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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.


Music has always been my happy place. I’ve played piano since I was five, so melodies were always circling my head, at school, during recess, even in my dance classes. I would come home and sink into the piano until dinner. I played when I was feeling overwhelmed with schoolwork. I played when I needed to zone out. Read more>>

Lizzy Cooperman

I was in a production of Six Degrees of Separation when a woman named Deborah with a severe blonde bob and a buttery aura announced that she’d picked up a copy of the book The Artist’s Way (a weekly program for unblocking creativity) at a garage sale. She said she’d been spiritually drawn to it, and that she was meant to give it to someone. “And that someone is my dentist!” she squealed. Read more>>

Jason Martin Castillo

I started studying classical guitar at a small music school in East Los Angeles. Around age ten, my guitar teacher noticed I was more interested in writing music and he started teaching me composition — simple things, like chorales/four part writing, harmony, etc. I eventually went to Berklee College of Music in Boston for four years to study composition and production. Came back home to Los Angeles after that! Read more>>

Alia Kate

From the first moment I saw how the rugs were made, I was hooked. I was struck by how deeply integrated weaving is within the fabric of daily life for these women, how time-consuming the process is, and how central these rugs are to village life in Morocco. Through Kantara, I am committed to not only fostering the economic development of the women artisans through sustainable trade but also to preserve a craft that has been passed down from generation to generation. Read more>>

Gloria Figueroa

Being Salvadoran was absolutely normal to me. I never really had an issue or trouble trying to identify myself, especially in Highland Park. We had Las Cazuelas and other pupuserias around us, so I never felt the need to hide my culture or assimilate to one. It wasn’t until I moved to Montebello at the age of 12 and started middle school, where I felt things changed. Living so close to East LA, I experienced the wave of Chicano and Mexican culture. Read more>>

Lucy Arnell

The bottom line is that I lived the first 23 years of my life idly. Very idly. This was partly because of the way I was raised in a really tough home, I bottled it up young, but I didn’t throw away the key. It led me to be a top tier house guest/partier/hanger at a young age – it was the way to get it out and get out of the house. Read more>>

Cindy Garcia

I love to make things of all kinds. From sewing to painting, to baking, making is what brings me joy. For a few years, I was sculpting food miniatures and loved it. Then one day I was featured on Buzzfeed, and my Etsy shop was flooded with orders for hundreds of tiny sculpted earrings! Somehow I was able to finish all my orders, but I knew that I had to evolve my process. Read more>>

Heather Alarcón Higginbotham

I always loved performing, but believing in myself and seeing myself as a “real artist” was and still is a challenge. I think a lot of that had to do with my upbringing not being the easiest. My dad was an alcoholic, and it was a difficult environment to build confidence in, to say the least. Luckily, my parents let me perform in school plays, band, guitar ensemble, etc. but when it came time to go to college I thought, “Who am I kidding? I’ll never be good enough to be an actor or filmmaker. Read more>>

Mark Cianciulli and Daniel Taylor

We decided to start our own brokerage and build it from the ground up so we would be able to do things the way we wanted and create our own identity. The real estate brokerage industry felt very corporate to us in its presentation and marketing – we wanted a more streamlined feel, where we could incorporate an artistic feel into our marketing pieces (video/music, photos, 3D virtual tours, etc.). Read more>>

Mariana Da Silva

I founded El Cine after moving to Los Angeles, realizing the roles I was asked to portray of Latinas were inaccurate. I, who am an immigrant myself, began volunteering at the immigration center and saw first hand the necessity of education. So I decided to merge the two things I felt most passionate about, film and diversity. Read more>>

Joshua Carro

This is a difficult question because it’s hard to remember or even describe the infinite levels of evolution and progress. The simplest way for me to explain is that I fell in love with the ‘creative’ process and practice of art at a very young age. It wasn’t until I was nine that I started a serious and disciplined practice in music. That led me to be involved in every music program in and outside of school until I finished a Masters of Fine Art in Sound Composition and Performance at CalArts in 2013. Read more>>

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