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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.

Julie Craig

I started performing when my parents put me in dance class at age three. But I really fell in love with storytelling when I was about seven years old. I saw my brother in a production of “Finian’s Rainbow,” and I begged my mom to take me to every performance. The following summer I did the play at that theatre, and for the rest of my childhood, I was never NOT in a play. Sometimes they’d overlap or I’d be doing three at once at three different theaters! At the same time, I was juggling dance and voice lessons with play practice and homework.  Read more>>

Amarachukwu Nwokokoro

Well, at 13 I just started picking up my iPod and making youtube videos. I enjoyed it and just loved making videos. Gradually I got older, the internet evolved and it became a job for me. I still love it! Content creation is no walk in the park! It takes believing in yourself, showing up constantly and also being there for people you do not know! I think the biggest struggle is constantly not comparing yourself and truly knowing you bring something special to the internet world. Read more>>

Daniel Becker

My career started about 12 years ago when I found myself without a house to live in or a car to drive. I had recently lost my job as that company went broke and took me down with it. This was my family’s business so I invested everything I had to help keep the doors open. Clearly, it did not work. Being at rock bottom and recovering from being taken advantage of, I knew I wanted to start my own business where I was more or less in control of my own destiny. Read more>>

Jan Hogrewe

My story of how I started Just Jan’s began when the little fig tree planted in my backyard produced so many figs one summer I had no choice but to make lemons out of lemonade. After many years in the film industry producing behind the scenes for DVDs (amongst other fun, creative projects), I no longer felt the spark I once did. The figs brought me back to childhood summers at the farm in Hanford, CA, where I learned the art of jam-making with Grace, a woman who was like a grandma to me, and her daughter, Yvonne. Read more>>

Melinda Trembly

Rincon Road is my personal lifelong journey and I am excited to share it with you. I’m a born and raised California girl living on my family’s avocado ranch in Carpinteria. I never felt the need to move far, did I mention the avocados? I was taken along on many of my parent’s adventures. We would drive from horse show to horse show across the country, we would travel a bit like gypsies. Always off the beaten path, finding the hole-in-the-wall restaurant or discovering a new trading post along the way. I loved this time with them and the treasures we collected. Read more>>

Jessica M. Wilson

I always wanted to be a Poet. When I was in college, I experienced so many poetry readings, Q&As, and author meet n greets…it was so much fun. It was a huge literary party. These were two things I enjoyed the most: hosting parties and talking about poetry. When I graduated from Graduate school, the whole party was over…and I had nowhere to share my poetry or no one to talk poetry with. I was a lonely Poet, a lonely artist, and I had a huge city to explore — Los Angeles. However, I still had no clue as to where the poetry scene was, so I started the Los Angeles Poet Society. Read more>>

Nicki Huggins

I’m an outdoor furniture historian and manufacturer. I started as a collector in the 1990s when I purchased outdoor metal chairs from the Rose Bowl show. I had worked at Sci-Arc, Southern California Institute of Architecture, and taken furniture design classes there, so I knew these chairs were special the second I saw them. At the time, I was working as a television producer. I would often have chairs on the back of my truck that my crew would watch in sketchy neighborhoods. They treated those old chairs with kid gloves. I flew all over the country researching my “finds” on work vacations. Then, I created a website called RetroPatio dedicated to this furniture and offered it for sale, restored. Read more>>

Katya Armistead

I started my career in higher education a couple of years after I graduated from UC Santa Barbara (UCSB). I entered UCSB as a first-generation and low-income student. I was entirely out of my element as a mixed-raced person (Black and white) and not quite academically ready to enter the world of a predominately white high-achieving institution. Honestly, I am not entirely sure how I survived, but perhaps it was due to the few supportive friendships I cultivated and some caring supervisors. My first career position at UCSB was as an administrative assistant. Read more>>

Jeff Couch

This is my third career, started as a chef and then owned a successful food service equipment marketing firm and now a photographer. I always enjoyed photography but didn’t really understand the triangle so I went to UCLA Extension. During the later part of the course, I did a mentorship. When deciding what to do it on because of my past experiences the mentor suggested food photography. I had never really thought about food photography as all my other work was Urban Decay and Lost Cities. Since then, I have been totally focused on food photography and video. Read more>>

Kelsey Ang

I was born in the Philippines, raised in Hong Kong and then moved to LA to study Dance and Marketing at Loyola Marymount University. From my time at LMU studying two majors and being exposed to many facets of dance, performing arts, and the entertainment industry in LA, I became inspired by the multidisciplinary careers of artists. My dance career has involved multiple roles from performing, choreographing, marketing, teaching, directing and running my own business. Read more>>

Sedef Degirmenci

I moved to LA in 2015 and while I was waiting for my work permit, I decided to take accounting courses. As soon as I was able to work I started at Entertainment Partners in 2017 as a Paymaster who processes payments for cast and crew for TV shows and movies. Every year I got promotions and become Senior Paymaster at the end of 2019, and processed payments for Netflix, FOX, Warner Brothers, Universal, Sony, Apple TV, etc. After almost four years, I decided to move to the other side of the business and become a payroll accountant and worked project base at Fremantle, Apple TV, CBS. Since Nov. Read more>>

Madi Wolf

I come from a musical family. My Grandfather is a Luthear and has built all of my guitars. I began taking guitar lessons at seven years of age and eventually became bored of singing other artists’ songs. So at age eight, I wrote my first original song and had my first experience in a recording studio. The ball just kept rolling and I formed multiple bands. I was traveling and performing 30 minutes to an hour of original music at numerous venues, from Boston to New York, to Nashville, Tennessee. Read more>>

Lydia Gomez

In my late teens, I became highly interested in learning about starting a business. I researched and read countless articles, I followed people who had become successful starting a business and spent so many hours on YouTube learning about different aspects of the business. Finally, I attempted to start small businesses centered in fashion and accessories which did not work out. From those experiences coupled by all the research I learned so much about what had worked, what didn’t work, and a few key aspects of myself that contributed to the reason why those ideas did not work out. Read more>>

Doris Muna

My journey on the healing business started with myself. Having had some health challenges and not too keen to become a medicine junkie, I started to ask and discover the reason the body gets ill and origin of pain, I was very curious and found a lot of information that intrigued me. Not everything made sense, yet a lot did. I started experimenting with food intolerances and used the Touch for Health approach of muscle testing. That did amazing results to my energy and stamina but just eliminating certain foods that my body had a hard time digesting. I was truly motivated to dig deeper. Read more>>

Alex Walsh

I was born and raised in Hawaii, loving nature, art, and making people happy. I didn’t really have a plan for my life- but I just picked the next step that seemed fun and interesting and went with it. I left when I was 18, I moved to Canada in hopes of narrowing down my life plan. Eventually, I decided to fully pursue art and moved to LA the next year to get my BFA in music theatre. I graduated in 2020, distraught that I seemed to finally find a passion in live performance only to have it taken away just as I was entering the world with it. Read more>>

Jeff Johnson

I am an artist and composer working in Los Angeles. I am originally from South Carolina. My art career began in elementary school when I got in trouble for painting on both sides of a canvas and then laying the wet canvas down on the brand new floor to dry. Even though one side of the painting was transferred to the once immaculate floor, I learned a valuable lesson: that art isn’t just restricted to what is on the canvas (or floor). Art also happens in the interaction between the viewer and the work, as they bring their story and background into the experience. Every day I work to create art that is meant to be interacted with, inviting the viewer to meditate and reflect, as I myself do in the creation process. Read more>>

Sawyer Rose

My work on The Carrying Stones Project celebrates the strength of working women while shining a light on the systemic inequities that women face in the workplace, at home, and in their communities. I started this project at a time in my life when I had a toddler, an infant, a paid gig doing graphic design, my art practice, and an awful lot of unpaid domestic labor. I began to educate myself about all the different kinds of gender and work issues that women deal with and, looking at the data, I was struck by the scale of the problem — how stark the divides are between men and women in terms of unpaid labor, underpaid labor, career advancement, lack of representation in higher paying fields, lack of representation in male-dominated industries, and so on… Plus, women of color and low-wage workers are even further affected by all of these issues. Read more>>

Nicole Faulkner

I’ve always had a natural gravitation to art. Growing up I was always drawing or painting something, so when I started playing with makeup, it just felt right. I remember looking up pictures of Jeffree Star and Ru Paul and replicate those looks on myself or my friends in high school. I loved that makeup could literally transform someone into a work of art. I started doing makeup for friends every time we’d have a school dance. It started as 2-3 people, then grew to 5-6, eventually I had 15 people on prom getting their makeup done in my parent’s living room. Read more>>

Candice Echeverria and Candice James

From passion project to flourishing business, GoldiLacts Lactation Consulting was born just as Co-Owners Candice Echeverria and Candice James were RE-born themselves as mothers for a second time. Best friends whose sons were born just a week apart, “The Candice’s” bonded through shared grief over their seemingly failed first breastfeeding journey. They were both determined to make breastfeeding work the second time around. Read more>>

Sintoria

I started making beats in my bedroom at 18. I was a beginner on Logic Pro X, and I learned most things through trial and error. My dad bought me my first mic and from the moment on, I was off to the races. I never knew there weren’t a lot of artists who produced their own music until I came into the music scene. It seemed to be a shock to people, which is funny because most people I know personally in the music scene are producers first.  Read more>>

Danielle Foster

I have always felt captivated by the strange, unusual, and darker parts of reality. I have to credit my Mom for this aspect of my personality – a major horror enthusiast. From a very young age, I was exposed to shows like: ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ and ‘Twilight Zone’. The first horror movies I remember watching were ‘The Exorcist’ and ‘Dawn of the Dead’. That Halloween, I dressed as a Zombie (fake blood and all) for my elementary school trick-or-treating event among a sea of princesses and Ninja Turtles. As I got older, my love for horror never faded. I found myself beginning to consider the power of the images in this genre and not only how but why fear drives goosebumps up the back of one’s neck. Read more>>

Nery Kim

I’m a jazz pianist born and raised in South Korea. I started playing piano at the age of 6. I naturally got more fond of music as I grew up and decided to attend Berklee College of Music. I’m very fortunate that I made a lot of great musician friends and met inspiring colleagues who influenced my professional journey. I’ve had the privilege to perform both as a leader and a sideman in many gigs in a wide range of styles of jazz. I’ve also collaborated alongside all kinds of musicians and their albums as a composer, arranger and a pianist or a keyboardist. Earning the title of a professional, quite frankly, took endless effort. However, I’d be a fool to dismiss the fact that I wouldn’t be where I am had I not received unconditional support from my loving family and friends. Read more>>

Martin Berrios

While most of my professional journey has been in marketing/branding I always had an innate talent for writing. In or around 2004, I started freelancing for various music publications which led me to being a Music Editor for a reputable website years later. Due to some mismanagement by senior leadership the company had to lay off their entire editorial staff. That taught me a valuable lesson to seek ownership. In 2010 I launched www.flawlesscrowns.com; a gentleman’s lifestyle destination dedicated to celebrating the king in all of us. Read more>>

Dan Mendilow

I learned the skills I’ve used over the last 13 years to help people transform their lives because I needed to save mine. I suffered from suicidal depression ever since I was born. It didn’t help that I was born in Jerusalem, Israel, but raised in NJ. Other kids picked on and bullied me for my weird accent, clothes, and food. One of my most vivid memories from childhood was telling my mom that all I wanted was to fit in and be liked and to do that, I would never speak Hebrew again. Read more>>

Michael Girgis

I started writing songs after seeing Ed Sheeran in concert and thought to myself, “I wanna do this.” I taught myself how to play guitar, piano, and bass. The early days of my songwriting were pretty tough because the songs were horrible, but the more I wrote, the better I got. I eventually started to learn how to produce in Logic Pro. This was a game-changer for me. It gave me access to so many new sounds and vibes when writing a song. I finally released my first song in 2019 and have been releasing music ever since. Read more>>

Marian Fortunati

For almost 40 years, I was happily working as a teacher and a school principal in LAUSD. I enjoyed the work and the people I was with but as I approached the possibility of retirement, I realized that all I really spent time on was work related to learning – kids – parents – education. I needed to develop other interests which would sustain me after I retired. So I began learning about art — a bit of history and a lot of practice. I realized that as I became more proficient as a landscape painter, I was gaining new friends and exploring and enjoying so much more of the natural world. I have always been a bit of a science geek — the natural world has always fascinated me, but as a painter, I am able to explore and immerse myself in the outdoors. Read more>>

Larry Tuttle

I’ve been in music for as long as I can remember. All the way back to piano lessons in second grade, then string bass and orchestra starting in fourth grade. My life as a kid was absolutely saturated with playing in orchestras. I wore out my mom driving me (in her Barracuda, which was a hatchback and could fit the bass) to all-city orchestra, youth symphony, music camps, private bass lessons, rehearsals of all kinds, you name it. I spent a life-changing summer at the National Music Camp in Interlochen, playing principal in the World Youth Symphony. Pretty great. Read more>>

Scott Rogers

I attended Cal State Long Beach to earn degrees in Illustration and Film Production and upon graduation, I found myself working in video games as an artist. After a few years doing this, I realized that my interests and talents were better suited for game design. I was fortunate enough to have another game designer take me under his wing and we ended up working on several games together including Oddworld: Abe’s Odysee, Pac-Man and Maximo. After that I went on to work for Sony and THQ on games such as God of War, Darksiders, Drawn to Life and lots of Spongebob Squarepants. Read more>>

Devany Greenwood

Storytelling has always been at the core of my being–my life path has just taken me through several different iterations. In my childhood, I was completely enamored with the stage. Years of acting lessons, private coaches, several leading roles all amounted to a ceaseless feeling of emptiness. I always felt like something was missing. I left the stage to pursue a BFA in Creative Writing with a concentration in poetry. I always say poetry was my first love–an all-consuming, passionate affair that never *truly* leaves the soul however I still never felt wholly fulfilled. Read more>>

Nicole Eberhardt

My journey to Bougie Beach Co. is a long but beautiful journey. Born into a family of Architects, I followed but in my own way through interior design. After a 13 years design career, I was ready to leave LA. I was finishing up the eHarmony headquarters and they gifted me a 30-day trial and I met my now husband. We moved to Oxnard, where he was born and raised. I got my yoga teacher training certification and started managing a yoga studio, growing the retail exponentially. I now manage the retail only at the studio and combined my passions, retail and creating, through Bougie Beach Collective. Read more>>

Lisa Roumain

I moved to LA from Miami Beach at 26 years old, which most would tell me was “way too old to start.” I had studied acting for only a couple of years, had done 1 play, and was completely clueless on how to even begin pursuing an Acting career. I was so clueless, that I had no idea just how clueless I was. I had tried to work a “normal” job. I had graduated from the University of FL a few years prior with an Interior Design degree, had taken a spin at it, and knew pretty quickly that I would emotionally drown if I kept at it.  Read more>>

Selena Schoups

My story is pretty unique. I grew up in Menlo Park, CA just a stones throw from Stanford University with a very creative and politically active family. My grandmother was a Communist/Atheist/Scientist/Feminist White Southern Belle who had a lifelong friendship with one of the Hollywood Ten (I grew up around him not realizing how prolific this person was in political and Hollywood history), and my grandfather was a Mexican Minister/Singer/ Activist/Author/Scholar (who was a leader in the Chicano movement in California in the ’60s and worked with Cesar Chavez).  Read more>>

Elizabeth Saydah

Like so many, I came to LA 16 years ago as an actor. It’s a very unique story, I know. After slogging through countless terrible “survival” jobs to support myself, I had the – what I thought was – brilliant idea to pursue voiceover as a side gig. 12 years into it now, I realize how utterly misguided and naive I was in viewing it that way! It is a full-time, 100% hustle, relentless day-in, day-out craft and business. But despite this – I would argue *because* of this since I’d always dreamt of being my own boss – I fell in love with it, went all in, quit my (actual) survival jobs (which was terrifying, by the way), and haven’t looked back since. Read more>>

Anthony Gentile

I have a true passion for storytelling with a speciality in visuals and sound design. My history in production and post stem directly from sports, starting out creating content for athletic departments such as UCLA and the University of Florida. From there, I extended into the commercial realm, where my editorial career expanded, working with A-list directors, talent and clients such as Nike, Mercedes, MasterClass, US Navy, McDonalds, Nintendo and many more. I’ve recently become an awarded documentarian, telling stories that not only inspire people but foster community. Read more>>

Eli James

I was an international touring drummer for a bunch of local Los Angeles bands from 2007-2017. (Julien-K/ Dead By Sunrise, SKOLD and “The Eli James Experience!” to name a few). As a touring artist, I always had a hard time finding great clothing that fit my lifestyle.. going to the gym, meetings, red carpets, dinners/ music business hangs, studios, etc.. all while working seven jobs to keep the dream alive. The trick was to “be” the touring musician without showing I was juggling the side jobs. The “fake it till you make it” juggle. I’ve always altered my clothing making it more like “me” and my style so one day, I randomly decided to just make my own clothes. I mean, why not?! Mainly for stage but also for my everyday life, I call a circus. Lol… Read more>>

Isaac James

My passion for music began when I was six years when my mother enrolled my brother and me in piano lessons. From there, my love for music grew deeper and I began to create my own compositions on the piano. From high school, I enrolled in Columbia College Chicago and further nurtured my passion for music as well as gained an interest in the music business. Since then, I have combined my passion for music production and the music business and have gone on to work as an A&R for record labels and music publishers under Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group, as well as have my music synced in many TV shows and Films. Read more>>

Kathleen Duke

If we go all the way to the beginning, I have been a performer since birth. Growing up with the title “Drama Queen”, I felt the need to fill that role to its fullest extent… In my young adult life, finding a community in performing arts and theater solidified the career path I wanted for my life. After receiving a double degree in Theater and Film, I followed my strategic plan and moved to LA to begin the labyrinth journey that is being an actor. Once the dust began to settle from the pandemic, I found I was two years older and hadn’t gotten very far in my acting career, at least not as far as I had planned. I was however given two years in LA to fully absorb the challenges and complications that came with pursuing an acting career. Read more>>

Juanita Tomlinson

I, unfortunately, have allergies to a few different materials like acrylic and polyester. I get different reactions such as hives, breathing issues, dry skin, etc. I struggled with finding nice clothes that were affordable and were made with genuine materials. At some point a light bulb went off and I thought maybe I should start my own clothing line! Welp, here I am! I started my own dog brand instead. I absolutely adore dogs, so why not do something for something I love.  Read more>>

Angel Velez

I began my career first as a college band director and doing lots of arranging for bands while still being fascinated with the orchestra world and conducting, wishing to one day lead orchestras professionally. A dozen years ago, I had an unexpected opportunity to move to Southern California where I feel my real education began, not just in a decision to attend graduate school at USC or to continue studying conducting, but where I learned about an entirely new world of music making in the studio system. I also had the greatest fortune to meet two wonderful composers, Kevin Kiner and Ron Jones, who gave me so many opportunities to work, but more importantly to learn about the expectations of working in the recording industry and how vastly different it was from my experiences in the academic and concert worlds. Read more>>

Crystal Loverro

I was born and raised in Binghamton, NY and planned on attending medical school after graduating with my Bachelor’s in neuroscience and pre-health from Binghamton University. I realized I was unhappy and had an epiphany that I should join an acting class and research acting and film. I decided to move to Portland, OR with a close friend since there were no opportunities for acting and film in my hometown. I joined my first acting class at The Actors Lab and never turned back! I fell in love with acting and began gaining experience on independent film sets.  Read more>>

Bonnie Jean Tyer

I started in Improv and Theatre, then made the switch to film 7 years ago. Now I’m starting my own production collective with a bunch of my friends, making new friends, and making films of all varieties. My main project is The Return, an anthology series that follows a queer female outlaw on her revenge quest to kill her very own posse for selling her out. Money is obviously the most difficult part of the process. I can’t wait for the day I can have an actual savings account haha but currently everything I make pays the bills and then makes the movies. Read more>>

Ramoni Overton

Growing up I was always considered “overweight” for my age and I accepted this label for majority of my life. During the end of my freshman year of high school, I decided that I wanted to change the trajectory of this narrative. I was 14 years old at the time. I researched tips on weight loss, found some workout videos on YouTube, and got to work. I cut out majority of the items that I used to eat and started exercising twice a day. After about 3 months, I lost 30 pounds. After losing the weight, I realized that living a healthy lifestyle wasn’t the daunting task that I always believed it to be. Read more>>

Thando Skwatsha

My musical journey began professionally at the age of 12 when I joined the world-renowned Drakensberg Boys’ Choir where I mastered a lot of musicianship skills that carry me today. It has not been a smooth road, a lot of learning a lot of growing. Hearing a lot of no’s has taught me to fight harder for the things that I want and love. A multitalented performer, Thando is known for combining his heartfelt, uplifting melodies and powerful vocals to weave a tapestry of contemporary African sounds that speaks for itself. His charismatic stage presence and extensive background as a lead choral singer have seen him grace stages around the world. Read more>>

Toby Gad

I grew up in Munich Germany. My parents had a jazz band, and when I was seven years old, my brother and me started taking over their instruments in the living room, where they rehearsed, and we began writing our own songs. We performed our songs in their intermissions and got great pocket money this way. From my first 100 marks, I bought a Smurf Village! That was my first great accomplishment. From that point on a knew that one could make money with music. Fast forward 12 years and we had our first taste of success with three songs, my brother and I wrote on the European number one album off Milli Vanilli. Read more>>

Kamara Robideau

I grew up in the woods of upstate NY where I had nothing but time to play outside, listen to music, and learn to play the piano. I graduated high school when I was 16, bought my first guitar and then soon after got an Associate’s degree in jazz guitar. As I was deciding whether or not I wanted to continue on to get a Bachelor’s degree, I discovered the bass guitar, joined the band Aminal and have been obsessed with playing bass in bands ever since. I currently live in Los Angeles where I have been gigging and finishing up my first self-produced solo album titled “Old Dwellers.” Read more>>

Andra Gheorghe

My sister and I have been passionate about animals and drawing since our childhood, Growing up, we pursued careers in the arts and design field. After years of experience as a graphic designer and illustrator, we decided to combine our skills and love for horses into our business. And that is a very quick story of how Horse On The Loose started. It has been a bumpy road but that is also how it is when you are riding horses: ups and downs, with big rewards if you keep going. One of the most challenging aspects was the product manufacturing side and finding quality materials. Read more>>

Taylor Fugit

I’m originally from Napa, California- born and raised. My Mom and Dad grew up during Beatlemania so there was a lot of classic rock and pop from the 60s and 70s being played around the house. My parents put me in guitar and piano lessons from an early age and I was NOT a good student. I hated practicing. I would get extremely frustrated when I couldn’t learn something quickly and by the end of middle school, I had burnt out on trying to become a virtuoso. In high school, I fell in love with choir and singing and started to become fascinated with composition- specifically with chords and chord progressions. Read more>>

Brandon Miranda

I started playing guitar in middle school after; the guitar was a gift to my mother but she never had the chance to learn it, so I’d sneak into the closet, pull out the guitar and strum around pretending to be a rockstar. I started doing this so regularly that my parents offered to book me into lessons (…the noise I was making must have been too much!). But in all seriousness, they clearly noticed a deep passion for music within me. As I grew, I started playing guitar for every opportunity I could get – jazz bands, church and multiple garage bands. The more I played the more I became exposed to music production and recording. Read more>>

Natalie Moore

Ever since I was a little kid I always loved acting, singing, music, and performing. I always knew that this was what I wanted to do. I was very involved in musical theater when I was younger and I always felt my happiest when I was on stage. When I was 13 I decided I wanted to try breaking into on-camera acting so I started taking acting classes and submitting self-taped auditions because at the time I was living in Colorado and couldn’t audition in person in LA. When I was 18 I made the big move to California and it has honestly changed my life. I have met some amazing people and had a lot of life-changing experiences. I have gotten to where I am today by working hard, trusting in God, and not giving up. Read more>>

Thomas Zambeck

Born and raised in Detroit, I moved out to Los Angeles in 2008. I began my career in post-production, handling technical delivery for film and TV. This led me to work closely with banks, lenders, and equity investors – all of whom needed final asset approval to secure repayment. I noticed a gap in the industry, specifically that banks wouldn’t lend on productions under $10m, and many who did charge exorbitant rates and fees. I thought back to my financial contacts in the Midwest and how even savvy investors often shied away from entertainment, believing the barrier of entry was too strong and involvement in the film industry was limited to unprotected equity. Read more>>

Doc Ventura

I am a musician, singer, songwriter, radio personality and concert promoter. I have released six CDs and written hundreds of songs. My current gig itinerary is about 75-100 shows per year. My band ‘Delta by the Beach’ has enjoyed almost a million plays on Spotify and were gratified to be invited to play at the prestigious Juke joint Festival in Clarksdale, Mississippi this year. Growing up in Chicago, I was fortunately exposed to blues at an early age thanks to a liberal parent that would shuttle us downtown to see and meet Muddy Waters, Howling Wolf and B.B. King. Read more>>

Ana Mendoza

I am Ana V. Mendoza and real estate became a passion I was lucky to bump into! Freshly moved from Chicago at 17 years old. I was highly motivated while going to college to find a “job”. While I searched the “newspaper”, imagine that? LOL… I came across an ad looking for a receptionist position at the Coldwell Banker Greater Valley in Granada Hills. After being one of the top 2 contenders in the interview, I was told that the #1 real estate team in the office back then was also looking for a “Team Manager/Assistant”. I interviewed and got that job instead! That is where my journey started, and I was shown what REAL ESTATE is/was. Read more>>

Alexx Calise

Well, first and foremost I’ve always been a writer. I wrote my first story in kindergarten, and I haven’t stopped since. I decided to pick up the guitar to put my lyrics and melodies to music when I was about 12 I believe. I was very much inspired to play by my father, also a talented musician. From then on, I played every talent show and venue I could, and I fell completely in love with the stage. I played in a few bands throughout high school and college, eventually landing an opportunity to record with producer Luigie Gonzalez out in LA. I jumped at the opportunity and ended up tracking some songs for a few months in 2006. Read more>>

Tiffany Cole

The idea for UNICUS. actually began in 2019 in Berkeley, California, where a good friend, a fellow cast member, and I planned and hosted a 90’s themed prom for our entire cast. We were doing a musical with a group of thirty-two artists twelve of which happened to have birthdays in January. Fast forward to 2020, the pandemic hit and the theatre industry shut down. From there, my now business partner Celia Mei Rubin and I began to discuss the idea of starting an events company. Week after week we would hop on a call and talk through every aspect. From the name of our company to the focus of our events, to the clientele we wanted to take on. Read more>>

Fernando Marrero

A kid from the ghettos of Philadelphia, PA. Ex-military turned MMA fighter turned pro wrestler turned Hollywood Actor & stuntman. I got to where I’m at today by hardwork, sacrifice, failure, commitment, etc… I was this young kid that came from Philly to LA with nothing but sheer grit & determination. In 2002. Here I am, 20 years later & NEVER in a million lifetimes would you think I’d be where I’m at. I’m not where I wanna be…. yet, but sooo far from where I used to be. Read more>>

Kristin Martin

I am an entertainment reporter and producer who has worked in the entertainment industry working both behind and in front of the camera for over 20 years. After getting my degree in communications/journalism, I got my foot into television by getting hired as a page for Jay Leno on the Tonight Show. From there, I was able to get my foot in the door at the Australian NBC affiliate here in LA and started an on-air position covering all of their entertainment for their major morning show, Sunrise and covered hundreds of press junkets, red carpets and events including the Emmys, Golden Globes and the Oscars. Read more>>

Kelly Piliouras

My business encompasses a lot of pieces, so in instances like these, I categorize myself as an entrepreneur. Outside of my professional life, I’m a wife and I’m a mom to two years old. Specifically, I’m a Personal Trainer, Comedian and Microinfluencer. Within each of those categories, I do other specialized things like fitness modeling, acting and voiceover. For the personal training side of things, it’s interesting because I was always active as a kid but throughout middle school and high school I didn’t do any team sports. That’s when I was focusing on being in the school plays and musicals. But I did do color guard – if you’re not familiar with it, it’s the members of the marching band who spin the flags – and that was where I started to build some good foundation in training my arms. Read more>>

Warren & Kari Shulman

Warren and Kari were born in South Africa. Warren grew up in Johannesburg and Kari in Cape Town. Warren qualified as a Chartered Accountant and Kari as a Corporate Librarian. They worked at Arthur Andersen and Andersen Consulting, where they met and fell in love. They moved to Los Angeles in January 1994, the day before the Northridge Earthquake. Warren worked as an audit partner at a middle-market CPA firm, and Kari worked in various corporate and school libraries. Warren took early retirement in December 2017. They opened a Holistic Health and Wellness Center with 2 Himalayan Salt Caves and three treatment rooms in New York in March 2018. Read more>>

Carolyn Elliott

I grew up on a small farm in Vermont within a large family that featured farmers, musicians, fine artists and actors. I spent many years as an actor in Los Angeles, but paying the bills by riding horses at local stables. My favorite days were pairing the two loves with occasional equestrian stunt work. I transitioned to a career in the performing arts as a producer, working for the Los Angeles Philharmonic at their iconic venues the Hollywood Bowl and the Walt Disney Concert Hall and then moving onto artistic programming at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica. During this, I found myself pulled away from a world close to animals. The pandemic changed all that. Read more>>

Samantha Tradelius

Well… I am a maniac to start! Filled with a passion for making this world a better place! Spending 25 years in the insurance industry has really helped me meet and learn a lot about people and how they tick. In 2015 I founded a non-profit The Sparkle Foundation. An org that’s the focused is serving single mothers and their families. This is a legacy of my Grandmother, GG. A single mother in the 1950s. 2016 my 501c3 status was granted and off I went. Almost 7 years later touching thousands of lives all over California. Aligning myself with the most incredible women we are able to move mountains together. Read more>>

Nadiya Popadyuk

I was born and raised in a small Ukrainian mountain village Yasinya with breathtaking views and fascinating nature. My childhood was filled with exciting stories of my grandfather and parents about the adventures and the phenomenal success of my uncle – Australian millionaire and philanthropist Ivan Popadyuk. He became a successful businessman at a young age in Ukraine. At that time my region – Zakarpattya belonged to Hungary where Khorti fascist regime operated. My uncle was against dictatorship and somebody reported him, he had to run away overseas to Australia. Read more>>

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