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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.

Molly Kruse

I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, the eldest daughter of two. I was immersed in the rich musicality of my hometown; diving headfirst into artists like the Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Steve Miller Band, and Etta James, plus countless others, was my first formal musical education. I started vocal lessons at 12 years old and after working tirelessly on my voice, I competed in national vocal competitions, performed lead roles in musicals, and sang in school choir for over six years. Read more>>

Jordan Martinez

At the age of seven, Jordan knew that his calling in life was to direct film. In elementary school, Jordan competed in tournament Chess and eventually earned the title, “Western, United States Chess Champion” for his grade division. At the age of seventeen, during the surge in troop numbers in the Middle East, he asked both his parents to sign off for military recruitment. He enlisted in the United States Army and served as a U.S Paratrooper under “Special Operations Command”. Overseas, most of his time was spent in the volatile area of Kandahar Province, Afghanistan in support of “Operation Enduring Freedom”. Read more>>

Desarae Dee

DESARAE DEE • My Story My journey as a musician began at the tender age of 6. I was classically trained on the piano, and I grew up playing gospel, and Caribbean-based music in church. I was shy about music; my parents never heard me practice, and my friends never heard me play. I kept to myself for many years and had no desire to be in the spotlight. I saw music as more of a hobby growing up, and becoming an artist was not even a thought. Then, at the age of 15, I wrote my first song that was filled with many complex chords that I had no idea how to interpret at the time. I knew they were outside of the classical music I grew up playing, and I sought to figure out what they were. Read more>>

Kara Ford

I have always been very into music. Like I had an intense passion for all things music growing up. I wanted to learn how to play every instrument, I would watch music videos all day long, I never missed an music awards show, and I even started making my own music with a software called fruity loops. I was a bit obsessed. But within that obsession I always knew I would work in the music industry in some sort of way when I grew up. Read more>>

Ash Rodriguez

The story of my art the last 10 years since high school ended has taught me a lot creatively. No road is traveled alone I truly believe that, and the mentors and friends Ive made along this journey really have shaped the artist I am today. I grew up heavily inspired by movies and television, so it felt natural for me to participate in this industry. I started out in elementary school being very interested in paper mâché and sculpting, my father was a sculptor and I was able to learn a lot of his techniques and be encouraged to constantly practice. Read more>>

David Underwood III

I have been performing for as long as I can remember. I watched and admired my three older siblings excel in their own niched arts – dancing and cheerleading; drawing and designing; writing poetry and rapping. To be honest I was envious of their talent and hungry to find my own. I started by learning the clarinet in elementary school, it was a mandatory class but I quickly fell in love with music. From the clarinet, I went on to teach myself piano, guitar, and ukulele all while performing in the school band playing the clarinet, bass clarinet, timpani, snare, bass drum, and xylophone/ chimes. Read more>>

Chris Hazenbush

While I moved to LA to pursue my career in scripted development about 7 years ago, my larger journey started many years prior. When growing up, our family’s TV set was almost always on, and we frequently bonded over watching series together through the years. In high school I started producing a daily morning news show, which gave me the opportunity to not just consume content, but go behind the scenes as well. From that point on, I realized the power, influence, and enjoyment I got from being behind the camera. Read more>>

Britt Crisp

I started acting around 9 years old in school musicals. My first mentor, Dr. George Mengert took me under his wing after seeing something in me that no one else did and I absolutely fell in love with performing. After that I started to participate in more demanding stage shows in Atlanta, always trying to learn more about my craft. I performed in a couple professional musicals (Willy Wonka and Peter Pan) at the Fabrefaction Theatre Company where I was truly taught to ground my skills by Christina Hoff.  Read more>>

Shanay Morant

I’m a Multitalented Artist from New York City! I started my journey in the Performing Arts in high school when I attended Talent Unlimited High School for the Performing Arts! There I studied Musical Theatre for 4 years! I then got accepted into the American Musical Dramatic Academy and studied musical theatre there for 2 years to later receive my associates degree in Musical Theatre Studies! Since graduating I’ve appeared in several short films and a very popular web series named Mixed Boy Joy. I am now developing my sound musically as an artist and people are loving my RnB Neo-Soul vibes! Just scratching the surface with the music I’ve released so far so definitely be on the look out for what’s coming next. I am not the type of artist to keep in a box! Read more>>

Patrick Jero Miguel Castillo

My business was birthed out of having lost something. I was a teacher by trade; took the bus from Whittier to Cal Poly Pomona for 4 hours for 4 years. My mom was a working mom and she raised us with the help of my grandparents. My brother and I knew what it cost to get & keep us in school and to make sure we made something out of ourselves. Read more>>

Isidoro Perez

I always knew I wanted to be an actor. Since I was a kid I watched people and imitated them. Me and my sisters grew up in some rough areas. When we moved to one of our apartments, we didn’t have a TV. I took some of our moving boxes, cut rectangles in them, jumped inside and pretended that I was on TV to entertain my sisters. Sometimes when I was wondering around the neighborhood, I’d find old window screens. I carried the window screens around for days and held them up in front of my face and entertain people. My mother was my favorite person to entertain. Read more>>

Erynn Mitchell

My journey with my art began on a date in middle school. I found myself in the back row of ‘Skyfall’, moved to tears at the opening title sequence. I vowed that I would make something that beautiful one day and since then film has become a huge part of my life both on screen and behind the camera. I grew up in a Colorado suburb in a lower middle class latin family to two parents who, in their words, accidentally gave birth to me. Art became my escape. I found myself playing violin, study speech and debate, and working in theatre to give myself time away from the restricting environment I was in as a child.  Read more>>

Alyse Kane Riley

Art has always been a foundation of my life. I have always relied on art in times of confusion, frustration, curiosity, and even love. Since a young age I have been telling stories through my words with poems, songs, journals, short stories and later in life I started visually telling them through paint, photography, and fashion. I started my own fashion line, back in 2011 and began creative directing shoots which is when I really fell in love with the beauty of composition, color and all the aspects of visual storytelling. Read more>>

Lukas Cuman

I come from a little village in Italy not too far from Venezia. I grew up playing guitar and drums since I was 7. After graduating from High School, having always been fascinated by sound, I moved to Milano where I found a small school with an Sound Engineering Bachelor program and I fell in love with the technical side of the music industry. I spent 3 years there studying and working at the same time, while always keeping in mind my biggest dream to work in LA. In Milano I had the opportunity to stay side by side and learn from some of the best Italian producers, composers and engineers. Read more>>

Mikayla Metzler

I lived in Indianapolis, IN where I was raised during the start of the pandemic. I ended up moving in with my parents in a really small town. Right before the world shut down I was due to venture off to live on a cruise ship working in the entertainment department. I was super excited because traveling the world was one of my biggest passions. Once everything shut down, I was incredibly depressed. So much was going on in the world and not being able to work my dream job was the final straw. I had no idea what I was going to do with my life. I didn’t want to stay in Indiana, so I started thinking about a new city to move to. Read more>>

Perry Grone

I am a filmmaker that works closely with my brother, Dakota Grone. We have been interested in storytelling and filmmaking ever since we were younger. We’ve done sketch comedy, social media content, and music videos. This all led us to our current project, which has been starting a production company. Our business focuses on events and brand stories. The goal for our company is to use content to tell a brands story, which will help their business grow. Eventually, we want to move into creating long-form content like films or documentaries. Our company is called Harry and Marv, and anyone who knows what that is from is awesome 🙂 Read more>>

Francis London

My journey as a designer came unexpectedly when I attended the Magic/agenda trade show in 2009 with my brother. At the time, my brother had a sneaker boutique and would go to the magic trade show to network and gain accounts from the top emerging brands. I fell in love with S.L.A.T.E, which was the street wear section. If you are a streetwear enthusiast like me, it was heaven. After the tradeshow while flying back home with my brother, he told me I should start my own clothing brand, which I did. Understand God Loves You Duklyn (UGLYDUKLYN) was the entire premise on how i started the clothing brand due to my personal journey in life. The journey has been a long 12 years, but I must say, I appreciate the path it has taken me to get where I am Read more>>

Fiona Breslin

Fashion is in my blood. My family’s history in women’s fashion retail started generations ago with a family business on my mom’s side and where “smart Westchester shopped.” We all are creative and have a naturally strong eye. I began my career at age 14 on the sales floor at Gatsby’s in western MA. Then moved into styling and corporate fashion in NY and LA. The rest was history. Read more>>

Jania Love

I started off working at makeup counters and being a free lance artist. After seeing the ins and outs of the makeup business. I was inspired to start my own cosmetic line. I was a little scared but didn’t have much to loose if I gave it a try, I opened up my online store JL Beauty during the pandemic and it’s been doing really good since, I’ve taken on other business ventures like doing more freelance work and started a body contouring business, ArtistrybyJL. Read more>>

Aly Jade

I started out on social media as a dancer in 2017. I also started a YouTube at the time to document and do daily vlogs. I took some time to start growing but I had discovered “musically” which is tiktok now and grew a fam base from many different apps. I began acting shortly after, after a year of doing auditions in my hometown I got booked doing background in LA! This was gonna be my first time traveling to LA so I was super excited but also nervous! Me and my mom fell in love with LA and saw a whole different side of the industry. We ended up going more for collabs and photoshoots.  Read more>>

Debryne Graphics

I’ve always had a passion for art. So much so that I decided to major in Computer Graphics technology at Purdue University in an attempt to become a graphic designer. After dropping out of school for a variety of reason I decided that I’d teach my self graphic design and start my own “graphic design” firm. Read more>>

Micah DuBeau

Music has always been as much of an integral part of my life as my love for word play has. When I was one, my mother was 7 months pregnant with my little brother Josiah and she got killed by a 19 year old drunk driver with a suspended license, no insurance, who then got out of the car and ran, and refused a breathalyzer. She would then get away with it all because daddy was a high ranking police officer who sealed the case to protect his daughter. My mother was rushed to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle and an emergency birth was given to my brother who lived only 45 minutes. This began a massive domino effect that would change mine and my two older brothers lives forever. Read more>>

Max Perry

Max Perry is renowned 3x Grammy Nominated and multi-platinum record producer, engineer, composer, musician & publishing administrator. Grounded in west coast hip-hop with an East coast upbringing, Max Perry was born into music. He is the son of Fredro Perry whose credits include member of the band Brooklyn Cowboys and indie record label owner; and grandson to the classical piano virtuoso and founder of Peripole Inc, supplies musical instrument to schools worldwide, Sylvia Perry. Read more>>

Michael McCrary

MOBBIN101 also known to many as “Mob”, “Ace”, “King” or by his birth name Michael Mc Crary, born Oct, 26 1991 in Pensacola, Florida and raised in East Palo Alto, California. known professionally as Mobbin101, is an American Rapper, Songwriter from East Palo Alto, CA. He is an independent artist with GT Digital Distribution/Empire. He is also a multi-faceted, multi-talented, athlete, model, actor and serial entrepreneur, the CEO of Exotic Mob Music, Record Label, Mobbin Exotics, LLC, Exotic Promo, Exotic Magazine and Mondays with Mobbin podcast. Read more>>

Michael Perrotta

I started my boutique publishing house, Bellucci, Palms & Carmichael Publishing, LLC in 2016 and in a short period of time have published works for more than 6 authors. We are renowned for our personalized literary fiction, non-fiction, poetry, as well as trade and mass market publications. Read more>>

Markiss McFadden

My name is Markiss McFadden. I was born May 25, 1986, in Los Angeles, California, USA. I am managing director and CEO of McFadden Family Films. McFadden Family Films is a full production studio founded in 2012. I am a screenplay writer, director, actor, and film producer. Read more>>

Emilio Palame

I was born and raised in Buffalo, New York where in sixth grade I began singing and playing in our rock group called “The Magical Staircase”. Initially self-taught, I begin taking piano lessons and eventually went on to study music formally at SUNY Fredonia. I was very involved in the jazz ensemble program at the University where I eventually ran the entire program for four years. I received my Bachelor of Music degree and began playing and recording with my own big band in around Buffalo and southern Canada. Read more>>

Rabbi Denise L. Fund

I am the Founding and Senior Rabbi of Congregation Kol Ami in West Hollywood, CA. Nearly 30 years ago I started our congregation with a small group of lay leaders. We wanted to create a progressive and inclusive, Reform Jewish community in West Hollywood. It was the height of the AIDS crisis, and as LGBTQ people we wanted a safe Jewish spiritual home that would be a social justice leader and advocate for LGBTQ rights and a spiritual home that was welcoming of all including those with interfaith families. I have done extensive work on interfaith relations and on the intersection of politics and religion. Our congregation today is made of diverse people-just like West Hollywood! Young and old, gay and straight alike. Read more>>

Natalie Vulevic

Throughout my life I always had a desire to do more, be more. Not to be a product of my environment but instead an example of it. Growing up and going through hardships like mine it’s hard to imagine dreams coming true, but I always knew it was possible. When I was 21 I finally decided to pursue a career in modeling. Starting from ground zero- I reached out to local photographers in my home state of Connecticut where I started my journey. I knew I needed to practice in front of a camera and build my portfolio. Read more>>

Nicola De Prato

It all began when I received my first video camera as a gift for my First Communion. Probably my luck was the chance to live in very different countries compared to Italy, including Pakistan, India, and China following the job of my father. Living in realities so far away from Italy and documenting it with my Sony 8mm initially seemed almost like a game but growing up I realized how important it is to show places and tell stories of people in order to engage the viewer and transmit emotions. Obviously, as a child, I never thought that this passion could turn into a profession. Read more>>

Kaylee Lauren

I’m a 16 year old independent, rising, singer/songwriter from Los Angeles. I have been singing my whole life and recently I’ve started songwriting and releasing original music. It’s always been my dream to create relatable, real, and emotional songs in order for all my fans to connect with my music and me as an artist. I have pursued my singing career by consistently working with my vocal coach, piano lessons, and vulnerably writing songs everyday where my dedication regularly makes every song better. Read more>>

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