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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.

Lily Scher

I grew up in New Jersey in a town that wanted everyone to be one thing. I knew from a young age that I was not going to fit into the cookie cutter at all, as I have many different energies that drive me to express myself and create art. So, I graduated from Emerson College in 2020 with a BA in Media Production: Writing for Film and Television with a minor in Women, Gender and Sexuality. I love making handmade birthday cards/ collages of all kinds, writing screenplays and poems, painting clothing and designing campy looks for drag shows. Read more>>

Ellie Konsker (CEO and Co-founder) and Brigitte Canty (Co-founder)

Brigitte Canty and I (Eliana Konsker) became friends in college and bonded over our passion to change the trajectory of the fashion industry. My background is entirely in fashion and business, while Brigitte’s background is in environmental science so the combination of expertise makes for the perfect pairing. After graduating, we worked together to pursue our collective mission: promote the highest level of sustainability that exists in the fashion industry by connecting consumers to clothing brands committed to holistic sustainability. Read more>>

Graham Moore

My journey started at Wimbledon school of art in London where I did my foundation studies, 3 years later graduated in Graphic Design. First job was working in a print shop in covent garden. Came over to New York in 1987, then down to Dallas, worked in a couple of design studios, them moved out to Los Angeles in 1991. Have continuously been working in the entertainment/music business/design studios/advertising agency as a graphic designer/Art Director. Read more>>

Ben Hilzinger

I was born in Redmond, WA, but spent most of my childhood in small-town-USA just north of Spokane. Having attended a tiny school, I was one of the only drummers and gained personal confidence at a young age. Playing and touring in band throughout my early twenties burnt me out rather quickly (you can only sleep on floors for so many nights in a row) and I decided to head back to college for a career in winemaking. I know. Quite the pivot. Read more>>

Laura Bibbs

I started playing trumpet at a young age and decided pretty early on that this was going to be my career path. I attended school in Boston and NYC and ended up primarily working on the East coast before coming to LA. I definitely struggled throughout college to find what was best for me, wasn’t sure where or what I wanted to do, just knew trumpet was the goal. It wasn’t until I got to New York where I started to flourish into my musical identity. I’m extremely grateful for my mentors at Manhattan School of Music, they let me be me. Read more>>

Brenda Trujillo

ActivePear was established in 2020 opening its doors in Calabasas California, during COVID, we are also available online. We quickly gained popularity with influencers, actresses and the community. We are now at Speakeasy Gym in Reseda, California. We do occasional pop-ups in all of LA and have gone as far as San Diego. We are excited that people love the brand. The pear, what symbolizes the shape of a women of any shape… No, it has not been a smooth road, like all small businesses we face many challenges with COVID mandates. Read more>>

Greg Dean

Opened first stand-up comedy school in the world in 1982. Taught in many locations around So Cal. Developed a revolutionary joke structure model. Can teach people to write a joke in minutes. Published a book, “Step by Step to Stand-Up Comedy” in 2000. Updated in 2018. Translated into 5 languages around the world. Work with my wife Gayla Johnson actress and comedian. I only teach principles, techniques, and skills, not my opinion of what’s funny. Have classes live and on zoom. In it to share the laughter. Read more>>

Emily Pollack

I’m from the land of snow and apples and gorges AKA Ithaca, NY. I grew up there immersed in all that a small college town can offer and when it came time to go to college myself, I moved to a college city: Boston. Wanting to connect with my Jewish roots (wrong side; dad’s side), I applied to and got into Brandeis University. My parents are in the medical field and so it seemed only natural to walk that path when I grew up but when I started to cry in calculus I thought it might be a good time to re-evaluate my career goals. Read more>>

Anna Gillcrist

My life as a performer began in the not-so-glamorous basement of my childhood home in Kansas City, Missouri at the ripe age of seven. I had lined up all 4 of my brothers, one of them being a literal 7-month-old infant, and directed them in a self-written play entitled, “Who Let The Butterflies Die?”. It’s hard to say whether this was an art piece or an actual interrogation. We never did find out just WHO let the butterflies die, as 2 of my brothers quit the production due to quote unquote, “terrible working conditions”. Read more>>

Stephen Slates

SLATES SQUARED ENTERTAINMENT was founded in 2016 by my brother Gary Slates and I, and our debut project, “FRESHMAN FRIDAY… an HBCU Comedy” is available now on Prime, Tubi, Boku, and YouTube. My passion for the craft of filmmaking and my love for HBCU’s started at Saint Augustine University in Raleigh, NC where I received my Bachelor’s in Business Administration with a concentration in Film/theater.  Read more>>

Mertcan MC Doganay

As a growing filmmaker based in LA, my story started back in my home country, Turkey. While I was in college in Istanbul, my major was BFA in Filmmaking. I guess everybody in this business knows the number one rule and it goes everywhere in the world: Your career depends on who you know. This industry is all about networks so I started working in several TV Series while I was still in college. This led me shooting music videos and commercials and securing small gigs. Read more>>

Nashuwah Abdulmaged

I started my path as a doula and healer through my own individual healing journey. My mother had 18lbs. of fibroids and was told she would never be able to have children. She had to undergo a major surgery in order for them to be removed and eventually she was able to conceive. Fibroids are uterine cysts which are a very common occurrence in African American women. I wanted to start at a young age doing what I could to ensure I had a healthy womb and that lead me on a path to learn about holistic feminine hygiene and womb wellness. Read more>>

Sharōn Ronen

I was a music business executive and wanted to shift careers to something that gave me satisfaction and allowed me to be of service to others. I’ve always loved concocting notions and potions since I was young and decided to enroll in the Esthetics program and immediately realized this was the right path for me. Being able to turn a hobby/passion into a career is a dream come true and I am so grateful to be able to do something I love, help people and make them happy, assist my clients in achieving their skincare goals, and constantly be learning. Read more>>

Sam Richie

I’ve always been a music lover but it wasn’t until I was in college that I was really exposed to the larger world of electronic music, all of the different genres, and the live performance aspects of it. I tried DJing at first but quickly moved into learning how to produce my own tracks (they were terrible, lol). I released my first few tracks during my last year of school and immediately moved to LA after graduating. That was almost five years ago. Read more>>

Lou Acosta

I am a native of the Dominican Republic, raised in Bronx, New York. My journey with the arts started in the 7th grade when my Music teacher told me I should be a radio host because of my deep voice and presence. From that moment, my curiosity wouldn’t leave me alone. At home, I sang in front of my family and my grandma would tell me she was going to put me on TV; at the time Sabado Gigante, where contestants would sign for a prize. Read more>>

Sam Doniger

When I was twelve my mother bought me Appetite For Destruction by Guns n Roses. I instantly wanted the freedom I heard on that record. After growing up in rock bands and playing all over the sunset strip, I came down with cyclical migraines. I couldn’t listen to loud music any longer and instead began to write songs on the acoustic guitar. While most of my songs are not acoustic, they all start there. I’ve been late to everything in my life: talking, puberty, moving out of my mother’s house…I don’t expect music to be any different. Read more>>

Emerson Niemchick

I was born and raised in a small town in Michigan. I did anything creative I could for as early as I could remember. Creativity wasn’t just enough, there was always a spectacle to be added; a performance to do. Puppet shows for elementary classes, doing voices when we would read literature… just always some added theatrical “spice.” I was weird kid. Did theater. Made movies in college with friends. Eventually, this lead to making bigger projects and in my heart of hearts I knew that LA was the final bus stop. It was just always there. Read more>>

Becca Ford

Art was always a big thing in my family because my maternal grandfather is an oil landscape painter and has made and sold thousands of paintings over his lifetime. So I grew up surrounded by art and my siblings and cousins would paint with our grandfather. I didn’t realize fine art was something I wanted to pursue as a life path until my freshman year of college – I took a drawing class and it was the class I put the most time and energy towards that semester. Read more>>

Pau Aguirre

I was raised in Los Angeles, not really knowing what I wanted to “do when I grew up”. I’ve always loved art and creating since I was a kid. My Dad is originally from Chile- He moved back there when I was a teenager, and I actually moved there from 16-18 years old. I had the best time of my life and that’s when I got into figure drawing. My dad wanted to put me in an art class outside of school, so once a week in the evening, I would go to the studio of a professional Artist and draw a nude model. Read more>>

William Joseph Hill

I started making films while in high school, growing up in Hawaii. I also began my martial arts training in Hawaii, studying Okinawan Karate. I still train regularly to this day and have used my skills in many different film/TV projects.After moving to Hollywood, I began acting in film and TV projects. I’m an actor/writer and have penned my first novel “CYBER FIGHTER” which is currently available on Amazon in paperback, Kindle, hardback, and as a comic book. I also recorded and produced the audiobook which is on Audible. Read more>>

Tonina Saputo

Tonina is a Los Angeles-based vocalist, bassist and songwriter from St. Louis, Missouri who performs her original music along with her arrangements of covers in Spanish, English, and Italian. Tonina comes from a family of musicians who exposed her to various music styles ranging from Funk, Soul, and Jazz to Classical, Folk and Rock. She was raised in St. Louis, coming from Black and Sicilian backgrounds. All these components have given her an unparalleled musical scope playing many genres yet making each her own. Read more>>

Ziqi Gao

To get back home from Los Angeles, I need to get on a 15-hour flight to Beijing, take another 3-hour flight to Changchun, and get on a bus for 2 hours. My story is really about how a kid, speaking completely a different language, suddenly made up her mind to set out to American film industry in the farthest place you can imagine. At the age of 17, I received the highest scholarship and decided and manage to studying directing at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. Read more>>

Talea Jackson

Talea Jackson’s life is a true testament to the power of hard work and determination. Born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah, to a Nigerian-Mexican father and an Italian-Russian mother, she followed her passion for dancing all the way to the East Coast at the young age of 17. After two years of touring, she made a bold move to create her own convention, the Brand Ambassador Convention, which combined the worlds of experiential marketing and influencer marketing. Read more>>

Bianca Harris

I am born and raised in Toronto, Canada. My father lived in California for the larger part of my life and visited often, so I had always dreamed about making the move, and finally I have arrived! My story has always begun with art. I began as a dancer as a child and throughout my teens. As I finished college, I decided to enroll in makeup school (because I had always done my makeup for dance). I did that for over ten years but it began to feel stifling. Read more>>

Nelly Recchia

I was born and raised in France, in a small town named Clermont Ferrand in the center of the country. I t known in part for its volcanoes mountains and its gorgeous Black Cathedral, it is black because it is made of volcanic rocks. I have never said as a child “when I ‘ll grow up I will be a body painter”. I was more likely to become a ballerina but I would have had to live the family’s nest at a very young age to enter a professional ballet school and I did not want to. I was lucky to have my parents to nurture my early tastes and genuine interest for Arts. Read more>>

Brayden Hade

My story begins in college where I studied musical theatre and created a side business photographing headshots for the actors in my program. Throughout my four years in school, I honed my theatrical talents but also took interest in visual arts and business. The varied interests eventually helped me to create my own production company, freelance for a myriad of different creative projects, and manage/direct at the Cupcake Theater post-pandemic until its untimely closing. Read more>>

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