Kalliopi Chaska
Kalliopi Chaska

There seems to be a popular sentiment of telling entertainers to not give their opinions about a number of matters open for discussion to “regular” people, insisting that they should just “do their job” but does this take into account what actors truly do in their vocation? Ask any professional actor and they’ll tell you that their job is not pretending but rather is about finding the real motivations which drive the characters whom they present. At its very core, this is a means of relating to others who are vastly different from ourselves; it’s something the world could use much more of these days.

Renown Greek actress Kalliopi Chaska possesses the singing and dancing pedigree that helped bolster her career but she has sought out roles in her acting career that allow her to dissect the forces that bring conflict in so many scenarios, whether internally or as part of an ensemble. Well-known in her homeland for her moving and emotive portrayals, Chaska’s notoriety in America is expanding with her starring role in award-winning films like the dramedy Off Beat which premiered at the San Diego International Film Festival, Pasadena International Film Festival, and Energa CAMERIMAGE International Film Festival.

Airing on Ant1 TV, one of Greece’s top TV networks, the hit television series Tamam is as relevant today as when it began airing in the mid 2010s. Based on the German TV series Turkisch fur Anfanger, this tale of love found in those of different backgrounds resonated strongly with Greek viewers, as did Ms. Chaska’s portrayal of Maria h Kalogria who was introduced after the show’s popular first season. Tamam is about a divorced Turkish man and a divorced Greek woman who meet and fall in love.

Each has two children from their former marriage which magnifies the challenges as they blend this group of six to become a new unit.Kalliopi had been noticed by network executives behind the show based on her acclaimed lead role in a production of the musical Chicago. Cast for her acting and singing prowess in the role of Maria, a young nun that sings in the church’s choir, Kalliopi’s inclusion in the cast for the second season of Tamam led to deeper storylines and an increase in popularity.

The second season attracted a viewership of nearly ten percent of the entire population of Greece. Chaska’s character befriends one of the sons of the show’s main family when he wants to learn how to sing by joining the local church choir. Maria became a major draw for fans of the show as she became involved in her own cross-cultural romance within the storyline.

The actress confides, “I’m lucky to come from a family that embraces and respects different cultures and religions but I definitely had friends and fans of the show who approached me afterwards concerning this onscreen relationship and if that could or should happen in real life. Hopefully the show and our conversations convinced them.

It’s so rewarding to be able to portray a love story of people of different cultures and religions in  a way that might possibly change someone’s perspective on the matter. The relationship between Greece and Turkey is still troubled and this was a great gift as an artist to bring light into the possibilities that love can bring.”

Director/writer Derin Kiyak cast Kalliopi as one of the stars of his film Off Beat as the perfect counterbalance to the story’s affable lead character Max, played by Joshua Michael Payne of Golden Globe nominated series The Deuce. Max is a less than gifted dancer who enrolls in Ballroom Dance classes much to the chagrin of the intensely competitive and substantially more graceful Megan [Chaska]. While lacking intuitive grace and ability, Max proves himself full of heart when coming to the aid of a fellow dancer whose partner is unable to perform at a competition.

The intense Megan may be seen by some as “the heavy” of the film but Kalliopi’s more gracious perspective on her is what likely led to such a convincing portrayal. The actress communicates, “Having taken acting, music, and dance lessons since I was a kid as well as having attended many art schools, I’ve met many Megans in my life; people who are talented but also highly competitive with no time for underdogs.

Megan is not just mean. Like everyone in life, there is a reason why she does the things she does and I wanted to make sure the audience sees that and hopefully tries to understand her actions.” From the kindhearted Maria of Tamam to the unyielding rigidness of Megan in Off Beat, Kalliopi Chaska continually defies any restriction or typecasting, establishing her extraordinary ability to meld with the character in every role she takes on.

By Punit