Nia Vardalos Talks to TNH at the SNF International Conference in Athens

Public Theater Artistic Director Oskar Eustis spoke with actress/writer Nia Vardalos at the SNF 8th Annual International Conference in Athens. Photo by TNH/Anastasis Koutsogiannis

ATHENS – On June 24, just before her scheduled afternoon discussion, Democracy, Theater and All of Life’s Tiny Beautiful Things with the Public Theater’s Artistic Director Oskar Eustis at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) 8th Annual International Conference, held at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC) in Athens, the Greek actress and writer Nia Vardalos spoke to The National Herald about this year’s conference, the Hellenic community living abroad, and her future plans.

Asked about this year’s event, Vardalos replied, “It’s an impressive, global conference, which is almost for everyone. My daughter is 13 years old and all today’s speeches have managed to stir her interest. I really listen very carefully to what is being discussed. Theater, technology, art! It is incredible. We are lucky to be able to attend.”

To the Greek diaspora community she said, “I want to address those who are reading me from the U.S. at the moment and tell them that it really is worth traveling to Greece and attending the SNF International Conference. You learn a lot, get to know people from all over the world. It is another reason to be proud of your origin.”

Finally, concerning her future projects, she said, “I’m only dealing with the theater right now. I want to sincerely apologize to all the Greeks because I have not made a movie in the last three years. The theater calms me mentally, and I think I belong there.”

The theme of the 2019 SNF Conference was Untitled. The goal was to engage and bring together high caliber speakers from various backgrounds, and diverse disciplines and spaces, “forcing” them to engage into conversations and debates about subject matters outside their areas of expertise. The driving force was the desire to transcend traditional, linear, and comfortable modes of thinking, and in the process redefine, hopefully, the way we have been approaching and contemplating current complex issues.

The SNF Conference is part of the Summer Nostos Festival, an international multifaceted arts, sports, and education festival organized by the SNF at the SNFCC. The 2019 SNFestival takes place June 23-30 this year.

Vardalos was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba to Greek-Canadian parents Doreen Christakis, a bookkeeper and homemaker, and Constantine Vardalos, a land developer. She is best known for her film My Big Fat Greek Wedding, which earned her an Academy Award nomination for best screenplay. Vardalos married American actor Ian Gomez in 1993, following his conversion to Greek Orthodoxy. In 2008, they adopted a daughter and Vardalos wrote about the adoption process for The Huffington Post and in her book, Instant Mom. In 2018, Vardalos and Gomez divorced after 23 years of marriage.