Hello! My name is Nadia Stylianou. I am a Creative Director, Digital/Experiential Producer, Humanitarian, Photographer and Creator. I play at the intersection product, experience, and beautiful visual storytelling.
What’s your historical Los Angeles and New York connection?
I moved to LA when I was 15 years old from a suburban town outside of Princeton, New Jersey, with the intention of gaining residency for university. I imagined that I would be going to Stanford, studying journalism or creative writing, and playing tennis there. The California seed was planted inside of me as a kid, so however I arrived, it was in God’s plan for me to be there. I was born in New York to 2 parents that made NYC their home. My dad came to New York City from Cyprus when he was 17 to attend Columbia University. My mom grew up in Long Island and was pursuing ambitions in fashion. I am the youngest of 3, I have 2 older brothers, and by the time I arrived in the world, it was time they find a suitable home for all of us, which is how we got to New Jersey. I never was attracted to living in New York City. We visited frequently enough when I was young. It was scary, loud, and crazy. I was always running away from my parents and getting lost. There was a hot second when I was a teenager that I was interested in studying fashion in NYC, but that seemed more like a character to play than who I actually was.
In 2007, I had an experience where one of my best friends Ike Amadi and I were trying to produce a huge concert in LA for Uganda and Darfur (similar to what is now Global Citizen), and after plans did not unfold as we would have liked, something changed in me. I became jaded with the people in Hollywood, and felt a pull and calling to New York City to develop my own artistic abilities, and express myself using my own hands and body. So that’s what I did. When Obama was running for office, and the tide was changing, I was too. I left LA to study at Juilliard and the New School University for acting and documentary film. Ever since then, I’ve been bi-coastal. While in NYC I threw myself into the studio, agency and brand world. Digital was unfolding and I paid attention. That’s the evolution of how I got to where I am.
Describe your experience in LA and your experience in NYC
LA and California at large are a playground. The ocean, hills, desert dirt and rocks. There is an ease in the air in LA, and the spirit of the city is really beautiful. It’s easy and playful, and that’s how I feel there. If you have the commitment to complete anything to 100% in LA, you can and will succeed. NYC is a beat and a buzz. Sometimes I literally pounce around on the streets because…well, it is a concrete playground. I love the focus and determination to GSD in NY. I’m all about that. In LA I became who I am, and NYC built who I am.
What was the biggest challenge of moving from NYC to LA?
The biggest challenge to moving to NYC was learning about shoes. You gotta have comfortable shoes to romp around in. Sounds silly, but it’s significant. If you can get a uniform down in NYC, you are set. Other than that, I found my transition pretty seamless. NYC really grew me professionally and I ran after it. The hardest part about leaving California is leaving the beach, the sunsets, and the organic food. There are times when I find genuine community hard to come by in NYC. My friends and community in LA are really strong now, and leaving that family is always a challenge.
How can NYC and LA best engage with each other?
On a personal level, we can make introductions to each other and cross collaborate. On a larger landscape, I have a vision for a YMCA type of hub in a beautiful open space where many different activities for connecting, learning, working and playing can be happening. I think if we are to grow as a society and really harness our power, we have to make tools, each other, and knowledge more accessible to the masses. I have learned so much this year about lending your time and presence to people and how impactful that can be on individual growth, which adds to the whole. We need more spaces where the atmosphere calls for that. We are made to be relational, and the more opportunities we have to connect with one another, the better. I’m really proud of the growth I’ve seen in LA for start-ups, artists, designers, tech and small business owners. Everyone is really carving a path and contributing. I see a major cross-breeding happening between these two cities which I think is responsible for a lot of this growth.
Favorite LA secret spot
Palos Verdes cliffside beach bluffs. I like escaping a lot and spending time with God to listen in and find direction and wisdom. I need nature in my life consistently and frequently.
Favorite NYC secret spot
The Danger parties. Do these still exist? I still love Cameo in Williamsburg. It’s always a secret party to me. I love when the Let’s Play House guys play there.
What would you be doing if you weren’t working at the intersection of digital and creative now?
I would be acting. I am a playful, relational person, and constantly need to be building, creating, and expressing. I would also be traveling more and could see myself being a diplomat. We have real problems in the world that we are responsible to solve.
Inflight Entertainment: tell us what song/album, TV show, podcast, or web videos you’ve been watching lately.
I went to a conference this summer and heard Pete Greig speak. He really ushered me into a new way of thinking and receiving life. You’ll have to check him out for yourself!
I’m kinda still obsessed with “The Generationals – You Say It Too” it reminds me of one of the best times of my life in Austin during SXSW. I typically love house music, hip hop, disco, pop, and indie rock…so I’m always looking around on SoundCloud.
Also this year I discovered Mark Manson. He has a really clear way of cutting through the nonsense to speak the truth. I often speak really directly and call forth things that people tend to not see so clearly. In the same way, Mark has a voice I really identify with.
From the 2462 Miles newsletter: connecting NEW YORK CITY + LOS ANGELES