Eleanna Finokalioti Talks to TNH about Her Life and Work

December 6, 2019

NEW YORK – New York City has an energy that draws people from around the world to follow their dreams. Eleanna Finokalioti, a Greek actress and singer who recently came to New York, spoke with The National Herald about her life and work and upcoming shows.

TNH: Tell us a bit about yourself, where in Greece is the family from and where did you grow up?  

Eleanna Finokalioti: My family comes from Greek islands. My father is from Crete and my mother from Rhodes. I was born in Athens. At the age of 5 we moved to a quiet village of Crete, Neapoli and some years later my mother and I moved to Agios Nikolaos. Cedar, thyme, olive trees, stone; Crete follows me anywhere I go. I remember many walks by the sea and lots of trips to Rhodes to my mother’s family. My grandma’s house had a large courtyard that was hiding by a huge lilac bougainvillea. In the evenings we all gathered there and someone always asked me to perform something such as Alice, or to sing a song. After graduating high school, I moved to Athens to study math, which I immediately quit to study in drama school. I have lived and been working as an actress and singer in Athens since 2013. In 2017, my first CD album was released with Panagiotis Margaris a great classical Greek guitarist. The summer of 2019, I decided to move to New York City to develop my career and here I am!

TNH: Did you always want to go into the arts?

EF: Yes, indeed, since I can remember. I was dreaming of it since I was a little child and I was dancing in ballet performances. I can still recall those chills and the feeling, being on stage. In the village that we moved to when I was 7 (Neapoli, Crete) I started writing my own stories and casting neighborhood children and teaching them the lines! There was a church opposite our home and that was the very first stage for me.

TNH: What is the most challenging aspect and the most rewarding of your work?

EF: The most challenging aspect of my work I’d regard the waiting hours and auditions for the next job and the most rewarding the very few minutes that we get to be on stage.

TNH: How is working in New York different from Greece?

EF: Well there is much of a difference working in New York rather than in Greece, or in any other place in the world I’d say. First of all, here there is so much diversity that I love to meet and collaborate to create something.  Even though everyone comes from such a different environment and background, they all have one thing in common: their passion for theatre. So that becomes a really strong core which you can feel and tell either by being in a rehearsal or audition room. The devotion here is unique.

And it is everywhere, within every movement or word. Almost everyone has a story to tell, a country left behind to come here for work and struggling for that dream. And that provides the artists here with a special and unique tool: professionalism. It’s not the talent that we lack in Greece definitely not, and we have lots of that back there, but we lack in being accurate and disciplined, elements that I feel not only in my working place are necessary, but in every working field.

TNH: What can we look forward to in terms of your upcoming projects?            

EF: Well, I have scheduled a series of live concerts. My first opening night will be in Astoria ?on December 12. It will be a Greek traditional and modern feature night with a piano, bouzouki, and mandolin, at Amylos in Astoria. On December 23 I will be performing live in Ayza, a wine and chocolate bar in Manhattan with a great guitarist and composer, Spiros Exaras, a night with songs from all over the world, from Latin American to Turkish, Greek, and lots more. On December 27, I will be a guest singer in a rock live music concert by Athan Hilaki and his band, a production by Globe Entertainment Company, at Drom in Manhattan. Last, but not least, right now I am in rehearsals for an upcoming musical, a Christmas theatre production, The Miracle of Christmas. Our performances will take place on Saturday, December 21, at Queens Theatre at 4 PM and 7 PM. There are lots of upcoming stuff about which I cannot yet talk, but will for sure be a full 2020, as far as plans concerning.

Thank you for the great conversation!



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