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#WeAreSwissAbroad – Evelina Stampa 'Never a stranger in Los Angeles'

When choreography and film production are your biggest passions, Los Angeles is the place to be. At least for 30-year-old Eveline Stampa, who has already had the chance to direct a short movie there. Why did you leave Switzerland?

Evelina Stampa: I have always spent long periods abroad, such as in New York or London, where I lived for three years completing my BA. Come to think of it, I have been in LA for almost three years now. 

I used to work as a dancer and choreographer in Europe and taught dance and acting classes at various schools. With lots of luck and in a roundabout way, I managed to work as an assistant director for different theatre productions and on film sets. During this time, I realised that I wanted to develop my skills in this field. 

As I have felt strongly affiliated to the States from a very early age, I knew that I wanted to study there. Attending the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television had always been a big dream of mine. After having gone through a long admission process and with support of a Fulbright Scholarship, this dream finally came true. Is it a trip of no return or are you intending to come back to Switzerland one day?

E.S.: It is definitely not a trip of no return. I would also like to establish myself as a film director in Europe. However, I think that being an artist it’s important for me to be open-minded and go wherever work takes me. What is your current employment?

E.S.: I work as a choreographer and director, and until recently I mainly worked at theatres. Since I moved to Los Angeles though, I have had several opportunities to work as a movement director and director on film sets.

Cecilia Albertini’s short movie "Allegra's Body Shop"external link, which I worked on as a choreographer, has just received an award at the Austin Comedy Short Film Festival. "After Meredith"external link, a short movie which I have directed, is currently in post-production. Stephanie Drake, who played the secretary in the series Mad Man, wrote and produced this short film. On the side, I also work with UCLA students on Frank Wedekind’s “Frühlings Erwachen”. After six weeks of rehearsals we recently performed it at UCLA. Where do you currently live and how is life and the cuisine there?

E.S.: I live in Los Angelesexternal link and I am utterly enjoying the great variety of food there. I like the fact that there are many different restaurants and that I can constantly discover new things. It’s also great that the city has more to offer than just fast food or green juices. What do you prefer in Los Angeles over Switzerland?

E.S.: Definitely the weather! Even though I sometimes miss the four seasons, I love the fact that it’s sunny all the time. Another plus is the fact that LA is not only close to the beach but also to the mountains, where I can either go hiking or skiing.

I also like the vastness and that everything is so big. LA has an awful lot to offer once you know your way around. There is so much more to see than just the Hollywood sign and the Boulevard.

When it comes to my job, it’s a lot easier to establish contacts and work your way up, which is probably due to the myriad of possibilities here. You can be a lot more varied in your work. For example, it’s possible for me to produce a theatre play and at the same time work on a film set as choreographer or the other way around, without anyone scratching their heads. In general, people are a lot more open and it’s much easier to get chatting to someone than back home. How do you view Switzerland from afar?

E.S.: How incredibly lucky we are when it comes to cleanliness, punctuality and insurances! In my first year in LA, I used to take public transport all the time. During this time, I learnt to appreciate Swiss punctuality and how well organised the country is in general. Another great aspect about Switzerland is the many different opportunities it offers young people when it comes to study and work. Have you ever felt like a stranger or are you well integrated?

E.S.: I have felt extremely integrated here from the very beginning and never felt like a stranger. Of course, I miss my family and friends, but by the same token LA really feels like home. What do you like most about your everyday life in your home away from home?

E.S.: No matter how well you know the city, you can always discover Los Angeles anew. It’s also easy to meet people from all corners of the world. I am always happy to accidentally come across Swiss cheese or Swiss chocolate in one of the shops. Life is full of surprises when you live abroad. Do you take part in Swiss elections or popular votes?

E.S.: Yes, I do postal vote. What do you miss most about Switzerland?

E.S.: Ovaltine chocolate, Rivella drinks and really good bread.

​​​​​​​Are you a Swiss citizen living abroad? If so add the hashtag #WeAreSwissAbroadexternal link to your photos on Instagram. (the interview was conducted in writing)

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