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Life & Work with Christina Best

Today we’d like to introduce you to Christina Best.

Hi Christina, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
Originally from rural Eastern North Carolina, I never thought I would live on the West Coast, let alone Los Angeles. I especially did not think I’d explore the arts in any capacity beyond sharing it with friends and my immediate community. I’ve always loved creative outlets; while my hometown didn’t have many resources to teach me directly, I made up for it by learning through observation of my favorite artists and their chosen creative expressions. But like so many other folks, I did not immediately think to pursue those talents seriously after high school or college due to my upbringing, understanding of the world, and what I thought would help me make sustainable money. My photography, my singing, my dancing were just fun things to do occasionally. Instead of pursuing my creative talents, I took the route of education and became a teacher.

As a teacher in the same high school I attended and graduated from, one without extensive arts education (think foundational art and marching band only), I wanted to do as much as possible to feed my students’ creative talents. I was able to do many fun projects with my students, but my path was severely disrupted when I was diagnosed with breast cancer in my second year of teaching. I was only 24 years old at the time. My diagnosis made me sit still; I took off work for much-needed rest and treatment. During that time, I realized I needed to pursue the goals I left behind well before starting my education career. I returned to the classroom post-treatment, taught a final spring semester, and stepped out on faith to attend graduate school in New York City. In NYC, I found my love for photography and dance again as I took classes and work on various creative projects. A brief Spring break trip to Los Angeles gave me enough time to fall in love with the city. After graduating, I moved to Los Angeles to join the corporate side of education, explore my creative talents, and continue to grow my small photography business. Being surrounded by so many creative spirits has been amazing, and I’ve had a great deal of opportunity to create.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
My journey hasn’t been smooth, but it hasn’t been terrible either. I’ve learned to take a lot more risks that have shortchanged me in some ways but benefited me much more in others. Building clientele and communities in new cities have been reflections of this. I was just starting to build my clientele in NYC when I decided to move to LA. I had a strong community from my time in grad school, and business was more quickly increasing when I left. The good thing is that I love meeting new people and especially love all the creative buzz in LA. The pandemic makes it a bit harder to meet folks and maintain interactions, but social media has helped. The other struggle along the way was mainly internal and involved me unlearning all that I’ve ever known about making money and sharing my talents. As an educator, I had to reconcile my beliefs on encouraging my students to follow their dreams while denying my own. I had to recognize that maybe I wouldn’t be fulfilled in my corporate 9-5, but I could use it as a foundation to pursue my creative interests. It’s the struggle of permitting myself to do something different than how I was taught. It’s a beautiful struggle that I am gaining speed on.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
Overall, I am an artist, a creative. Specifically, I’m a photographer, singer, songwriter, and actor. My photography specialty lies in portraits and events. My singing is based in R&B and neo-soul. When I’m not working with those talents, I have speaking engagements focused on my cancer experience and young adult cancer advocacy, or I’m working in education technology to help universities put their degree programs online. Considering all the things I have going on, I’m proud of the balance I’m able to commit to and practice daily, especially during the pandemic. I’m most proud of choosing to honor my talents and share them more openly, and the response I’m receiving because of it. I know what it means to not put myself out there while encouraging others to do so, so it feels even better to further step into my purpose.

So maybe we end on discussing what matters most to you and why?
Perspective. I love being able to see and experience people and capture them across creative outlets. Being able to experience others, to experience life, and to reflect it back through art has been such a blessing. It is perspective that allows me to continue growing and acknowledging who I am, who I was, and who I can be. I’m truly thankful for its place in my journey to be authentically me.

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Christina Best

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