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Inspiring Stories from Pasadena

The heart of our mission at VoyageLA is to find the amazing souls that breathe life into our city. In the recent weeks we’ve had the privilege to connect with some of the LA’s finest artists, creatives, entrepreneurs and rabble rousers and we can’t begin to express how impressed we are with our city’s incredibly deep talent pool.  Check out Pasadena’s rising stars below.

Alan Villasenor

I’m a portrait and landscape photographer and father of two very beautiful daughters. I fell in love with the outdoors and photography a few years ago and I dove right in. My very first photoshoot was actually with my oldest daughter at a local park. Once I reviewed the photos, I felt a spark that ignited my love for capturing the essence of people and beautiful places. Having traveled to a few different National Parks in the US and Canada, I came to fall in love with not only experiencing the outdoors but capturing its beauty with my photography as well. Empowerment to me was something I knew of but did not have a complete grasp on. Read more>>

Lauren Martinez

I am a songwriter, producer, and engineer from Albuquerque, New Mexico. I moved to LA 4 years ago to pursue a career in music when I was 18 years old. I started playing piano when I was three years old and went on to learn other instruments such as guitar, banjo, violin. I began producing and releasing my own music two years ago. This opened doors for me when I was put on Spotify Playlists such as New Music Friday Canada, Germany, Switzerland and Fresh Finds. My music was played in stores around the world at places like H&M, Bershka, The Body Shop, and more. I began writing and pitching music for film and tv including shows like Riverdale and Siren. And this year, I was on NBC Songland Season 2 pitching a song to Luis Fonsi in collaboration with Ester Dean. Read more>>

Phil Ebiner

In 2012, I had just graduated from Loyola Marymount University’s film school. I was working full time as a video producer and photographer for a small college in Irvine where I was researching online education. popped up as a start-up with a really cool interface – where anyone could teach a course! As someone who was always looking for more ways to make some extra money (to pay down a mountain of over $100,000 in student loan debt), I thought – hey, I’ll make a course! I made some extra ‘beer’ money from that first course the first month it was published in October 2012. Since then, I’ve gone on to produce over 100 courses in 10+ languages taken by over 2 million students around the world. Read more>>

Elijah Rosario

I began my musical journey back in Augusta, Georgia at the age of six years old. I come from a church background, so whenever my mother would sing in church, the musicians would let me play the drums. I would also sing in church myself from time to time, I was so busy trying to be in the background and learn how things worked before I was trying to be in front of people performing. In all honesty, I didn’t really feel comfortable with singing in front of people until the age of 15 and the only reason I grew the courage to do so was all because of my older brother telling me that singing would get me girls haha. Read more>>

Yael Steinfeld

Early 2007, while working at Kaiser Fontana as an RNP, I went to hear a lecture on Ayurvedic medicine. New to the USA, Dr. J. inspired us all. He spoke of Vata, Pitta, Kapha constitution and how balancing any imbalance can bring healing. Illness is explained to be a consequence of mind-body-soul imbalance. I felt a deep calling to study it. This 5000 years old medicine inspired me with its depth of understanding humans, nature and the spirit. The completion of the two years school was a trip to India. Read more>>

Lizette Valles

I have a bookmark that reads “Teacher — Instructor, Role Model, Coach, Mentor, and Friend”, and I am honored to be experiencing and playing these caring and encouraging roles in the lives of my students. Being a part of the educational profession has been one of the most rewarding and profoundly meaningful aspects of my life because I not only seek to understand and help students academically but see and listen to them as whole and intricately complex individuals that I have the privilege of serving. My journey as an educator is as diverse and wonderful as my students. I was raised by my hardworking, Hispanic mother and one of her dreams for me was to be the first in my family to graduate from college. Read more>>

Shellese Zeigler

Throughout my years as a young girl, I have always had the desire to create and design. I grew up watching my mother spend countless hours sewing together my costumes, uniforms and cheerleading outfits for school. At the age of 9, I was introduced to hand sewing in my after school program. I couldn’t get my mind off of the craft, and I decided to nurture it by bringing this newfound gift home. I would practice this talent on my mother’s drapes and curtains by sewing them together (sorry mommy! lol) and making outfits that I would later model for my dolls and my family around the house. Read more>>

Jessica Zei and Jade Clavesilla

Jade and I met while working at a performing arts camp in the summer of 2012. I moved to California from Arizona to pursue a career on stage and in film. Jade was a public school teacher, a California native, who had participated in choirs and theatre all her life. Jade started a new job at a school in the Azusa area. She and I had enjoyed working together and asked me to come work with her as her choreographer/co-director. For the last eight years, Jade and I have collaborated on numerous concerts, show choir competitions, and theatrical productions. We found that working together was not work at all because our rehearsals were fun and productive. Read more>>

Yuka Oiwa

I originally didn’t plan on pursuing a career in illustration. While I practiced art on the side, I had my whole life planned out in business and management and had had no doubt that I was going to work an office job supporting my father’s business. It was a casual conversation with my father about how I was doing in my classes. Then when I least expected it, My father asked if I was going to feel fulfilled in my life in 10 years. He expressed that he appreciates my effort to support the family, but he would rather have me pursue my passions. This made me reconsider my life choices and what I wanted to achieve. Being forced to answer this question, I realized I didn’t just want to live my life; I wanted to live a life that can add to other’s lives. Read more>>

Des Enano

I grew up surrounded by art. I watched cartoons for hours on end and had plenty of crayons and paper to help pass the time. In elementary school I had a really fun art teacher named Mr. Masse and he really influenced the way I created and even saw art since he was always so encouraging and excited to teach us new techniques and art history. I distinctly remember learning about pointillism with a q-tip! It was really nice to bring home a piece of art regularly and to feel the support from my family from that young of an age. Even though I continued to make art regularly while attending an arts-focused middle school and high school, it was hard to see myself creating art as a career. Read more>>

Xiaoyao Shen (a.k.a Andy Shen)

I grew up in the central part of Beijing, China. It is the capital of China and top 10 of largest cities in the world. It is also the center of film industry in China. Beijing film studio and Beijing Film Academy are all located closely together a few blocks away. My childhood was in a house a block away from Beijing film studio and 10 min walk from Beijing Film Academy. I spent a lot of time there during my childhood after school. Also, I went to film theaters since I was a boy. The theater is 15 min walk from my home so it is really convenient for me to walk there and spend two hours to enjoy a show on weekend. My first film experience is Lion King (1994). Read more>>

Billy Dee

Born in the heart of Hollywood, raised in Covina, Rapper and R& B artist IamBillyDee has been an entertainer for from the very beginning. He started his career as a child actor, as a series regular on the ABC network sitcom “Homeroom” as well as appearances on “Hangtime” (NBC) and “True Colors” (FOX). Billy Dee has appeared on Shade 45’s morning show, “Sway in the Morning” hosted by Sway Calloway. He appeared as a new up and coming artist as part of Sway’s get in the game challenge as well as contributing an intro song for Sway to use on the show. Read more>>

Yuan Huang

Becoming an artist was not part of my life plan. I grew up in Taiwan, and like many Asian countries, the society doesn’t encourage individuals to discover their own interest but become a person who can secure a stable job and life. I studied very hard in high school, got into one of the best colleges, and started to work as a salesperson after I graduated. After working for five years, I got very frustrated and depressed about what I was doing in life. Through the recommendation of a friend, I participated in a class that helps people understand themselves and the true values they want to pursue. Read more>>

Marina Gantioque, Jamie Knoop and Camrie Lucey

A new mother of two children (I) Marina Gantioque walked away from my career in finance to spend time raising her family. I always knew that it was important for children to learn through quality play and I knew that I wanted my children to have the best experiences. I wanted to do my best to introduce them to fun new educational tools and innovations. It was important for my children and for my new role as a mom. I began to play around with the idea of providing that in our community that was close to home and that is where Circle Time began. It all began with a thought of providing independent smart play space and educational classes for young children and my own that were close to home. Read more>>

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