Vasilios Filippakis is the creator and star of Fak Yaass, a dramedy series following the story of Nico Nicolakis and his big Greek family as they journey through accepting Nico no matter his sexuality.
Q: ‘Fak Yaass’ will premiere 17 June on OUTtv. How are you feeling as the date approaches?
A: It is! I am beyond thrilled for this show to finally air! This has been a labour of love for me for over three years and most of the team has been working on it for two years now.
I am so proud of the show. It exceeded all my expectations and I honestly can’t wait for everyone see what we’ve been talking about for so long! I usually, 99% of the time, feel the way I just said, but there is still that 1% that’s kinda freaking out as the 17th creeps up.
Q: The show is based on real life events. Has it been an emotional rollercoaster to revisit the past and make such a personal show?
A: It has been an emotional rollercoaster to make such a personal show. There are so many scenes and situations where I really had to take a step back and think: “do you really want to share this?”
But in those moments I realised that those are the moments I NEED to share. The hard truths, those difficult conversations and challenging situations are something that all of us experience in our lives one way or another. By hiding those things, I’m hiding myself and my truth – opposite of what I wanted- so I fought it and trusted my gut.
Q: ‘Fak Yaass’ looks to be a blend of humour and poignancy. How did you approach the challenge of finding a balance between the two?
A: It’s definitely a dramedy. I love shows, or movies, that can make me laugh then moments later make me cry. Ultimately, all of our lives are exactly like that. One moment we’re crying, the next we are laughing. Just being realistic and bringing as much truth the project is how Anthony Filangeri, my writer, and I approached the creation of FAK YAASS.
Q: A family generational clash is at the heart of the story. Do you think this show can be a helpful outlet for people struggling with similar issues?
A: In the show we really do highlight the clash between new age millennial views and old traditional values. I think lots of us deal with similar issues within our family, whether it be a career, relationship, sexuality or a certain way of life.
FAK YAASS has a way of showing that we are all the same to the core. We all want to love and to be loved and sometimes all it takes is patience and an openness to be educated as a way to absolve ignorance. I would be beyond grateful if this show can shed a small light on families and individuals struggling with these issues and help them find peace in some way.
Q: What would be your advice to anyone struggling to receive acceptance from their family?
A: My advice to anyone struggling to receive acceptance from their family is to never give up hope. Find people around you that love you and accept you fully. You can make anyone your chosen family and all that takes is a little love.
I would want those people to never lose sight of themselves, their dreams and their future. Never stop being who you are in your truth because sadly when you shut yourself off from being seen, others will around you too. By being free and living a life that is truly your own, you allow everyone you come into contact with be 100% themselves too.
Q: Is the character of Nico entirely a reflection of yourself? If not, how does he differ from you?
A: You know, there are many aspects to Nico that are me, but I feel like, right now, I am a more grown up mature version.
A lot of what you see is exactly how I, Vasilios, experienced in those situations. Nico begins as a pretty selfish guy, someone who ignores his family constantly – where as Vasilios, not so much – I talk to my mom typically everyday (hi mom)! I wouldn’t say it’s entirely a reflection of me fully but as this show is rooted in my life, the people in it and the situations I’ve experienced, it’s pretty spot on.
Q: Have your family seen any of ‘Fak Yaass’ yet? What is their reaction to the project?
A: Ah, yes. Yes they have. Over Thanksgiving when the show was still in its rough cut, I sat my family down to watch it.
Now, the story really focuses on the relationship between my character Nico and his Papou (grandpa). He was the person I was most anxious to show. I really put my experience with him on the front line of the show’s conflict. The thing I was most anxious about, and struggled with in creating this show, was how I wanted the Papou to have a compelling arc. It was so hard to show my Papou the scenes that when you watch are so grounded in the harsh reality, however, I believe I am offering a chance for my whole family to learn something about love.
At the end of the day, my family is super proud of me and really believes that there is so much my personal story can teach the world. As for my Papou, honestly, I am not quite sure what he thinks about the show but has told me numerous times that he loves me. And I love him.
Q: There are so many fantastically talented people involved in the show – including director Matthew McLaughlin, co-writer Anthony Filangeri, and producer/actor Leanne Noelle Smith. What was the atmosphere like on set? Was there a sense of family between the team?
A: We have one of the best teams, ever. I have known Anthony since high school, Leanne and I don’t leave each other’s side, much like me and peanut butter, and Matthew and I have been so close since the start of the curation of this show three years ago. Over that time the four of us worked so hard and tirelessly to make this all happen.
When you’re working with people who have the same passion and goal that you do, everything seems to align. That energy bled over into the atmosphere on set perfectly. Even the actors on set mentioned how amazing the energy was. It was honestly like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. Everyone could feel it.
Q: What was the most fun you have during the entire process of making ‘Fak Yaass’?
A: The most fun I had during all this had to be the time spent on set filming. It’s funny because filming is actually the least amount of time put into the project in the big picture of things. We have been working on this project for so long that those six days felt so short but gave us all so much.
To have a set that is filled with an amazing crew, all your best friends and your family!? It really doesn’t get better than that!
Q: What are your hopes for the show and your future?
A: What you’ll be seeing on OUTtv is “the first taste of FAK YAASS.” We want to use this material to gain global distribution with the aim to film a full season. We have so much planned for this show. It’s thrilling, and we really think the whole world needs it.
As for my future, acting has been my biggest aspiration in life, since I was a child. It sounds crazy but I am living my dreams and am so grateful for every opportunity I’ve had. I just want to keep doing what I’m doing. I am a firm believer that anything is possible in this world and that no dream is too small.