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Portraits of the Valley

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 the Valley.

Colette, Zoe and Mackenzie Berube

We are three sisters from the East Coast looking to break the stigma and prove you can be a productive person in society while also using cannabis. We all live together in Los Angeles and work together at The Higher Path in Sherman Oaks. We have started a personal blog of cannabis on Instagram called Sist3rdope – we wish to promote healthy use and habits with cannabis and prove you can be a functional person in society who also loves cannabis! Education is a huge part of our dreams and goals, especially since we use cannabis for mental health, women issues and recreationally. We thrive working together and when it comes to research, we really make sure when we are testing a product we understand why people would want it (or not want it). Whether it is for health or for fun, we think it’s important for people to feel empowered by their cannabis use because we believe this plant is truly magic AND the future. It has so many more benefits then cons. Read more>>

Bethany Johnson

I’m a licensed hairstylist and makeup artist. I work on a lot of different things including commercials, red carpet events, press junkets, music videos, editorials, weddings, and portrait sessions… And in between, I also drive around doing house calls for haircuts and personal makeup tutorials. Read more>>

Reena Dutt

Being the child of an engineer and an artist, it was natural for me to love the arts. Constructing and performing stories manifested in a couple of different ways in my teens – through figure skating, dance and finally theatre. Then I became a theatre addict and it all went South. Just kidding. As a kid, I was scared to be in my skin and shy about what I loved in life – the arts, eccentricity and “weird” people. Being the child of immigrant parents who were so loving and accepting, people who effectively built bridges between our generational and cultural gaps, it was incredibly difficult to assimilate into the rest of the South Asian community in Arizona at the time. Most of the other families were the polar opposite, steeped in tradition, gender and social biases they brought with them from the 1970s. I didn’t feel like I belonged with the South Asian community – but I did feel like I could be myself with my immediate family and the small group of friends I had from school. Read more>>

Brandon Redenius

I’m a Glendale-based graphic designer, illustrator, and founder of Black Mast. Black Mast is a merch company inspired by the glamorous and the gothic, mixed in with a little camp and drag. I grew up in a small town in Northern California, slowly making my way south over the past 15 years, having spent time in Chico (college), Sacramento, eight years in San Francisco, and now 2.5 years in the greater LA area with my boyfriend Michael (over five years together!). Because of a steady stream of creative ideas and my self-motivating DIY mindset, I founded Black Mast in 2013 with my friend Marie as an outlet for t-shirt designs and illustration work. It’s been a way for me to grow my freelance client base and connect with my own community (specifically the LGBTQ+, drag, artistic communies), in addition to the satisfaction of creating physical products and seeing people enjoy the end results. A self-taught illustrator and educated as a graphic designer. Read more>>

Angela Scott

I’ve always had a fascination with footwear. Shoes have been my unique identifiers, a way for me to make a statement. From my favorite pair of Kangaroos when I was a child to checkerboard Vans, Nike Cortez, and Doc Martens steel-toe [boots] when I was a teen and then buying my first pair of Prada shoes as a gift to empower myself after receiving a raise. There is something so powerful in wearing a pair of shoes that makes you feel confident and bold. After I graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara I worked at a construction company. I was one of the only females in an all-male crew 99 percent of the time. I really got an understanding of what it means to “keep up with the boys.” I used to tell myself that I had to dress a certain way to be taken seriously—you know, the pencil skirts, the high heels, and most of the time it was me running behind these groups of men on job sites trying to look professional and keep it all together—it felt a little insane. Read more>>

Marisa Parks

I was raised by a single mom in Newbury Park, CA and loved music, especially 90s pop and r&b along with whatever was on MTV back when it was music television. We couldn’t afford lessons, so I sang to CDs with a hairbrush in my living room and tried to figure out songs by ear on the keyboard. When I’d visit my dad and stepmom, they would play music from the 1960s and I fell in love with all the sounds of that decade as well. This would become an inspiration for the music I would create in the future. When I was in high school, I struggled emotionally, so I started writing poetry to work through my trials and tribulations. I went up to San Francisco for college, studied Psychology, and took a guitar class as an elective. After I graduated, I moved down to Los Angeles for a relationship and learned heartbreak. In the midst of my pain, I wrote a poem and decided to mess around with the guitar to the poem. That was my first song. Through more struggles with relationships mixed with battling depression, I wrote more songs. I decided to play them for a musician friend who said I had a good voice. Read more>>

Joey Rogoff

My background initially started in traditional film and tv production. I have worked on music videos, short films, and more corporate sets such as Netflix. As the pandemic began, social media became an easy place to shift to while tradition sets could not function. I shifted from more behind the camera work to an on-camera personality. I quickly grew a following on TikTok by posting comedic content that involved riddles, challenges, and bets with my family and friends. Snapchat’s Spotlight platform has opened up a new world of opportunities for my career. From a narrow standpoint, I have a whole new audience on a whole new platform that I did not have before. It is really cool to see new people enjoying the content that I create. Along with that, it has obviously helped me financially. Spotlight has allowed me to truly focus on creating quality content without having to constantly think about how I am going to monetize and ultimately make my job sustainable. It has also created many opportunities for me in terms of meeting new creators and important industry professionals. Read more>>

Wendie Weldon

I am a holistic health and mindset coach and writer. My own health and weight loss journey has been a long one. Growing up, like many people, I turned to food for comfort. It became my main coping mechanism when my emotions were too painful. In my early twenties, at my heaviest, I was 220lbs. After many years of binging, depriving, and obsessing over food, I finally decided to make a change. In a matter of two years, I lost 70lbs. Excited to start a new chapter, I moved to Los Angeles. With my budding passion for health and fitness, I became National Academy of Sports Medicine certified personal trainer. I wanted to help others find the same mental and physical freedom I found. I’ve worked with people of all ages and backgrounds and discovered my favorite part about training sessions was simply talking to people, getting to know their stories, what they’re passionate about, and what they desire most from life. Read more>>

Natalie Bolton

I’m a Southern girl by birth, but I have been mesmerized with the West Coast State of Mind as early as I can remember. As soon as I found my moment to take the leap, I packed a U-Haul and hit the road. As an introvert, it is kind of funny I’ve always chosen jobs that would cause me to connect with people. I love learning about people. I was a personal trainer for many years, and I believe that is where my love for results and transformation began. And it wouldn’t be long before my long-standing curiosity with how the skin functions (I would perform facial treatments on my friends in junior high) finally led me to enroll in school. Now I can see the running theme in my life: Connection, creativity, transformation, healing and empowering are just some of the things I aspire to create and be a part of. Read more>>

Spenny Nichs

I guess music has just always been in my life! I started playing guitar when I was six and my family are all pretty good singers, so picked up on that at a young age as well. In general, I’ve just always had a big fascination and growing up in a pretty remote area of Ontario, Canada – I spent a lot of my time learning and focusing on music pretty heavily. Then once I got to high school, I started performing and working on my singing and songwriting skills, and from then on it was game over. In my mind, there was no other options but to be a singer and songwriter. Although the local music culture in my home town is great, I really wanted to get out, move to a big city, and plunge myself into the music industry however I could. So I auditioned for and attended Berklee College of Music in Boston in 2015 and this is where I would say my career truly began. Coming from a small town to a big city, and meeting people from around the world, networking with so many amazing musicians and artists – It was the dream. Read more>>

Nacho Larraza

Although there was music playing most times while growing up in Madrid, no one in my family played instruments. So it all began when my little brother got Guitar Hero as a Christmas present, he didn’t use it as much but I got addicted. Not too long after, I got my first guitar at the age of 13 (2008). I spent the rest of my High School years learning songs (John Frusciante and Blink 182 were my main influences, and I guess they still are to this day), taking lessons and playing in multiple local bands. By the time I was 18 (2017) and the moment to chose a carrier path actually came, I decided, with my parent’s support, to move to Barcelona where I pursued further guitar studies at L’ Aula de Musica Moderna I Jazz. It was in Barcelona where I joined the band “Lancaster” with which I got to tour the UK for two times as well as to open for “All Time Low” and “Panic! at The Disco”. During my time with the band, I learned professionalism, brand identity and I also got my first experiences in professional recording studios. Without really knowing what I was doing, I produced our latest single, “Dig Me Up” and by that time my interest for writing, producing and recording songs was growing fast. Read more>>

Nathaniel Segal

I got started in magic at the early age of three. I was inspired after watching The World’s Greatest Magic on television and was hooked. Soon after, I received my first magic kit and was performing for friends and family. I performed my first live show in third grade and it was a disaster, but I learned quite a bit! I kept performing all through middle and high school to get as much practice as possible. And I did my first paid show at the age of 13. Around the same time, I started volunteering at a non-profit museum in the San Francisco Bay Area called Playland-Not-at-the-Beach. Richard Tuck, the founder of the museum, was a magician and magic collector who supported and passed much of his collection on to me. Before the museum opened, I would work with the other volunteers to help paint, arrange, and build the exhibits. At the end of each day, I would get all of the volunteers together and put on a little magic show. Read more>>

Stina Miller

In my heart and soul, I am a silversmith. Growing up near the Yakama Indian reservation with my native grandmother, I had relatives who were/are artistic and also silversmiths. My first piece of jewelry I received was a piece my grandmother had commissioned by her grandson Steve Gunnyon. It would be teenage angst, a four years stint in the Army and a move to the Monterey Peninsula all before the age of 20 until I could realize my passion for making jewelry. After eight years as a dental assistant and taking college courses at night and online, I took an elective in Metal Arts at Monterey Peninsula College and I remember the first piece I made, and as I made planned out my artistic vision and first cut, saw blade in hand, I thought ‘yes! This is the first piece of many I will make “I loved it and was hooked. I ended up in Carmel, California after my Army time was over. A place of historical Artist and great beauty in every corner. I was inspired and ready. Read more>>

JayCab

I started getting into rap back when I was around 16 years old. My fascination came from the freedom and self-expression to speak about anything in life and have that be able to resonate in the hearts of the people who experienced or dealt with the same issues or topics. Because that’s how it found me. At that time in my life, I was battling a lot of depression fueled by family issues, a lot of trouble with trying to fit in and understand who I was when it came to social life. I felt I had nowhere to escape to until I found rap. I began writing lyrics & poems about my innermost pains, heartbreaks, insecurities, and anything I’d have to deal with when I’d leave my room which was almost always instantly. I ended up going to Target and buying a $20 microphone, setting it up in the closet with a busted laptop and I was IN. There was no turning back, I couldn’t. Everyday I began completely locking myself in my room and writing anything I could think of just so I could turn on my microphone and rap it as if I was front of a sold out crowd at the Staples Center. Read more>>

Wilandrea Blair

I’m a writer. I started writing early because I was super shy and writing is very quiet and a way to look busy so people don’t talk to you. It was also because of Annie – as in “little orphan”. I loved Annie. I loved the story. I loved the sun coming out tomorrow – the whole shabang. I went to see the musical at the Fox Theater in Detroit. I was eight or nine. My first play. It was a big deal. I was mesmerized until about halfway through when it hit me – everyone on the stage was white. Even the dog was blonde. All white everything. Black girls couldn’t even be orphans?! It made me want to write stories for the stage and screen about worlds where I actually existed. But I was also raised by two teachers who believed in gainful employment. So, I compromised. I became a broadcast news writer/producer. I was writing scripts, editing tape and it was on TV. Then I got into advertising, where I got to cast, go on shoots and write stories – even if they were only 60 seconds and had to mention a product three times. Still, a compromise. One day, I looked at my daughter and thought – who was I to tell her to pursue her dreams if I never even tried. So, I applied to AFI. Read more>>

Martin Mway

I’m a New York City-based photographer, creative director working in the fields of fashion and beauty. I began pursuing photography in 2018 shooting film, then I moved to digital photography and started my journey as a fashion and beauty photographer. I am thrilled to have a job that allows me to explore my creativity while still doing things that I love, which is photography. During my time as a photographer, I have met so many creative individuals that helped me along the way to get inspired and to work creatively. My work has been published by various magazines such as GMARO magazine, PUMP magazine, Shuba magazine, and Vogue Italia. My goal is to show the beauty and strength of the people while still capturing the important moments of them. Read more>>

Anna Kalachyan

I grew up around art my entire life — art goes back multiple generations in my family, my grandparents and parents were all painters. While I grew up around art, drew my whole life and took a few classes in high school, I didn’t pursue it in college. After I graduated UCLA, I actually ended up in Marketing. A couple of years into my career, I picked painting back up as a hobby to help me relax. A friend of mine, whose opinion I trust very much, told me that I should start selling my art and after thinking about it, I took the steps to start selling my art. I started participating in flea markets and selling my art online. A couple of years later and a lot of dedication and my book of clients continues to grow. Read more>>

Charles Ruggiero

I’m a professional musician – a drummer. I’m also a producer, graphic designer and creative consultant. I grew up in Rochester, NY in the 1970’s and 1980’s. My father was a drummer so it was always in my world. I got serious about music when I was 12. That was when it kind of took over my life. I LOVED to play the drums – still do. The sound, the feel, the power… all of it. I couldn’t get enough. I’d come home after school and play drums (not practice, but simply play to records) for 6 hours straight. I started out by just playing rock & roll records – Led Zeppelin, Van Halen, Jimi Hendrix, The Who, and bands like them were what I was into. That music was SO much fun to play, but wasn’t particularly challenging for me. When my brother gave me a cassette tape with a jazz mix and I couldn’t play along with it – I had “found my Everest.” I In 1990 I moved to NYC to attend Manhattan School of Music. I was so lucky to be in NYC in the early 90’s, the jazz scene at that time was incredible. I don’t think we knew it then but it was a special time to be there. Read more>>

Cory Messer

If I think back on where this whole filmmaking journey began, I would probably trace it back to my music obsessed teenage years. Bands like Metallica, Avenged Sevenfold, and Linkin Park really held my ear and I became enthralled by the compositions of the songs and the emotion put into every note. It wasn’t long before I found myself with a guitar in my hands, playing with some of my friends in their parent’s basement. That’s probably the first time I had ever created something from scratch in a collaboration with other like-minded people. No feeling really compared to it at the time and I was convinced this was my calling in life. My time as a musician spanned into my early 20’s and eventually allowed me to tour the country with my best friends. We had the time of our lives playing shows, sleeping in a 16 passenger van, and traveling from city to city. In time though, all good things must come to an end. Friends got married, had kids, and eventually we all split ways mutually to pursue our next calling in life… In 2012 my then girlfriend at the time (now wife), Breanna, had thrown out the idea of going to college together. Read more>>

Jared White

As a writer/director, ever since I can remember I’ve always been creating. When I wasn’t watching movies growing up, I was constantly drawing, making up characters, and writing stories. I was born and raised in the San Fernando Valley with an interest in film but no industry connections. Getting my hands on my parents’ camcorder allowed me to make little movies of my own where I’d often wear many hats (both figuratively and quite literally as I played different characters). I was drawn to film because it combines so many different artistic disciplines, including writing, visual arts, performance, and music. I graduated from Cal State Northridge in film production and worked for several years at Panavision’s worldwide headquarters as a workflow consultant on major feature films and TV shows such as Captain America and Law & Order: SVU, while also producing internal videos for the company. Read more>>

BenMarc

I started off as a camera assistant in 2006, loading film on Tv shows like “Entourage”, “The Unit” and feature films like “Santa Clause 3”. I taught classes at local universities and community colleges. I worked the TV and Film circuit for a couple of years while I building my relationships and network of peers and colleagues. During that time, I started shooting videos for local LA artist, some of them I even paid for myself. By chance, I shot a video for someone that was closely connected to the pop star AKON. He saw my work and offered me a job. From 2011 – 2013, I toured the world with Akon shooting tour footage and music videos with Akon and various global artists. During that time, I networked and built relationships that I still can call upon today. Once I finished my run with AKON, I started shooting videos again but this time it wasn’t for local artists, it was for artists signed to major labels. I was getting contracted by Interscope Records, Warner Music, Universal Music, Capital Records, Def Jam and many more. I believe my strong suit is being able to figure out how to build repore with artists and they learn to trust my vision. Read more>>

Brian Kaufman

I grew up in middle of nowhere New Jersey, in a small town called Newton. My first job was as a Janitor at our local Synagogue, the same one where I had my bar mitzvah. This was the kind of town where you had to make your own fun and my older brother made plenty of it. From as early as I can remember we were making our own little short films with friends and family, so we have a massive catalogue of embarrassing B-Movies between all of us. During this era my brother showed me how to do Stop-Motion with Legos, we did it the old fashion way. You double tap the record button, then you move the Lego pieces, double tap again, and repeat for hours and hours. This was my first introduction to Animation. The best part is, when our family gets together we still shoot our silly little B-Films. My brother, William Kaufman, went on to create a successful Live Action Production company and became an award-winning cinematographer and editor. Read more>>

Alex Goldberg

I am a writer, predominantly working as a playwright and a screenwriter. I have also directed two feature films and co-wrote a third. Until my late 30s I was an East Coaster. I grew up in the Washington D.C. area, studied theater at Skidmore College, and then moved to New York City where I worked in theater, first as an actor/improviser/sketch comedian, then sharpening my focus to just writing. Telling stories was always my passion, but it took a few years working as an actor to figure that out! After more than a decade, I had a number of plays produced in New York and across the country. My wife, actress Catia Ojeda, and I decided to give Los Angeles a shot. I already had connections to L.A.; my father worked here on and off throughout my childhood, and my brother moved to L.A. to attend U.S.C. film school over a decade before I came. We came here in 2012 for a five months trial run, during that time we produced my play IT IS DONE, which was then optioned into a film, and my wife started booking acting jobs. Read more>>

Gemma Allen

When I was two, my mother put me in commercials and I took an instant liking to being in front of the camera. I had my SAG card by age four and have been in over ten commercials nationwide. When I was eight, I told my mom I wanted to do movies and tv as well, so she got me a talent agent for film and tv. I signed with Paradigm Talent Agency and booked and filmed a tv show pilot every year since. It’s a very difficult thing because a very small percentage of tv shows are actually picked up to series, so there is a lot of disappointment. However, I did do some appearances on television and indie films that kept me going. I worked very hard on my acting training, and I never gave up even when at times it felt like I should! This last year, I booked my first major film in a small role-playing a young Elisabeth Mary Winstead in the Netflix film Kate. Shortly after that, I booked the lead role in another major film for Netflix called Mixtape which I am currently filming in Canada. Read more>>

Donny Letgo

I grew up on the east coast living between Philadelphia and Bucks County. Growing up, I always idolized my older brother and cousin. They both loved hip hop, so I grew up listening to people like Dipset, Eminem, Meek Mill, and Lil Wayne. After I got injured from playing sports at a young age, I spent a lot of time listening to music, watching music videos, and playing video games like Def Jam. I spent a lot of time with my older brother and his friends so when I got around people my own age, I felt like I was way different. My level of maturity, thoughts, ideas, plans looked nothing like there’s. I started drinking, smoking, and using drugs at a young age. It made me feel more confident, more artistic, and I was accepted everywhere as long as I supplied the goods. Eventually, I started realizing my classmates talking about college and careers or opportunities. All I had been thinking about was the next party or making my next rap song. I thought school was a place where they baby sat you for 8 hours and would teach things that you would never need to apply in the future. I skipped school a lot and barely graduated. Read more>>

Monika Ramirez Wee

My students sometimes ask me how long I’ve been an artist –there’s the formal answer related to schooling and exhibitions, but from my perspective, it all starts at the dining room table of my childhood. Art was my first friend. I was the youngest in a large Latino family, and there was a big gap in ages between my siblings and me. So, I would spend hours of my childhood alone, drawing at that table. Fortunately, there were grown-ups who noticed my focused, solitary, activity and they’d provide me with supplies—pencils, crayons, a stack of paper. Oh, the joy in a brand-new box of Crayons! And that first box with a sharpener so you could get a sharp tip, over and over again! To this day, I still adore the smell of Crayola crayons—even though other supplies have replaced them as top choice. I also spent a lot of time outside—the California sunshine was my companion—and influences my strong palette. If I wasn’t inside drawing, I was outdoors making concoctions with plants or climbing the avocado tree. My aunt and uncle took care of me, and their property in El Rio was this very beautiful, magical place as a child. Read more>>

Inna Tuler

After having an early career as a concert pianist and moving to the United States 30 years ago, I made a life change as a necessity when I took a position as a staff member in an apartment building rental office. My success in the position grew from showing apartments to prospective residents into an opportunity as a property manager for an apartment complex and then into a supervisor overseeing as many as 40 apartment buildings. This experience and growth provided an opportunity to grow my responsibilities and led to being a licensed realtor, then a real estate broker and a IREM Certified Property Manager (CPM). I then stepped in to assist my late husband in the facilities and construction business. From there on the business grew and transformed into the current Maintco Corp. Over the last decade, I have been very active in the community and have been challenging myself with distance bicycling and running marathons. Read more>>

Debbie Wittenberg

I grew up acting and performing in Chicago. I went to Columbia College and graduated with a BA in Theater. I’ve always loved the film industry and wanted to be a part of it since I can remember. I moved out to LA in the early 2000’s. I had the opportunity to work in so many areas of the business from acting to voiceover as well as working with casting directors, agents and managers. Along the way, I taught myself to do retouching on photoshop. I was helping all my friends with their auditions and they were getting callbacks and booking. I also helped actors with their resumes and actor sites. And then in 2018, I decided I wanted to stop working for other people and launch my own business for actors. I built a self-tape studio and started perfecting it to create a space that not only had impeccable lighting and sound but a place where actors felt supported, comfortable and safe so they could create the best auditions possible. That’s when The Actors Concierge was born. Read more>>

Anastasiia Zhuchenko

I am a professional dancer, choreographer and Candidate Master of Sports. I am 30 years old and I was born in Kiev, Ukraine. I started dancing when I was four years old. I saw my older sister dancing and I wanted to imitate her. I danced everywhere: at home, on the street, in the store. And then my mother resolutely took me to the dance studio. From that moment, dancing became a huge part of my life and no one could even imagine where it would take me… My parents worked very hard to give us a good education, they supported us in everything. But when they couldn’t afford any longer to pay for mine and my sister’s dance classes, unfortunately she decided to quit. And I continued… After classes in kindergarten, my mom usually immediately took me to the dance lessons, after school, when all my peers were having fun, I had to go to practice, and of course, at the university, when student’s life was in full swing…I had to train and work a lot to be able to pay for my classes. But, by that time, I was already a Candidate Master of Sports and a finalist and winner of many national and international competitions. Read more>

Mikey Smit

I started off in a family like the Jackson’s, if I’m being honest. I am an MC, Singer, Writer, Producer, Engineer, videographer… etc. I’ve coined myself the “walking record Label”. I’ve always seen and been around music my whole life. It all started with me singing in the church choir & it grew from there as I would watch my family make R&B, soul, gospel. Read more>>

Daniel Jacob Horine

Not intended to be a business, it began more as an art project but in the beginning months of being locked-in due to COVID. I began drawing pictures of baseball players in a comic-book style. Both baseball and comic books were the entirety of my life at age ten. I decided to try something new, completely on a whim, to see if anyone would be interested. I decided to do a piece a week and make it available for only a week, then retire the piece after that. I sold just a few my first week, a few more the next, and steadily grew after that. In the process, I was able to connect with and collaborate with several major league baseball players in bringing these pieces to life, including Los Angeles Dodger legend Steve Garvey. The interest in my work as collectibles steadily grew. In December of 2020, I was invited to be a guest on the MLB Network show Hot Stove and was talking about my work to a broader audience. Now nine months into this project, I’ve done over 30 different works, worked with many baseball players, including Hall of Famers and have over 4000 of my pieces in collections around the world. Read more>>

DJ Pryor

My mother had me when she was 13 years old. Naturally, she made a lot of young choices. Through many obstacles and challenges that I was facing at the time, I had to find an outlet to escape what I was feeling inside and I found that in making other people laugh. As an adult, it works for me but for young DJ, it simply meant that I was what we call the Class Clown. I had one teacher that had a true passion for her students. Ms. Brown, she went out of her way to learn my story and realized that me telling jokes was an outlet from what I was facing at home. So she thought outside the box and made a deal with me that if I completed my work she would give me the last 10 mins to entertain the class. Between discovering Richard Pryor and Eddie Murphy in my grandparent’s record player and VCR and Mrs. Brown, I discovered that I wanted to be on tv screen as an actor and stand-up comedian. Ultimately, Comedy saved my life. Read more>>

Tramon Richard

I remember when I was younger, me and my older brother would learn choreography from music videos and movies to goof around or pass time. Little did I know, this would begin my journey to finding what would eventually be my career. My family members from uncles, mom, dad, brother, cousins ALL were into sports. Everyone except me. Growing up, I knew what I liked and had ideas of what I’d want to do. However, nothing seemed to really stick to me. I wanted to be a paleontologist because of my infatuation with dinosaurs. I wanted to be a school teacher because naturally, I enjoy helping others and being in leadership roles. I also wanted to become a martial artist solely to become a power ranger (pink specifically) or a super spy. Yet and still nothing really stuck to me. Until one day, I was at home in my basement free-styling to Ciara’s album “Goodies” when my older brother came in and said, “have you ever thought about being a dancer? you’re actually really good at it!”. It clicked, the sweating, the idea of performing, the feeling of being on stage all rushed in on me. Read more>>

Emily Fitz

For four years, I waited tables at this adorable restaurant called the fat dog in the Noho arts district but there came a time around my 30th birthday where I just knew there had to be something more for me. After some serious soul searching and an Ayahausca retreat down in Peru, I woke up to my mission of serving and supporting other women in waking up to the truth of who they are. I signed up for every coaching course under the sun and embarked on my next chapter to become a Manifestation coach. After some success, I quit the restaurant to go full time and as fate would have, it didn’t sign one client for six months. I learned exactly what not to do and started branching out by helping other coaches who had been stuck just like me. Then the pandemic hit and I thought well this is it, but it ended up being the best gift in the world. More than ever women were coming online to be coaches and looking for help. That year I grew from $0 in revenue to $200k and helped over 100 women go on to make thousands of dollars in their own business doing what I love. Read more>>

Anne Veran

I’m a Registered Nurse by trade and I’ve been a nurse for 20 years. I’m a mom of two, and my husband is also a nurse. The pay is great but we both work 12 long hours and that often leaves us feeling burnt out. Because of our schedule, somebody always has to stay home with the kids and that leaves us with only a few hours at night to spend time with each other. Oftentimes, when I leave for work, the kids would still be sleeping and when I get home, it’s time for bed. I feel guilty for giving my family just crumbs of my day and I resent that I can’t spend time with my family as often as I want when I want. I feel that I didn’t become a nurse just to be away from my husband and family. This is not the American Dream I had in mind. On top of all this, when I had my daughter, it wreaked havoc on my skin, causing hormonal acne and stubborn dark spots. It totally messed up my self-confidence and the way I interacted with my patients and other people. That’s when I got introduced to Rodan + Fields Skincare. My skincare journey has been amazing. It totally cleared my skin and gained my confidence back. Read more>>

Andrea Cabrera

I was born and raised in Carson, CA with a single mother and two older siblings. Well, I was actually born in Harbor City on the way to the hospital on October 18th, 2000- a month early. I just couldn’t wait to live out my purpose. It’s an almost stereotypical first-generation Mexican American story in the beginning- with my mother being a housekeeper and doing all she could to hold the household down. She did is so beautifully I never even knew she was struggling. Stick with me, for things change. I was in fifth grade when my sister took pictures of me for her photography class. I fell in love with modeling secretly. Eighth grade came and my brother introduced me to “The Secret,” a documentary about the law of attraction. I did not question the teachings, it automatically made sense to me- it felt like a reminder. I put it into practice and started being intentional with my thoughts, did my affirmations, visualizations, started writing things down. Quickly, things started aligning. I was led to my friend’s mom who taught me more about the laws of the universe and the power of my mind. I knew I wanted to model and I knew I wanted to be a message, not a sole image. I put this thought into the universe and let time take its course. Read more>>

Madison Elliott

I was born in Boston and raised in Foxboro, Massachusetts. I have always had an interest in hair and makeup since I was little. In high school I use to do all my friends hair and makeup for the proms and theatre productions. My best friend Cassie actually encouraged me to start my own makeup business in college and start charging for makeup services. So I did….I accepted every form of payment; cash, check, dunkin iced coffees, egg sandwiches, free cover charges at bars on Saturday night, etc… I didn’t really care about the money at that point I just loved doing makeup. I was booked and busy for every sorority and fraternity formal on campus. I also started a Youtube Channel, which I occasionally still upload to today. A cousin of mine asked me to do her makeup for her wedding and the bridesmaids from that wedding soon booked me for their own. Read more>>

Kevin Newton

Passionately eclectic, diversely talented African American mixed-race artist fighting the never ending battle for truth, justice and eternal inspiration. Newark, New Jersey native, transplanted to L.A., in my youth, and what a shock to the system that was! Late blooming creator, frustrated with the restrictions of 9-5, spurned on to return to the joy of creating as a youth. Inspired by movies, music, culture and adventurous abstract artists (Picasso, Basquiat, Longo, etc.). Read more>>

Ebenezer Alasi

As a young boy in Nigeria, all things Arts, Fashion and Entertainment had always been in my blood. I sang, I danced, I acted, I drew and painted, I styled, I designed, I sketched, I wrote poems and sometimes MC’d, basically if it was artsy, fashionable and entertaining, you could count me in! Life took me down various paths; gaining a degree in Electrical Engineering and having worked in the Banking sector for about five years, I finally made the decision to follow my passion. Thus, moving to LA where I attended the New York Film Academy and studied Acting for Film. Read more>

Lance Witmer

I was born and raised in a quaint little town in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. From the time I first laid hands on a camcorder in the 7th grade, I knew that video was a passion I could pursue for the rest of my life. I began filming recreations of my favorite movies, which frequently required me wearing multiple hats in order to complete. In 2017, I moved to Los Angeles to complete my BFA in Cinema at Columbia College Hollywood. While there, I wrote and directed a Viking short film, “Halfdanr,” which is currently making its way through the film festival circuit. 2017 is also the year I founded Valor Films, a production company with the mission to inspire integrity, nobility and justice. All my life films have inspired me, sparking my imagination. Epic adventures such as Lord of the Rings, Gladiator and Braveheart remain as some of my favorite stories. I believe a story can change the world. It is for this reason Valor Films exists. Read more>>

Deborah Gilels

I started out in my early 20’s working in the office of the famed jazz musician Lionel Hampton in New York City. I was pursuing an acting career that eventually led me to the off-broadway scene, producing and acting in plays. I discovered that I loved working behind the scenes and wanted to work in the film and television business in that capacity – developing content. I met a producer from the New York office of Paramount, who gave me some strong advice and a few referrals. A few months later, I moved out to Los Angeles. Beginning as a story analyst, I was challenged at typing screenplay and book coverage in the era of typewriters and white-out – no computers. OMG!  Fortunately, I was able to gain some credibility in that realm and go on to work in development and production. As an executive, I supervised television and film development deals at Warner Brothers, Twentieth Century Fox, and PFG Entertainment. Read more>>

Ameann and Clarisse DeJohn

CLARISMA was conceived in 2007 when a precocious seven years old by the name of Clarisse danced her way into the kitchen and requested that her mother, Ameann, a beauty industry professional and esthetician, bring her childhood fantasy to fruition. Clarisse was ahead of her time and imagined a natural product line, free of harmful ingredients and chock full of peppermint and watermelon. She also gave her mother direction regarding what the packaging would look like and talked about labeling and her brand’s overall vision. Ameann, being a mother who supported her children’s ideas, put together a simple product and packaging that any other seven-year-old would have been thrilled with that Clarisse promptly rejected. The cleanser did not smell of peppermint, and she demanded to know where the peppermint had gone and addressed her packaging concerns with her mother as the label fell off in the shower. WHAT?! Ameann, at that moment, realized that this was not a child playing dress-up but a future founder, creator, and thinker. Read more>>

Veronica Ridge

I started my journey 20 years ago, my senior year in high school when I thought I wanted to be a makeup artist! So I did work experience through my High school, they offered beauty school. Two months after I graduated high school, I graduated beauty school. I then went to makeup school and realized it wasn’t for me but I fell in love with hair color! About eight years later, I linked up with Redken and became a platform artist traveling and teaching hair color, but not right away! I actually decided to become an educator to overcome my fear of public speaking… and it wasn’t until I was with the brand for eight years did I actually speak on a large stage compared to the small classroom settings before that. The year preparing for that show molded me to be the strong confident woman I am today. Prior to that I was shy, insecure and very quiet. I did everything from improve classes to self-work to get to that stage and a shift had occurred. That shift then allowed me to begin my journey of being more open and free in social media. Read more>>

Morghan Medlock

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been in the kitchen at one point or another in my life. My dad was a chef, my aunts, uncles and my grandmother were cooks. And mom taught me how to make impeccable breakfast. As it relates to being a chef, I ended up getting fired from my office job, which afforded me the opportunity to stay at home again with my son and cook home cooked meals. I started really getting into cooking again, then baking, then I started posting on social media and I took off from there. My sister found a culinary school for me to attend but only AFTER I took a couple of rec classes to see if I REALLY wanted to do this. Turns out the story is still unfolding and being written. 😉. Read more>>

Glennellen Anderson

The concept for my upcoming EP, “unbirthday,” was born during one of my 364 unbirthdays that I spent in quarantine. After COVID-19 canceled my entire lineup of live shows and concerts, I flew home to be with my family during the lockdown. One early morning, I threw myself a tea party on my parent’s front lawn. I poured myself some hot rose tea, ate some berries and cakes, then literally chuckled and mumbled to myself, “…a very merry unbirthday to me.” That sent my mind into a spiral, just like Alice spiraled down the winding staircase. Ideas were floating around me. It was as if the lockdown had brought on this descent into madness but in the best way possible. Something in me had to die in order for the rebirth of a new era to begin. Turns out, visiting home during the pandemic for four months was much needed. Read more>>

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