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Daily Inspiration: Meet William Valen Correa

Today we’d like to introduce you to William Valen Correa.

Hi William Valen, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
Life has wild twists. For me, every twist came with a life lesson. Starting as a child, I was gifted with the love for art and creative expression. Ever since I can remember I’ve been drawing. I can flashback to days sitting on the living room floor of my grandmother’s house with a huge bag of crayons and color pencils. While my mom went to work, I would draw endlessly and dive into my imagination. As time passed, drawing stayed with me through life’s ups and downs, and it became a significant part of my identity that I call the window to the infinite.

As I went to elementary school art class felt right at home and my peers recognized me for my talent. Later as time passed, I met other kids that had the same passion for drawing as I did. This developed a fellowship with artists everywhere I went to school. By the time I was in high school, I was deep into graffiti and drawing was my main outlet while dealing with my personal issues. Art became the refuge I needed to survive through those adolescent years. Los Angeles as a teen can be a challenge.

Now as an adult, I use those experiences to guide the next generation of creative youth through their adolescent years as their mentor. Since 2009 I’ve been Co-Founder of www.HNDP.LA, a youth-based nonprofit organization focusing on mentoring youth into the entertainment industry. Beginning in East Los Angeles, we began hosting diverse open mic events where art, dancing and live performances melted together to create a historical workshop movement we call Hard N Da Paint Founder’s Series. Our long-term goal is to build national locations for youth to participate in free workshops that cover all areas of the entertainment industry. Since our 2009 beginning, we’ve worked with Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, Los Angeles City, LA City Parks and Rec, Boyle Heights Technology Youth Source Center, BHAC, Power 106, KDay, the government of Mexico, Microsoft and much more

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Graduating Highschool I found myself making a life-changing decision that would affect my opportunities for the rest of my life and led me to fighting five felonies. Many of us in Los Angeles face the challenges of growing up in adverse environments and the outcomes aren’t as bright as we hope for. Some don’t make it through their teenage years, and the ones that make it passed the age of 25 are looked at as special to even have survived through their teenage years.

Later I would lose close friends to gang violence and drugs. Dealing with my own negative influences has been a consistency since a youngster as well. Many love to hear the stories but wouldn’t live one day in my shoes. I always say, “It’s Not Hard It’s Life”.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
People in MidTown know me for doing graffiti in my teenage and early 20’s. I’ve since taken my individuality from there and use it everyday when sharing my story to inspire the next generation of creatives at HNDP.LA.

I’m most proud when I get the opportunity to witness the spark of transformation in one of my participants. I see myself in each one of them and when I see the look in their eyes change, it makes going through all of my ups and downs well worth it.

I would usually say that what sets me apart from others is my drive for impacting every person I come in contact within a memorable way. But there is a deeper answer. There’s something very amazing about the response from human connection and I believe that what sets us all apart are the same things that bring us together, connecting. It’s different for everyone, but that’s what life is about. How I connect with others is what really sets me apart.

Can you tell us more about what you were like growing up?
Growing up in MidTown, Los Angeles was the perfect example of an amazing inner-city childhood. We played hide and go seek, watched cars pass by, threw rocks and everything a kid is supposed to do. We also did way more. I grew up behind a strip club named Tigers Night Club, and in the 80’s the parking lots were filled with pimps, Cadillacs, loud music, gunshots and so much activity I would stay up too late hours watching what was going on. Between my upbringing and my environment I was, as we say, well seasoned at a young age.

I was one of many happy kids that were living the double life and acting like everything was great at home, meanwhile everyone knew it wasn’t. That was how we all grew up, smiling in the face of adversity. It’s a MidTown thing.

Outside of the love for drawing, I love music and have been a part of the industry community professionally since 2004 as an artist named Rahten 5 Star from HoodCats Records/ NuAi/Misol and currently as a solo hip hop artist under the name Mr. Sag N My Jeans.

Contact Info:

  • Email: William@HNDP.LA
  • Website: www.HNDP.LA
  • Instagram: @mr.sagnmyjeans_a.p.l.s, @HNDPLA

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