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Olympia Dukakis will train young actors in Athens

19 January 2010 / 16:01:36  GRReporter
7433 reads

Marina Nikolova

"I want to apologize for the delay because there was traffic on the boulevard we were driving. There was a bomb threat and this made me feel like I am at home in New York, because there were constant bomb threats," are the first words of Olympia Dukakis during her meeting with reporters in Athens. 

She arrived in Athens at the invitation of the American College Deree and the actress Mimi Dennis, with whom they have been friends for many years. Olympia Dukakis speaks most passionately about her family - about her two sons, the spinach pie, which one of them cooks, but she also shows live enthusiasm when talking about her students. 

Olympia Dukakis said she is looking forward to get acquainted with the Greek lifestyles, to understand what exhibitions there are in Athens at that time and what theater and dance performances are played. She said she has no idea what modern Greece means, and in order for her statement to have greater impact she said she found out yesterday that in Greece there has been democracy only for the lasr thirty years. 

Despite her interest in Greece most likely will not see Mrs. Dukakis in a Greek production soon. She said that she likes to work and it would be great to work in Greece, from where she receives many invitations, but ... But to the problem is that the people inviting her have not taken the film production money from the state, in order to start the film itself. "The truth is that no country has given money and they should fight themselves to attract grants. The same thing happens in America," said Mrs. Dukakis.

"I am disappointed," said Mrs. Dukakis, “because many times I tried to bring my performances in the country, but because of bureaucracy nothing happened.” Now she in her parents’ home-country, on business, for the first time, in order to conduct acting seminars. 

The Academy Award winner for her role in the film "Moonstruck" speaks with enthusiasm about her work with students. "I am delighted to work with students because I have the opportunity to see how I can "touch" them and discover their talents and what they can offer, so I know how I can help them. I find it interesting to watch them change and develop their talents," said Mrs. Dukakis. 

Regarding Greek actors in America   

Greek actors in America are professionals who talk about business and not about who comes from where, cuts rigid Mrs. Dukakis. In the Guild there are also many influential Americans of Greek origin as Sid Ganis - former HBO chairman, and Jim Gianopulos - the organizer of the Greek Film Festival in Los Angeles. "Both Jim G. and I are trying to motivate and support young boys and girls who want to become actors," says the actress. She tells their Greek parents are afraid their children to become actors and prefer to direct them to other professions such as lawyers and doctors and adds that she always encourages them not to be afraid and to leave their children to become actors. 

Regarding her attitude towards politics

"There's a new wind of change in the U.S., which was brought by President Obama. But there is also a very strong counter-movement – with no reason and no explanation. We must be careful to support the various petitions. I support them," said Mrs. Dukakis, and told that her family is highly politicized and during the holidays when all gather together there are regular fights on these topics. Olympia Dukakis is very actively engaged in politics since the '60s. She has participated in women support movements, environmental movements and support for victims of torture. 

"In New York there are many victims of torture and domestic violence and we trying to collect money to help them. I've tried to speak about these issues in the Greek community as well, but Greeks are ashamed to admit it and I think that there, I have failed," told Ms. Dukakis about her activity as a politically active woman (she is a member of the organizations National Organization for Women, Women in Film, Amnesty International). Also she has supported her cousin, Michael Dukakis and was part of his election campaign when he was a US presidential candidate in 1988.

Regarding her family  

"I was born in a city full of immigrants - Lowell, Massachusetts, my father is from Asia Minor, and his mother is from Mitilini. My mother is from Karvela, Mani region" says with a broad smile Mrs. Dukakis. "Then we moved to Boston, where I grew up,” later on she got married to a colleague - a Serb, with whom they have two children - boys. One of her sons is married to a girl from a Latin country and the other for a Philippine girl, who is the chief editor of Penguin publications. To a large extent one of her sons feels like a Greek and he spent three months in Greece. "There he learned how to make a great spinach pie" says the proud mother Olympia. "I cannot cook, but my sons are doing great. Stefan knows not only Greek cuisine very well but also Greek wines. He even calls m sometimes and says: ‘Hey, do you know what is happening in Greece...’ and he tells me.” 


Regarding her career  

Olympia Dukakis has graduated from Boston University, and after that she has received a scholarship for a physiotherapist of babies suffering from paralysis. After ending her studies, she works for two years and after that signs up for the Master program of the university. Subsequently she starts working in theater, creates her own troupe, which shoots her directly to New York. Olympia Dukakis has founded three theater troupes until now and the last one has been operating for the last twenty years in New Jersey. Currently, Mrs. Dukakis is actively engaged in teaching at Columbia University and in some private studios across America. 

Mrs. Dukakis acknowledges that her mentor Peter Cass has an enormous impact on her - one of the best acting teachers in America during the 60s and 70s. He is also the reason she left for New York. 

Recently, the autobiography of the actress came out in the US titled "Ask me again tomorrow," which became an instant bestseller.

Tags: Olympia Dukakis Jim Gianopoulos Film CInema Theater Oscar
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