Nia Vardalos, the star and brains behind the immensely popular romantic comedy series My Big Fat Greek Wedding, spoke openly on the “importance of owning your narrative” during an event organized by the Marie Claire publication.
The Marie Claire Power Trip is an invite-οnly, high-profile summit bringing together some of the biggest names across several different industries. The event was initiated in Greece in 2019 but is now hosted internationally across three continents.
At this year’s Greek iteration of the high-profile event, Vardalos only shared experiences from her career and highlighted the difficulties and discrimination she overcame before finding success with the My Big Fat Greek Wedding film series.
Nia Vardalos on overcoming difficulties in her career
“I stayed and didn’t know what to say,” recalled Vardalis. “We shouldn’t let anyone tell us where we belong and what we can be.”
Despite the rejection, Vardalos persevered and decided to write her own script based on the experiences she had with her Greek family.
“I borrowed a friend’s computer – we had no money then – and wrote the script in three weeks. I’ve written down every story I’ve heard over the years in my family – my family is crazy, and so is yours .”
Vardalos sent the script out to several producers but it was rejected every time. So, in her own words, she decided “If the phone doesn’t ring for work, call yourself.” She rented out a theatre at her own expense where the theatrical rendition of My Big Fat Greek Wedding was first played in front of audiences.
The show proved popular, and the turning point came when Hollywood star Tom Hanks encouraged Vardalos to make a movie.
Η Nia Vardalos στο 5o Marie Claire Power Trip: «Αν δεν χτυπήσει το τηλέφωνο για δουλειά, τηλεφώνησε στον εαυτό σου» – Marie Claire https://t.co/gyZvxFdyK8
— Marie Claire Greece (@MarieClaire_gr) May 30, 2023
My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3
“It was very important to film here. We are Greeks, we come here for vacation, but it is not the same to work here. In the new film, which is dedicated to the memory of Michael Constantine [the protagonist of the previous films who died in 2021], Tula’s father has died and we want to go to his village to see it,” she told Galateia Laskaraki during the exclusive event.
In this installment of the popular romantic comedy series, the Portokalos family will travel to Greece to reconnect with their roots and honor the last wishes of Gus Portokalos, one of the film series’ most beloved characters, portrayed by the late Michael Constantine.
Greek immigrant background
The actress, producer, and director spoke honestly about the impact of her Greek immigrant background on both her career and her personal life. Of course, her experiences fed heavily into her inspiration for My Big Fat Greek Wedding.
Recalling the situation that forced her family to leave Greece, Vardalos said, “In the 1950s my parents had no choice but to leave Greece, there was no food on the table. They had to migrate to find work.”
“All the children of immigrants growing up we used to tease our parents because all the Greeks had statues in their garden! For us, the Greeks of the diaspora, time has stopped in 1950, while here it is moving forward,” she added.
Nia Vardalos on motherhood
Vardalos also discussed her personal life and the book she wrote about motherhood, And Suddenly Mom. The book recounts her experiences with her adopted daughter, whom Vardalos brought into her home at the age of three.
“When I learned about the option of adoption, I thought it was the ideal. Why is it so hard to adopt in the US? Why we need social workers to check families’ backgrounds. In the US we don’t pay for teachers, for social workers. We pay for the wrong things,” Vardalos opined
“Now my daughter is 17 years old,” she continued. “It’s not bad, basically, to have a teenage girl at home. My daughter is a very nice person!”