NEW YORK – Esther Markaki is a multitalented performer, born and raised in Athens, Greece, but from a young age was drawn to the United States. The actress/singer-songwriter/dancer/choreographer moved to New York City recently to pursue her dream and in only a short time has made significant strides in her career with roles in film, TV, and onstage. Markaki spoke with The National Herald about her life and work.
When asked if she always wanted to go into acting, Markaki said she did and was “always involved in theater, music, and acting.” She loves film and theater, noting that her parents took her as a child to Epidaurus for the famous festival. Markaki is grateful for the opportunity to pursue her dream, noting that “I get to do what I love, write songs, acting, dancing, choreography, and New York is the center of everything I love.”
She earned her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration at Deree – The American College of Greece, and worked on a Master of Arts in London. Returning to Greece, Markaki worked in marketing for a year and a half, but was “miserable.”
She told TNH that in the “Spring of 2015 I decided to apply to New York Film Academy for a 4-week workshop in New York City, and then in September 2015, once I came for the workshop, I decided I wanted to move here permanently.”
She recently appeared in the sold-out, off-Broadway production of Sophocles’ Electra, directed by Leonidas Loizides. Markaki was one of the leading members of the Chorus, and provided guidance and training to the other members as well as often assisting the composer/director’s assistant during rehearsals. The physically demanding role in the ancient tragedy left Markaki with some bruises, and, she pointed out, wearing knee pads beneath her costume would have been anachronistic. Historical accuracy was the priority in the end, and her performance along with the other members of the Chorus added layers of intensity to the drama.
When asked about the types of roles she prefers, Markaki noted that being more of an introvert, she feels more comfortable acting on screen, but she does love both the theater and film, and looks for roles that are challenging, offer something to connect with, and relate to, whether the role is comedic or dramatic.
Markaki pointed out that in her own life, she has learned lessons from movies, they help you escape or go deeper, to find something, recalling the catharsis of ancient Greek drama. “It’s sometimes cathartic to cry when you see a movie,” she said, referring to the healing aspects of art, “you laugh, cry, heal.”
“I want to be a part of projects that help people,” Markaki said.
Among the actresses she admires- Meryl Streep, Kate Winslet, Amy Adams, and Cate Blanchett, “for their choices and investing in their work.”
Helping others is also a priority for Markaki who appreciates her family’s support, but realizes that others may not be so lucky. “If I make it, I’m going to help other actors,” she said, referring to the profession’s challenges, the competition for opportunities and the high cost of living in New York.
“I’ve been there, I know how hard it is,” Markaki said, “I dropped out of everything and moved halfway across the world. You have to invest, it is a full-time job auditioning, trying to get an agent. If you love what you do, nothing can stop you.”
She continued, “I wake up in the morning and I want to do this. I have the opportunity and thank God, my family.”
Markaki is one of three siblings, her older brother Costis is a project manager and musician living in Los Angeles. Her parents- Manos and Ida, and older sister Valia, who works in psychology, live in Greece.
“I am so grateful,” she said, “hopefully, I will be able to repay them literally and metaphorically, and hopefully, make them proud and my country.”
Greece is a great place to grow up, Markaki said, adding that she hopes her generation will be able to create more opportunities for Greeks who are struggling. “I’m trying to do everything I can, I love and support my country, and creating a legacy so maybe I can go back one day and help even more.”
Of her move to the U.S., Markaki noted, “I’m so grateful, I feel like I was meant to be here. If I came at 18, maybe I wouldn’t have appreciated it. Now, I’m prepared to fight so much more.”