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Inspiring Stories from Hollywood

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 Hollywood’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 Hollywood’s rising stars below.

Justin Pham

I grew up in San Diego, CA where I trained in competitive dance since I was seven years old. Since I was young, I had always had a passion for creating movement! I began choreographing small things for my high school dance team, and that eventually progressed towards creating on more professional and seasoned dancers after being accepted into the USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance, where I graduated with my BFA in Dance and Minor in Cinematic Arts. My choreographic voice stems from the study of flow versus interruption, with an emphasis on groove and movement ideas inspired by Black vernacular dance practices. I have utilized these ideas in the conception of multiple independent dance films, some of which having led to award nominations, including at the Capezio ACE Awards and the McCallum Choreography Festival. Read more>>

Nicole (Nikki) Niestemski

A SoCal girl at heart, Nikki loves waking up with the sun, chasing waves, and adventuring in nature. She’s also just as content sipping tea and reading a book in bed. After receiving her BFA in Dance and Minor in Communications from Cal State Long Beach she spent over a decade in Los Angeles working as a professional dancer. Making a career out of her passion was fun and exhilarating, but the nature of the industry left her feeling inadequate and in search of validation and acceptance from someone or something. She never felt like enough. The only gig she needed to book was the job of unconditionally loving herself. SPOILER ALERT: she discovered that she’s wildly more than enough (and so are you). Read more>>

Joe Menconi

Like most people in this business, I grew up loving movies and TV and really finding an escape in them. But I didn’t start pursuing a career in entertainment seriously until I was 20 years old. I was attending Indiana University at the time, but very quickly realized it wasn’t where I needed to be. I left after two years and immediately began studying at The Second City in Chicago–which is a famous improvisation and comedy school. I was fortunate enough to grow up in the Chicago area so I was able to easily attend a place where so many of my heroes had gone through. I completed the training program there and then moved out to LA shortly after. I was 22 when I got to LA and have now been here a little over five years. Read more>>

Myke Wright

Myke Wright has always been outside the box. Due, in part, from the eclectic influences of his parents as they raised Myke on Detroit’s Westside. Acting camps, guitar lessons, art exhibits and live performances were just a few of the many experiences that helped shape Myke as a creative force. In high school, Myke formed an all-black rock band, The Grey Level, with three of his best friends and alternative hip hop group, Phresh Heir, after that. “We didn’t feel like our music was black or white. Our music was a mix of everything we liked and had fun sharing with people. It was authentic and people connected with it.” Read more>>

Marco Sonzini

I started playing guitar when I was seven years old at the local church almost by accident and then I studied classical guitar at the Conservatory of Music through middle school and high school. I then graduated at the University of Milan in Music Science and Technology and while I was writing my dissertation, I realized that as much as I enjoyed playing an instrument, the engineering aspect of music was what intrigued me the most. Probably because back then, I knew very little about it. I started contemplating the idea of pursuing audio engineering as a career and since I knew I was gonna get only once chance to prolong my studies, I decided to make the best out of it moving to the entertainment capital of the world in order to learn from the best in the business. Read more>>

Saverio SAGE Principini

I moved to LA in 1987 from Rome, Italy, I was 19 or thereabout… had a one-way ticket and $700 in cash, in those times I didn’t know what a credit card was… I had a band named Astaroth and we wanted to play the clubs and audition for Record Companies. In Europe we had achieved a certain degree of success in the underground scene so we thought we were ready for the big move… it turned out there were another 2000 or more bands in LA at that time playing the Strip and it was all pay to play… we lasted a couple of years and the band broke up… at that point I was working humble jobs just to get by but I started another band locally and then another…. none of these projects became successful but I gained a ton of experience and met a myriad of musicians… Read more>>

Maurice Mack

My interest in the arts was birthed as child. As a child, it was the only thing that was as intriguing to me as sports, playing tag, or hanging out with family at birthdays, reunions, etc. I discovered early on as a younger brother what competition was about. Competing with my older brothers and younger sister, in swimming, basketball, football, and baseball, It lit a fire in me. One that would push me farther than I imagined. Ironically, it pushed me closer to the creative discipline. I realized that I was merely pushing my own imagination, my vision to write a short story, then perform it better than I did before. I came to understand that I was cultivating a gift. One in which I was only competing against my own abilities. There was admittedly a form of healthy balance. Read more>>

Justine Raczkiewicz

I grew up in Warsaw, Poland and living in a post-communist country shaped me as a child. It developed in me an appreciation for the performance arts which led to my studying music, dance and acting from a young age. Learning about our complex history throughout the wars, pushed me on a search for meaning and pulled me towards absurdist theater and Eastern European artists who explored existentialism and carried a spiritual force. Five years ago, I moved to LA full-time and started my own production company: Building J, under which I direct narrative films and music videos for a diverse group of musical artists. Read more>>

David Hartstone

My career in the film and television world began like so many other great origin stories: getting a camcorder for my dragon-themed Bar Mitzvah and creating homemade knockoff Jackass content and Requiem for a Dream parodies centered around an addiction to Myspace. In the beginning, acting in front of the camera was more of a necessity than a desire, starring in my own films just to ensure I’d be able to get it done alone. I edited in-camera, playing with camera tricks and filters available on the old MiniDV tapes. (Am I aging myself out already?) School came fairly easy for me, but as I got older, I was much more interested in doing my own thing and messing with the system than maintaining my GPA. Read more>>

Adel Sabi

I have always been a very quiet and introverted person as a kid. Drawing is a solitary activity, and it fits well with my personality. I didn’t consider it as a career path until my senior year of high school. After high school, I attended a 3D video game school for four years, but it wasn’t the right fit. However, I met my closest friends there, and we’re still growing together as artists. After that, I was a bit lost and took a gap year to hone my drawing and painting skills. I spent another year studying animation fundamentals at l’Atelier de Sèvres in Paris. Later, I got accepted at Gobelins l’école de l’image after those two years of very, very hard work. Read more>>

Vershone “Zy” Bowser of MyGuyZy

How I got started? I feel like I got started after graduating high school. I spent a lot of time in grade school going with the flow and not spending enough time figuring out who I was or what I wanted to be. I didn’t have a great high school experience, but it wasn’t horrible. I thought everyone else was just chilling and having fun, but really they were getting their lives and futures together. I was lagging behind. Read more>>

Grecia Salamon

I’ve been in the entertainment industry since I was a kid, acting for Telenovelas and commercials from a very young age. But it wasn’t until I turned 17 and moved out of the house determined to follow my dreams that my professional along with my spiritual journey started. As I was studying Advertising and Marketing in college, at my hometown, Caracas – Venezuela, I was also focusing on learning acting. My first job was as an assistant director for theater, and little by little, made my way up to the stage, acting, then producing and even executive producer of multiple theater plays. Read more>>

Angelica Bourland

As a Brazilian-American, I feel grateful to have experienced living in both Brazil and the US. Although I was born in Miami, I went to high school in São Paulo. I grew up as a competitive athlete, winning the AAU National Championships in gymnastics in 2005, and was ranked 16th in Brazil as a member of the Brazilian National Team in pole vaulting. Read more>>

Alvaro Balvin Benavides

I am a film composer from Peru. Have been in this profession for almost ten years. I was always fascinated by movie scores since I was a teenager. And around 2007, I decided to start preparing myself to pursue this career path. I wrote my first short film back in 2010. And just recently, I finished writing additional music for shows like Street Food Latin America, and Chef’s Table. Both from Netflix. Which for me were like a dream come true. Read more>>

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