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Hollywood’s Hidden Gems

Every day we have a choice. We can support an up and coming podcaster, try a new family-run restaurant, join a boutique gym started by a local fitness champ or we could keep giving away our money to the handful of giants who already control so much of our commerce. Our daily decisions impact the kind world we live in; if we want a world where small businesses are growing and artists and creatives are thriving then we should support them with our time, money and attention. We’re proud to highlight inspiring creatives and entrepreneurs each week in Hidden Gems series.  Check out some of Hollywood’s gems below.

Marina Lang

My story has been a bit of an adventure. My career began back when I was 14, as I entered the modeling industry and over time, began working as a soap actor in India. I was driven to hustle from a fairly young age.  When I moved to LA, that hustle instinct had to come to the fore. I started a cooking show with my mom called “No Worries Curry,” which streamed on Amazon Prime for 1.5 years. That was my first independent project in LA. Read more>>

Jeanna Crawford

Jeanna Loves Christmas started three years ago with 100 followers on Instagram and a passion to share my love of Christmas with the world. We now have 170,000 Christmasers – people who are just as excited to share the message and the love of the season! This growth is a reflection of connection. I truly feel like I have 170,000 Christmas besties. My DMs are filled daily with pictures of babies, stories about new loves, requests for prayers, and so much more. This Christmaser community makes all of the work worth it. Read more>>

Blake Stargel

I first got my start in real estate as an assistant to a successful team in my hometown, Omaha, Nebraska. Although the role was not filled with the glitz and glamour of what I had seen on TV, it played a pivotal role in piquing my interest in the industry. While I enjoyed my new opportunity, I always felt there was more out there for me. Ever since I was young, I had been California dreaming, and after a year of saving, I decided to take the leap of faith and made my way out to LA. This was quite a shock to my 20-year-old system, coming from the Midwest at such a young age. Read more>>

Lisa Pezik

Growing up all I ever heard was, “Lisa, set this table right. Lisa, you will not date THAT boy. Lisa, it’s the freshman 15; you put on 30!” I felt like I was always on a seesaw of being told that I was “too big for my britches” or not enough, and I got really good at morphing into what my mom wanted me to be.  She’d insist when I was in college. “Lisa, Coming home for summer? For Easter? Nope. Nope I worked three jobs just so I didn’t have to go home and hear “Lisa” during college. Read more>>

Joseph Corella

I discovered dance at age 7 and basically haven’t stopped moving ever since! I’ve been honored to dance on Broadway, in national tours, and choreograph for popular TV shows. As a performer, some of my credits include ALL SHOOK UP (Broadway), the National tour of GREASE (Dance Captain), the 50th Anniversary Tour of WEST SIDE STORY, and SURF, THE MUSICAL (Las Vegas). As a choreographer, credits include HBO’s docu-series 15: A Quinceanera Story, Hart of Dixie on the WB, and the MTV Video Music Awards. Using my dance, theatre, and fitness background, I love to teach dancers and non-dancers alike to move, exercise, explore their bodies and express themselves through the power of movement. Read more>>

Ralph Geffrard

Dance has always been a part of me for as long as I can remember. I can say that I started getting into this art at the age of 6 or 7. I start taking it seriously or started sharing my gifts with everybody around my junior year of high school, which was when I competed in my first Spring talent show. Ever since then it’s just been a difficult but amazing journey thus far. If it wasn’t for my faith in God and the hard work that I applied to myself, the ability to not give up, or letting outsiders critiques hijack my drive, I don’t think I would be where I’m at today. Read more>>

Alex Kotsyk

From early days I gravitated towards being on stage, performing, and hosting. Started acting in Regina, SK where I was getting master’s degree. After graduating went to Toronto and studied Meisner technique while working on some award-winning indie projects. Continued learning the craft in different studio and coaches in Toronto, LA, NYC. Starred in feature film Bloodslinger where played sweet and innocent underdog. Most recent credits are The Boys, Designated Survivor, Read more>>

Betty Fraser

The catering and restaurant sector were really hard hit by the pandemic, as were many other industries, but the pandemic definitely made us take a look at our industry and changed our direction. After operating our wonderful little restaurant Grub for 20 years, we decided to downsize and turn what was Grub into a very charming and special event space called Hollywood’s Hidden House. It’s such a private and magical oasis that makes you feel very special the moment you walk through the doors. We now do all of our cooking out of this location, and it’s just such a wonderful place to cook and throw a party! Read more>>

Sagar Joshi

I grew up in Mumbai, India, and have been playing instruments since I was 3 years old. Started with an Indian classical instrument called Tabla and progressed into many different worlds of music. Now I play 18 different instruments. In the quest for being around good music and amazing musicians, I started playing and making bands in Mumbai. Namely, Natural Volume, Life, Daira, etc. were some of the known projects I was a part of while in India. With time, the need of sounding a certain way was growing and that’s when I swapped playing guitars for bass and started mixing Front of House while playing bass. Now I have been a professional FOH for 17 years. Mixing FOH for bands like The Marias, RYX, Neil Frances, Meg Myers, St. Panther, and many more. Read more>>

Stanley Shimamoto

I love the interconnectedness of our world and always try to look for the beauty in our environment. This search for beauty first led me to a career as a designer fashion buyer for Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman, and Susan of Burlingame, a high-end boutique in Northern California. While working in luxury industry for 15 years, I saw firsthand the enormous amount of waste and overconsumption that the industry produced. I decided to take my love for beauty, passion for sustainability, and deep knowledge of merchandising and redirect to a business that would contribute to the long-term health of our planet. Read more>>

Lena Báez

A dream brought me here. The dream to become an artist and tell stories that can inspire audiences, stories that embrace who we are as human beings. As an Ecuadorian filmmaker, my purpose is to tell stories that can hopefully cause change. Seven years ago, I touched for the first time the Hollywood land, and since then, I’ve been growing as a film director and writer. I came here to learn from the best in the industry, and I’ve been lucky because I had the privilege of being the student of many distinguished professors from NYFA, LACC, and UCLA that have helped me through the development of my professional path. Read more>>

Dan TwoTrees

My one true wish was always to be an artist. Storytelling became my first passion in life, and gradually the art of story evolved into a devout practice for me — almost like a kind of faith or spirituality. It provided me with a means to escape. I would spend long hours watching movies and TV shows on my family’s old ‘80s television set while sequestered in the basement of my childhood home. There I could gain some understanding about the larger world — which was still mysterious to me or to seek meaning in life, or just to catch a glimpse of truth — while living vicariously through the characters I saw on-screen. Their lives were meaningful and impactful, and I wanted mine to be so as well. Read more>>

Paolo Galli

The beginning of my career was inside big brands like Timberland before, Giorgio Armani, and other global brands, thanks to which I learned about the fashion markets in the world. Then, the meeting with some of my current partners has me driven to try to develop solutions similar to those of large luxury fashion brands but oriented to emerging brands and small businesses that struggle to find the right path. Read more>>

Patia Prouty

I grew up in Connecticut, and shortly after college, I moved to Los Angeles on a whim. I stayed with my friend from high school who was living in a loft across the street from Davey Jones Liquor Locker in Venice. When I say “loft”, I mean a converted garage that my friend took over after an artist moved out. The walls were blue and covered in bubble wrap for wallpaper. Just imagine two stories of bubble wrap. Read more>>

Shaun Vivaris

I started out the way a lot of my friends did, working whatever random positions would get me on a film set while doing my own projects on the side. I did that for a couple of years until I built up the confidence and the relationships, I needed to make my first feature. It’s a quirky, dark comedy called Lisa Mania that got picked up for distribution by Freestyle Digital Media and recently released. You can watch the trailer for it and see all the platforms it’s on here: Read more>>

Murray Swanby

I moved to LA from Montana. Didn’t know anyone here; I just knew I wanted to do bigger things with my life. After moving here, I started networking and growing my platform. Went into modeling and started working at the Abbey in weho. Slowly I built a name for myself and was scouted for a couple reality tv shows. I went on What Happens at The Abbey, Ex on The Beach on MTV, and currently on Men of West Hollywood! Life in LA has been amazing; I’m so happy to call this city my home. Read more>>

Lucretia Flanigan

I started my Career in the Beauty industry back in 2004. I took some time off from the industry, but my passion for it brought me back. I have always had a love for the Beauty industry. Fast forward, here we are with me owning my own beauty lounge. My business Glow Beauty Lounge means everything to me. I wanted to create a space that catered to every beauty need. I offer a list of services that include Ombré powder brows, Lash Extensions, Facials, and other skincare services. I also have private beauty suites available for rent for other boss babes in the beauty industry. I love empowering other women. I’m incredibly thankful. Read more>>

Dante Jiayu Liu

I was born in Changsha, Hunan, a city deep inside mainland China. My life was unexpectedly influenced by world cultures. When I was 14, my parents sent me to Oregon for my high school education. After university, I started my journey with film in the North American office of Huace Film. Now I work as a narrative/commercial director in LA, serving brands such as BMW, Li Ning, and others.  To be honest, I don’t remember when I actually decided to be a director. I just remember I have always loved movies. I loved how a director’s job is to wrap ideas in moments of life, expressing them through a mixture of light, shadow, and sound. Read more>>

Rafael Thomaseto

At the age of 31, the Brazilian who left his hometown in the countryside of São Paulo, more than a decade ago, began his film career by graduating from the New York Film Academy and shortly after by starting work in the production team of commercials for renowned brands such as Chanel and music videos for the likes of Lady Gaga, Future, Role Model, Becky G, and many others. Seeking to evolve his international expertise, Rafael went on to study Film Finance in London, which led him to a work opportunity at the sales agent Celsius Entertainment. Read more>>

Antonio Reveles

My business journey began shortly after being laid off from my full-time job. With no job or a savings to fall back on, it was time to put my love for design to use. I began by posting inspo photos and my own at-home DIY projects in hopes that I would attract potential clients. Although I did not receive any inquiries after consistently posting and promoting my services for three months, I still had hope that soon I would land my first project. Read more>>

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