Theoni Bekiari. Hellenic DNA today has as a guest a Greek woman who is in America, out of a passion for theater
Theoni Bekiari was born in Athens but studied in the capital of Macedonia, Thessaloniki, where she graduated with honors from the Theater Department of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. Her love for acting and writing from a young age, led her to write and stage three children's plays. Also, she has won in various pan-Hellenic short story competitions. Today she is a graduate student of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts ’Professional Training Program in Acting. Versatile and multi-talented, Theoni Bekiari is involved in theater, film and writing while maintaining her own YouTube channel,“ Blend It ”, with a theme of tasting.
How did you decide to be involved with Acting as a profession? Was it a difficult decision? And what would you say to someone that wants to study abroad?
The first thing that most of my acting teachers told me was to not become an actor. Well known guests in school told us not to become actors. And it is true.
Every profession has its difficulties. Acting belongs to the professions that, if you choose it, it’s like you choose a constant instability. One day you are working and for the next three months you are not. But I am not here to tell you the bad side of Acting. So many people follow this profession, despite all this, because it fills your life. That one day that you’ll be working it gives you a deep happiness and satisfaction. Everyone says do not become an actor and they mean do not do it if you are not ready to deal with all the bad aspects so you can have the good ones. Do not do it if it does not fill your soul. Living and studying abroad I had the opportunity to come in contact with many different ideas and many different people. I remember all my friends that went abroad, even for a short time, communicated to me the same feeling. I suggest without hesitation to anyone who has the ability to travel, or study abroad to do it. Hellas is my first love and it will be my forever one as the song says, where I will always come back to.
What are the positives and what the negatives of living abroad? Is it easy to create a new circle of people around you?
I am really happy with the opportunities that I have, but everyone should keep in mind that for the positives, there are as many negatives. It is difficult to be away from your family, it is difficult to be on an unstable student visa (when there was conversation that the foreign students during the pandemic would have to leave the country), it is difficult to have an accent.
For family, we are in the lucky period of internet calls that allow us the luxury of seeing one another. Especially under these circumstances. I am not sure how I would manage otherwise. I noticed that people that live abroad, or away from where they grew up, tend to create friendships - families the first months they are in the new place. Many times these friendships will stop, since they weren’t created in strong foundations and many times have codependent tendencies. Slowly though a new circle of people is created around you that is stronger than before and is based on the simple notion of liking to spend time with each other. I am really lucky to have such a circle, with whom we made many new projects, and where the idea for our youtube Blend it started from!
Since you mentioned your youtube channel Blend it, how did this idea came to be? And what could someone expect to see on it?
Our channel Blend it started as a platform that would allow us to show, see and explore all the different cultures of the world. I am from Hellas and my partner is American with Korean roots. We don’t stop there though! We have episodes with our friends and colleagues from China, Mexico and we want to explore the whole world. It was really nice through our friendships to be introduced to new (for us) food, customs and traditions, and to show ours. So we thought that it would be equally as nice to show them to the rest of the world too. We did not expect to receive so much love and so much audience so early. Each of our videos has approximately 1000 to 2000 views in these nine months that our channel is up,
something that brings us real happiness and makes us want to continue even more! Added to that, someone can find in our channel traditions and recipes from Hellas, for example the Easter ones that are the most recent, and our attempts in some food challenges!
What other projects have you been part of? I heard that you create some short movies yourselves?
Up to now we have created two short movies and we have three more in production. First was “The Purgatory - only memories” which is an allegory for the souls of some people passing through the purgatory to the after life through a waltz and they think back to what they are leaving behind and what they may be finding next. This short movie started as an Academy school project (The American Academy of Dramatic Arts) a short time after covid started. The classes were at the time transfering online and consequently most of the short movie is filmed remotely, something that doesn’t hold our movie back. We were, and still are, really happy for finding a way to film the movie without the distance between us compromising it, something that was difficult especially since it is a period movie! Our creative “hunger” made us take this small class project and create a short movie out of it that ultimately caught the eye of an online production company “The Lift” and so it premiered and is on their site.
Also, our most recent short movie is “The Park Bench'', which is a really short movie that talks about human nature and everyday life. This movie hasn’t premiered yet because it is in the process of short film competitions at the moment.
Other than your own creations, have you been a part of movies from other creators?
I am auditioning for movies without pay, since my student visa wouldn’t allow me to get a paid acting job. From there, I am really happy with the movies that I have booked and been a part of. Three of my favorite projects so far would be first the #JasonBlakeisoverparty that talks about the power of the internet and the trend of cancel culture, also the two projects that I did with Yonder Window Productions. The first that I did with them was a project I self produced for them, and they picked up, named “I am Here”. This talks about loneliness in general and especially during covid, and at the same time the sense of unity that it gives us! We may not be physically together, but our spirit and souls are and can be united even from afar, we are here.
After this I was selected with four more really talented creators by Yonder Window Productions to create “25Hours”. This name had to do with the 25 Hours between us five creators, since we were all in different places in the world, and with the notion of wanting an extra hour in the day. The movie is about the routine that we all have or create, especially during covid, and how this routine can either get us through it, or drive us to our breaking point till we start again. We were all really happy with the result.
So you edit some of these movies that you create! How did you learn to do that? Was it a decision that you took long ago? Did you take up some
You could say that I was “forced” to learn how to edit so I could bring to life all of our ideas. But it is something that I am thankful for everyday, because it made me able to do so many
creative things and “tie together” our movies and projects. At the same time, by having this knowledge, I got hired by the Academy (The American Academy of Dramatic Arts) to do exactly this job!
How are classes now at the Academy? Do you attend acting classes online? That sounds difficult!
When covid started I had already begun my first semester at the Academy (The American Academy of Dramatic Arts). My first reaction was the same as many other students in my situation I believe. I felt that everything I was trying for was getting canceled, all my opportunities taken away, and that it is not possible that online acting classes could be good, or even better than in person! I had the choice to either continue online with the Academy, or stop and possibly continue at a later time. I fearfully decided to continue but it ended up being the best choice I could have made! The Academy supported and helped us both emotionally and practically. They created a program that offered us everything that we would be learning in person and much more. At the same time they respected the difficulty of being in front of a computer for extended periods of time and gave us bigger breaks without cutting school hours and gave us class projects that wouldn’t need computers. In classes though we weren’t just sitting in front of the computer.
We were up on our feet, creating our space as we would in person. We worked in two ways, the more theatrical one and the more cinematic one. In the more theatrical approach we act to the screen where we see our scene partners. In the more cinematic approach we act to our right or left so that we create the illusion for the audience that we are in the same room talking to our scene partner. This results in us acting looking at our lamp, our wall or whatever we have there. This though prepares us for movies where we will be acting against a green screen! Moreover, we learn how to audition and selftape from home. This is something that has been happening in the professional world even before covid, especially now most, if not all castings happen remotely from home and it is said that it will continue like that for the most part after covid.
Also we have many well known industry professionals coming to our online school events, who before covid may not have had the time or chance to come talk to us. It is easier to just open the computer and join a call from wherever you are than to have to commute to a specific place at a certain date and time! I am really happy and I actually feel lucky because I see that now with this knowledge I have an advantage in the professional world over many others who didn’t continue. It is as if we have extra knowledge that actually makes us stand out in the professional world!
Now that all this situation is being resolved and everything is finally returning in person I feel gratitude for the American Academy of Dramatic Arts that has, with their actions, won my trust that they will always, no matter what, do the best for their students and so I would highly and without a doubt suggest this school!
What would you say to someone who is at the start of a journey similar to yours?
To whoever wants to do something similar to what I am doing I would say that it is possible! It can be done! It may be difficult, expensive, time consuming but there are solutions, there are ways! Do not give up because as they say it is not a sprint, it is a marathon! Ask, listen, learn. Also I am here and I would be more than happy to answer any questions that
someone may have. You can find me on my instagram with the name theoni.bekiari and just leave a message for me telling me your question! A quick advice from me that I always repeat for whoever wants to study acting abroad is that we all have accents - dialects when speaking another language, and although in other professions that doesn’t matter, in acting it does to a degree. There are classes to help you obtain many different accents - dialects while keeping yours too, but because it needs a long long time to obtain them, it is best to start as early as you can! Have courage, strength, patience and all is going to be well!