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Meet Ixchel Valiente

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ixchel Valiente.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Ixchel. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I was born in Guatemala and grew up in a family full of artists. My mom and grandma were both ballerinas, my uncle played the drums in a band, most people in my family play some instrument or another. My dad loved music and movies. He had this insane CD collection, I always tried counting them when I was little and got lost after 300 or something. There was always music playing at my house and we’d go to the movies all the time.

Dancing is what got me started. My mom put me in ballet classes when I was two, so pretty much before I could speak in complete sentences. I think I was always heading towards theatre though. My favorite part of being in ballet was performing, especially when it was something that had a little more acting in it. My mom is obsessed with musicals and consequently, so am I. My cousins would beg me to please stop singing Annie all the time. So eventually that led to singing classes, and then that led to the theatre when I was around fifteen. From then on, I got involved in anything artistic I could get my hands on.

I collaborated with different dance companies, did musicals, including Annie (!!), did a short film, worked with an Opera company. Anything artistic, I wanted in. I should mention too that all of that was possible because of my mom. She took me to every rehearsal, every shoot, every audition, every show, every day. It’s crazy. She should get some kind of award or a lifetime supply of good books. Anyway, by the time I graduated high school I knew that nothing made me happier than performing. Being aware of that became the driving force behind everything, the move to LA and every decision I’ve made since.

Has it been a smooth road?
There is no such thing as a smooth road to anything, I think. Even if at first something you really want comes easy to you, that will have challenges of its own. I get suspicious when things start getting too easy. I’m very lucky in the sense that my family has always supported me, many times blindly.

This industry has a way of getting into your head and you’ll find yourself overthinking everything you do or dissecting every move you make to try and figure out if it was absolutely right or wrong. You kind of have to let go of all that and learn to just trust your instincts. Uncertainty is a big one too, an inevitable part of any artist’s life. It helps a lot when you start learning how to deal with it in a healthy way.

I always struggle with how at times it can all get too superficial or systematic, to the point where it starts feeling very shallow. Sometimes you run the risk of getting sucked into the whole industry side of the industry if that makes any sense at all, and views and likes and suddenly you realize you’re barely doing anything purely creative anymore. It’s good to make art just to make it, and because it’s what you love to do. That’s crucial to me, otherwise, I start getting jaded.

Please tell us more about your work, what you are currently focused on and most proud of.
I like creating things. Whether I’m creating something out of my own mind or being a part of someone else’s story or vision that they’re trying to put out there, that’s always the end result. I act, I paint, I dance, I write. Right now I’m having a go at producing my own stuff for the first time, which is interesting and fun and pretty bizarre.

I’m proud of all the projects I’ve been a part of. I’ve worked with some amazing people both in LA and in Guatemala. It’s crazy how every project is so different from another, and the group of people you share each experience with is completely different from the one before. The place where you’re working is different, the story is different. I love it. It’s like you live a full life in the span of a couple of weeks or months, sometimes days.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
I think the industry is as unpredictable as anything else. Technology will play a part in how it evolves, for better or worse. I came to LA four years ago and in that short amount of time, the industry has undergone huge changes that no one could’ve predicted. Most have been for the better. It was incredibly interesting to start working professionally in an industry that was in the midst of such a big transformation. We’re moving towards inclusivity in all aspects. We’re creating workspaces that won’t stand for harassment or discrimination anymore. That’s massive. As an artist, it makes you determined to help in any way you can so that we can keep going this way and level out the Plainfield, make it equal for everyone.

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Image Credit:
Katherine Barcsay, Christopher Oh, Jeff Ellingson.

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