why do you do this, it will have an impact on your pregnancy. And the child was lost. After that I never thought again about having a child, I was very upset but I forgot about it. I like traveling and I continued it with my partner and we still love travelling abroad. The love of the world gives me life. Every time I go out with friends, I see people who want to talk to and greet me. That’s what I like. I don’t bother anyone, I don’t gossip about anyone, I mind my own business, I like to decorate my house, and I cook.

Love, affection and companionship are the three emotions that make a person happy. How important do they play in your life?

There were also misfortunes where things came in my way. I won’t marry again, because I’ve been married twice. I’m having a great time with my life partner, as we’re having a great time doing things together.

What title would you put to describe your life?

I don’t know what title I would put to describe my life-I don’t know what to say about myself. Maybe the title ‘Zozo is for everything’. Because Zozo was loved, Zozo loves, Zozo takes care of herself and Zozo continues to live, she continues to spend money. I find all this fair enough. 

What would you like to share with all the Greeks who love and admire you around the world?

Despite the hardships they went through in the end, they won and continue to do well wherever they are. Also, they must continue to support and remember their homeland.

DIANE PERNET INTERVIEW

Interview by Vassilios Nicolaos Vitsilogiannis

(IG: @vassiliosvitsilogiannis)

Diane Pernet is a Paris-based American-born international fashion blogger, critic and founder of the international ASVOFF (A Shaded View on Fashion Film) festival. 

She became a New York City fashion designer in the 1980s and she maintained a label of her own for 13 years. She relocated to Paris in the 1990s where she got her first job as a costume designer for director Amos Gitai and his film Golem, l’Esprit d’Exile. Pernet also worked for the CBC’s Fashion File which led to an appointment at Hong Kong Joyce Magazine, where she was the fashion editor for five years. 

In the late ’90s, Diane took on a “Dr. Diane” fashion-advice column at ELLE. 

Her brainchild ASVOFF showcased for the first time in September 2008, with fashion films as a centerpiece and from that point it developed into a yearly travelling international event with satellite conferences, performances and exhibitions. 

Recently, she commenced a collaboration with a Greek film director Konstantinos Menelaou. 

What forms of art do you admire and how do you define art?

My appreciation for art is quite diverse. Most recently I was moved by The Sleeping Chapter by a young French artist, Théo Mercier has often been called the Prince of Contemporary Art. His exhibition is currently at la Conciergerie in Paris. Imagine for a moment that Théo Mercier spent the last five weeks practically living in la Conciergerie working with tons of sand and creating this dreamscape, all that work can never be moved to another space, it is made from sand so when the exhibition is over, in a truly eco-friendly way, the sand will be returned to where it came from, and all this magic will just disappear.

For me what counts the most is that the artwork passes an emotion, makes me think, it could be disturbing like Anish Kapoor’s blood paintings. The blood-red installations could evoke nightmares, but the thing is they do evoke something visceral. 

Johan Creten is a Flemish sculptor based in Paris that works a lot with ceramics and bronze. His pieces are sensual and often sexual; recently, many are dusted with gold. I like photographers such as Daido Moriyama, I consider photography like art and appreciate his sensual, haunting night photography.

What’s your source of inspiration?

Nothing and everything. I love feeding on art exhibitions, films and life in general.

As a former fashion designer do you believe that fashion plays an important role in our lives? Do we all have our distinctive style? 

I think even the most ‘non-fashion’ person puts consideration into what they wear. I remember living with an old boyfriend ages ago, he was an artist and a photographer and totally against fashion thinking it was very superficial, yet he took great care in what he wore even if it was almost like an institutional workwear. So, I think fashion plays an important role in our lives. Some dress in labels to show the inside of their wallets and some dress to belong to a tribe like for instance the tribe of Rick Owens or Demna. Some, and they are very few, have their own distinctive style and at this point, one must define the difference between fashion and style in the most basic of terms. As I see it one buys fashion, and it has a sellout date, but style is forever and doesn’t necessarily have to cost much.

You have an individualistic style, is this your genuine personality and what each piece of your ensemble represents?

I don’t know that I give a meaning to every article I wear but yes, it expresses my personality and if I must give a meaning it is to instill a bit of distance. On the one hand I am very warm and open as a person but by wearing dark glasses and a veil I am not encouraging people to come too close. Not at all into hugging but more Japanese in the sense that warmth is not necessarily expressed by the distance between two people. I rather liked the fact that during COVID there was no kissing or hugging. I mean save that for the ones you are really close to not for the public.

What’s the uniqueness of documentary filmmaking in comparison with the other genres of filmmaking?

I’ve always felt that life is stranger than fiction. Look at the world right now, Stanley Kubrick could not have created anything even close to Donald Trump, Dr. Strangelove was nothing compared to the surrealism in his public life. In the current edition of ASVOFF we are focusing on interesting documentaries like Bruce Weber on the Italian photographer Paolo di Paolo who took the most amazing reportage photographs but when the newspaper he worked for closed he did not lift his camera for 50 years and his own daughter had no idea what a brilliant photographer her father was. At the age of 95 when he’d not taken photos for 50 years Pier Paolo from Valentino contacted him to take backstage photos at his couture show and the story of his life was told in a poetic and emotionally moving way. More than ever I think people born around the 90’s have a hunger for what went on before them and that has been captured in films like Kingdom of Dreams Part one and two which cover the golden years of fashion, or a documentary on Azzedine Alaia A French Couturier by Olivier Nicklaus or a film on Sisters with Transistors tracing the women in electronic music through the ages or a film on Guy Bourdin the epic photographer are all really immersive and it is like reading an autobiography of someone you admire but set to emotion and with the elements of the image and sound a personal entry into a world that you would not ordinarily be prive too.

What made you take the decision to leave New York City for Paris? How open did you find Paris?

New York in the end of 1990 was like Blade Runner in the worst of ways, 80% of my neighborhood was dead or dying from AIDS, the homeless situation was out of control, drugs were rampant as was crime and as a fashion designer, which is what I was at that time, this just was not inspiring. I thought about leaving for at least 4 years before I took the leap across the ocean with no strategy and no plan other than I could not stand living in New York anymore. As for Paris being open…absolutely not. In New York, the NYC that I knew, we embraced foreigners, in Paris, they repel them. It was tough the first three years, but I was determined to stick it out. Thirty-two years later I am still here.

What is the story behind the creation of ASVOFF and its merging forms of art?

I studied film, that is what I got my degree in all those decades ago, I had my own brand as a fashion designer in New York for 13 years and in between I worked a little bit as a costume designer for films and understood that there was a fear of fashion for most directors and by putting together ASVOFF, the first festival actually was in 2006 and it was called You Wear it Well, I wanted to show how one supports the other so in a way it was joining a circle, a circle that was my life experience. I like to support fashion designers and filmmakers but more than anything what ASVOFF really is, it is a cultural event: fashion, culture, film. It is not about advertising or celebrity, it is about creation.

Do you think that new talents  find it difficult to emerge today?

Not any more than before in fact with social media it is much easier to be present no matter where you live.

What are some of your collaborations that you’re proud of?

By collaborations you mean people involved in ASVOFF? I loved paying tribute to Alejandro Jodorowsky, that was a dream come true, same for William Klein, I am happy to say I gave the talented Woodkid his first concert in Paris and look at him now. Seven years at Centre Pompidou was a most gratifying experience and now for the past two years with Adrian Joffe at 35/37 the cultural arm of Comme des Garcons has been a joy. I’ve had wonderful presidents like Jean Paul Gaultier, Dries Van Noten, Rick Owens, Michele Lamy, ORLAN, and now with Caroline de Maigret and my President of Honor Jean Charles de Castelbajac. We will pay tribute to him this year for the volume of work he has contributed to in the fields of art, fashion, and design. 

Can you disclose some of your future plans?

A documentary is about to begin…let’s see where that goes, Konstantinos Menelaou, a film director living in Athens has been working on getting this off the ground. If anyone out there is interested in investing in this project, do let your voices be heard…We are starting a membership to ASVOFF via the creation of a limited number of NFT’s. With every edition of ASVOFF we expand a little more. This edition there are 6 external curators. I give a theme and choose the curator for that theme and then the rest is up to them to choose their own jury and curate the films in their individual categories. We are looking forward to doing something in Japan next May and who knows what else is in store…just keep going forward as long as I can.

Photo credits of Ruven Afanador, Christian Tarro Toma & ASVOFF

MARY CHRONOPOULOU INTERVIEW

Interview by Vassilios Nicolaos Vitsilogiannis

(IG: @vassiliosvitsilogiannis)

Mary Chronopoulou is a Greek actress. She made her stage debut in 1953 as a member of the chorus in Euripides “Hippolytus”. She was one of the most popular actresses and had a fruitful career in the 1960s. She played a wide variety of parts in comedies, musicals, melodramas and film noirs; and she starred in many films, sixteen of which were produced by Finos Film company. She is one of the main protagonists of Greek theater. 

What was it that enchanted you to follow acting?

Nothing! I didn’t want to go down the road of acting at all. I wasn’t interested. Fate brought acting in my way. I didn’t want to be an actor, I haven’t studied at Drama School. Of course, this comforts me because neither Manos Katrakis, nor Elli Lampeti, nor Katina Paxinou have studied at the Drama School.

Were you one of the children who wanted to get away from the constraints of the family and lead their own path?

I was a very oppressed child, and my greatest desire was to get away from it.  At the age of 28, when I started making enough money, I bought my own car, my own house, and then I became independent. 

Do you consider yourself lucky?

I wasn’t lucky on all levels. I believe that God gave me a lot of luck in some things, he gave me a career, success and money. I traveled all over the world; I experienced personal joys; I had a happy personal life and then I paid my price. I believe that we all pay our price somehow. I was paralyzed for 20 years.

Do you regret for some collaborations you made and which ones do you remember fondly?

I do not regret for any collaboration.  From every collaboration, you get something negative or positive, you gain experiences that you remember with love.  These are the films I made with the father who abandoned me and the brother I didn’t have and that was Nikos Kourkoulos and I remember all my work with him, theatrical and cinematic. I also remember the very nice films,  three black and white, that I made with Kostas Kazakos. 

Were there any events in your life that made you change the way you think and your approach toward things?

You bet I did. That’s the case! Time runs fast and we know it. So, we grow up differently in our 20s, in our 30s, and in our 40s. Maturity changes our way of thinking.

How important is friendship in your life?

The most important of all, and I have said it before that in the stock market of life I have invested in the best stock which is friendship. I am flooded with friends, thank God, dear friends. I believe that our parents will leave before us inevitably, if we have children, they will grow up and leave to continue their lives, love ends at some point. What’s left is our friends until the end of our lives.

By looking at you, someone sees a dynamic woman, to what extent have the men who loved you been able to see your doting and sensitive personality?

Some did it, others didn’t, but my image didn’t stop them from approaching me. Oh, not everyone was able to read what I was feeling. Not everyone was able to understand me.

Which of the three types of acting did you enjoy playing, cinema, theatre or television?

CINEMA! The theatre is an interesting job, but the rehearsals, the general rehearsal, which ends at six in the morning, the premiere, then the official premiere, after the 20 days of performances I start to get bored, I want to kill myself. I don’t enjoy to play the same play every night. While cinema has had so many changes of scenes and that’s why I loved it more in my life.

How do you see Greek productions today compared to those of the past?

I think the financial rewards are better today. There are people who take good care of you, such as stylists, to bring you the clothes, while in the old days we bought our clothes.  Today, they get better money.  Cinema has good times today, but I think there were better ones in the past. The film companies did not make cultural films that ordinary people could not understand, but cinema had a feeling in the past and that’s why classic films are loved and seen by young generations even today.

What would you wish for Mary?

I wish a happy ending, not suffering. I was jealous of a colleague Martha Karagianni who passed away abruptly, had a happy ending. I don’t want to be connected to the machines in the hospital. Also, I don’t like my friends to leave this world before me, I won’t stand it. 

In conclusion, I would like to thank you and say that you are a kind person and this kindness that you possess makes the interviewer feel more comfortable. Thank you.

I want to say something about kindness. The pope had said that just two words ‘please’ and  ‘welcome’ make human relations much better. Thank you for the interview.

ZOYA TSOPEI IBRAHIM INTERVIEW

Interview by Vassilios Nicolaos Vitsilogiannis

(IG: @vassiliosvitsilogiannis)

Zoya Tsopei (marital name Zoya Ibrahim) is a Greek-Latvian Singer, Fashion Model and Actress. She was born November 02, 1999 in Athens, Greece. She graduated from The National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. Her career started on December 20, 2020 at Universal Music Group. Her repertoire includes 38 songs and 2 studio albums.

She acted in “The Fairy” in 2011 and “The Queen” in 2006. She received many titles and awards such as The Pop Queen of Latvia 2021 & 2022, Miss Rose of Latvia 2018 and The Most Listened Radio Artist of Latvia 2022.

She is married to Sheikh Ibrahim, an entrepreneur millionaire from Dubai, on the 15th of October, 2017. She has two daughters named Miara Ibrahim and Zoyah Ibrahim. Zoya’s favorite hobby is horse riding and her passion is charity.

Actress, singer and fashion model. Where are all these come from? What was your need to express yourself through that?

Acting, singing and modeling are in my blood. A gift from my parents and genes.

Define your music genre.

Basically, my genre is Pop & Dance Electronic but I have some Hip/Hop songs too.

Are there any specific experiences that have shaped your music?

I didn’t take music classes. The first two songs were difficult to sing, but now I can sing-record any song in one take.

Is there quality in music today?

It depends on the lyrics and the artists. In some areas, there is quality in music; in some areas, there is not. Classic music is the best.

What are some collaborations you are proud of or some you would like to do in the future?

I love my work I did with UMG. Two of my songs are still in the top 10 radio Pop songs foralmost two years.

Do you think working in the public eye, especially in such a competitive industry like the music industry, have made a lot of personal sacrifices to make it through?

If you are good at what you do you can achieve it. It is not much difficult to achieve a good reputation in the music industry if you have a passion to do something and if you are right and doing everything with full energy.

Are you more interested in acting or singing?

Acting is my hobby. I am interested in singing, but I have been out of the industry since 2021. I love to do charity work the most.

Do you like promoting your music on digital platforms and social media and how much do they help an artist to succeed in notoriety?

Social media and streaming services help a lot to gain fame in a short time.

Describe to us your typical day.

I sleep at 22:00 and get up at 03:30. I take a shower and from 04:00 to 06:00 I do my prayers. From 07:00 to 08:00 I have breakfast. From 08:00 to 09:00 I exercise and after 09:00 a lot of meetings, recordings, conferences, etc.

Youre still a young artist and you will never stop dreaming so, what are some of your future plans?

I have to get much more than I expected. When I was young, I had fame as a Star Kid/Celebrity Kid. Then I joined acting, modeling and singing. I was Miss Rose of Latvia 2018 and Pop Queen of Latvia 2021 & 2022. It was a good journey from Star Kid to Pop Star Queen. I am not in the industry now as I am trying to spend time with my daughters and family. For now and for the future my full focus is given to charity. To enhance my NGOs and to help needy people as much as possible.

VOULA PATOULIDOU INTERVIEW

Interview by Vassilios Nicolaos Vitsilogiannis

(IG: @vassiliosvitsilogiannis)

Voula Patoulidou is a Greek former athlete. Throughout her athletics career competed in the 100 meters, 100 meters hurdles and in the long jump events. In 1992 she was the first Greek woman ever to reach a track final of the women’s 100 meters hurdle at the Olympic Games in Barcelona. After her win and some years later, she decided to withdraw from the athletics and dedicate her time to politics. 

Her wax figure was made in 2012 and she herself kindly donated her tracksuit for the creation. 

It is a great pleasure and honor to do this interview with you for the Greek Diaspora. You are the first female gold medalist in modern Greece. How did you get involved in sports?

Once you have tasted the victory you want to try it more. I tasted my first victory at a school competition where the prize was a loukoumi delight. Yes, a loukoumi delight and with such a prize it was fatal to get involved in sports. No matter how childish or funny it sounds, the “prize” excited me! When I left with my parents for Germany, the coaches saw a child with prospects and enthusiasm for sports in me.

What were Voula’s Patoulidou dreams as a teenager and to what extent were they realized in the course of her life?

From the moment I entered sports, I gave my heart to it. I started with small teenage dreams, like the ones that children do, and every day that passed, I had a new dream come true. I feel weak every time I try to conquer new lands and reach the top but I don’t stop…I haven’t learned otherwise.  It is a one-way street. There it seems who can bear to collide, who can bear to lose, fall and find the courage to get up and continue? Victories are not given freely. They are won with too much effort. Great victories are deeply “rooted” in each one of us, our needs.  If you want to be mediocre, it is your choice, but since you decide on mediocrity, do not envy the others who will fall into the fire to succeed.

How difficult is it for an athlete to get involved in a championship when one has to fight in the stadium and an inner race with oneself?

Imagine a big circle. All athletes are in the circle. Also, there is a smaller circle, where you will meet athletes with talent. In an even smaller circle, you will find the champions. They are the ones who took their talent and gave shape to it. No victory, either big or small, is easy or intentional. You achieve it step by step. You make sacrifices. You fight battles in the sports field but also with ourself who is the strongest opponent. The time comes when you hear an inner voice saying…”now it’s your time!”

On August 6, 1992, you won the gold medal for Greece in the 100 m finals at the Olympic Games in Barcelona. Your phrase “for Greece damn it” shows a spontaneous person. Have you ever regretted your sincerity and to what extent do you see this as an asset to other people?

I have no regrets about my spontaneity. That’s how I am and I don’t intend to be someone else to be liked. What we achieve in our lives is an integral part of our personality. My spontaneity and impulsiveness gave me a boost many times in my life. It was as if I had two invisible coaches next to me yelling at me “Hurry Up!”

I believe those who I meet and classify as honest people have quality and intelligence.

Do you believe that Greek athletes, at major events such as the Olympic Games, have the appropriate support, of all kinds, from the Greek government?

And a hundred years old to be, I will be an athlete. As an athlete, I will always want the best and the most! Greek athletes are not alone and have the support of the government. We are a country that has had difficult times. Pandemic, memoranda and now the effects of the war. And yet! We succeed, and we excel.

The vote of the people strongly declares their respect for your face, but also their love for you. What do the people love about you, and what do they expect from you?

I never sat down to analyze where people’s love comes from. You don’t put love under the microscope. We all need love and give love. I enjoy and like to be loved as the sun on my face on a cold winter morning. But it also acts as a commitment to my work and the effort I make. I want other people to see that I honor the love and respect they show me.

Let’s turn to the next chapter-your family. What are your husband and son for you?

When I touch their chests, they are the people who hear my heart.

Your big bet is tourism. How could you combine tourism and the sustainable development of your region?

The sustainable development of Thessaloniki is an integral part of its tourism. All the competent bodies are working in this direction. My dual role as Deputy Regional Governor of the Metropolitan Unit of Thessaloniki and as a President of the Thessaloniki Tourism Organization gives me the necessary tools in order to establish practices that will work in favor of the destination. Our country has formed a sustainable development model of tourism governance based on Human Capital, Balanced Regional Development and anything that constitutes a Comparative Advantage for the destination, spearheaded of course by Quality and Authenticity in the approach of visitors-travelers.

As Deputy Regional Governor of the metropolitan unit of Thessaloniki, what are the future plans for the development of the area, and to what extent is there a good understanding with the central administration and the stakeholders involved in the implementation of the program? 

In the Regional Unit, I manage the “Metropolitan Thessaloniki”. This is the Sustainable Urban Development Strategy in which eight municipalities of Thessaloniki are included and our goal is to include all 14 in the near future. With this program, citizens see projects being implemented by reforming areas and neighborhoods of the city. Since 2018, when I took over its management, 116 projects have been included. Green projects, actions for the protection of the environment such as the supply of electric cars, actions to strengthen civil protection and social programs aimed at vulnerable groups.

How easy or difficult is it to persuade the relevant entities to believe in your dream so it can be realized?

When we were planning this program, at the outset, there were a number of reservations about whether it could be implemented correctly and on time. It was the first time that the two levels of self-government were called upon to cooperate and co-formulate a plan that concerns at the same time eight Municipalities of the Metropolitan Unit of Thessaloniki. And we were called upon to work together not individually, but on a specific project. The mayors of Thessaloniki were insightful and immediately realized the advantages of this project.

Before we conclude this interview, I would like you to say a few words addressing to the Diaspora.

Whatever soil we step on in Greece, we have it in our hearts. We all fight together as Greek patriots for the country and Hellenism. As long as you exist, I will feel that I always return home…wherever I find myself.

STELIOS KERASIDIS INTERVIEW

Interview by Vassilios Nicolaos Vitsilogiannis

(@vassiliosvitsilogiannis)

Stelios Kerasidis was born in Athens in 2012 to Fotis and Agathe Kerasidis, both pianists who now teach him. Stelios first performed in public at the age of three. Stelios says his favourite pianist is the late Canadian Glenn Gould, best known for his technically demanding renditions of Bach variations. Stelios has shown a flare for composing. His two earlier works were written for his sisters, Veronica and Anastasia, and like “Isolation Waltz”, were met with critical acclaim.

He will receive the Giuseppe Sciacca International Award for Music 2022.

Hello Stelios! Please tell me what would be your answer to my question that you are too young to play piano professionally.

The truth is that despite what I have achieved, I do not feel like a professional. I am a kid who loves music and with many hours of practice and perseverance, I try to reach a high level. I’m glad people love my music and come to my concerts!

What influenced you to practice music and specifically the

piano? Were you influenced by watching your father play the piano or did you find your own way to express your emotions?

Certainly, the fact that I was listening and watching my father playing the piano made me want to explore this instrument. I loved the sounds he was making and it definitely helped me that my father was by my side every step of the way. Today, I have my own way of expression and my own music which expresses my own feelings and concerns.

What made you compose “The Waltz of Isolation”?

The quarantine period was difficult and hard for everyone. I felt the need to compose a melody that I would dedicate to those who lost their loved ones to give them a little courage and strength. I didn’t even imagine that my music would travel around the world.

Do you remember at what age you wrote your first composition?

Yes of course! My first piece was Veronica which I dedicated to my big sister when I was 6 years old!

What is the process you follow to compose a piece?

I just think about things and situations that I love or on the other hand, anything that troubles or saddens me, and then I sit down and make melodies with the corresponding images on the piano. Sometimes, they come out easily sometimes not so easily.

You have given recitals to places that are of cultural heritage but also of unsurmountable value. How do you feel about this?

I am in awe. It is the most important for me of all to play in such places, especially in places with history and culture. The memories from the evening at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus and the columns of Olympian Zeus will accompany me for the rest of my life.

Which artists do you admire the most and would you like to collaborate with at some point?

I admire Bach and Chopin, but collaborating with them now seems a bit difficult (laughs)!

We know that a pianist needs several hours of study. Do you have time

to engage in your hobbies?

Of course, I have time to play, do my homework, watch movies, play sports and generally do what a child of my age would do. I study piano no more than one to two hours a day.

You have received several awards and the international media have featured you widely. I know you are at an early age and if I asked you what are your future plans you would tell me that you are too young, but tell me what makes you happy and content?

I am mostly happy with music, my friends and of course with my family. Also, the world with its love and support makes me swell with pride!

What would be the three wishes you would make if you had a magic lamp?

Firstly, I would wish for not any child to starve in the world.

Secondly, I would put a piano everywhere in every school and every home and every conservatory!

Thirdly, I would vanish the winter so we would have summer all year round. (laughs)

https://www.youtube.com/c/SteliosKerasidispiano

https://www.instagram.com/stelioskerasidis/?igshid=YmMyMTA2M2Y%3D

https://www.facebook.com/stelioscherry

PRINCE MICHAEL OF YUGOSLAVIA INTERVIEW

Interview by Vassilios Nicolaos Vitsilogiannis

(IG: @vassiliosvitsilogiannis)

Prince Michael of Yugoslavia, is an investment executive, socialite, philanthropist and avid photographer. He was formerly a real estate broker. Prince Michael is a member of the House of Karađorđević and a Prince of Yugoslavia as a patrilineal descendant of Alexander Karađorđević, Prince of Serbia. His grandmother was Princess Olga of Greece. 

Guide us through your childhood years.

I was born in Boulogne near Paris and Lived in Versailles until I was 21. I studied at the European Business School which was in Paris, London and Frankfurt.

After your graduation from the European Business School Paris, did you follow the profession of your studies or did photography fascinate you?

After graduation, I worked briefly in Paris and then went to the US where I was a real estate broker in Palm Beach Florida for 10 years then I went into a finance company in New York which made me travel a lot between New York and Europe. For the past 10 years, I have lived in Europe once more.

When I was 17, I used my pocket money to buy a camera and enjoyed taking photographs, it was for pleasure and I didn’t think of it as a business. 

What is photography to you, a hobby or a craft?

It started as a hobby and then it quickly turned into a passion. When I walk with my camera and I look at a certain subject, I feel an emotion and I want to transpose that emotion through the camera onto a picture. 

What kind of photographs do you take?

The type of photography I do is mostly landscape and I have two themes. I have a naturalistic view I take images and leave them that way; and then I’m working on a series called the Coat of Arms and territorial identity in which I superimpose on the photos the Coat of Arm of its region or of the ruling family. I am fond of heraldry, from birth. I see the counties through their Coats of Arms. With the curator Gilles Bastianelli, we created the cycle “Territories and Coats of Arms”.

Coats of Arms, let us remember, have been an identification system since the time when recognition did not go through writing. Their contemporaries are emoticons, smileys, simple and universal geometric symbols, capable of instantly translating an infinity of speeches, ideas and feelings.

“Territories and Coats of Arms” consists of bringing together the same image, a landscape and its Coat of Arms appearing in a reflective line. In other words, a territory in the light of the geometric and emblematic language of its Coat of Arms. Thanks to a mirror effect, the outline of the coat of arms embedded in the landscape reflects the environment of the work and its observer. According to a principle of op art, the landscape becomes mobile, where only the gaze is enough to set the work in motion.

“Man In The Mirror” is a global hit by Michael Jackson whose universal lyrics sum up the concept.

“I start with the man in the mirror, I ask him to change his ways. And no message could have been any clearer. If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and change!”

Over the past three years, the works have been selected by contemporary photo festivals in South Korea and China, far from my social sphere.

What makes a great leader?

A great leader is someone who can be loved by his people and feared by his enemies. Also,he can be just with his people and tough with his enemies. A great leader is someone who wants the good of his country and knows how to gather the right advisers around him. 

Our society has reached to a bottleneck, how do you think this could change and under which regime?

You say that society has reached a bottleneck I’m not sure what you’re talking about. Societies have always been like this for thousands of years. Nothing has changed much. Look at the Greeks, look at the Romans, look at the Egyptians, look at our history. There is always a continual renewal with new things, new ideas and changes so I’m not worried about our society. It looks like there’s always an evolution. 

Im going to ask you a cheeky question: “Are you ever going to be a king?” Based on the Royal Succession Bills and Acts what are the procedures and customs?

No, I’m not going to be a king. Normally when you are the other son of a king you become the king but in my family, the last kings were on the grandfather’s side so there are a lot of people in between me and different thrones so that will not happen. 

Would I dare to say you are a very tolerant person and doting at the same time?

I am a tolerant person, by that it is accepting fatality, it is excepting reality, it is accepting my strength and weaknesses, it is working on my weaknesses. 

What roles do fate and fortune play in human life?

Faith and fortune play a role in human life. We are very lucky, I am very lucky to be born in Europe, in a free society. We say that being at the right place and time makes a big difference. I agree with that.

I would like to know about your contribution to charity.

With my photography, I help many different charities and I donate photos to charity events. I also participate in some of them. 

What are some of your future plans and collaborations?

I am preparing a couple of exhibitions this year on the photography side. They will be in Portugal, Serbia, and maybe in Dubai and Saudi Arabia.

Photography is an integral part of everyday life. We can even say that its excessive presence leads us to no longer see it, since it dwells so much in our environment. 

Images have indeed the power to replace reality because they are beacons, totems scattered in time that move in one direction from the past to the future.

Make a wish.

My wish is for the war in Ukraine to stop. 

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