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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.

Hodaya Ben

Hodaya born Hodia Ben Chimol is 28 years old, born and raised in Israel. She sings R&B, Pop, Soul, Gospel, Middle Eastern, Jewish, Spanish, and an EDM music with a “twist”. Hodaya sings in English, Hebrew, Spanish, Italian, French and Moroccan. Hodaya was ten years old when she joined a musical group in Modi’in, Israel. When she was 12 years old, she performed with a musical group all over Israel in front of ambassadors including the Prime Minister, the President and performed in several national ceremonies. During that period, she started taking music lessons with professional teachers including Igal Israeli who held a B.A in musicology, composition and arrangements from Berklee College of Music in Boston. Read more>>

Joshua Packard

I am an only child and movies always entertained me and kept me company when I was younger. I watched them all the time and I would rewind my favorite parts and repeat the lines. I can’t remember exactly when it happened but I knew then that I wanted to be someone that entertained people like those movie characters entertained me. My first acting experience was in 4th grade at school when we did the Lion King Jr. I started to take some theater acting classes and a few months later, I was asked by an art class to be on a segment they were being featured on for PIX11 News called “It’s a G Thing”. Once I saw myself on camera in that segment, I immediately knew he wanted to focus more on the film and TV side of the business. I started to take more acting classes, working as a background actor for film and TV and I got cast in a few student films. Read more>>

JM Longoria

I am a multigenerational Texas-born Latino. Whether it was acting, singing or dancing, from a young age, I always loved performing. I’m the bilingual son of kind-hearted, humorous, generous, super smart, and loving parents who were both teachers. They believed that following my dreams was important as long as I got an education. So when I was in elementary, I had the opportunity to be part of a program called Odyssey of the Mind that had an academic and performing aspect to it. I knew I had to do it. I’d be able to learn and entertain people at the same time. Talk about a perfect combo! Read more>>

Ian Chen

Discotech was founded in 2013 by Ian Chen, Mark Wu, and Ian Bushong. The three Founders were friends from UC Berkeley where they met back in 2004. The idea for Discotech was born from the need to solve our own problems as consumers going out to clubs in our mid-twenties.  Read more>>

Mo

I was born in San Bernardino, where I lived with my sister and moms. My parents weren’t together, so as a kid I would visit my pops over in Riverside. My moms later ended up getting married in 2003, and my family of three became a family of 8. That same year, we moved to Moreno Valley where my parents raised us. Coming up, I would watch Michael Jackson, Chris Brown, Usher— all of them—dancing and just being creatives. I knew I wanted to have my hands in multiple things. I wanted to make a name for myself. Definitely haven’t “made it”, but I can say I’m on the right path. Read more>>

Amy Myrold

I started in the television industry nearly ten years ago. I was working in San Diego at the Hard Rock Hotel doing weekly drives to LA for 5-minute interviews. I wasn’t desperate per se but I didn’t have much bargaining power and my big dream at the time was to land a PA gig and get my foot in the door. I was a new college grad with a generic business degree and no experience in TV or Film. After months of weekly drives, sweaty blazers and numerous parking tickets, I got the call, offering me that dream PA job in Post Production on an upcoming Pilot for NBC. I quickly googled “Post Production” then moved to LA and started work. Read more>>

Valeria A Avina

I was born and raised in Durango, Mexico since I remember I wanted to be a super Hero or an artist of some sort. I started playing tennis when I was eight years old, and by the time I was 15 I was going to start my training as an actress in Mexico, but I decided to stay and work on my tennis skills to get a scholarship and study in the US. Before high school ended, I got a few opportunities to go to the US and study, I choose to go to Graceland University in Iowa (I know) for some reason of all the places I picked Iowa. There I played tennis, studied Theater and a business degree. During my time at Iowa, I heard about grad school for the Arts and what that meant. I wanted to train with the best, I wanted to expand my imagination, the use of my body, the expansion of the self. Read more>>

Vaughn Davis

I was bitten by the travel bug at a very young age when my family moved from Guyana to New York. I was eight years old and I can honestly say I’ve had a passion for hospitality ever since. After graduating from Hofstra with a degree in Political Science and Pre-Law, I became captivated by the hotel industry and saw an opportunity to bring together my love of people and creating memories with the analytical expertise and knowledge that I had cultivated. It was 2010, and I was part of the opening team at a luxury hotel in Manhattan, starting as a bellman in a manager-in-training program. One year into the program, and I was recruited by Dream Hotel Group as a Guest Services Manager, overseeing everything from VIP client relations to corporate partnerships to operating procedures, for the highly anticipated opening of Dream Downtown in New York. Read more>>

Conrad Pratt

I was born and raised in Kaneohe, Hawaii, leaving the islands the day after I graduated! I spent my high school years training at 24vii Danceforce which is a very well respected dance studio in Hawaii. They have produced some incredible dancers and choreographers that have worked and are still working with Janet Jackson, Britney Spears, Nicki Minaj, J.Lo, Ricky Martin, and so many more I can’t count! In 2011, I was one of 8 dancers on Ricky Martin’s MAS World Tour where I also served as the tour’s dance captain. After that, I moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in film and television. Read more>>

Jennifer Blushi

Growing up in Massachusetts, I was heavily involved in the theater community from a young age all the way up until college where I studied theater at Salem State University. It was there that I discovered that while I loved creating characters, I didn’t need to be an actor to do that. I’ve always been a bit of a jack of all trades, so if I wasn’t performing, I was backstage working in any other capacity to keep me engaged in production. I discovered my talent and passion was in hair and makeup design. It was the first time I was actually able to get my feet wet in executing a vision and telling a story through those details. So after college I packed up and moved out to LA to work in film and tv. Over the years, I’ve been able to work on some really awesome projects. Read more>>

Emir Horton

Back when I was a teenager, my mom bought me my first watch. I believe it was a Fossil watch. When she gave it to me she said “two things that a man should always have is a watch and a wallet.” As a teenager, that boosted my ego and because of that, I always had a watch on my wrist before I began looking at them as fashion enhancements. At that age, I was into G-Shocks and those were an introduction to my attraction to big face watches. To become one of the world’s biggest movie and TV stars also came to me around that age. I used to have dreams of collaborating with Rolex or Audemars Piguet and design watches for them once I became a household name and called it the “Emir Collection”. Read more>>

Nic Violets

I was born on November 12th, 1996, and I’m known professionally as Nic Violets. I’m an American artist, songwriter, designer, creative director, and entrepreneur. I started making music about ten years ago in a makeshift studio in my bedroom consisting of a pirate copy of Mixcraft and a USB microphone borrowed from the Playstation 2 game, Singstar. This lasted throughout middle school, but I was lacking the skill, guidance, and direction at such a young age and for fear of ridicule in a small, suburban town, I was forced into hiatus. In the early years of high school, I focused more on the production side of music. Read more>>

Saul Varo

I am a 24 years old Mix Engineer/ Producer born and raised in the East Hollywood/Virgil Village area. I go by AyYoAztecz on Instagram and anything that has to do with music production. I’ve been doing music seriously since early 2016 but over my highschool years, I would be around a couple of friends and just beatbox while they freestyle rap over it. I’ve been selling beats online for a few years now and just recently opened a recording studio (Burnside Recording Studios) in the heart of Hollywood late 2019. Slowly growing, my studio has become a cool spot for people who want to make beats outside of just being home. I’ve recently just expanded the floor plan to be able to fit more people in here and to be more comfortable while they make their music. Read more>>

Jalen Peggees

My story began on the south side of Chicago. Every weekend my mom would take me to Blockbuster or Hollywood Video. I developed a deep love for movies, which turned into a fascination with the film industry. I was intrigued by the process of creating a moving from the beginning to the end, no matter the genre. I researched different areas of film not sure which route to take. Initially, I thought of studying acting, but my interest was deeper than that. I actually wanted to create the story from the beginning. Read more>>

Pranai Shah

Photography was always my hobby. I started as a passionate photographer when I was in 10th grade! Slowly and gradually, I started to dig my feet more into this entertainment and media field. I scored my first gig through a DM on Instagram and it gave me much joy by just looking at the output which made me believe that I could do more, then it was a burning desire to go ahead and take it up as my profession and not just keep it as a hobby. I am the first in my family who choose to do photography and filmmaking as a profession which was followed with astounding support from my parents. I have worked with some of the best MNC’s cumulative of around 50 brands such as: Amazon, Cadbury, Jockey, Yamaha, Kingfisher, Uber eats, Zara, Vero Moda, Steve Madden, Etc. for whom I have produced social media content across almost all the leading content creation and social media platform. Read more>>

Cameron Cowperthwaite

Acting. Filmmaking. Cinema. Theatre. I grew up in it. I guess you could say it’s ingrained in my blood. My parents met working various gigs together at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival many years ago before ultimately coming to Los Angeles to explore their own careers in “the business.” I was born right over the hill, opposite the Hollywood sign, in Burbank. My dad said he used to take me to the movie theaters while I was a baby for nap time when he had an afternoon off from working or chasing background or AD gigs for extra cash. My mother was working as a Script Supervisor for what was essentially my entire childhood. She still does it today, even as she aspires to reach her own dreams of directing film and television, which she has done many times on shows like 30 Rock and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt! I grew up visiting her on sets when my parents moved to the East Coast on various shows and films. Read more>>

Imani Tolliver

My journey into the world of poetry began with a diary. As a preteen, the pages were filled with everyday occurrences; crushes and laments, mainly. As I grew older, the entries became more complex and also held visions of what I wanted my life to be. As much as I wrote poetry, I didn’t identify as a poet yet. My poems didn’t rhyme. They didn’t have a prescribed form. They were free verse, personal, and told stories; unlike anything that I studied in school. Cautiously, I read from the pages of my journals to a few close friends but I hadn’t gone to a poetry reading, an open mic, or folded into a writing community. It would take years before I felt comfortable calling myself a poet. Read more>>

Chris Morrissey

I was born in Los Angeles and both of my parents worked in the entertainment industry. My mother used to be an actress and model appearing on classic television shows like My Three Sons and Mr. Novak. My father worked at the Cinerama Dome and other famous L.A. theatres over the years like the Pantages and the Chinese theatre. They actually met each other while working at the Cinerama Dome and got married, so movies were a huge part of my early life. I spent many days going to movie theatres every day after school and watching many different types of films. Early on, I started out as an actor but when I was 17, I got a job working at Andy Warhol’s Interview Magazine as an assistant and that took up all of my time. I was there for many years and I loved it! I learned so much about how things in the industry work behind the scenes, so that got me interested in writing scripts. Read more>>

Anthony Shannell Jr.

I’m an artist and I Just like creating things and putting it out and seeing people’s reaction, I enjoy making people happy. I started my own company because I didn’t like waiting on others to do things for me. Read more>>

Luis Cervantes

My story begins in San Diego, California where I was born and raised. I started playing sports at a very young age, including soccer, basketball, baseball, and track & field. It wasn’t until high school, however, that I discovered my love for dance. One afternoon in my best friend’s living room, we decided to pop in Shaun T’s Hip Hop Abs workout video in hopes to learn some cool moves. After a while, we decided to take it up a notch and try out an in-person class at a studio down the street from our school. One class in and we were hooked. Next thing you know, we tried out for the junior team, started competing, and made that studio our home away from home. Dance quickly became my biggest outlet. It got me through some of my toughest years and allowed me to express myself when I couldn’t find the words to do so. Read more>>

Steph Adams

I grew up in Perth Western Australia and was modeling internationally for ten years before I moved into graphic design and pursued a career in publishing in the world of fashion magazines working with British Vogue, Harpers Bazaar, Vogue Australia, Grazia, Elle, Net-a-Porter and Conde Nast Traveller. I had established a design agency during my work as an Art Director and was working with clients globally all through L.A, London, Singapore, Sydney, Germany and New York. I had also created on the side and started to build a global following from many of the clients and word of mouth. Read more>>

Cortni Vaughn Joyner

I’ll start by saying I never knew I wanted to act until I stepped foot on my first set. I grew up in Boston, playing soccer. I came up with the generation that watched the US win gold and Brandi Chastain rip her shirt off after penalty kicks, so that is what I dreamed of doing. I went to UGA (Go Dawgs!) where I played Division 1 soccer and then played a few years in the W-League with the Atlanta Silverbacks. By that time, I had graduated undergrad and started a Master’s with the idea of becoming a sports agent. I really wanted to learn about contracts, specifically negotiating, so I moved from Georgia to LA to attend law school. Read more>>

Nicholas Velasquez

Born in Springfield, Massachusetts on August 29th, 1996. Nicholas Gabriel Velasquez is a natural-born actor, kind-hearted spirit (zodiac sign: VIRGO). He started his career in 2017 in the Tampa, Florida film industry. His first role was starring in UNTHINKABLE PRODUCTIONS; Fat Man Standing. Which premiered at the Tampa Florida Necronomicon. Then to go on and appear in Florida’s second-best comedy film named The Laundry Party directed by Carlos Seguro of 4EVERLOS FILMS. From there on, he’s starred in other films and shows such as Domain Picture’s Grey Room Haven’s Mill (saga) and 2019 award-winning film (for best action/crime) Cold Dawn directed by Thomas Frick of Spotlightfrick21 Films. Read more>>

Christian Cintron

I’ve lived many lives. I was a shy Catholic schoolboy in Flushing, Queens. I was a queer-POC at one of the most expensive colleges in the country. I was a marketing executive in New York City. A stand up comic in New York and San Francisco. I was an improviser and actor in LA. I was a drag queen. I was a spiritualist. They’ve all been parts of my psyche and the parts given the chance to shine. We all become different people to please others and navigate the world. But I am thrilled that now, all the horses are running in the same direction and headed where I want them to go. Stand UP 4 Your Power is the culmination of a ton of deep heART work. I am excited to leave my mark on the art form I love. Read more>>

Maithillee Zaveri

When I was in the 6th grade, I was asked what would you like to become when you grow up? I was confident that I want to become an artist, an entrepreneur, a motivational speaker & inspire/influence people who have an aim & big dreams. But as I came in class 10, I realized that this path is uncertain, yet I did not want to give up. I felt more confident about my career when I had my first art show in 2004 & I sold three artworks from then onwards, there was no looking back. I’ve had 20+ art exhibitions till date. I graduated from The Lasalle college of the arts, Singapore in BFA, fine arts painting (2008 – 2011) Though not every art show meant that my works would be sold. Read more>>

Bailey Marie

I am a singer and songwriter from North Carolina. I started working with my producer Andrew Lane 2 years ago. We’ve worked together to release several original songs. During this time, I’ve had the opportunity to perform at the Legendary Apollo Theater in NYC, the Roxy in Hollywood, Celebration of Music in Atlanta and Nashville. I’ve also interviewed on Radio Disney and enjoy working with my local Salvation Army and Girls and Boys Clubs. I am also an Ambassador for the SOS Foundation. Read more>>

Rosa Enid Cosme

My health journey and Radio Hosting began right here in Deptford Township, NJ. I was born and raised in North Philadelphia. The City of Love aka “Philly”. It’s Latin & Urban Community, Urban Music, the Historical parts of the City, the festivals, the people very humbly and friendly. Philly is world-famous for their famous Cheesesteaks, Tastykakes, Goldenberg Peanut Chews, Water Ice, and Soft Pretzels. I will always be proud of where I come from. Read more>>

Jordan Tarver

I grew up in a family of six—two older brothers, an older sister, and, of course, my loving parents. Raised in a small town in Sonoma County, I like to think my innocence was long-lasting, as there was never much influence outside my family, church, sports, and early years of schooling. I attended a private school until I was about 12 years old, which consisted of one schoolhouse that maxed out at 40 students. The place was small—everyone knew everyone and their parents and their grandparents and where they lived and their home phone numbers. Read more>>

Federico Torri

I started playing piano as a child, studying classical music. Later I switched to electric bass and guitar, which allowed me to be a part of several bands. That’s when I started writing songs and discovered my passion for composing music. I was also very interested in recording and producing those songs and these aspects have now become an integral part of my work, where I often combine live instruments with electronic instruments and sound design. As soon as I finished high school, I enrolled in a music composition bachelor’s degree so that I could further my knowledge and get experience writing for orchestras and ensembles. Read more>>

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