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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.

Payson Lewis

Along the way I helped a lot of other people realize their own art, acting on TV, starring in theatrical shows in Vegas and LA, and spending countless hours in recording studios and scoring stages. But finally, I got back to my music, writing my songs, and creating my own art. Last year, I released my first record, “Take Me Apart,” an eclectic and energetic six-song indie-pop collection. Read more>>

Aimee Jennings

I chose film as the medium to share my stories because it is a language that everyone can understand no matter where they come from. Image and sound are like fraternal twins. They are the exact opposites of each other, and yet together; they are perfectly balanced to create one image. Read more>>

Tiffany Frances

Learning film theory and history made me understand it as a medium that was highly influential and even pervasive to society. As I experimented with it, I realized it was the most all-encompassing medium for me. I attended the graduate film program at Art Center College in LA, and have since moved to NYC. I’ve had so many jobs throughout my life. Read more>>

Chauncey Robinson

I always had a love for writing and performing, but once graduating from high school, I spent some time trying to figure out the best way to utilize those passions. After graduating from high school, I went over to California on a whim, wanting to explore a different coast for the first time in my life. I found myself in San Francisco, California, where I enrolled at San Francisco State University. Read more>>

Ryan Cassata

Driven by the isolating feeling of not fitting in and being bullied for it, I wanted to do all that I could to spare others from as much of that same type hurt as I could. By the time I was 15 years old, I had appeared on the Larry King Live Show. At 17, I appeared on Tyra Banks and was being sent outside of New York to educate and perform. Read more>>

Mollie Merkel

The truth is, I never found myself to be that interesting. Sure I made the Junior Olympics in Track and Field when I was 12 as a hurdler but other than that there was no big story. Other people seemed way more fascinating to me. Like my Aunt Margaret, who believed everything in the National Inquirer to be true. Read more>>

Kayla Swift

I feel like I have quite an untraditional story for an actress. I didn’t grow up wanting to act. I was actually very shy! I would literally cry if I had to get in front of a group of people, even when they sang me happy birthday. I only had one line in a play that my dad directed in elementary school and I felt like throwing up! Read more>>

Nicholas Fox Robbins

The Barelight Bears is a writer’s community that meets every week and is dedicated to the development of new work and the creative and professional growth of the writers creating that work. We have met every week for the past two years and are about to celebrate our two year anniversary. Read more>>

Christopher Gannon

My first Short film I did as an actor won me an award for best stunt work. I was thrilled. Before graduating, I even booked my first pilot episode and it’s now in the running for Netflix and Amazon. I’ve now graduated from the Institute and I’m now a full-time actor making my dreams come true. I’ve been sober ever since. Read more>>

Federico Etchegaray

Most people in my circles didn’t care for animation, films or video games so one couldn’t help but feel a little different. Nevertheless, I was able to keep those passions alive all through childhood. But as I got to my early teenage years, I started neglecting the more introverted activities in favor of more extroverted ones like sports, hanging out and going out. So I regrettably stopped drawing and consuming as many films and games as I used to. Read more>>

Ben Warwas

I began making artwork as a skateboarder. I would draw and make collages out of all the skate magazines. I loved this idea of organized chaos that you can create with a collage. Then I began building half-pipes and making my own clothes and realized you could actually make almost everything: clothing, furniture, houses on your own. Read more>>

Coral Bones

I’m an LA-based indie-electro artist and producer originating from a small mountain town in Utah, where I was raised Mormon. That background of growing up in a conservative religious environment and then the experience of leaving it heavily shapes my songwriting. I’m also bipolar and have been vocal about my experience with it both on stage and in my music. Read more>>

Danielle Wood

In August of 2018, I quit my job at Redbubble and took some time to travel with my husband and reevaluate what I wanted to be doing with my career. In January of 2019, we moved to Los Angeles, and I have been focusing on freelance wardrobe styling and production design. I love working with a team to bring a creative vision to life. Read more>>

Ro Rowan

My music career started when I was in third grade. My mom enrolled me in the school orchestra. When it came time to choose an instrument, there were only tubas, basses and cellos left. I chose the coolest one. Well, not really. I chose the smallest of the three. For the next eight years, I took lessons and practiced daily. Read more>>

Reem Kadem

I began acting consistently in high school theater, and it became my greatest love affair. I believe I got where I am today, by persistence and a passion that only grew stronger. You can’t do this for the fame. If you’re in it for the long haul, and you really want to make this your life, your initial motive, cannot be money and stardom, because that isn’t going to fuel you. Read more>>

Praerit Buch

I started writing ideas for Tv soaps and films when I was in Mumbai. While I was doing my undergraduate degree in Advertising, I interned for two of the top Television production houses and realized this is the kind of work I can do for the rest of my life… I took a year off after my undergrad and watched astronomical amount of content to widen my scope of ideas. Read more>>

Jessie Barr

I think film and TV always felt like a world that was out of reach. Theater I could make with no money in a basement in Bushwick with my friends. Film felt more elusive to me. Film felt like magic; it felt like movie stars and models and money. Film felt like Scorsese. I grew up loving Disney movies, also BBC costume dramas. Read more>>

Aaron Wilson

As of today, I can proudly say I am an entertainer blazing a trail in Hollywood as we speak. I am a motivational speaker, actor, singer-songwriter, author, and producer. You really can go after your dreams, when you say to your self, “What do I have to lose, I got to give it all I got!” Read more>>

Liz Wright

I’m truly a nomad at heart. Originally from Memphis, Tennessee, I’ve lived in multiple states in the U.S. before landing here in Los Angeles. My desire to travel truly solidified itself when I started a career in consulting that required domestic travel each week. My first project allowed me to see much of the U.S., 44 states in all, and experience all the cultural nuances of each town, county, state, and/or region. Read more>>

Kamilah Ferrari

Though a model, I was never a huge Instagrammer, ironically enough. Though I don’t post as frequently, I do still have a following of 80k and plan on posting many new photohoots very soon. Writing has always been a huge passion of mine since my childhood. From literature to poems, to songs -I love it all! Read more>>

Chantay Brown

Now, my creativity doesn’t stop there. I have also Co-Executive Produced a film called “Filters” with my partner and friend. This film touches on the deeper issue surrounding social media filters. In addition, we also took our expertise in our industry and are now producing R&B concerts. Read more>>

Sarah Nearis

I had always had a love of creating looks and creative direction which lead me to personal styling and shopping in Boston where I am from. I always had a dream to do celebrity styling which pushed me to move to LA almost six years ago. I started at the bottom as an intern and worked my way up to 2nd and 1st assistant until I started taking clients of my own! Read more>>

Sage Gentle-Wing

A true “nomadic” lifestyle if you will… I have been based at times over a 50-year career span in dozens of cities, including L.A, and San Diego, but also Austin, Nashville, Portland OR, Wellington NZ, Waikiki Hi, El Paso, and San Francisco, to name just a FEW. Read more>>

Wilson Langley

Music can inspire a person to create and transport them to another time and place (past or present), but comedy can make a person truly enjoy this moment right NOW. Comedy is like meditation, except it’s fun. I’ve had bad days that have been completely transformed because of laughter, and that’s what inspires me to keep going. Read more>>

Tammy Baghdassarian

I am extremely grateful that the diversity in my background has prepared me to be flexible and adapt. The first year was difficult as it is for any new business, but what we are seeing is that the longer we have been open, the smoother things have become. Obstacles often take you in an even better direction than you could have hoped for! Read more>>

Brandon Koen

I’ve always been a creative kid. I was born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa and moved to London with my family at age seven. Art has always been the easiest way for me to express myself. It definitely began with painting and drawing. My aunt Caron is a fantastic artist and probably also my earliest creative influence who really encouraged my art. Read more>>

Tyler Williams

I try not to focus on the struggles because they hinder progress but there were times when I was homeless/living in a car and had an toxic relationship which neither of us were good for each other. I also got let go from 3-day jobs in one year. But eventually, all troubles do go away when you learn to adapt to each situation. Read more>>

Keeley Bright

Each day is different for us while we are running around LA helping each other make it to jobs, screenings, or whatever else pops up in our busy and ever-changing schedules, but what does keep the consistency is our commitment to each other in our marriage, to our baby in her nap and feeding routine, and to living out our lives as good people. Read more>>

Navaris Darson

As a kid, I loved television, but I never dreamt that I would be an actor living in Los Angeles. Even though I loved doing performances and skits in elementary school, I eventually shied away from acting in middle school, because I was chubby and I stuttered, and as far as I knew, Porky Pig had cornered the market on that particular niche. Read more>>

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