Cliff Roles Best Role on Being a Grandfather


By Susan Short & Cliff Roles Photo by Cliff Roles

I arrived in Sarasota in 2001 after 16 years of promoting the world’s biggest rock and pop artists in Germany. I thought I’d calm down a little here, but not soon after my arrival I found myself acting on various Sarasota stages and hosting a daily radio talk-show called “Talk of the Suncoast”, in which I interviewed people from all walks of Sarasota life, most especially from the Arts.

I meanwhile EmCee’d Galas, recorded audiobooks, wrote magazine articles, did voiceovers, and was also Ringmaster of Circus Sarasota in 2006 and 2007. In 2008 I discovered that I had a natural talent for photography, so it wasn’t long before I was going to all the non-profit events in town to photograph for both the non-profits as well as diverse Sarasota print media. I wrote a book in 2013 about my summer travels called “Walkabout Europe”, and have now been Sarasota’s premier society and event photographer for some years.

You’ve recently become a Grand Dad? How has this changed/enhanced your life?
Immeasurably. I’ve never had children, so when my granddaughters Aslin and Emery were born to my stepson Steve and his partner Alana in December 2014, I didn’t have much idea how to deal with this new “situation”. But the second these two angels were placed in my arms, I felt a terrific need to protect and love them. My love grows stronger every day, and needless to say I am putty in their hands. My whole life-attitude has changed for the positive since they’ve been in the world.

Tell us about the twins!
They’re nearly two-and-a-half now and definitely developing their own personalities. Aslin is slightly smaller in build and daintier than Emery, with stunning blue eyes that will someday melt many a boy’s heart. She’s curious to learn and will quietly draw or take in English and Hungarian YouTube tutorials to sing-along to songs and recite the alphabet.
Emmy’s a little more rambunctious and loves to ride her bike, push a shopping cart or bake pizza in their toy microwave and oven. She’s obsessed with babies, and carries a baby doll around with her all the time. She has hazel eyes, a winning smile and loves being photographed by her “Opa”, as they call me.
They both adore Mac and Cheese and their weekly visit to climb on the Bouncy Castles!
My wife Maria’s family stems from Hungary, so Maria speaks to them exclusively in Hungarian. They are growing up bilingually, understand her very well, and call her “Nagyi” (Hungarian for Grandma).

What’s the agenda for this summer?
I’m going on a couple of short trips in June with our Circus Arts Conservatory to Washington DC, as well as a short weekend photography course in New Orleans.
My annual photography walkabout begins at the end of July, when I fly to Warsaw to meet up with a Polish photographer-friend and then travel on to Vienna, through the Dolomite mountain-passes in Italy, and on to my old hometowns of Cologne and Hamburg in Germany.

Have you become more interested in children’s charities?
I’ve never discriminated and am proud to be able to work for any nonprofit that needs me, but I have to admit to an increased interest in all the Sarasota children’s charities since the twins have been in my life.
And when they’re bigger, I’d like them to be involved in all the wonderful children’s groups and arts organizations that Sarasota has to offer – but they’ll always have to have time for hugs with Opa and Nagyi, right?