Ana Sevo has a love for entertainment and throughout the years has tried her hand at short films, musical theatre and currently working in the television industry.
She is the founder of Meraki TV- a web broadcast show for second, third and fourth generation Hellenes living around the world- with an aim to connect Greeks from Australia, the USA, UK, South Africa, New Zealand and Argentina.
Ana and her team recently won the NSW Premier’s Multicultural Award for Best Community TV and spoke to GCT about her passion for Greek people and culture.
What is your name and line of work?
Ana Sevo and I work in Video Production.
Where were you born and where do you live today?
Where are your ancestors from?
Mum's side is from Makedonia - up high, close to the border and Dad is from Pyrgo, Peloponnesos.
Tell us about Meraki TV, how did it come about?
The idea of Meraki TV began back in 2001. I looked around and saw that the show that I wanted to watch was not in existence. One that spoke my language and talked about the things I was interested in. One that represented my unique experience of the two cultures that had deeply embedded themselves into my heart and psyche. Greek TV from Greece was ok, but truth be told it represented by parents' generation, not mine. So I woke up one morning and said - "Gee! That's something I'd like to create." As it happens when you set an intention in life - people appeared who wanted to help. Everyone I spoke to about it would offer an idea, a lead, then some expertise and time, and finally even sponsors with money.
It started as Its My Meraki in 2006 and focused on music videos and greek baraki nightlife in Australia. I took some time off to become a mum and then it re-emerged in 2012 as Meraki TV - the web series, and now to our full-blown weekly version on Foxtel since 2015.
What have been some of the rewards and challenges being involved in Meraki TV?
The rewards have been countless. Every week I get to learn more about amazing Greeks here in Australia, re-learn ancient and modern Greek history/philosophy/mythology etc - and it’s my job! But my favourite highlight is always when someone comes up to me and says "I love your show! We sooooo needed something like this - thank you so much for doing it". And especially when kids say they watch us. That's when I know we've done something really worthwhile. Embedding into the next generation a Greek identity that they can be proud of.
As for challenges, to be honest the biggest is financial. Everyone involved in Meraki TV has donated their time, effort, talent and expertise. I'm so humbled by how much is given by my team. We have so many plans to advance the show and expand it but budget still holds us captive.
You recently won the Premier's Multicultural Award for Best Community TV. What did it mean to you to receive such recognition?
It meant so much to me because it didn't just acknowledge me but the whole team. The time, effort, passion, inspiration, expertise and tenacity of each and everyone. Meraki TV has so many different perspectives because of the myriad of people who donate their perspective. It also acknowledged the quality of our program and that is of the utmost importance to me. Every episode we ask, "What can we do better? How can we make this a program that has every Greek Australian brimming with pride?"
It was also important to me because in multicultural Australia, Greeks are no longer a concern - we're considered to be assimilated. It isn't considered a big need for our culture to be supported. An award like this was a big win for the Greek community as much as Meraki TV. It acknowledged that Greek culture is still important.
What inspires you?
Positive change. Any time I see a possibility of positive change in a person, society or a not so ideal situation I feel inspired. We all have so much to give. It’s one of the goals of Meraki TV- to show just how much gets given by ordinary and extraordinary people. These stories inspire us all to do and be better.
How has your upbringing influenced what you do?
One of the best things about my upbringing is that I was immersed in Greek music and 'kefi' (joy). I joke with people that I had a better social life as a kid than I have now! Our parents' generation didn't need perfect circumstances to party. At the drop of the hat they'd gather at someone's house - one mum would bring a pastitsio, another a tzatziki, the men would cook some meat - music would blare, drinks would flow and there would be singing and dancing. Even if they'd only just finished a 14 hour shift. They understood how precious life was, having witnessed way too much atrocity back home. It really taught me that 'kefi' is an extremely precious gift that we Greeks have.
My upbringing also taught me strength. I'd hear the stories of what my parents had been through and deep down I knew that in my genes was the strength that they had. If they could create so much out of so little then I needed to demand more from myself. Those things brewed for many years and especially after becoming a Mum I knew that it was important that those things be passed on. Meraki TV is part of that mission for me.
Have you been to Greece?
Yes - it's been a while now since, but I can't wait to take my son and watch him fall in love with it.
Aside from your family, which Greeks have influenced you?
Harry Michaels - the Greek Variety Show and Lets Go Greek Endaxi are my benchmarks for Meraki TV. Mary Coustas - watching her career as a young girl gave me courage to break out of the 'good Greek girl' mould. DJ Krazy Kon - the odds were stacked against an Australian DJ with a Greek background making any kind of mark on the Greek music scene. And yet it's his CD you'll find in English music stores when you look under 'Greek.'
My whole team - every single week. They will find time in crazy busy schedules, message me at near midnight because they are so excited about a story they just HAVE to do. They constantly bring new ideas to the table and have an unending passion. I'm so humbled and honoured by these people.
What is one piece of ancestral knowledge or advice that you remember to this day?
My uncle told me if you want to REALLY get to know someone - either get them really angry or really drunk. This strategy has been spot on every time!
What is your favourite Greek food?
Kourabiedes! With boliko (plenty) icing sugar - YUM!!!!