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Inspiring East LA Stories

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 East 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 East LA’s rising stars below.

Tania Estrada

I was born in Los Angeles to Colombian parents and grew up behind the Wiltern Theatre. My love of food was very early on as was my love of growing up in Hollywood. It was where my dad would take us every Halloween and on weekends. I knew where we were and that the limelights was bustling all around me. But as the 80’s rolled around, so did the gangs coming from El Salvador during the civil war. Our new house we had moved to that use to be so quiet…I woke up one Saturday morning and there were over 30 Salvadoreans in my house. They were up early, showering, having coffee out of a silver and black percolating coffee maker & making pupusas and curtido to go out and sell. My mother and father turned our huge house on Harvard Blvd and Pico into a Salvadorean Salvation Army. Read more>>

Rebecca Basaure

My fascination for storytelling began early in my childhood. My mother met my father in Kansas and moved with him to La Paz, Bolivia, where I grew up and spent the first 14 years of my life. Despite living overseas, mom was able to subscribe to National Geographic magazine, collecting hundreds of issues over the years. As a child, I would spend hours flipping through each magazine, in awe of nature, the planet, cultures across continents, mountain peaks and underwater worlds. One did not need to know how to read to appreciate the imagery and the stories each photograph had to tell. Not only did this awaken a curiosity and sense of adventure in me, but these stories spoke to my passion for nature and animals. I wanted to be the one behind the camera one day. Read more>>

Danielle Agami

I was only 26 when I arrived in New York City with a tremendous passion to create new work and challenge the culture of dance in the U.S. Little did I know that I was about to embark on a very busy personal and professional journey. Soon after landing in NYC, I wanted to break free from the conservative grip that the east coast had on dance, and so in 2012, I moved to the Northwest where the dance community made me happier and gave me more space for experimentation. It was here where I formed my dance company, Ate9. In 2013, I made the move to Los Angeles and I committed to a consistent practice and performance routine. Over the next few years, I invited every venue, any collaborator, and students of all training backgrounds to add value to Ate9 as it continued to evolve. Read more>>

Anna Scholfield

Music has always been a huge part of my life, but I didn’t realize that I could pursue a career in songwriting and performance until high school. The plan was originally to go into acting and then musical theater. I realized that what I was attracted to in musical theater was the storytelling and the performance, but felt that my voice wasn’t quite right for that style of music. So when I realized I could still have the parts I loved most about that art form and write songs specifically for my voice, I was sold. I’ve been finding my voice as a songwriter since I was 15 or 16, but continue to hone in on my specific sound—though I’d hope that will always grow and change over time. It’s fun to find what you believe to be “your sound” only to rediscover it as you continue writing new music. Read more>>

David Gulley

I’m a producer and DJ from Detroit, Michigan. I grew up listening to the Gap Band, Rick James, James Brown, and the like, and as I got older, I became more interested in rap and hip hop. I started as a rapper in the Nightmericans Collective, and since then I have started my own label called Shadow Temple Records, where I release my own music and work with my fellow collaborators to develop and distribute our collective sound. I recently released my first full-length LP, “L + S,” which was four years in the making and featured a wide array of talented artists from Detroit that I’ve had the pleasure of working with over the years. Read more>>

David Hendren

I am a visual artist living in Los Angeles for over a decade now. In 2009, a gallery offered me a show here. You may remember in 2009, the world fell apart (much like now). Within that context, the show seemed like a good omen. I moved to LA with the work and stayed ever since. It took me a while to get used to Southern California, but I found my way. La is an incomplete project: there’s always room for something new. It’s a cliche to say everyone here is chasing a dream, but there’s something to that. An openness attracts people searching for a different life or new identity. This makes LA incredibly diverse and weird. Ideal for artists! Our notorious roadways, built outward from smaller townships over the decades, represent, from an aerial viewpoint, this shape-shifting identity. Read more>>

Jon Steinmeier and Noah Tabakin

We met in Chicago in the mid-2000s, playing in a 30-piece circus-punk marching band called Mucca Pazza. We became fast friends and soon began making music and comedy together. A couple of years later, we were hired by New Belgium Brewing Company to create music and comedy content for their Tour de Fat festival. As a part of that tour, we developed a few acts/shows, one of which is Fire Leopard. After moving to Los Angeles, our friend Scot Nery began hosting Scot Nery’s Boobie Trap. We saw the show, and Noah decided that we needed to be the house band, and then convinced both Scot and Jon. Doing weekly shows for the last four and a half years, we sharpened the act to where it is today, including adding Joey Galvan and Peter Hastings on drums and bass. Read more>>

Nathan Iverson

My story as an organizational psychologist starts in Mongolia. I was teaching English in the capital Erdenet during the coldest winter in 30 years. It turned out to be a natural disaster making international headlines. This experience sent me home questioning everything I thought and believed. Growing up in rural America, I thought I had all the answers to life’s problems. This experience was a powerful smack in the face to show me otherwise.  After catching my breath from this experience, I began to study Psychology. It was here that I found clear instructions on how to live our best lives. I was fascinated by the idea that we can pull the levers for happiness in our own lives. At the end of my Intro to Psychology textbook was a chapter on Industrial – Organizational Psychology. This topic focused in on how to make work awesome. It was Psychology for the workplace. Read more>>

Tiffany Kunz

My Grandmother was a jewelry designer so I was introduced to her love for all things sparkly and vibrant from as young as I can remember. When I was in grade school, my Grandmother hosted my Mom, and sister and I for an afternoon of squishing and shaping these long silly pieces of colorful plastic into abstract jewelry items. It was the 80’s so the more iridescent and neon the better! We would heat the strips in pans on the stove and create weird shapes and then superglue studs or clasps onto them. I think in horror now how bad those fumes must have been for us and the environment but it was very fun and the start to my love for creating shapes, that day had a big impact on me. Read more>>

Lidia/Lidz Bressoud

I am a Salvadoran-American tattoo artist born and raised in Los Angeles (Hollywood area). From an early age, I was not like everyone else. I always kept to myself since I was an introvert, quiet, and shy because it was very hard for me to express myself. In school, I didn’t really try to make friends so I would befriend my teachers instead. I’ve always felt like an old soul which made bonding with adults easier for me. My parents had their fair share of issues and it also didn’t help that they were foreign in this country, trying to make ends meet. Read more>>

Ashley Flores

I started doing makeup in 2012, my reason for becoming a certified makeup artist was to empower others. Not only doing makeup but being a person they can open up too and listen. I have encountered conversations of recently being divorced/breakups, bullied, and many other situations that may have made some think they have lost their beauty. I love encouraging everyone to try something new to bring back that light of what truly makes them beautiful. It does not have to be a full face of makeup, it brings me joy being able to apply a pair of lashes or even just a light lipstick to see a smile of my clients face and saying ” wow! Read more>>

Deja Brown

I started graphic design and illustrating digitally in high school, long before I knew that I could make a passion and career out of it. I scraped all the money I had to buy my first Wacom tablet and before I knew it, I was a full-time college student who was on the path to becoming a freelance artist. Read more>>

Stephanie Barkley

Oh, where to start… I think I have worked in every department in the film industry. I know how it all works. I graduated from Indiana University with a studio arts degree so the job offers were endless as you can imagine. I bounced around Chicago painting murals, family portraits, kids bedrooms, sitting at farmer’s markets inside an 8X8 tent selling original artwork. However, my first real job in the business was when I got hired to paint and build sets at Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago. From there, I started to get more into production design and art direction more regularly. I relocated from Chicago to New York where I continued to work in the art department. Believe me when I tell you there is nothing like driving a twenty-four foot box truck through Manhattan at rush hour. I was a boss, get off me! Read more>>

Rush Davis

I started making music as a profession at 12 years old. I went from working with major labels to closet studios around 15 when I was estranged from my parents due to my sexuality. I spent years behind the scenes working with developing artists while I simultaneously developed my artistry. I began working in the Entertainment industry again when I was 22. I spent years working with artists in their inception. Helping unlock their authenticity and evoking the artist within. Once I realized this was a gift that could be monetized. I started developing artists by creating projects with them. Read more>>

Kevin Kempis

I grew up right in the heart of Silicon Valley. When you grow up in a place where Apple and Google reign supreme, saying you want to become a professional actor is the equivalent to saying you want to become a professional, well…actor. Not very pragmatic. I wish someone would have told me sooner, because from the moment I saw Bad Boys in the scorching summer of 95′, I knew I wanted to be Will Smith. In middle school, I got my start playing the role of Candy Cane #3 in an untitled play written by my 6th-grade teacher Mrs. Smith. She said I took that role to new heights. Sure, I didn’t have any lines, but my ability to fake cry on command was unlike any other middle schooler. Read more>>

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