If there’s something (other than the word “malaka”) that fans remember about Gogglebox’s Anastasia it’s that she’s loud and proud and very Greek. But life hasn’t always been easy growing up in Australia as a child of migrants.
The straight-talking television commentator says she was the victim of bullying because of her cultural background, but that it hasn’t stopped her from taking pride in her heritage. “Growing up Greek was hard, even though I was born in Australia,” she tells SBS Guide.
“My parents didn’t speak English, and we were constantly being called wogs – it was awful. I survived though”. She adds: “It was hard socially as well, as my parents didn’t let me do a lot of things. As they were in a new country and spoke no English, they were scared to let us be free. So I missed out on a lot of parties etc.”
Despite her experience, Anastasia by no means gravitated away from her culture. “I love how I can speak, read and write Greek,” she explains, “I have strong family values, I use my hands to talk (that’s very Greek), I follow our religion, I love our religion [and] I love how I am loud and my family are all loud, we have fun when we get together at BBQs.”
“Greeks are very passionate people, I am glad I am passionate. No matter what, my family will always stand by me. I do the same for my children and I love teaching them about our Greek roots. Their father was actually born in Greece, so he also tells them a lot about our great history and country.”
But Anastasia is sure to note that, “In saying all this, I must add that I am also a proud Australian and would never live anywhere but here.”
The often side-splittingly funny star always knew she was destined for the screen and now in her third season of the show, is showing no signs of slowing down. “I have always wanted to be on TV, I told my family I would be famous one day LOL,” Anastasia jokes.
“I love filming and being on TV, it has given me a new lease on life.”
Her biggest fans are of course her family but Anastasia says that her children have largely stopped watching the episodes together, instead telling her: “Oh mum, we see you live every day.” As for everyone else she says, “My mother is very proud of me and I am sure if my dad was alive he would have killed me for saying Malaka all the time! My younger brother Bill thinks it is hilarious when people stop me in the street. All in all, I have had a lot of support from my family and friends.”
Alongside her partner-in-crime and fellow Greek Faye, Anastasia critiques everything Australians are watching on TV. Something she has noticed however, is that cultural diversities aren’t always represented.
“I think diversity on TV is essential. We live in a multi-cultural society of all shapes, sizes and culture,” she says. “Viewers need to be able to relate when watching TV. But in saying this, I also think if there is to be diversity on TV it has to be for all the right reasons.”
And her own story is an example of just what viewers have to gain when casts reflect a wider portion of our society.
Gogglebox airs 7.30pm Wednesday on Lifestyle and 8.30pm Thursday on Ten.