Yanna Darilis: Taking the World by Storm

This week’s Human of the Week is Yanna Darilis. Yanna has seemingly done it all – modeled for world famous designers, on camera talent, built up a television channel, and even co-hosted the Olympics (seriously!). Despite all her immense success, she is humble and soft-spoken, while simultaneously being fierce and strong-minded. She is born and raised in Queens and runs her business out of the heart of Greek town, Astoria. She has shown us you truly can do absolutely anything you put your mind to.



You’ve had an extensive career in both Greek and American media – what do you find is the biggest difference between the two?


I am very fortunate to have worked on both sides of the world, because it definitely broadened my outlook. I learned many things working in Greece from a European perspective and I believe I brought an American point of view to Greece. Upon returning to the States, I had a European take on things and so, I kind of feel like a citizen of the world now. The biggest difference was the culture and the mind set, two very different schools of thought and ways of doing things. As a Greek-American born and raised in New York, living and working in Greece was difficult for the first couple of years and it took a very long time to adjust and understand the mentality, however it was an amazing experience, I feel as much Greek as an American and Greece is my second home.



In 2004, you were chosen to host the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympics – can you tell us a little bit about that experience?


Having been chosen to MC the pre-game show of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games Opening and Closing Ceremonies was the greatest honor and highlight of my career. It was a magical experience to be part of this historical event of the return of the Olympic Games to their birthplace, Greece. The Athens Olympic Committee worked diligently to make the Opening and Closing Ceremony and Games a success and unforgettable experience and I am proud to have been part of this. I was also a voice talent for both the Olympic Games and Paraolympic Games.


What do you think has been the biggest challenge in your career, thus far?

I believe the biggest challenge was constantly re-inventing myself as I matured and evolved in the media industry.  My media career began in 1994, as a fitness host, evolving into a lager role as a TV presenter, while simultaneously modeling, writing fitness articles, and going back to college to study media, was difficult. By 2002 I created and executive produced my first TV show and in 2012 I was re-branding and building a community Greek-American TV Channel.



 A lot of your work isn’t solely Greek , or solely American, but intertwined between the two – such as Kalimera USA – is there a reason behind that?



Yes you are right.  It’s Greek-American – a culture of its own! We Americans born of Greek descent have close ties to our Greek culture due to the fact that our parents and grandparents embedded it in us, along with tradition and religion. The hard fact we face today is that that the 2nd generation of Greeks in America do not speak the language of the their grandparents. My partners and I took on a difficult project of rebranding and re-building an existing 25 year old Greek TV Channel in the Tri-State Area.


One of the biggest hurdles we face is gearing towards the new generation of the Greek –American audience who does not speak Greek well and relates more to English language programming. I had to creatively produce some programming that would cater to the existing Greek speaking Greek – American audience living in the States, and also create Greek-American programming to reach out to the new generation who relates better to English language programming. I believe all TV channels that fall under the International TV channels in America category are facing the reality of language barriers with the new generation. A great example is Univision and Telemundo, who have created English language Latin programming to cater to the new generation of Latinos.


Kalimera USA is a good example of a new generation Greek-American program, In English, Kalimera means “Goodmorning USA” in Greek, and is geared to the new generation Greek-Americans in hope to introduce successful Greeks abroad making a difference in the US and around the world in English and Greek!

While being a widely regarded media personality, you also have a fashion career spanning nearly 20 years – including work with designer houses like Valentino and Oscar de la Renta. Do you think that the media world and fashion world go hand in hand?


I believe that fashion today is unfortunately controlled by the media & entertainment industries more than ever, who are the driving force of fashion, so, yes, they do work hand in hand in an underlining way, from design to advertising to television, film and music. It is all interrelated, intertwined and a necessary dynamic between each other.


 Is there one you’re more passionate about?


I am passionate about the pursuit of happiness…


Can you tell us of your work with NGTV?


New Greek TV and newgreektv.com, is geared towards the NEW generation of Greeks in America. Our vision for New Greek TV is to continue the legacy of the 25 year channel servicing the Greek-American community with our new fresh approach that will cater to the existing audience, the Greek audience that has migrated to the United States and for the new generation of Greeks in America.


New Greek TV is developing a bridge between Greece and Greek Americans by showcasing all that Greece has to offer, featuring current events and news from Greece, the United States and our community. Our original productions from New York showcase and introduce successful Greeks and Greek Americans that are making the difference in our community and around the world.


Our Website newgreektv.com has been developed to serve as an informational platform for all Greeks around the world that provides the latest updates, videos, a place to voice opinions, and the ability to submit and report a story from anywhere around the world.


New Greek TV is an ongoing work in progress and hopes to meet the various needs of our community today. We are open to all suggestions and collaborations.


You have seemingly always been business and entrepreneurial minded – from just 19 you were managing huge fitness centers, and making strides as business woman – do you have any advice for women and girls who are just starting on their own business paths?

In a nut shell; education is key, gain experience, work with good mentors, be open to learning daily, make goals about your future, plan your future goals, and keep in mind when you love what you do it does not feel like work, if work is taking over your life you need to re-evaluate your life and work situation to create a balance.

My advice to all women is to know yourself, love yourself, know what you want, dream, think positive, never settle for less, educate yourself and work hard so you can make your goals and dreams come true and become the wonderful strong woman you really are.