Expatriates: Interviewing a Finnish Reporter Kirpi Uimonen in Los Angeles

I really wanted to interview Kirpi since she lives in LA, interviews celebrities all the time and I find that some people lose themselves when they live in Los Angeles. Kirpi has not, she is truly a real person who enjoys her job. A woman who has met anyone from Beyonce, Jonny Depp to George Clooney – take a guess who is her favorite celebrity and especially the reasons for her choice.

Who is Kirpi Uimonen?

I am a Finnish freelancer journalist. I write mostly entertainment stories from Hollywood to different publications in Finland. I moved from Helsinki to Los Angeles little over 10 years ago.

At what age did you know that you wanted to be a reporter?

Well, my childhood friend just recently reminded me, that as a kid I always said I will never be a journalist. My mother and many of my relatives are journalist and as a kid I was thinking that it is too unstable of a job, you pretty much don’t know when you have to work and where you go next.

When I was visiting my mother’s work place her colleagues were always asking: So, when are you going to be journalist and they laugh at me when I said never ever. They said wait and see. And for sure, when I was twenty I started my first summer job at United Magazines (now Otava Media). End of that summer I wrote my first story about Finnish musician for Seura magazine. By then I knew I wanted to be a journalist

What has been the most exciting story that you’ve covered during your career?

I have covered many exciting stories. As a young writer I did cover most Finnish music festivals and interviewed hundreds of bands. Lately, last 10 years, I have interviewed most Hollywood stars. But one story is at the top of everything. Late 1990’s I inter railed with my friend around Europe for a month and we wrote 20 + page story for a youth magazine called Suosikki about our experience and people who we met. That was fun!

Is there any particular story, an award or a moment throughout your career that you are proud of?

I am proud that I got accepted to the Hollywood Foreign Press Association little over two years ago. It is a foreign journalist organization in Hollywood. It arranges hundreds of interviews every year for its 85 members. We also vote for Golden Globe winners every January.

What would you say is the biggest misconception that people have about your profession?

That it is always glamorous. Sometimes it is, like if you are an invited guest to some event. But usually it is hard and time consuming work. Research, interviews, transcribing, translating, traveling, watching movies and TV-shows takes time, and last but not least, writing takes a lot of time and you are always alone with your thoughts when you are writing.

What do you enjoy most about being a reporter?

Meeting people and listening their stories. Every person sees life differently.

Have you found to be the biggest difference between the types of stories you covered in Finland, and the ones you currently report on in Los Angeles?

I covered mostly entertainment in Finland and I do the same here in Los Angeles. The biggest difference is that I am doing my job in a different country and different language.

Are there any stories that you hate to cover?

Not really. I think I can learn from everything.

Do you ever get into fights with other reporters?

Journalism is a very competitive business especially now-a-days. Media industry is at a transition time, we are unsure what happens to print media and digital media doesn’t pay much yet. We also have more journalists in the field than there are jobs. Fees have collapsed during the last five years. So all this has an impact on my profession. People are more competitive, they have to be in order to survive and sometimes people disagree with each other.

What advice would you give to other aspiring European journalists and reporters aiming for the stars in Hollywood?

Be ready to work long hours, evenings and weekends. Your schedule will change all the time and nothing is sure unless it already happened. You need to be able to handle stressful situations; you will compete to get interviews, what and when you can ask your questions, your clients, pretty much everything. If journalism is your passion – go ahead and do it.

What and who captivate you in the world of celebrities – and why?

This is already a cliché because everybody likes him, but I have to say George Clooney. He takes his work seriously but not himself. He is always friendly and funny. Besides being actor-director-producer-screenwriter he is politically active and devotes his time to humanitarian work

Since you are Finnish – must ask what do you miss most from Finland – think you will ever return to live back there?

I do miss my family, friends and sauna. Sometimes I miss salty liquorice and rye bread, but not as often as in the very beginning. And I have learned that I should never say never. So yes, I could think of returning back to Finland. When? I have no idea. But I think it is a great country.

And how is the Finnish community in Los Angeles?

Finnish community has been growing in Los Angeles the last few years. We have more up and coming artist here than before. Or I should say in the last ten years because I don’t know how things were before that. Creative Finns meet every month. Everybody is welcome, and one can participate when he or she wants to. You can find our group from Facebook, Creative Finns in Los Angeles. There is also another group where everybody can share information, Finns in California.

What do you see the best about the Finnish culture/people vs. American?

Both cultures have they good and bad sides, sometimes they are different sides of the same token. I like that Finns know how to enjoy, relax and keep their vacations, but at the same time I admire the American work mentality, entrepreneurship like mentality and persistency. Americans don’t give up easily.

We have many great things in Finland; education, universal healthcare, long maternity leave, long vacations, sick days, social security. Over all as a society it is a safe place when compared to many other places.

Photos: Theo Kingma and HFPA
Website: www.kirpinhollywood.fi
Facebook: /www.facebook.com/#!/KirpinHollywood
Twitter: @KirpinHollywood