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Portraits of Hollywood

It’s more important to understand someone than to judge them. We think the first step to understanding someone is asking them the fundamental questions about who they are and how they became the person they are today. Understanding and empathy are essential building blocks for a better, more compassionate world. We’re incredibly fortunate to be able to ask these questions each week through our interview series. Below you’ll find inspiring interviews from in and around Hollywood.

Jay Diggs

American R & B/Pop singer, producer and songwriter Jay Diggs began his life as a musician at the early age of 8 years old in Washington, DC. Being the son of an accomplished jazz bassist, it was only a matter of time before he decided a career in music was what he wanted. In the early years, he began rapping and making beats in his dad’s home studio. Growing up in the 90s, Justin gravitated towards the rising hip-hop movement, not knowing that he also had a knack for singing. At age 12, he began learning the piano. Read more>>

Brenda Ferrell

I’ve been both a hairstylist and makeup artist for ten years, building my career in Los Angeles, California. My clientele is based in West Hollywood, and I’ve worked on set for E!News, Bravo’s Housewives of Beverly Hills season 7, Hallmark Channel’s “Home & Family” etc. I love working in a salon setting, set work, and weddings. Something I love is changing my work environment. I’ve flown overseas internationally as a stylist for television, weddings, and at the time I thought that was making it, but I realized I can do much more. I knew I needed to build the B Ready team as well so I could really make an impact in the industry. I believe in multiplying. Read more>>

Kate Crash

I’ve been writing poetry, creating images, and working in a multitude of mediums since I was a small child. I often felt that the arts gave me a voice and allowed me to process the intense complexities and contradictions in the world around me. I went through a slew of instruments and eventually settled on the guitar at 12. I instantly began songwriting. My first band was, of course, punk. In my youth, I was discovered and cultivated by legendary producer Nick Launay (Nick Cave, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, INXS). Launay brought me into the studio, mentoring me in production. We made three EP’s that were released under Joan Jett’s Blackheart Records and George Martin’s Grand Master. I also released a dance-pop EP, co-produced by various Grammy winners including Jimmy Harry, Jason Evigan, and Ryosuke Sakai. Read more>>

Chris Bair

In 1999, Chris Bair decided it was time to create salon/barbershop unlike anything else in town. Even though he didn’t cut hair or have any experience in the industry, he saw a niche that needed to be filled. So with a little naiveté and a lot of imagination, Shorty’s Barber Shop was born. Shorty’s is a lot like an old-time Barber Shop, but with a modern twist. On a trip to Shorty’s you can find out what’s going on around town, run into old friends in the lobby, listen to fantastic music and get a great haircut! There’s even hair coloring, relaxers, and shaves. Read more>>

Gaia Ferreira

I was born and raised in Montreal, Canada. My first love was music. Until the age of 18, most of my time was spent on stage performing. At 18, I left home to backpack across Asia, Australia and New Zealand, working my way around the world. Returning home for University and driven by a desire to understand why people do what they do and think what they think (and how this changes so much around the world), I majored in Psychology and minored in Languages. With the IT industry exploding, I shifted my studies towards the field of Applied Information Technology, where my creativity became evident in my programming, design and problem-solving skills. Later, I would apply my ability to make the complex simple by joining the marketing department. Read more>>

Courtney Spears

As far as me getting to where I am today, I finally listened to my friends and family and started selling my plates individually. My husband and I went to a potluck and I brought his favorite dish: Jerk Pasta. I topped it with Jerk Chicken, Jerk Salmon, and Jerk Steak to give variety to whoever was at the potluck and once they saw it, they immediately bragged about it. I absolutely loved the attention it got! One of my husband’s friends who was also at the potluck asked me (while he was eating the food) if I ever thought about selling the pasta and going into the food business. I let him know that I had just started to sell my food and he said, “you NEED to sell this to the masses immediately. Read more>>

Angel Zayas

I grew up in New York and moved out to California when I was 19 years old to pursue higher education. I spent five years at the University of Southern California cultivating and growing the drag scene from simple shows that consisted of less than 200 hundred people to the Largest Collegiate Drag Show in the Country with an audience of over 1000 people. I led initiatives to be more inclusive of first-year transfer students into our queer community since I was a transfer student myself. I also cooked a Thanksgiving dinner for three years for queer students who didn’t have homes to go back to over Thanksgiving break. We appropriately named it “Gay Azz Thanksgiving!” Read more>>

Lindsay Baker

I’ve always been an artist, and I learned at an early age that whatever I wanted in life, I would have to work hard to get it myself. Growing up in the rural Midwest, hard work was a natural part of life — but the universe also threw a curveball at my family around the time I was in second grade, and before I knew it I went from watching my dad, a carpenter, build a home that my mother designed, to living on food stamps in a tiny camper with my entire family of five. From then on money was always a struggle. That struggle was extremely formative for me and was the force behind my drive most of my life. Read more>>

Kayla Hagström

I moved to Los Angeles on a whim. While finishing up my college years in Chicago, I knew I wanted to move back to California and I needed to go somewhere warm and new. I booked my one way ticket and came out here without a job or apartment secured. I was excited to change it up, throw myself into something new, and live in a city that I had only visited once before. My boyfriend decided Los Angeles was also worth a shot so we came out together and lived in an Airbnb for a month before landing jobs and finding an apartment in Silver Lake, the same apartment we live in now, five years later.  Read more>>

Danny Arroyo

Danny Arroyo is an actor/writer/producer/director with a Bachelor’s Degree in Film Production and over 80 film/TV/commercial credits. He has won three “Best Actor” awards at various film festivals and loves meditation, reading books (especially comics), working out, writing, fantasy football, video games, and seeing classic Hollywood films on the big screen. Arroyo plays Rico Fisher, the lead character in the true story film THE LAST SMILE, for which Arroyo won Best Actor at the Silicon Valley Film Festival. Read more>>

Vance Crofoot

I dabbled a little in filmmaking 20 years ago when I lived in Portland Oregon, move to Los Angeles in 2007 to become a full-time filmmaker. I started out as an editor in 2007, did that for five years, bought a camera and lights, became a director of photography in 2012. Since then, it’s been full-time filmmaking (editing, filming, directing… Currently in 2020, I just directed a short sci-fi film that I wrote entitled “Assimilated”. I’m working with a very talented cast and crew, including Vincent Guastini (effects specialist on Requiem for a Dream, Last of the Mohicans, etc.) who crafted my aliens. The film is in post right now and I’m looking forward to sharing it with the world in January 2021. Read more>>

Kris Greer

I was born and raised here in Southern California. Growing up in the suburbs, I was exposed to different genres that helped mold the type of artist I am now. From country to hip-hop, classical to rock, I gained a respect for all forms of music. Ive always used music as an opportunity to create something that could possibly change someone else in a positive way. With influences like Gavin DeGraw, Justin Timberlake, and Donell Jones, to 2Pac, Jay-z, Slick Rick, Machine Gun Kelly and many more, it’s helped me create a way of storytelling that makes you feel like you’ve been a part of whatever emotion I’m singing or spittin’ about. Read more>>

Ceri Bethan

My story of how I got started with meditation begins with a dark moment in my life. I moved to LA from England in 2009, originally to pursue a career in acting. Not too long after moving, I found myself in a relationship that was abusive and harmful in every way; emotion, mind and body. It took time to break free, and when I did, I was completely broken. I had no idea who I was. I felt lost, empty and deeply alone. At a dark moment in my life, I saw only one way out. The pain and shame were so intense. But gratefully, I found meditation. And it truly saved my life. Read more>>

Ken Lasoul

My journey here in Los Angeles started from a doubtful “what if?” to a strong “I am.” I grew up with an “I can do that, too!” mindset which helped me dabble in many different art forms growing up. As a child who found it hard to express through words, I was inspired by anything that allowed me to feel and say whatever I wanted without saying anything! I had a strong imagination for fantasy and storytelling. I would daydream all day long, visualizing myself as whatever it is I wanted to be (no matter how absurd or crazy it seemed.) I started my artistic journey reading which led to writing my own books and poems, then hearing my dad play classical music in the car which then led me to learning to play several instruments, to drawing, to singing, to acting. Read more>>

Sebastien Cipolla

I was born a long time ago in little town close to the city of Love, Art and Romance, from Paris. I was extremely active as a kid, I couldn’t focus more then 10 min, I always needed to do something, talk to someone, create something. So, could you imagine how hard was it for me to stay still all day at school? Listening topics that I actually never used. I’m passionate with motorbike and Martial art, so I grew up spending my time driving motorbike and practicing all types of martial arts. Read more>>

Carlos Parada

My story begins in Tijuana Mexico where I was born and raised. I was always a shy and quiet kid. Spent most of my time in my head daydreaming, which I still do. I’ve always been an incredibly imaginative person, and it was fun to spend time in my head. Aside from that there were two things I was always obsessed about, watching movies and playing video games. I was a very visual kid. It was difficult for me to stay focused in school when my assignments required reading. If my lessons would have been taught through documentaries, I would have Aced all my classes. That is why watching movies became my favorite pastime. My go to movies were always Tim Burton’s Batman, Back to the Future and Who framed Roger Rabbit. Read more>>

Shanae Carrington

I was born and raised in the Bronx, NY. I did not come from money and my family worked hard to make ends meet. I remember when I was in school, I wanted the latest sneakers and clothes but was told many times that they were too expensive. However, I would see mom shop quite often; which as a child I found very unfair. When I went shopping with her and was allowed to get something it had to be on sale, or she had to have a coupon. Needless to say, shopping with my mom was quite annoying because I could not understand why she was so cheap. Read more>>

Rafael Vasck

At the age of 18, I left my country and moved to London to pursue my dream of becoming a professional musician. After working with some talented musicians from the British capital and getting into the music industry, at the age of 19 I had the opportunity to move to Los Angeles and improve my skills as a professional musician in the prestigious music college of Musicians Institute in Hollywood. I got the degree of Associate of arts in music performance specialized on guitar. Read more>>

Lacey Caroline

I was actually born into a family of entertainers – my Dad is a former professional mascot and my Mom was a professional cheerleader. My first real job as an entertainer was as a mini mascot. I got to perform as Mini Hugo – the mini mascot for the Charlotte Hornets at the French All-Star game in Paris and loved it. I performed in halftime and throughout the second half of the game in front of 25,000 fans and also participated in their media day. I realized that I loved performing right then and there. Around the same time, I was introduced to theatre and played “Molly” in my elementary school’s version of Annie, Jr. Back then, I was focused on competitive cheerleading so didn’t do theatre again for a few years. Read more>>

Jamal Antar

I’m born and raised in the south of France in a tough neighborhood called “Le Mirail” in Toulouse. I had a pretty rough childhood because I had to fight to survive and be respected, it’s like that there. I did my best for my three little brothers so they won’t have the same gang life. I decided to change my life and live my American dream as a Hollywood actor. So since 2001, I was going back and forth till 2014, when I decided to live permanently in Los Angeles. I started as a background actor, playing in series such American Horror Story, The Politician, NCIS LA, Seal Team, LA’s finest and many more. Read more>>

Isaiah (Runner) Davidson

I started DJing when I was around 16 during my sophomore year in high school. I was really inspired by the local music scene at the time and seeing my friends perform. What initially drew me into DJing and producing was that for the first time, I felt “comfortable” being in a social setting and not worry about feeling like an outsider or “different”. I initially began playing house parties and would eventually make my way up to playing in bars, clubs, and warehouse spaces where I really started to get into LA’s underground. The party and fun was all I was in it for at first, but over time it became a way of being of service to the scene and the culture. Read more>>

Dionne Audain

I was born in Montserrat, British Overseas Territory, and I am both a United States citizen and a citizen of the United Kingdom. I grew up in the Caribbean until 1983, when I emigrated to the USA and spent the rest of my formative years in the Bronx, NY. For the past six years, I have been making a living as an actor, model, voiceover/motion capture artist in film, television, theater, commercials, print and video games. I also have a business that helps creatives, mainly other actors, manage and forecast their income using the online software Mint. Read more>>

Helena Orts

As a little kid born and raised in Barcelona (Spain), I was always playing pretend and quickly found my calling: acting. My father introduced me to the Marx Brothers and I fell in love with the ability to tell stories through my body. Along with Dinsey, I started singing, dancing, and acting all day long. During middle school, I did some plays such as “the Jungle Book” and later on “A Mid Summer’s Night Dream”. Along with my interest in the performing arts, I also awoke an interest in sports. Read more>>

Joia Talbott and Ebonique Nichols

Dope Honeys co-creators, Joia John and Ebonique met in Los Angeles on the set of a music video. We both came to Los Angeles with aspirations of working in the entertainment industry. Soon after, we found many mutual interests and became close friends. Before the pandemic hit, we knew we wanted to start a business together that would tie in all the things that we enjoy and that’s when Dope Honeys was born. Dope Honeys is similar to an Urban Outfitters or Anthropologie as we have a plethora of different products from a variety of categories to choose from that will suit everyone’s needs. Read more>>

Allison Baver

My career in entertainment evolved organically over the course of three Olympic Games (2002, 2006 and 2010) as a Short Track Speed Skater. I secured a number of opportunities beyond those of a typical athlete, from modeling to acting, to producing and financing film and TV projects. Throughout my experiences performing on the world stage at the Olympic games, my athletic career has provided a platform and shaped my talents in entertainment as well as given me the opportunity of meeting amazing people and networking. Read more>>

Tiana Okoye

After the murders of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, I was looking for ways to invoke thoughtful and impactful discussions with actionable change. Through my heartbreak and outrage, I turned to social media and felt specifically lead to creating a plan of action for my community. I knew that systemic change couldn’t happen overnight, and pointed my focus on the upcoming local elections to inspire activism through voting. I saw a close friend of mine, Tory Trowbridge, post about her letter writing with Vote Forward and became enthusiastic about the thought of reaching out to voters across the country who might feel as if their vote doesn’t count or matter. Read more>>

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