Comedy and connection: The view through Arianna Papalexopoulos’ lens

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By Marianna Alepidis

Have you ever been asked ‘do you speak Greece?’ when someone finds out about your Greek heritage? Or perhaps, ‘do you believe in Zeus?’. If so, Arianna Papalexopoulos knows exactly what you’ve been through and has the videos to prove it. 

Her name has become synonymous with Greek comedy across social media by taking the mundane, yet incredibly specific Greekisms of the diasporic experience and transforming them into relatable tableaus; whether it’s conversations with your judgmental ‘theia’ or the interactions we have when visiting the family’s motherland.

“It’s absolutely inspiring and motivating to find a community that is truly cheering for you and I have found that with Greeks all over the world. I was surprised to have a large population of Greeks in Germany who support my work, in the UK, Australia and Canada,” Arianna told The Greek Herald.

Almost a decade ago, during a time where YouTube reigned king, Arianna along with her friend Megan Timpane, launched TwinGirlPeeks (@twingirlpeeks) right after graduating from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Arianna behind the lens.

The channel started as a means to break into the industry and a way to escape from the curveballs that life had thrown their way.

“We started writing comedy sketches as an outlet to stay creative and build our portfolios. We had no demo reels at the time and in order to get representation in LA, you need to be able to show managers and agents your work. Flash forward, Megan is no longer acting but I took the channel into my own hands,” Arianna said.

The now actor, writer and producer naturally branched out to Instagram and TikTok as the platforms gained more traction for their video-based content. After getting her Masters, she launched into her content creation, creating a synergy between her two degrees: theatre and digital media.

“In early 2020 as the pandemic hit and I started working remotely, I thought, ‘I’ve got nothing to lose, I’m gonna go hard in the content creation game.’ Before, it was under the general comedy umbrella and then I tapped into the Greek niche. I played an American dude on a date with a Greek American girl and that video garnered a lot of traction,” she said.

“At the time I had maybe 4,000 followers and I didn’t know if my current followers, who were mostly based in America, were going to relate to this humor. With hindsight, my only regret is not creating this type of content sooner. Although it’s Greek comedy, it also transcends across other cultures and ethnicities as well.”

Arianna amassed over 225,000 followers across her Instagram and TikTok, thanks to her sheer determination to carve out a place for herself in entertainment.

“When you audition, whether that be for a TV show, or film production, or theatre, you are at the mercy of others saying yes to you. Taking it into my own hands and being proactive with my career was the most important thing because it gives me the power back,” she said.

Arianna on set.

There’s no doubt that social media has irrevocably changed the way the world interacts with art. Despite coming from a more classical background of theatre, Arianna has crafted her own way of engaging an audience behind a pocket-sized screen.

“I love the pre-production of it. I get the idea and then I’m thinking about how to bring it to life. I create so much and I look at life and situations through a different lens. I’m always getting inspired by the mundane or even dreadful situations or interactions and I think, ‘that’s a sketch.’ I really don’t want to be making any of my characters caricatures. I really try to make it very true to the culture,” Arianna explained.

“Working on your own with a phone is not as magical as theatre, but it is special in its own way. With social media you have to remember that people are watching your content on a phone and scrolling quickly. If you don’t catch them in those five seconds, they’re on to the next.”

Social media has brought in some critics, with some even questioning Arianna’s ‘Greekness,’ given her maternal family holds Italian heritage. Like water off a duck’s back, she pays naysayers no mind, knowing how much she immersed herself in her father’s culture.

Arianna is one of the creators of TwinGirlPeeks (@twingirlpeeks).

“I was raised going to Greece every August, since I was a baby, for two weeks. It wasn’t until I was 14 years old that I told my father that I wanted to spend the entire summer in his hometown, Kalavryta, in the northern Peloponnese,” Arianna said.

“I didn’t speak Greek at the time and only knew some words and certain phrases. I stayed with my theia and theio who didn’t speak English and found my ‘parea’ in the village. I became engrossed in Greek culture that summer and chose to spend all of my remaining summers through high school and college in Greece. I’ll always have ‘one foot here in America and one foot there in Greece’.”

You can find more of Arianna’s hilarious videos on Instagram (@ariannapapalexopoulos) and TikTok (@twingirlpeeks).

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