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Inspiring Stories from DTLA

The heart of our mission at VoyageLA is to find the amazing souls that breathe life into our city. In the recent weeks, we’ve had the privilege to connect with some of the LA’s finest artists, creatives, entrepreneurs and rabble rousers and we can’t begin to express how impressed we are with our city’s incredibly deep talent pool.  Check out LA’s rising stars below.

Alice An

I started off singing because it was the one thing I discovered I was good at when I was younger. I would receive roles and recognition for this thing I never knew I had any skill at. As my skills developed, I realized how much release I get from being able to emote with song. Read more>>

Jessica Diaz

It all started with my dads camera, at the time I was too young to purchase my very own professional camera. My dad has a passion for photography as well, I think that’s where I get it from. I started by taking photos of my family and my passion for photography turned into something more than just a hobby. Read more>>

Mustafa Ulker

When I was a kid, I experienced a life changing event that is both good and bad. I got a beautiful girlfriend out of it. And developed a philosophythat led me to make completely irrational and scary decisions. I’d love to share my story with everyone. When I was 13, I thought that I’d be a famous table tennis player. I had all the makings of one. The only thing standing between me and my dream was a license. Read more>>

Nadia Sharif

I began competitive pole dancing as a hobby during my college years while studying Electrical Engineering. After graduation, I received a lot of admiration and recognition from the pole dancing community that I left engineering to pursue my international pole career, which consisted of traveling on a full time touring schedule to teach, perform and judge at pole events. Read more>>

Mister Sampson

Once I got to L.A., it was a breath of fresh air and I felt more of a creative energy here. I landed a job at Warner Bros Records as an art director for two years before feeling like something is missing. I decided to get back into my fine art. At this point, it’s been seven years since I even picked up a pencil. I forgot how great it felt. Read more>>

Lauren Manzano

Pole dancing was the perfect marriage of my skillset: the strength and athleticism of martial arts with the innate sensuality of belly dance. I soon discovered there were pole dancing competitions and I never looked back. At this time, I have competed seven times, medaled six times regionally and nationally, taught in the LA/OC areas and in Spain and Argentina. Read more>>

Kelsea Alabama and Noelle Frances

Wicked Woman has become a performance troupe and an educational initiative dedicated to promoting strong, powerful, female sexuality in all of its many forms. Our performances are powerfully seductive and feature pole dancers, contortionists, and aerial artists over the backdrop of classic films at El Cid. Read more>>

Malinder Tooray

Malinder Tooray, also known as, is a unique entertainer, composer, recording artist, and musician. MTooray has been dominating the Indian drumming scene for the past 17 years. Born into a Sikh family, and a native of Los Angeles, her artistry was heavily influenced by her lively Indian culture. Known as the first female dhol player in North America, MTooray, is a trailblazer in the music industry. Read more>>

Kenneth Ruddy

I started uploading these pictures. I kept that up and, as they gained more traction, I was getting gigs and commissions, genuine jobs from this. One day it hit me, “oh, I think I’m a photographer now.” After I got that mindset, I put even more into it. Next thing I knew I had business cards and a website that has a store! Read more>>

Gabby Gonzales

I have always been someone with a desire to make images. I’ve loved to draw since before I can remember and it remains a crucial part of my practice today. I did all the things a young budding artist did in her youth, took the art classes, went to the museums, had all art electives in high school, and ultimately went to art school for college. Read more>>

Angela Means

Jackfruit café started inside of a donut shop on Crenshaw just a mile or so from Nipsey’s store at Slauson and Crenshaw. I had to know if the hood wanted vegan so much I paid the ridiculous 4K a month to rent the space. The two partners in the donut shop thought I’d last only a couple months not realizing I’m actually a farm and will work 15 hours a day with no problem. Read more>>

Gatsby Keyes

Back in 2016, my friend Emet and I studied abroad in Budapest, Hungary. It’s a city that’s in an aesthetic clash of cultures, due to its political history. This sparked an interest in this kind of clashing culture, that became something unique, instead of going into chaos. These thoughts kind of just circled around in our heads when we returned. Read more>>

Jennifer Yang

Almost immediately after graduating, I got a short term job up in Stanford, California, at a company that encourages young kids to learn programming and engineering. While working over the Summer at Stanford, I grew to love California and decided after I was finished with this job, I would move down to Los Angeles. Read more>>

Julia Bullock

I am The Foxies with three AMAZING guys…brothers, that I would not have been able to find if hadn’t been through all of the hardships I faced. We are making a name for ourselves. We are playing for hundreds of people across the country. We are a glitter punk revival of classy rebellion. And to all the revolving closed doors on that dumbass merry-go-round. Read more>>

Amir Mertaban

I fell in love with the scene of someone experiencing something live. I didn’t care what the occasion was, a protest, a concert, a convention, I loved the interaction between content and fan/guest. I would attend events and immediately would dissect how it was run and what improvements I would make if I was in charge. Read more>>

Karlie Blair

One day, while I was crafting some customized mementos to give to audience members of my show, Snow Fridge, I came to a realization. I had found my mysterious purpose that did not yet exist, the one my mother had predicted when I was a child. It was to be an immersive artist. Read more>>

Norman Buckley

Davyd was awarded Volunteer of the Year in 2012 for setting up art classes in East LA community centers. He constantly sought out opportunities to serve others. His goals were always evident: Make art. Buy the art of others. Help people whenever possible. Grow in consciousness. The mission of the Foundation was designed around these tenets. Read more>>

Chrysanthe Oltmann and Dustin Smith

Burrito Project is a movement across North America, where folks gather together to make burritos and pass them out to the unhoused in their community. Our friend Maria founded this chapter in March 2015. Twice a month volunteers would meet at her apartment, assemble 100 vegan burritos and pass them out to folks living nearby. Read more>>

Robin Johnson

I’ve had a passion for telling stories my entire life. I’m the girl who played with her dolls too long, coming up with long elaborate dramatic and romantic stories for them only realizing later in life that they were my practice for casting my future work. Today, I am an actor and filmmaker creating films and music videos in LA. Read more>>

Bronze Avery

I’m known for my perspective on LGBTQ musicians, queer sexual representation in the mainstream media, and for making bops. I think what sets me apart is my unique balancing act with stereotypes; sometimes I embrace them, own them, and reclaim them. Other times I fight them all together, which I think keeps people (and me!) on their toes. Read more>>

Julian Bermudez

While at UCLA, I was an intern at LACMA, which led me to the Fowler Museum of Cultural History, which led me to my first full-time museum job at Pacific Asia Museum. I learned a lot from working in a number of departments within the museum system: education, collections management, development, and…curatorial. Read more>>

Penda Diakite

I’ve always been creative. I’ve habitually immersed myself in projects and creative endeavors for as long as I can remember. I grew up between the art communities in Mali, West Africa, and Oregon, as both of my parents are artists. There’s no doubt this fed my love of art and nurtured and supported my desire to peruse a career in the arts. Read more>>

Houstina Summers

I believe that at the moment of conception, the 1st chapter of our stories begins. We all have gifts preparing us to impact the world, even if that impact is small. I realized my gift at the age of five when the desire to become a princess was most important. My mother, a native of Belize, came to the US in 1972. Her desire was to become a model. Read more>>

Mycah Bacchus

As an artist, I always feel like there is always a hunt in searching for new projects to be involved in or new people to collaborate and create with, especially after the satisfaction of closing a project settles in. I call it the “Artist’s Itch”. It’s the never-ending need to perform, to create, to express! Read more>>

Elisa Bocanegra

By a beautiful twist of fate, seven years ago, I played Olympia Dukakis’ funny maid in a show at the Roundabout Theatre in New York City. We shared a dressing room. She told me that my talent was bigger than the opportunity that would be given to me because I was Puerto Rican. She was right. I had faced a lot of discrimination in the industry. Not only for being Latinx, but also because I’m not a size 2. Read more>>

Ellice Ruiz

I’m trying to be the opposite of everything I hate about fashion. I’ve always wanted to be a fashion entrepreneur but I didn’t have the confidence or point of view to start my own business until I was about to turn 30. I dropped out of fashion school to study art history. It seemed like a safer bet. Read more>>

Cindy Pena

Being a rider, I’ve unfortunately seen people trying to be fast and die due to them finding the need to prove themselves. Me starting Glow Up City is not just another blog or retail store trying to make money, my mission is to empower and provide a safe place for people to be themselves. Read more>>

Mireya Perez Gonzalez

It started when I was growing up in Mexico. I loved cutting fresh flowers from the wild when my grandma was taking care of me and decorating our home. As I grew, I would pick wildflowers from our local forest & wild Terran and arrange them into little bouquets. Which I would sell for 10 pesos to help with our economic situation a home. Read more>>

John Andrew Fredrick

The Black Watch’s sound isn’t really LA-ish at all–unless you’re talking harking back to Love and The Byrds? I am very proud of all my books and seeing them on the shelves at Skylight or Stories makes me really quite proud. So go get them OFF the shelves at those fine stores! Read more>>

Terra Horton

I am a breathwork teacher, and since this practice almost invariably results in cathartic tears, I am also a Crying Crusader. My mission is to help people get over the stigma of crying and to see it as a healthy and necessary way of releasing stuck energy in the body, in order to maximize emotional, spiritual and physical health. Read more>>

Heather Koepp

My love for photography started young; the ability to capture a moment in time was almost like a superpower. I’d ride my bike to the print shop to see what I captured on my disposable camera and would stash photographs all over my room; on the walls to remember the happy times, in between the pages of books for safekeeping, under my pillow at night to be close to the ones I missed. Read more>>

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