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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.

Shireen Jamehdor

When I made the decision to go to fashion school, I knew I wanted to have my own label someday, and I also knew I wanted it to be high-end and eco-friendly. What I didn’t know is that my label would end up specializing in uniforms. Over the last 15 years, I’ve worked for several uniform companies, mostly medical, and it’s actually made me a bit uniform obsessed (not just about scrubs and lab coats, but all types of uniforms). It has been a dream of mine to create a brand that reflects my values and combines all my experience as an artist and designer. Now that dream is finally becoming a reality through Art Of Uniformity®–creating beautiful uniform style that puts people and planet first. Read more>>

Deandre Smith

I grew up as the only introverted child from Chicago. Raised by my grandmother. That was the first part of what would shape my childhood. Growing up, I discovered the power of VHS tapes that allowed you to record multiple films, and with that I discovered my love of horror films, which was added to my already established obsession, Michael Keaton’s Batman. The seed of filmmaking was planted and then it grew and grew all the way to college (film school) until it wilted away. Film school, so I thought, was supposed to establish and build my skill level so my craft could be molded. It did the opposite. After graduating, I spent a good chuck of the past decade rediscovering my love for an art of which I thought was long gone. What helped me rediscover it was life – falling, rebuilding, and then falling again… to NOW where I’m rebuilding and making sure it’s bolted and never moves. But most importantly, my grandmother. Her never wavering support and undeniable love for me is why I am the person I am today. Read more>>

Vanessa Béjine

I have been singing since the age of five. It has always been my passion. I grew up listening to music icons such as Whitney Houston, Celine Dion, and Mariah Carey, so they are huge influencers of mine. Once I graduated high school, I started going to open mics and singing cover songs. I met a lot of new people doing this and was soon connected with a great producer who brought me to Atlantic Records to record my very first single Addicted. From there, I started to develop my writing skills as an artist and continued to write and record as much as I could. Read more>>

Valerie Y O Kim

Back in 1988, I made a film, “Waging Peace” about Soviet and American kids having Peace Camps and making friends during the time Gorbachev and Reagan were in the Peace Talks. I found my editor and post-production in Hollywood. Previously I had been doing Location work in Hawaii and after the film, I worked and stayed in Hollywood. I eventually joined the union, Local 399 Teamsters as a Location Manager and did feature films. You can look me up in IMDB under Valerie Y O Kim. I’ve also had my photographs in solo and juried exhibitions in LA, Hawaii and across the US in between films since 2001. I worked in Location Managing on features until about 2010 – retiring to Hawaii to care for my husband when he became ill with Alzheimer’s Disease. Since his passing in 2016, I’ve been making fine art exclusively. My book, “Only the Bones” is a mostly visual story about the long haul of a relationship within Alzheimer’s disease which will be launched hopefully in 2022. Read more>>

Moses Truzman

I was born in New York & then moved to Miami. I’ve always been artistically inclined and spent high school in bands but also deep in visual arts. And then studied art direction at the Miami Ad School and after graduating worked for Deutsch New York. While I was there, I started writing music for plays in New York on the side while also DJing and then decided to pack up and head west to Los Angeles. Then with a good friend, I got a studio in Downtown LA and started producing music. Shortly after, I was contacted by Music supervisor who had heard some of my music online and asked me to write music for a television commercial. I had never done anything like that and I was so excited and the next thing I know I booked the spot! That started my career in writing music for TV and film. Since then, I’ve been lucky enough to work on so many amazing projects. Everything from a basketball documentary “Killer Bees” with Shaquille O’Neal to a nature VR documentary series for Google & Facebook called “Ecosphere” to high campaigns for Neutrogena, Target and so many others. Read more>>

Karen Garrity

I have been a professional cellist and music contractor for over 40 years. In the beginning, I contracted musicians mainly for live events such as weddings, parties, corporate events, and concerts. I began contracting musicians and music professionals for live recording sessions in 2016 after realizing that we could provide a much-needed service in the greater Los Angeles area by offering to book great musicians at any of the iconic studios and sound stages in town with a front-end buyout for the composers so they own their music to reuse as they see fit. As a professional cellist, I have enjoyed a wonderful, diverse career. I have played in every type of ensemble including solo work, chamber groups, symphony orchestras, and accompanying rock bands. I have toured wonderful places like London, Prague, Vienna, Austria, Japan, and China. It is such a blessing to be paid to perform in beautiful, exotic places!. Read more>>

Ragnhild Bjoerge

After high school, I figured out I wanted to do stunts. It was the time when Facebook was still pretty new and I wasn’t that good with technology like google. So I ended up studying acting in Norway for a year while I did some research into how I could become a stuntwoman. First, I wanted to get into trick riding, but I did not get any response from the place I contacted. But then I found this acting school in LA that also had stunt and stage combat classes. So I applied and I got it. I was so happy and surprised that day. But I packed my bags and moved from Norway with two suitcases to the fabulously warm Los Angeles. I studied and got a bachelor’s degree in acting for film. And after that was done, I had also become a confident stuntwoman since we also had a lot of on set experience with the school and little jobs on the side. I was very excited when I found out I could apply for an OPT visa, which allows you to stay in the US and work within the field that you studied. Read more>>

Esteban Joseph

Creativity has been a driving force in my life for as long as I can remember. Like many, I experienced pressure to obtain a consistent yet he(art)less 9-5 grind. In resisting that pressure, I pursued photography as my first passion and held a professional career shooting for nearly ten years in Chicago. I stumbled upon jewelry by chance when walking past a metalsmithing community studio near my house one day after a photoshoot. I enrolled in an introductory course, there I practiced basic skills before moving to LA in 2017. Once in LA, I saved all my extra cash to invest in tools and studio equipment of my own. After about a year and a half of working out of a garage studio, I began making a name for myself and decided to take the leap to pursue jewelry full time. Today I now have a boutique showroom and studio where I invite clients to shop and have private consultations. It’s an intimate space where clients get to see where their jewelry is made, which is a unique and deeply personal experience for the both of us. Read more>>

Rick Darge

I’ve always wanted to be a filmmaker but due to the fact that I had zero connections in the industry and I wasn’t born into Hollywood wealth, I had to slum it in the alleyways of dirty Los Angeles for years. I’ve done everything from shooting celebrity weddings to editing some of the worst content this town has to offer. This complicated city is paved with bad ideas and broken dreams so I’m surprised that I’m still going at it, but really, what other choice do I have? I think I just enjoy pain. I went to USC Film School at the tender age of 18 right before 9/11 ruined everything and to be honest, I probably should have just skipped film school altogether and started working as a PA instead. The only thing film school taught me was that it’s not necessary and that if you have enough money, they’ll accept you no problem. College just prolongs the inevitable by placing you inside a cozy bubble for four years with an incredible amount of debt. Read more>>

Sophia Basilio

I was born and raised in the Philippines and moved to San Diego at the age of 14. I’ve been dancing since I was six years old and it was definitely different. I didn’t have the privileged to take dance classes and when I moved to the United States, I was able to find more passion for dance. I trained in San Diego and Los Angeles and still training and learning. Currently learning and training on hip hop, popping, and krump to help expand my vocabulary with dance. Consistent growth is my favorite mindset to keep me motivated and enjoy the dance classes I teach. Read more>>

Sarah Silverman

I am a passionate home cook, a musician and a busy mother of two! I was inspired to start Canyon Kitchen in my home because of my children. I wanted to provide the most nourishing foods possible, and I wanted to foster their connection with food, the seasons and the earth. When my kids began school, I was distressed by the highly processed sugary foods that were regularly brought into the classrooms. I knew that I could create delicious treats simply sweetened with dates and bananas that all the kids would love! I knew this partly because of the wisdom passed down to me by my grandmother and my mother, but also because of my own curiosity and experimentation in the kitchen. Read more>>

Henok Negash

Like many magicians, I was bitten by the magic bug in my youth while being raised in San Diego. That feeling of witnessing a magic trick was surreal, and I knew, at a young age, that I also wanted to offer that experience to others. During my youth, I read many books on magic and practiced about 4-6 hours per day. I was obsessed. During my adult years, I finally decided that instead of only learning magic, I really wanted to focus on the performance of magic and become an entertainer. I moved to Los Angeles in 2013 after spending three years overseas in the Peace Corps–rural Thailand. I moved to Los Angeles in order to be next to the Magic Castle where I would be near some of the best minds in magic. Read more>>

Felicia Jade Rein

I’ve always been a maker, there are photos of me as early as three, I think, making towels and scrunchies into dresses. So before I knew what miniatures and stop motion animation were, that’s where I thought I wanted to be, fashion design. I ended up going to the Art Institute of Vancouver in British Columbia on a whim. After graduating top of my class with a major in Fashion Design (and a minor in graphic design) I moved back to NYC. Curveball, I got a job at vitaminwater / Smartwater as the finance person for the creative team and eventually convinced them to give me a shot as a junior graphic designer. While there, I applied for an elite program at Wieden+Kennedy (WK12) with something I’d never tried before, a stop motion animation application video (to a classical rendition of Britney Spears’ “Toxic” haha). I didn’t know or understand what agencies were at the time, so in hindsight, being waitlisted from the program seems totally legit. (Still felt pretty cool, there were thousands of applicants) That video being in my portfolio ended up landing me a position at a different creative agency. There, I was also a designer, but this time, for a full content studio. My boss put me on a project for Rold Gold Pretzels; making the miniature sets and props for the before mentioned pretzel soap opera. Read more>>

Isabella Brenza

I was born in Chicago, IL and I’m of Eastern European, Italian, and Australian descent. Growing up, my family moved around frequently. By the age of 14, I lived in four States. As the oldest of five, I learned to adapt and take on responsibility early on. Starting from a young age, one of my first passions was dance. My intensive ballet training equipped me with the tools necessary to persevere and excel within a competitive environment. I traveled around the globe as a fashion model living in Asia and Europe. My deep dive into diverse cultural perspectives allowed me to discover who I aspire to be. In 2016 I moved to Los Angeles, CA, and shortly after discovered my yet unknown passion for acting when cast in my first short film. With a relentless devotion to continue learning and master my craft, I am training under James D. Wilson and David Dean Bottrell, two accomplished acting mentors in the industry. Read more>>

Karmon DuPrée Jr

I was born in Cleveland, Ohio. Not too far away from my favorite person, LeBron James! I’ve always possessed a creative and curious mind even as a child. After school, I would leave, and instead of heading home or out to play with friends, I would go shadow other business owners at the local office space on Lee Rd, in Shaker Heights, Ohio near my high school. I would come in and simply ask each person about their respective business concepts and ideas, and I offered my assistance to any and everyone to do any and everything pertaining to said business. I just remember having this overwhelming feeling of curiosity about every business model I came across, and that’s when I knew that business and entrepreneurship was what I loved to do and wanted to be. At the time and age, I had never been so sure of anything in my life. Read more>>

Sister Dominia

My journey with the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence began out of a need to become more involved in the LGBTQ+ community. I wanted to be part of an organization that supported and lifted those out of a life of persecution, misunderstanding, and stigmatic guilt. Read more>>

Cindy Lam

I developed the idea of creating a handbag line when I started practicing yoga. As I continued to go to the yoga studio and came to realize that there wasn’t a fashionable bag that was designed with quality materials and fine hardware. I decided to start my own line of bags that weren’t using cheap nylon and plastic fastenings like what was in the market. I launched my Kickstarter campaign in April 2005 to crowd-fund over $10k to create my first backpack. Since then, I’ve evolved my line to consist of backpacks, belt bags and cross-body bags. Read more>>

Te’ Riel (N.E.P.H.E.W) Lloyd

Music has always been a fascinating discipline and love of mine since a young age. My first live performance was in the 3rd grade at my school talent show back in Chicago where I performed “nothing but a G thang” by Snoop Dog and Dr. Dre. Growing up, my family always exposed me to music as a way of celebration and self-expression, especially my uncles (HipHop/Rap), mother (R&B) and grandmother (Classic Soul/Motown). Over time I’ve always dabbled with writing songs, raps, and spoken word as an outlet and hobby but I’ve never considered the art-form a career choice until the mid 2000’s. Attempting to find a new path in life Music showed prominence in my purpose and led me to becoming a full-time Recording Artist, Songwriter, or as I’d like to say, a Visionary Wordsmith. Read more>>

Isaiah Joseph

Born in Houston, Texas, I started behind the camera. My first music video was Laundry Mat by Nivea featuring my cousins. From there, I dabbled with the camera and my senior year in high school, I directed a music video for Knuck If You Buck. As soon as I sat down to edit, I remember synching the audio with our lips in .001 seconds. That’s when I knew I had a love for filmmaking and editing in total. Fast forward to the future, I graduated from film school and moved to New York which is where I got in front of the camera with modeling. After NY spit me out, I of course ended up with a job as a personal assistant. Makes a lot of sense, right? I moved to LA with this new job, working for Amber Rose. During that time, I grew and realized what I truly wanted. To be the creative, I started as I’ve always had a great sense of humor and loved making people laugh. That’s my purpose. To use my creative abilities to bring joy and laughter. While in LA, I took up some acting classes which led me to a stand-up class. Read more>>

Marie Lemelle

I champion the philosophy of “Transform Your Goals into Greatness” through my transformational branding, marketing and public relations expertise as CEO and founder of Platinum Star Public Relations, Inc., a certified MWBE, SBE and DBE, and Platinum Star Media Group, Inc., an entertainment company. Throughout my career as a journalist, author, publicist, and multi-facet entertainment professional, I leverage opportunities to create progressive platforms of empowerment for women and vulnerable underserved communities, Lauded as an influencer, I am a native of Southern California and listed in the first and second editions of the Who’s Who in Black Los Angeles. An award-winning journalist, my quest to keep communities informed of vital issues led me to write for numerous news publications across the globe including a weekly column, “Health Matters,” to educate and raise awareness about health disparities in the Black community for the Los Angeles Wave Newspaper. To tackle the tsunami of information about COIVD-19 and other medical topics, the Wave newspaper tapped me as the columnist for its weekly “Rx Report.” Read more>>

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