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Culture

Actor & Producer Stelio Savante on His Part-Greek Heritage and Career in Films

NEW YORK – Stelio Savante, an actor/producer since the early 1990s, spoke with The National Herald about his partial Greek heritage and his career in the film industry. His latest projects as a producer include the upcoming football film Under the Stadium Lights starring Laurence Fishburne and Milo Gibson (Mel Gibson's son) and distributed by Saban Films and Paramount Pictures. The film is set to be released on June 4. Savante is also starring in and lead producer of the upcoming Sci-Fi film Destination Marfa opposite Tony Todd, which releases on August 3.

When asked if he always wanted to go into acting and producing, Savante told TNH that “it wasn’t until I was doing plays at the University of West Alabama that I fully realized I wanted to be an actor. Then I pursued it in New York by studying with some iconic acting teachers. I’ve never wanted to produce, creative producing sort of came to me naturally because of all the relationships I’ve cultivated over the last thirty plus years, and I like putting great talent together.”

Savante’s Greek side of the family is originally from the Kato Patisia neighborhood of Athens. Of the influence of his partial Greek heritage on his life and work, he noted that “my grandfather was a racing car driver who immigrated to South Africa from Greece to seek a better future for his family. I emigrated from South Africa to the USA. Coming from a long line of immigrants; living stories of struggle and overcoming that struggle and living it myself has paid dividends. Taking risks is par for the course, it’s in my blood. I also lived in Greece for a few months in late 1986-early 1987 and that culture, vibrance, and beautifully volatile and spontaneous madness is something that I can very easily tap into for my roles. I’ve portrayed Greeks many times, most recently as Officer Nikios in the video game Crackdown Three and when we lived in Queens, I was very active in Greek language plays with the Greek Cultural Center, working with outstanding directors like Nick Efteriades.”

When asked how his family has reacted to his success, Savante told TNH that “my mother supported my pursuit of a career from the very beginning. My father strongly discouraged it, did everything he could to get me to walk away. Then one day he visited me on the set of a studio film that I had a significant role in, saw my trailer, and started crying. He hugged me, told me he was proud of me. But that fire he ignited in me, the need to succeed despite his lack of early belief in me, it has never left me and has definitely contributed to my success.”

“My wife Carla has been incredibly supportive since day one and my daughter Ava actually enjoys some of my films and series, so I think I’ve done ok,” he continued. “Then there are others who really struggle with my success. It all gets back to me and honestly tickles me. It’s funny how some people show their true colors in person as well. They don’t realize that actors study other people’s behavior, body language, etc. which makes them very easy to read.”

Of working with Laurence Fishburne on Under the Stadium Lights, he said, “I came into that film in post-production, to help produce and see it through to distribution. But our filmmakers/producers loved working with him and his work on screen is undeniably rich and lovable.”

When asked if there are any actors he hasn’t worked with yet but would like to, Savante noted that “there are many. But I’m more drawn to working with certain directors than I am actors. Asghar Farhadi, Paolo Sorrentino, Anne-Marie Jacir, Yorgos Lanthimos, Nicholas Winding Refn, Michael Mann, Jeff Nichols, Ari Aster, and my friend Wayne Kramer are cinematic masters that I’d be honored to work with.”

Of the recent news of more and more productions scheduled to film in Greece this year, he told TNH, “I’m surprised it took this long. I think the locations are priceless- stuck at the intersection of the old world with rich history and the contemporary fast lane keeping pace with modern day Europe- that contradiction makes for a great cinematic backdrop and some rich production value. I’ve filmed internationally a lot in my career but Greece is a country I’ve not yet worked in. Hopefully soon.”

Of his upcoming projects Savante said, “I’m scheduled to shoot a fascinating thriller by a very talented Israeli director this fall. The script is just simply brilliant and the cast members are all highly acclaimed. I cannot reveal any more than that. But Destination Marfa releases Aug 3, Under the Stadium Lights releases June 4, and I have roles in a Netflix series and five films in post-production, so there’s plenty of new content on the horizon. My character on the series The Chosen is also likely to return and that’s something I’m very much looking forward to.”

Follow Stelio Savante on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/steliosavante/

Facebook: Stelio Savante

Twitter: https://twitter.com/steliosavante.

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