To say we’re excited about the My Big Fat Greek Wedding sequel would be an understatement (We can practically still feel our abs aching from laughing so hard at the first one). The newest cast member of the crazy and endearing Portokalos family is actress Elena Kampouris (who we’re pretty much considering our new muse), who stars as Paris, Toula and Ian’s daughter. We chatted with Elena about what it was like being the new kid on set, her beauty regimen, and what her last meal would be (enjoyed in the presence of bulldogs and sloths, naturally). A girl after our own hearts.
From start to finish, what would be your ideal food day?
To start the day off, I’d have some Nature’s Path cereal in vanilla almond milk with chunks of dark chocolate thrown in the mix, and a plate of watermelon chunks on the side. Lunch would be a kale salad tossed with sliced chicken, apples, nuts and a fruity vinaigrette to top it off. I’d wash it down with my go-to drink, a whole lemon squeezed into sparkling water; this bubbly substitute to soda is great for a little detox action. I love to eat a lot of little portioned meals throughout the day. So if I’m feeling a snack, I’d go for chopped apples spread with honey and sprinkled with cinnamon, or some veggies with edamame hummus.
Dinner would be Greek food because I’m Greek and you can’t go wrong with grilled octopus doused in lemon, and Loukoumi (rose gelatin cubes dusted in powdered sugar) my favorite Greek treat, for dessert! And a non-alcoholic ginger beer to polish it off.
How do you practice beauty from the inside out?
I strongly believe that when it comes to health and beauty, what you put in your body and how you take care of it is all related. I like my food like I like my music – old school – so I’m a Paleo foodie (with the exception of legumes and my favorite desserts, because I can’t say no to cookies!). I eat lots of fruit, meat, fish and kale! I keep it active by kickboxing, swimming, and fencing; I hit the gym everyday.
What are your morning and nightly beauty routines? (please be specific re. product)
In the morning I run a cool washcloth over my face, exfoliate my lips with my favorite Lush Bubble Gum Lip Scrub and hydrate with my Nivea Olive Oil & Lemon Lip Balm. I like to go for simple and natural when I’m not working, so I just cover up small blemishes and keep it fresh, because when I’m working I usually have a lot on. I love Lancôme Effacernes Waterproof Concealer for the job. I don’t wear mascara much so I’ll just curl my lashes to dezombify my eyes. At night, I love to use Simple Facial Wipes. Throughout the day, I make sure to drink lots of water so I get natural moisture for my skin; Fiji water is my favorite. Sometimes I’ll use a natural skincare remedy that’s been handed down to me, like some sea salt mixed with olive oil and honey; it makes for a luscious exfoliant.
What was it like being the newcomer in My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2? Were you nervous going into it?
Being the newcomer in a cast that was already so close made me pretty nervous! Here I was…the newbie, the unproven entity, the gamble. No one knew what they were getting with me and if I was a problem in any way it would make everything awkward, but they showed me so much love first day on set. I felt all the Greek passion – which is my people showing up for me – and that’s what this movie’s all about – family unity and love, which reaches across all cultures. To have been able to work with such beloved characters (and to now be a part of that family) is still unbelievable to me.
Did you love the first one? Is your family similar to your character’s at all?
Did I love the first one? Not only am I positive our DVD player at home’s been programmed to only play that movie but it’s been my family’s favorite since it came out. The Portokalos couldn’t depict the Kampouris/Hunchback clan any more accurately (FYI my name means hunchback in Greek). And that’s why I think this movie is so special to myself and so many people because it truly captures Greek families with all their craziness and all their charm (which isn’t just the Greeks, but all families). Except the Greeks are louder…always louder…
Anything you learned about Greek food, or a particular food you fell in love with that you didn’t know before?
I had my first experience with the scrumptious dish called Loukoumades, which are little donut dumplings coated in hot honey and sprinkled with walnuts (they remind me of my bulldog!). I had never tried it before one of our Greek crew members brought it to set, which is insane considering the amount of times I’ve been to Greece (I have family all over the islands and let me tell you Greeks know how to feast). My life has forever changed!
Was your family one for big family dinners? What would you have growing up?
Big family dinners are what the Greeks are all about! In Greece, when Sunday night rolls around, I’m celebrating Greek night with my family, which takes place throughout all the villages. ‘Greek Night’ is filled with live Greek music, traditional Greek dancing and of course, a feast filled to the brim with Greek food – basically heaven. There was always lots of spanakopita, dolmades, moussaka and plenty of baklava to go around!
How do you always start your day?
I always start my day by greeting my little bulldog Petunia with a big hug; she sprinkles me with unicorn dust for good luck and a bright day.
What hair products can’t you live without?
I was thankfully given thick hair from my Mom and Dad; voluminous hair runs in the family but it can be certainly be frustrating sometimes! If I’m going for a nice beachy look I’ll use the Bumble and Bumble Surf Spray. My hair is my trademark, so I try and take extra good care of it, but for the most part I like to mix my own natural potions up from what’s been passed down to me, mostly holistic in nature – lots of lemon, honey, coconut and olive oil. Sometimes I use a deep conditioner treatment when I’m recovering from a color job – which I recently had to do coming back from brunette for Greek wedding – and that’s the Eslabondexx Sustainer.
Are there foods you think make your skin glow and foods that don’t? What are they?
I noticed a major difference in my skin when I started eating kale and blueberries. I’ve turned the consumption of both into a daily thing now! The lemon water is also something that has helped my skin too; it’s great for flushing toxins out and hydrating. I stay away from fried, greasy foods because that’s when my skin greets me with pesky pimples, which is no fun. That’s why I love Paleo life, because lots of the foods the Paleo diet doesn’t include are what make me sluggish or provoke my skin (like pizza and cheese, unfortunately).
Some new workouts your obsessed with…
I’m really into kickboxing right now. Letting off steam with some superhero punches and roundhouse kicks is my kind of sweat session – not to mention helpful for self defense. But I have been prone to pull out my sword and represent, seeing as my Pappou was an Oxford Blues swordsman who got me interested in fencing!
The three Instagram accounts you can’t live without…
Any and all animal Instagram accounts, specifically ones with Bulldogs (because their pudgy perfection completes me) and sloths, because they are my spirit animal. I respect their lifestyle. I believe Bulldogs and sloths will one day take over the planet.
What would your last meal be? Who would it be with?
My last meal would be a delicious, fat, juicy steak medium rare with salted sweet potato fries and chocolate dipped strawberries with Macarons for dessert. It would be with my family, a bunch of Bulldogs running around, and sloths leisurely swinging from trees.
What are your favorite cities for food? What restaurants do you go to in each?
Because I don’t drink coffee and am a tea devotee, in my home turf of NY, I love to go to the tea room at Bergdorf Goodman. The essence of tea is super healing to me. I love the exotic teas Teavana offers. If I want more energy I’ll have green and if I want to get into sleepy mode in the evenings I’ll go for chamomile; I love how there’s a tea for every mood! Aside from the tea room, I love Milos for authentic Greek food, which is hard to come by when not in Greece. In LA, I can’t not grab dinner at Koi; their sashimi eel is out of this world – also, who doesn’t love a good miso soup (I’m a sucker for tofu)? When filming Greek wedding in Toronto, the foodie in me went rogue and tried out all the yummy spots. My favorite was Jacob’s Steakhouse – the most savory steak I have ever had in my life hands down.
What’s always in your bag?
Windex! Just kidding. Purell for the germs, my Avene Thermal Spring Water Facial Spray and my mini Lush perfume in Lust, which is my must-have, signature scent even though it stains white clothing and gives me red spots if it hits my skin. The smell is so special I deal with it carefully!
In the same vein as ‘what is the new black’ in fashion, what’s the new potato right now?
Sitting back with some Shakespeare, preferably an English bulldog by my feet (by the name of Petunia) with some English breakfast tea!
*Elena Kampouris, photographed at Milos in New York, NY by Danielle Kosann.