Born in Echternach, Tanja Majerus has spent most of her life in Los Angeles where she has a successful career in the animation industry.
Majerus is one of a number of people featured in the “Celebrating Luxembourg” series, presented by Delano and other titles published by Maison Moderne.
Jess Bauldry: What do you do for a living?
Tanja Majerus: Right now I work as a character layout artist at Fox on the TV series “The Simpsons”. I say right now because this title is limiting in who I truly am because I am more than that. I am an artist, an illustrator, a toy designer, graphic designer, jewellery designer and storyteller.
If you could highlight three major dates in your life, what would they be?
I would say where my life changed for the first time would be in 1984-1986 when I was at the Lycée Technique des Arts et Métiers and won quite a few awards. The second date would be in 1991, when I had the opportunity to study in Paris, which led me to go to London to work for Spielberg and then to the US. The last date would be 2015 when I returned to animation to work for “The Simpsons”. Having been in the toy industry for eight years, the odds of me coming back into animation and having an opportunity like that are one in a million. Normally when you go back into an industry like that they ask for tests so they can see what you’re capable of. But they just took me as I was.
Why did you leave Luxembourg?
I think the main reason I left was because I saw more potential to grow somewhere else back then. I think that has really changed because there are a lot more opportunities in Luxembourg now. At that time I was also very open to change and opportunities and so I was very fortunate to have these amazing opportunities presented to me.
Would you come back to Luxembourg now given that the animation industry is established there today?
I would need to see what they do. If it’s something that strikes me, where my heart sings, then it would be something. It would also depend on what my involvement would be. If it’s something very exciting where I could see myself grow, then yes. I would come back. But I will always keep one foot in the US because that’s my second home.
How is Luxembourg viewed where you live?
It’s quite difficult because most people don’t even know what it is. Some people know it, mainly from TV, because it is mentioned in films as the banking country where everyone puts their money, but that’s not the case anymore.
What, if anything, do you miss about Luxembourg?
My family; then the good living and the food. I miss the security of having medical insurance. You’ve no idea what it means not having medical insurance. I always worked in a setting where the studio provided medical insurance, but a lot of people out here just don’t have it. With Obamacare that has changed, but it’s still not as efficient as in Luxembourg.
Has your impression of Luxembourg changed since moving abroad?
Yes. From one year to another it’s different. Sometimes I come back and I fall in love with it again. Sometimes, I come back and see how stressful it has become in the sense of traffic. I have a feeling that sometimes it’s even worse than here in LA. I also find the parking situation pretty stressful.
When was the last time you were proud of Luxembourg or of being a Luxembourger?
I think I feel like that all the time. When I see someone, who is living their dream, then I’m proud. It could be a cook who is thriving, an artist, a film director. You get inspired by someone else.
When was the last time you wanted to give up your nationality or link to Luxembourg?
Never. I don’t know what Luxembourg would need to do for that to happen. Maybe if you had a Trump or something like that. Then I would consider it.
In 2017, what will you do to ensure the slogan “Let’s make it happen” will happen?
I think I would promote Luxembourg by just being myself. This slogan has been my motto for a long time. I wouldn’t have achieved what I did if I didn’t have a slogan like that to drive me forwards. I’m glad that they want to promote themselves like that. I would add to that slogan “Dream big and have the courage to jump!”
In 2017 Maison Moderne and Nvision celebrate Luxembourg by profiling 100 people who contribute positively to the country’s international reputation and brand image. The series will culminate in a gala evening on 13 December at Luxembourg Congrès. If you know somebody who you think deserves to be on the 100 list, let us know: [email protected]