She is one of the most successful Greek actresses in America, admired by millions for her work as Helena in the series ‘Billions.’ It is easy to understand why: Zina Anaplioti, also known as Zina Wilde, is very talented. She recently wrote a beautiful fairy tale for children called ‘Mermaids and friends.’ With the help of the mermaid Mia, Zina imparts to her young readers the message that we are all different and that for each of us there is a magical place where we can be ourselves.
Zina Wilde/Anaplioti was born in London and was raised in Thessaloniki. When she finished high school she moved to New York City where she studied acting at NYU and got her BFA in Acting and Educational Theater. After NYU she also attended the Neighborhood Playhouse Drama school and the Alvin Ailey dance school. She worked in the downtown theater scene for years and upon getting her residency status in the United States she was able to work in film and TV as well. She was on the TV show Billions on Showtime for five years, a total of 45 episodes.
Zina has also written a total of 14 short films that have premiered at festivals worldwide. Mermaids and Friends is her most recent book, and it is available on Amazon.
The National Herald: Your most recent achievement is a beautiful children's story titled Mermaids and Friends, through which we now know you as a writer. How did this story come about and what is the message it attempts to convey to young readers?
Zina Wilde: I didn't have it in my plans to write a fairy tale for children, because I had usually only written short films in the past.
How it came about was a bit unorthodox: lately, especially during the pandemic, I've turned a lot of my attention to psychoanalysis and reading various texts that have to do with the inner world. The message my story attempts to convey to young readers is that every person is different. I believe that this is something that the earlier we can get it across to our little friends, the faster humanity will be uplifted, because there will be room for all of us, because we all face feelings of inferiority. So the message I would like to get across to young readers is how important it is to know that we all belong somewhere and that we don't have to hide who we really are in order to be accepted.
TNH: You star in one of the most successful American series – Billions. Who is Helena? What do you have in common with her and what do you dislike about her?
ZW: Helena is one of the most beloved characters in the series. Helena was the assistant to Damian Lewis, who is the main character. He is a very, very powerful and wealthy man. Elena and Bobby have a very good relationship and she knows all his secrets. I think I have a lot in common with Helena, even some obnoxious elements. Something that I think would be good for both me and Helena is to be a little more self-confident and not so compromising.
TNH: In Mermaids and Friends, Mia is different from the other mermaids, but she discovers a place where she can belong. Did something similar happen to Zina? Did she discover the magical place where she can be herself?
ZW: Yes, I think Mia and Zina are very close to each other. When I left Greece, I was 17 years old, so I've spent more years in America now than in Greece, and at the beginning I had a hard time because I was completely different from everyone else I met at university. The stage, the other actors, friends and teachers I met along the way were this magical place for me, where I could belong and be myself.
TNH: Mia makes the most important decisions of her life by swimming. What helps Zina make big decisions and how did she make the important decision to come to live in New York?
Like Mia, Zina loves the sea and swimming very much. If I could swim every day I would, but unfortunately, I cannot, so my biggest decisions are usually made during my walking. A lot of times I also make very big decisions too quickly and I don't know if that's good or bad – but once I make the decision, no one can talk me out of it. When I was 16 years old, while I had decided that I was going to take my Panhellenic exams and go to university in Greece, I changed my mind at the last minute. I really wanted to experience the big Broadway theatre scene and do something very daring, so at the last minute I decided to change direction and prepare all my papers for America.
TNH: If you could see yourself ten years from now, who would Zina be and what big dream would you want her to have realized?
ZW: I would love to have a career in both Greece and America. I would love to create my own series which I have written and will be acting in. Also, I would love to showcase Greece. I have a lot of projects I'm working on right now that I hope will come true. At this particular moment, I am writing a script that is very close to my real life and I would love to see it dramatized.