Seldom do you meet a kid like 8-year-old Jamie Betsis who can drop a punchline with a dry sense of humour and deliver it with the imagination of her youth.
The young Greek Australian has us in stitches from the moment we meet her and talent agent Terri Svoronos, at her uncle’s café in Richmond on Good Thursday, in between dyeing red eggs with her grandmother Fani, who she is visiting from Sydney.
You would never guess that her interview with Neos Kosmos, is her first solo interview, or that she will go on stage for the first time ever, on 14 May, to host the Kidz Fashion Week that will take place at Sydney Town Hall.
For every question we ask, Jamie has a story to tell with a funny ending, a twist, and she admits that it is the laughter she loves the most.
“The thing that I will probably enjoy the most [on stage] is the crowd and to get people to laugh”, she says, admitting that she is a tad nervous, of course, since this will be her first time …if you don’t count the time “I was ushered on stage by my dad when I was two, and all I could think of was to run for my life and hide behind my mother,” who we all know as “Effie”, Greek Australian actor and writer, Mary Coustas.
It is through Mary Coustas’ Instagram page, that Terri Svoronos discovered Jamie.
“So, what happened is that my mum’s Instagram page is all… mine. It’s all about my very first everything! And my mum has her “Effie” Instagram page as well. And I’ve been doing advertising for her show this week.” Jamie explains.
“The funny thing,” Jamie adds, “is that the day before Terri contacted my mother, my friend was auditioning for an ad, and I told my mother, that if it was ever possible for her to organise something like that for me, I would love to do some ads, voiceovers… anything! And then, the exact next day, Terri, called!”
Jamie says that she loves public speaking and would love to be a lawyer one day, which she says she practices often on her dad, winning arguments on house rules.
“The good thing about public speaking is that I am a chatterbox. I am one of those kids in class that won’t stop talking.”
As we chat away, Jamie sometimes switches to Greek, to add expression to one of her stories. It is a language she speaks quite fluently as every year “before the virus came into our lives”, she would travel to Greece.
“Our favourite place to go is Ithaca. We know lots of people there, and the thing about Greeks, is that you feel like you’ve known them all your life, because they always greet you and ask you ‘ti kaneis?'”
Her stories from Greece are filled with sold-out koulourakia, looking for other kids who mysteriously hide away somewhere, yummy food and lovely people and most especially her dad’s yoghurt with fruit and honey, which must be savoured in one exact location.
Jamie’s role model is probably her grandmother Boubou, she says, “because she has always been the happy one. She is so energetic. She’s 82 and she has more energy than me. And I am eight! I am chilling on the couch and she is making spanakopita, or pasta or whatever. We call her Boubou but her actual name is Fani. ‘Not Funny!’ my grandmother says when Australians get her name wrong. ‘My daughter is funny. I am Faniii”. Though her yiayia has also got herself into some commercials and really enjoys the fun of it.
While we talk, it becomes obvious that Jamie Betsis is made for comedy. Her expressions match her story-telling which is articulate, unfiltered, with spontaneous jokes delivered at just the right time.
“When you look at Jamie, you would not think that she is nervous at all,” Terri says as she watches with delight and laughter at how Jamie responds. “But in fact, she does get nervous and it is that energy that we need on stage.”
“Jamie will be the main host. I will, of course co-host some of it,” Terri says.
“It’s this natural banter Jamie has. And I am hoping to teach her how to turn this nervous energy into a positive. You need that energy every single time you are on stage, because you only get one shot.”
“The good thing is that when I can’t think of anything else, the comedy comes out,” Jamie adds.
If she had one message for Greek Australians, it would be that “they should be proud to be Greek”… which then reminds her of her grandmother’s favourite movie “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” and how wonderful it would be to discover that you are a descendant of Alexander the Great, or even trick your parents that you are.
And if there was one thing Jamie could do to change the world, it would be to plant trees wherever possible.
So, though the pressure is on for young Jamie Betsis, hosting for the first time in a few days, Terri stresses that Kidz Fashion Week is first and foremost, fun, an event she will enjoy along with her peers.
And judging from our entertaining encounter with the young Greek Australian, this show will be the first of many to come for her.
Kidz Fashion Week (which Terri founded in 2014) fosters talent in a way that supports diversity and inclusivity, while encouraging kids and teenagers of all ages and backgrounds to take to the stage in their own way. The stars of the show are the clever ‘kidpreneurs’ who strive for more, the tweens with business nous, the regular child who finds joy in taking to the runway with like-minded peers.
The KFW Sydney will take place on Saturday 14 May at Sydney Town Hall. For more information visit https://www.kidzfashionweek.com.au/