SAGINAW, MI – Alex ‘the Greek’ Alexandrou spoke with The National Herald about his podcast It’s All Greek to Me and his YouTube channel alexthegreektv.com. The London-born Greek Cypriot is now based in Saginaw and shared his story as well as his upcoming projects and wish list of guests.
TNH: Tell us a bit about yourself, where did you grow up and where in Cyprus is the family from originally?
Alex Alexandrou: My two younger siblings, Christina and Helen, and I were born in London, England, and my father (Michalakis) is from Lythrodontas and my mum (Eroulla) from Monagri. Like most Greek Cypriot families, we stayed in an area that other Greek Cypriots lived, North London. In the late 70s, my parents bought a fish and chip shop ‘Alex Fish Bar’ in Tooting Broadway. It was a popular business among the Greek communities. Then we lived in Wallington, Surrey, still owning the chip shop. During this time, I did drama in secondary school (High School). I auditioned for three of the major film colleges, however, it was expensive for my parents to pay, even with the scholarships they offered. So, I mainly did theatre. When I was 29, I moved to Saginaw, Michigan, where I studied theatre at Saginaw Valley State University, and lived with family. I am still here, acting in theatre, films, and commercials, but still working a regular job and meeting new friends.
TNH: What made you decide to start this podcast series?
AA: I was part of a web-based show / podcast ‘That Show with Those Guys’ when the rest of the guys kept asking me questions about Greek culture, religion, and other things. So, I suggested, I should have a show that can answer those questions. And that’s when ‘It’s All Greek to Me’ podcast was born. I also heard a lot of stories from senior Greek and Cypriot people on my travels, and thought, it is a shame that once this older generation passes, their stories wouldn’t be heard anymore. A lot of real-life stories, for example, my pappou, Pambori, singing a poem about Saint George. Not many people sing about Saint George nowadays. We have such a wonderful, rich, historic culture that it should be shared for generations to come.
Once I recorded some podcasts, I decided to film small skits and videos on my YouTube channel alexthegreektv.com. This allows listeners to also see some of the interviews, as well as Greek characters I have developed and be entertained.
TNH: How long did it take from idea to realization?
AA: It did take a while, as I had to do my homework like gathering information, speaking to friends and family to collect stories. Even my friends from Church, John Costa and Fr. Angelo, helped me collect information on traditions, food, customs, and more. As I had brought my customs from England, they told me about theirs here in the USA. It is amazing how much I learned from them.
Also, with the help from ‘That Show with Those Guys’ my podcast would not have happened.
As they already had their show implemented, they helped me to develop ‘It’s All Greek to Me’ from a web-based show to a podcast. I am still learning. The great thing about this is, the listeners are people with different culture, traditions, religions, countries, and they listen and learn and get inspired by guests and stories on ‘It’s All Greek to Me’ podcast. Just amazing to me.
TNH: How did the interview with filmmaker Marcus Markou come about?
AA: Marcus and I follow each other on Twitter, and as he made the movie Papadopoulos and Sons, which I have watched a few times and it is based on a fish and chip shop, a friend suggested I should try and get him on ‘It’s All Greek to Me.’ So, I reached out to him. And he said yes. And if you heard the episode we had a blast. I can’t wait to have him back on the show and hear more about his projects. What a great person to interview.
TNH: Who is on your wish list of guests?
AA: I have so many- Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson, Hugh Jackman, and Natasia Demetriou, Greek Singers - Vasilis Karras, Anna Vissi, and Nikos Oikonomopoulos, John Dejoria (co-founder of Paul Michell hair products), and Leo Stefanos (inventor of Dove Chocolate Bar), just to name a few. I also try to get people with Greek / Cypriot connections, but that is not a requirement, as it is a show that educates, entertains, and inspires! Plus, there is always a connection with the Greek culture.
TNH: What are you working on next?
AA: I am currently working on interviewing my friends, Dr. Spencer Wood, a Detroit Tigers Mental Skills Coach and President of Icebox Athlete, also, Tom and Renee Moisides who both work on movies, TV commercials, and TV shows. Tom is a location Manager and Producer at Trillium Film Productions. Renee is a Wardrobe Stylist and Set Designer. I am also in talks with Nick Galifianakis who is a cartoonist who was awarded a Reuben for ‘Nick & Zuzu.’ I will also be visiting Greek festivals with my friend John and we’ll be talking to priests and volunteers about the Church, food, and the event. I will also interview others who I know through the entertainment world. Stay tuned, as I might be in your neck of the woods, and you could be on ‘It’s All Greek to Me’ podcast. I am truly blessed to have good friends and family that believe in what I do. And hopefully turn this podcast into a full-time job.