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Mid Wilshire’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 Mid Wilshire’s gems below.

Rose Mina

I am a writer, actress and activist. The book I have written – What Else Could Be True. I’ll say it simply: I do not have a vagina, cervix, uterus and fallopian tubes. I’ve had a heart attack from severe anorexia and spent my life in and out of hospitalization because of my shame over my body. My journey has taught me that our societal definition of womanhood and beauty is not only rooted in white supremacy and patriarchy, but it’s harmful, not inclusive and scientifically untrue. Read more>>

Ava Milva

I come from a lineage of healers (originally from Bulgaria) and have always been drawn to music and art. I have a BA from Eckerd College in FL but upon graduation, I quickly realized my heart was urging me to move to LA to pursue creative projects. I was originally working as a model and actress but then I discovered my spiritual gifts as I felt called to embark on a personal growth and development journey. I started practicing Kundalini yoga and almost immediately started the teacher training program and became a certified teacher. In the process, I fell in love with the high vibrational sound current of mantra music and healing instruments such as gongs and crystal bowls. Read more>>

Mercedes Akinsanya

I decided to attend Iowa State University, where I earned my bachelor’s degree in Marketing. I’ve always wanted to live in California, so after graduation I packed up my 2002 Honda Accord with EVERYTHING I owned and started the journey to LA. Once here, I started my career in fashion, getting unpaid internships at For Love and Lemons and with a known LA stylist. I worked for free during the day, nannied for a Beverly Hills family every evening and then finished out the day at my night job at an eating disorder clinic, working overnight four times a week. I juggled those four jobs for about nine months until I decided to pursue paid styling gigs. I was freelancing for top LA and NY wardrobe stylists all over the city, dressing celebrities, working long hours on commercial shoots and runway shows. Read more>>

Lara Panah-Izadi

I got into directing in College. My friend Beau Gabriel was conducting an opera. He knew I loved acting and opera and asked if I’d be interested in stage directing. I accepted and it felt like jumping off a cliff because I had never directed anything before. The process turned out to be very seamless: I could listen to the music and imagine everything happening on stage, the emotions, the beats, the movements. I was 19 and that experience changed my life. I loved that involved a huge team, music, acting, design, movement, dance. It was a total work of art. Read more>>

Dr. Nicolas Ravon

From an early age, I knew that dentistry was my calling. My father was a prominent dentist in Nice, France who was both NYU and USC trained. In a way, I did follow in his footsteps because he was a major influence on my decision to come to the United States and obtain the same type of specialized training he received. After finishing dental school in Brussels, Belgium in 1995, I moved to Los Angeles and completed the Advanced Standing Program for International Dentists at USC. Because at the time, my ambition was to take over my father’s practice in Nice, I knew that I would need substantially more refined surgical skills to respond to the needs and the demands of his clientele. Read more>>

David Salsa

I’ve been acting since high school in Oregon. I became passionate about it because of an English teacher and a drama teacher gave me opportunity to discover art and language. It opened my eyes to storytelling and uplifting people through the emotional journey of a character going through something. It was so fulfilling. Before that, I was a class clown and a mediocre HS athlete. I felt like I found something that was challenging and good at. Read more>>

Madeline Stephenson

Film came to me in the same way it does for many of us who catch the bug young: through the work of Steven Spielberg. The thread of my interest in filmmaking can be traced back to a fateful viewing of Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark with my Dad. I was nine. Indy was clinging to the underside of a moving truck to escape the Nazis who were at the wheel. The music was swelling and I was on the edge of my seat. Read more>>

Maria Vertiz

Maria is a composer, producer, and songwriter originally from Mexico City and based in LA. She grew up in Mexico and started working on music from a very young age. At two years old, she sang her first commercial, at six years old, wrote her first song, and at barely 11 placed a song for the first time in a movie composed by Mark Mckenzie. Throughout her youth, she studied with renowned composers and teachers such as Tomas Barreiro and Maria Antonietta Lozano. Read more>>

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