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The Valley’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 the Valley’s gems below.

Jennifer Febre

My new husband likes to say you can’t make an omelet without breaking an egg…that about sums it up. Although I had worked all through my youth into my 30’s, I was lucky enough to be able to stay home when babies came. When the marriage ended, however, I had to get a job of some kind. I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit, inherited from my father who owned a deli with a cult following in Pasadena in the 60’s. Read more>>

Aleksandra Jade

People often ask little kids, “What do you want to be when you grow up? Firefighter? Doctor? Astronaut?” Yet I feel like I have asked myself that question many times throughout my life. Even in the most difficult and confusing times, when it makes sense to pack up my bags and go back home to Chicago, I close my eyes and I always come back to acting. Read more>>

Yas Nomura

I was born and raised in Saitama, Japan. In 2007, I started playing guitar when I was 14. Next year in 2008, I entered a music high school in Tokyo and learned technique, ensemble and music theory. When I was about 17, I started considering about moving to LA to study music. In 2011, after graduating from high school, I worked for a year to save up. Then the next year in 2012 in the end of June, I moved to Long Beach. I was there for about three months to attend an English. Same year in October, I entered Musicians Institute Hollywood. Read more>>

Mitchell DeGuzman

I was a Theatre Major at LMU and was heavily involved in extra-curricular activities one being Special Games. I was the event coordinator and we were hitting a major anniversary milestone so I got a radio station to come out. They noticed my high energy on the microphone and said I should audition to be on the street team. I went on to work at two radio stations, Movin 93.9 and Power 106 for seven years doing production and on air work. Read more>>

Katonya Breaux

I started getting these little black moles on my face. Mind you, it was no surprise because all of the older women in my family have them. I was shocked when the dermatologist told me that the moles were not genetic, but the direct result of sun damage. Imagine my shock! I grew up believing that black people did not need sun protection. Like many in my community, I believed that my melanin would protect me. Read more>>

Luke Scorcio

When I was 12 years old living in Wisconsin, I wanted to be in a play. I was homeschooled and there wasn’t a lot of live performance in our usual curriculum. But my mom decided to make it happen anyway. She went along with my request, hired a director, and founded the Fond du Lac Area Homeschool Drama Troupe. I was cast as Willy Wonka and I got addicted. After a few more homeschool plays and some community theatre, I went to college. And I did some plays just for the hell of it. Read more>>

Kaila Ethridge

My story really started when I got a job in a dispensary working for young black entrepreneurs. It was very inspiring being with them everyday, I knew I wanted to be a boss but I didn’t know how to go about it or what to do, they helped me more than I even think they know. I spent the next year trying different things to see what was my niche. I worked with food, cannabis, clothes any and everything you could think of. Read more>>

Ben Nobile

Screenwriting is something I became interested in when I was a freshman in high school. At that time, I wasn’t in the best mental state, so when I’d come home I would watch Netflix and all these shows where I would connect with the characters. It became a type of therapy for me. I felt like I wasn’t alone in my own mind as much. Since then, I always wanted to create those same types of feelings for people. So I always had that idea in the back of my mind throughout school. Read more>>

Lenny Coote

I flirted with the idea of being a videographer for years before actually dedicating myself to the art. My first love was music production and if you asked that big headed 13 years old “where do you see yourself 15 years from now”, he would’ve responded “A couple Grammys, records with the hottest artist (50 cent, Kanye, Missy Elliot.. at the time), and a big house for my mom”; you know, regular stuff. But let’s fast forward five years later to where the birth of my passion for film started to develop. Read more>>

Dudley Alexander

I’ve been doing music since a very young age. My uncle was a well-known artist my homeland Haiti where he formed a band called “Helping Hands” with Wyclef Jean, my aunts, and father. This played such a huge role in my musical journey growing up. It wasn’t till I was 11 or 12. I realized I was gifted with the talent to write music as well. I started with poetry and gradually made my way to songwriting. Read more>>

Mikaela Moody

In 2014, I graduated from a small town high school in the middle of a field about 25 minutes east of Colorado Springs, Colorado. I left home a few months later for LA to train to be a professional actress. Then, for two years I did so at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts where I met Dorothy Mannine who years later connected me with up and coming pop star. Read more>>

Maja Keres

I’m originally from Rijeka, Croatia, a small country in Europe. I started dancing at the age of five, taking some ballet classes at first, and then jazz dance. Later on, after a break I took from dancing, I came back to it and continued my training in contemporary, and throughout the years I got introduced to hip hop, popping and locking. The dance education in Croatia is very different than in the States, especially back then when I was starting. Read more>>

Nelson Recinos

I came to the USA when I was 18 years old. It was very difficult at first because I had left friends and other family members in my country, and I could not speak English well. As a kid, I used to watch cartoons such as Warner Brothers’ Looney Tunes and the Disney classic films. I used to draw these characters all the time. I think I was five years old as far as I can remember when I started drawing. In my wild dreams, I would ever thought I would end up working on the Classic Warner characters. Read more>>

Manny Maldonado

I’ve been a professional stand up comic for over 20 years. I have been blessed to do what I do for a living. I’m originally from Modesto CA and this October will Mark ten years I’ve been living here in Los Angeles. This past December, I performed overseas in Alaska, Guam, and Korea for our Military. I haven’t performed onstage since March 13 due to the COVID19 Pandemic. Like many other entertainers, I’m doing my best to adjust. Read more>>

Quentan McGuire

I’m a young African American man from Houston TX. After graduating high school in 2011, I moved to Hollywood, CA to study acting at the American Musical Dramatic Academy. I didn’t complete the program; however that opened the door for me to step into entertainment. As I went on to continue studying acting under the casting director Matthew Barry from films such as the NoteBook. Read more>>

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