Yanna Darilis – A Multifaceted Force in Greek-American Media

Ever since she started working, Yanna Darilis has dynamically applied herself to numerous exciting and impactful projects at once – from building a prolific presence when presenting on Greek TV and lecturing at University to modelling for top designers.

She also developed a passion and eventually an academic interest in health and wellness, which led her to writing, coaching, product development, and media production. Darilis is a bright, dynamo force who is constantly evolving in paths that inspire her – and those around her – such as wellbeing and Hellenism. Based in New York but regularly visiting Greece, where she worked for over 20 years, she is someone we definitely wanted to catch up with and interview!

How would you describe who you are today, in a nutshell? 

Insights Greece - Yanna Darilis – A Multifaceted Force in Greek-American Media
Greek-American Yanna Darilis

I am a television producer, director, and on-camera talent, specializing in lifestyle, travel, fitness, fashion, holistic health, and wellness topics. I am proud of my Hellenic roots and heritage, thus dedicated to the promotion and preservation of Hellenism through content creation, film & media. Above all, my mission is to help raise awareness about and reverse issues that plague our planet and society and I have been proudly doing that with various panel discussions at the United Nations through the UNSRC Salus Club.

Tell us a little about your experience of working in Greece.

My 25+ years of experience in the Health, Fitness, Wellness, Media, Beauty, and Fashion industries, was very extensive. It was an exciting experience and a very hectic and busy time of my life. I truly don’t know where the years went! I had just turned 24 years old when I arrived in Athens to work and looking back, I feel like it was yesterday! 

The ‘90s was a spectacular time to be working in Greece. It was glorious, and media and fashion were exploding. I feel blessed to have worked as an on-camera talent for the major Greek television channels as a TV host, and as a brand ambassador for many companies, as well as having walked the runway for the very talented Greek and International designers. I truly enjoyed being a public speaker, and I was honored to have been chosen as one of the Master of Ceremonies for the Athens Olympic Games- Opening and Closing ceremonies. I also thoroughly enjoyed teaching future journalists and creating new ideas and programmes as the Associate Director for the Film & Media studies at New York College- State University of New York affiliate in Athens. 

Meanwhile, I was blessed to have hosted the first English language show that aired worldwide, on ERT World. I was so happy you also worked with us on the production of “Hellenic Weekly”, Alexia. Good Times! The whole team and what we created was so amazing!

In hindsight, I can confess that although living and working in Greece was beyond a wonderful experience, as an American of Greek descent, I did struggle with the language, and with a different mindset. I also did not have support or many friends at the time to help guide me, and thus learned along the way. As a young adult fresh out of college and as a former educator, the media industry was a totally different space- and environment, which took time to get used to. Eager to learn, I worked hard, greatly appreciated all the amazing opportunities offered to me, and enjoyed my job so much that I decided to go back to college for a second degree in Film & Television. This degree helped me tremendously in my future endeavors. 

Since returning to the US 17 years ago you have set up a TV company focused on Greece. Please tell us more about that.

Insights Greece - Yanna Darilis – A Multifaceted Force in Greek-American Media
Yanna in NYC

I like to say that I was very lucky, and at the right place at the right time. The first and only Omogeniako Television channel of the diaspora – NGTV, based in New York, was announced for sale. A group of Greek American businessmen and leaders in the Greek American community got together and decided to save and continue the legacy, and I was part of the effort. We ended up acquiring NGTV- rebranding it to New Greek Television, and until this day is working hard to promote and preserve Hellenism and the Greek language through our channel, focusing on the Omogenia.

Over the years you have been highly centered on holistic wellness and Original Medicine, on which you’re currently pursuing a Ph.D. What draws you to this area?

Returning to the US, I was hired to help develop the first luxury Gym for Long Island City in New York. During my time as the General Manager and Personal training manager, I noticed the widespread weight issues that most clients were facing, which led me to get back to my post-graduate studies, and I felt it was necessary to continue this path in Nutrition and Wellness. I have always followed the teachings of Greece’s ancient sage Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine. This led to my Certification in Integrative Nutrition and one in Lifestyle Medicine, specializing in Plant-Based Diets. I am currently pursuing my Ph.D. in Original Medicine, which concentrated on healing through Natural methods.

You are currently developing a wellness TV show that will showcase the rise of problems related to chronic illnesses around the world, including the rise in child obesity, autism, ADD ADHD, etc. Can you please tell us more about this? 

I am working with a great group of people and a veteran producer and director on developing this show. It will bring valuable information to the public about health and wellness, sustainability, and what our role and responsibility is in making a difference with each other and our planet.

You are also writing a book on Health and Wellness. What is the book’s main perspective? Who is it addressing? 

My new book is about the prevention and maintenance of health and well-being. It encompasses all you need to know about health and tips on lifestyle changes that will help you stay healthy!

Insights Greece - Yanna Darilis – A Multifaceted Force in Greek-American Media
Yanna in her beloved Greece

Throughout your career, you have found interesting ways to promote Greece and educate viewers about its rich culture, history, and natural glory. What are you doing in that direction right now? 

I have been part of various productions on Travel and culinary shows, “Mediterranean Blu” aired on PBS in the States and OTE History in Greece. I have also filmed a series named Destination Greece which aired on New Greek Television, and I am working on a new show as we speak.

What are your favourite Greek:

Destinations: Sounio, Patmos, Kos, Milos, Messinia, Ithaca, Zagorochoria, and many, many more! 

Healing places: I love Costa Navarino, in Messinia,  Aqua Blu in Kos, and actually you can create a “ Healing Experience” anywhere you go as long as you incorporate or create peaceful beautiful surroundings- environment, so you can enjoy sleep, self-care, exercise, healthy nutrition, meditation practices- silence, good positive company, swimming, and sun!

Foods / Restaurants: too many to name! Overall I prefer mostly, organic and vegetarian. 

Urban areas/places: All of Athens is great. I love Kifissia, Plaka, and Sounio! 

Emirates to Resume Flights Between Athens and New York 

After more than a year, Dubai-based carrier Emirates has confirmed it will be resuming the popular Fifth Freedom flight between Athens and New York Newark. 

The airline is now looking to step up its network and has resumed flights to ten destinations in the US as it aims to operate its full network by summer.

From June 1st, Emirates will connect Dubai with New York with a stopover in Athens. This means that the current US network continues to grow. 

Emirates will operate daily flights between Athens and Newark on a Boeing 777-300ER. Emirates takes off from Dubai at 10:00 a.m. and lands in Athens at 3:00 p.m. After a two-hour stay, Emirates flies on to New York. 

The flights are integrated into the flight plan as follows:

  • EK209 | Athens – New York Newark | Departure: 5:35 p.m. Arrival: 9:20 p.m.
  • EK210 | New York Newark – Athens | Departure: 11:55 p.m. Arrival: 4:05 p.m. (the following day)

“The resumed link between Greece and the US will open up year round connectivity, facilitate trade, boost tourism and benefit consumers by providing them with choice and convenience. Emirates will also increase its flights to the Greek capital, Athens, flying daily to support the newly resumed service.” said the airline in a statement on its website. 

Patricia Garcia-Gomez: Earth is a she

Leaving the corporate world behind, talented Mexican-American artist Patricia Garcia-Gomez booked a getaway to Naxos island to relax, unwind and get the creative juices flowing.

What was meant to be a four week stay turned into three months of work and play, as Greece gave Patricia the space to create an entire physical and sensory experience at a four level monastery. The beautiful result is Earth is a she, a multi-media installation composed of video, sound and environmental theatre. 

Please tell us about your work in visual media, sound and sensory immersion? 

Insights Greece - Patricia Garcia-Gomez: Earth is a she

Sound and sense are very direct, and they can affect your emotions immediately, without any thought or explanation. That’s because they hold stories, memories, the ancient, everything. My work is about connection to this. An invitation. I’m interested in using sound and sensory immersion to activate the imagination, encourage people to listen deeply to the world around them, and to extend the edges of place and time.

What have been some of your favourite projects to date?

Earth is a she, which I created in Greece, is still among my most favourite. I completely immersed myself in the soul of the land and the people I encountered. Creating it was a bit like an excavation-a constant digging up of emotions and sensations, and I met people  who are now close friends.  I am also very excited about my newest project, Oaxaca. It is a series of intimate portraits and sensory impressions.

Where are you currently based?

I’m in East Marion, Long Island, about two hours outside of Manhattan, very close to the water. The move out of the city was, in fact, inspired by my time in Greece. I felt so good after my daily swims that I marked it on my life plan, “This is how I want to live. I want to be able to swim every day.”  Where I live now backs up to the Long Island Sound, where I swim every day. It’s not Greece, but it is Greece. In essence.

When did you first visit Naxos? 

I first came to Naxos in 2017, on a self-given sabbatical, after a decade of running an award-winning branding agency in New York City (and getting myself fairly exhausted). My goals were simple–swim every day, eat well, slow everything down, write, and create space for what would be next. It was not so much a vacation as it was immersing myself in a fully-engaged creative life.

Tell us about “Earth is a she.” How did it all come about?

Insights Greece - Patricia Garcia-Gomez: Earth is a she

Earth is a she is a site specific installation that I created for the Bazeos Tower, composed of video portraits, sound, and environmental theater. In the installation, video portraits are projected 8 feet high in a space that is invisibly-filled with the smells, sounds and textures of the land just beyond the space where you are sitting. When you enter the room, it may appear to be empty. Attention is drawn to sound, and then the visual begins to take presence.

The installation started to percolate in my mind on my first trip to Naxos. Not as a formed idea, but rather as a sensing. Of place. Of sounds. Of presence. The sound of the bells moving across the mountain tops enchanted me, as did the cicadas. I would drive around the island and pull over to record them.

One night, as the sun was starting to descend,  I saw a shepherdess crossing a wide field with her sheep. She called them and appeared to have them in a bit of a spell. We waited for her on the far side of the field so we could say hello. She laughed with us at the spontaneous oddity of having people run up to her in the field. Have you ever had that feeling of having encountered something that will be very important, but with no information yet? This is the feeling I had when meeting Maria Makari, the shepherdess who would become the subject of the film.

I filled the exhibition room with plants and herbs from the fields Maria works in every day.  The audio, created in collaboration with musician/composer Prassanna Vishwanathan, blends field recordings of Maria with vocals rendered by Prassanna. We collaborated across New York, India, and Greece until we landed on this version, which feels born of the land.

What was the vision of your project? 

Insights Greece - Patricia Garcia-Gomez: Earth is a she

My vision was to honor Maria, a shepherdess, a mother, a woman who walks in deep connection to the land. She reminds us, earth is a she…. On opening night, Maria and I had the first private screening together. Never before have I felt so much responsibility for caring for someone’s story. We watched it seven times together, and she gave me the most gentle embrace afterwards.

Even though it was a very hot summer, people came to sit in the theater, and they lingered, listening in the sound meditation room. One day, someone who lives on the island walked up to me and said “you have captured the essence of the island, thank you.” 

How much time did you spend with Maria?   

I visited Maria in the fields almost every day. Sometimes I would stop and take a few photos, sometimes I would just wave hello and walk beside her. My goal was to get a sense of her, and also get to know the plants, smells, textures, sounds, of the land around her. The more time we spent together, the more fun and light things became. I  don’t speak Greek, so we communicated with eyes and body language. One day when I was trying to ask her about her goats she invited me to join her in milking them–at 5AM! It was hard work, and dirty work, but she handled the animals with so much gentleness. You can see it in the film.

A turning point came when I realised that I only had images of Maria “in the field.” But there was something much bigger about her that I wanted to capture. I invited her up into the Tower, in the room that would house her installation. It is here that we created the large portraits that became the center of the installation. It’s as if all the work we did together was leading to this moment. We didn’t speak, we were just fully present together.

During your time in Naxos you also created ‘Call of the Naxos Moon’ and ‘Prokopios,’ tell us about those? 

Insights Greece - Patricia Garcia-Gomez: Earth is a she

Call of the Naxos Moon, a sound meditation room, is about sacred space and invisible forces. Drawing on the history of the Tower as a monastery,  I wanted to evoke a sense of the ancient that is present there. The room is filled with artifacts collected around and about the Tower. The vocal meditation (an ancient meditation by which one can experience the absolute “unstruck sound,” which we understand as “silence.”) was recorded in the early mornings, the time of day that the air moving through the space is most perceptible. Participants were invited to come in and to do nothing, just listen. Sitting in the room, the voices’ vibrations are felt directly through the body.

I had so much fun with Prokopios, named after the beach on Naxos where it was filmed. Using footage that I shot during my first visit to Naxos in 2017, I created a series of one-minute video triptychs that show the intersection of people’s personal and individual visits to the sea. The sea is universal in that it is powerful for all of us, but how it is powerful is intensely individual. When all these scenes collide with each other, a new timing and cadence is revealed. Some are funny, some peaceful, some absurd. I love the ambiguity. They are mini meditations.

What was the highlight in Naxos?

If I had to pick just one highlight (other than working with Maria and the other artists), it would be immersing myself in its sounds. First, the cicadas. They are an ever-present soundtrack that moves with you no matter where you are on the island. Then, the roaming goat bells. Bells that sound like waterfalls, both near and far in the distance. It’s mesmerizing. The sound becomes a part of you.

Other favorites: daily swims, discovering secret beaches, meeting local artists, driving through the winding mountain villages, getting lost (almost daily), running into daily life (especially weddings!) and being invited to join.

Where did you experience your best swim and food in Naxos?

Insights Greece - Patricia Garcia-Gomez: Earth is a she

I swam every day at Prokopios beach because it provides a long stretch of calm water–and it’s lively. My favorite swim spots , though, are the ones that you have to work harder to get to: Psili Ammos for its remoteness and Hawaii for its wildness. Things aren’t always well-marked in Naxos Greece, which lends a sense of adventure.

My favorite places to eat: Axiotissa (so fresh and bountiful- the best post-swim lunch);

Taverna I Pigi (roasted rooster and beer up in the mountains of Potamia); Paradiso (feet in the sand on the edge of the sea), Kitron Cafe Cocktail Bar (for a beautiful coffee or cocktail),and; Mitos Arternative Bar in Chalki (wood-fire pizza, fantastic hosts who know everything about Naxos, ask for Petros).

What part of Greek island life do you connect with most?

There is something ancient and untamable about Greece that really speaks to me. I could sit for hours listening to the cicadas, or along the sea. I recently learned the Greek word “filoxenia”– the love of strangers and an eagerness to show hospitality. Everything I experienced shows this to be true. This is the heart of it.

Do you plan on travelling or working in Greece again and if so, is there another island or region you would like to see?

Yes! I’ll be back in summer 2021,  leading a retreat that’s about re-setting, connecting to nature and self, making space to be filled up with goodness. Want to join? The global pandemic has left us all in need of a bit of restoration. No other place is as life-affirming as Greece. I would like to go deeper and farther into Greece, and see the places less visited. 

*Watch the official trailer to Earth is a she here- 


Main Image of Patricia Garcia Gomez taken by Patrick Hanlon ©

Cool Ceramics Made in Crete

Talented Greek American artist Alexandra Manousakis remodels her personal experiences into colourful abstract and ceramic art. Her cool collections, exclusively handmade in Crete, delight in small joys, bold lines and vibrant colours! 

When did you begin painting?

Insights Greece - Cool Ceramics Made in Crete

I began when I was four. My parents and teachers quickly saw that I loved it so I was enrolled in different classes and after school programs. I studied art throughout my education and eventually majored in Art, Hellenic Studies and Business at NYU’s Gallating School of Individualized Study. When I moved to Greece 13 years ago, I maintained painting as a hobby and even put on a few solo exhibitions here in Chania. I started to experiment with ceramics in 2012 when I created a line of olive oil and sea salt for our winery called ‘Terroir by Alexandra Manousakis’. Eventually I branched out into making different home goods for friends and family and decided to open my showroom in downtown Chania in July 2019.

What inspires your creations and how would you describe your designs?

I am very much inspired by my experiences here in Greece. Adjusting to a new culture and way of business was quite difficult in the beginning and I often reminisce on these difficulties and remember funny (or not so funny) stories of what it was like to be a Greek-American navigating the Greek system. That being said, the colors and lifestyle in Greece are incredibly influential on my work. It is hard not to be inspired when living in a place like Chania. Beyond my location, I am very much about my process. I love experimenting with materials and seeing how they interact. It’s a continual dialogue for me when creating art between me and the piece.

What do you love most about what you do?

Besides actually creating, I love the freedom I have when creating and the fact that I can mix art with business. I like the challenge of selling art. I love getting lost in color and materials and I love the endless possibilities to make things.

What are a few of your favourite pieces from your range?

Each piece serves a different purpose so I love all of them. I have some larger pieces that I am particularly fond of and then some pieces with names or words that remind me of specific people or events and those always put a smile to my face. I love making and looking at large paintings as well.

Your gorgeous creations are all made in Crete. Tell us more about the materials and craftsmanship? 

Everything is made locally and the clays I experiment with are all sourced from Greece. The art of making ceramics is deeply ingrained in Greek culture; it has been around since ancient times. In ancient Greece, ceramics were made for everything from storing foods and goods, transporting goods, making tableware to being used as urns after cremation. Ceramics were essential for every aspect of life. Today, their use is quite different but ceramicists in Greece are very aware that they are continuing this legacy and respect their craft very much.

Insights Greece - Cool Ceramics Made in Crete

I have spent the last three years refining the way we make our ceramics and what materials we use in order to reach the most desired outcome. It has been an incredible ride; I have learned so much along the way.

What colours do you love working with most?

I love all colors but I always finish off a piece with a bold black mark or pattern. I love the depth that black has. I love how certain and unforgiving it is as a color (of course this aspect poses its challenges as well!). I think it has to do with the way I see the world sometimes. I am very black and white in my thinking. I don’t do so well with gray areas, lol. I like for things to be defined and clear and because so often in life things are not that way, at least I can make them that way on my art!

How often will you release a new range? 

I’ve only had the showroom for the last year and my e-shop for a few months. The first two collections went better than I could have ever expected so I have held on to the last range. I am working on a whole new collection with different clay and that should be out by next Spring. I almost always am working on the next batch of designs which may or may not get released. I’m still testing out different ideas and seeing what works best.

What have been some of your most popular products so far and do you custom make?

I have noticed that most people buy entire table settings for their home. I thought people would be more interested in buying one or two pieces but that is not the case. The larger pieces are very popular and those are made to order. My paintings are the most popular and I just happened to sell the last one available yesterday! I have a new range of paintings coming out by next summer.

Is your studio in Chania open to the public? And do you ship internationally?

I have a showroom in downtown Chania that is open to the public and people can come and buy from. It’s a very small space but just what I need for now and quite central. We do ship internationally and have sent all over the world.

Tell us about your childhood growing up in the US and spending summers in Chania. What are some of your fondest memories?

I’d say my fondest memories were of coming here to Chania every summer! I grew up in Washington, DC. I had a very urban upbringing and I love big cities. Chania was the only exception to my rule of living in big cities (I went from DC to NYC for school and stayed there for a couple of years). I loved the contrast of my American life to my Greek life. This was the major pull that got me to try out life in Chania, this idealization of the place that I loved going to every summer.

What was it like moving from New York to Chania? Did it take time for you to adjust?

I’m still adjusting, lol! It was and is very difficult at times. As many times as I had been here, nothing could prepare me for such a different mentality or way of life. I was 23 years old when I came- a woman (girl by the standards here) and trying to do business in a predominantly male society. It was tough. Some things are still shocking or annoying but at least now I know what to expect and how to take care of it. Even today, I will ask a question in a business meeting and the question will be answered to my husband, not to me. I think the whole experience helps you choose your battles. What is worth fighting for and what isn’t. A very valuable lesson to learn in my opinion. Of course, every place has its pros and cons. Many times I get asked where life is better and that is just an impossible question to answer. Both places have so many great qualities and both places have some negatives. Washington DC will always be the place where I grew up, in fact I only recently stopped calling it home. Now Chania is very much my home.

Where are your favourite places in Chania to eat and drink?

By default I love going to my husband’s restaurant on the harbor which is called Salis. I also love Ginger, The Five, Kross Coffee and sitting at our winery and drinking wine. Don’t know if I’m allowed to say that but its true!

What is your favourite beach in Chania for a swim?

Falasarna beach. Just beautiful.


Amalia Melis: Sculpting Stories With Words and Wires

Living between Athens, Andros and New York, writer/sculptor Amalia Melis talks about her life as an artist in Greece.

By Amalia Melis 

I have a vivid imagination. When I was a kid, I wanted to live on the bottom of a Spanish olive jar eating olives and drinking brine to survive. It’s true. I live in my head: I think more than I do on this earth at times. I still observe clouds and watch ants in the dirt.

I love to write. I have practiced almost every form of writing there is to earn a living in Insights Greece - Amalia Melis: Sculpting Stories With Words and WiresNew York and in Athens. News reporting, features, essays, poems, short stories, speeches, ghostwriting. I always felt like an oddball and writing gave me voice: it allows me to role play without appearing anywhere in person. I have interviewed dictators, drug traffickers, award winning writers, for newspapers and magazines and found I can plow through any situation.

I grew up in a chaotic household in the Greek immigrant neighborhood of Astoria (New York) with my younger sister and two very hardworking parents who also made things in their spare time. My mom is a self-taught painter and my dad is a creative mad genius who makes things from nothing. His family films were entire productions and I was often his helper, so all this activity rubbed off on me.

Insights Greece - Amalia Melis: Sculpting Stories With Words and Wires
Sculptures using discarded metal & wire

I started making assemblage sculptures about 10 years ago. I find discarded metal and wires thrown on the side of the street or near garbage cans and I drag them home to see what new life I can breathe into them. The assemblages I ‘ve been making are my three-dimensional stories. I am a hunter of many things; metal, wires, sea glass, sea pottery, rocks, whatever strikes my fancy.

I just listen to what comes out of me and go to what attracts me. I listen to what is happening in nature around me. I listen to what happens between people. I walk the path the energy around me takes me on. I feel like I am at the right place right now in my life because I see how connected everything and everyone is around me. Maybe it is how I best process and express pain.

When I write fiction I am sculpting a story that hides a real pain or truth. It has many layers and the more I work on it the more it takes on a life of its own. When I cover a news event as a reporter, I report the facts. I do not embellish.

Insights Greece - Amalia Melis: Sculpting Stories With Words and Wires
Writing Studio in Andros

The Aegean Arts Circle writing workshops are my pride and joy. I created them when I needed a writing community. I was alone in a new country. I brought the talent to me and from the experiences in these workshops I flourished as a person and a writer. I was working on my first novel, which took years to write and finish and I was privy to stories emerging from other participants who came from all over the world to be part of these small annual groups in Andros. We have made friendships that span the seas. Many of us publish, work professionally as writers. I have published short stories, essays and poems many of which were worked on in the workshops.

Andros was the first exotic experience for me as a child. We visited my great grandmother, a grandmother, stone houses my parents and generations before them were born in. In Andros, all my senses opened. Lemon blossoms, dirt, chickens, fresh eggs, ballo dancing, violin and other traditional instruments, stories; piles of stories about the past- the seamen stories, island stories.

From that moment on I became a gatherer. I gathered these stories filled with failure, struggle, harsh conditions and I let them incubate inside me. I used them to write my own novel about three generations of women from a Greek island who search for home; to belong, to be.

Andros has had the luck to have the Goulandris Museums (archeological and contemporary ones) the Kydionefs Foundation and, Adamantia Art Space, a lovely gallery in Nimborio, among other spaces. I see as much as I can each summer on the island. I participated with my assemblages in several group shows in Apikia at Blue Enigma. Visitors should explore all art events organized in Andros. There is also hiking, roller blading, biking, skating, scuba diving, boating and more. They can come to write or swim and visit precious monasteries maintained for generations with great care. Andros is unfolding as an island. Just exploring the island gets us to explore ourselves.