It began in his father’s Greek restaurant, Gourmet Chili, in Newport, Ky. Stavropoulos was only 8 years old, but he loved working there—after school, in the evenings, on the weekends. He got about $10 a day and thought he was rich. But he also got fat. Not so much from the chili and spaghetti but from the sodas he sipped all day, the snacking and the lack of exercise. By the time he got to Xavier in 2001, he weighed more than 400 pounds.
Stavropoulos loved theater, the arts and acting. But he soon found there weren’t many parts for obese young men. And besides, he says, he was tired of all the girls being “just friends.” Things had to change. “I was tired of being fat,” he says. “It wasn’t healthy, and I knew what I wanted to do with my life. So I just worked at the restaurant, went to school and worked out. I walked at the beginning because I couldn’t run.”
His father’s death in 2001 made that time even more difficult because he had to help his mother keep the restaurant going. But Stavropoulos was determined to totally change his life—for himself and his father. Through exercise and healthy eating, he lost enough that walking turned into running, up to five miles a day now. And within six months of graduating in 2004 with degrees in criminal science and performance art, he’d lost 250 pounds.
Not long after, “Extra!” came calling. Slimfast representatives, who read about Stavropoulos’ weight loss in Maximum Fitness magazine, decided to feature his use of Slimfast products and put his story on television. That also helped prompt him into a new career—acting. Last year, he moved to Los Angeles and has found eight assignments thus far, including a part on the TV show “The Unit” in which he played an Israeli soldier. He recently landed the lead in an independent comedy titled, “Not on the First Date.”
Stavropoulos, who goes by Kiri Stevens in Hollywood, isn’t getting rich. He doesn’t hang with the Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears crowd either. “I don’t want to be the biggest star in Hollywood. I just love being on the set and hope it will lead to more jobs and roles. As long as I’m doing what I love, that’s the important thing.”