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Mid-Wilshire Inspiration

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 Mid-Wilshire’s (and K-Town, WeHo, Mid-City) 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 Mid-Wilshire’s rising stars below.

Kristi Neilson

I like taking pictures and always have. It didn’t really start from a creative place though. It came from a documentary standpoint. My dad had cancer for many years when I was a kid. He ended up passing away when I was 12 from it and during that time, my mom wouldn’t take pictures of him because he looked sick. She said she didn’t want us remembering him that way. While I understand what she was trying to do-it became one of my biggest regrets in life. Regret that I didn’t have a camera to take the pictures myself, that I didn’t force her to document us together in our final years with one another. There is now a large chunk in the short time I had with him that there or no photographs. It still breaks my heart. Read more>>

Sandra Mays

When I was about five years old, I remember seeing my older cousin Gabriel playing with paint, cutouts and glue. I asked him what he was doing and he told me he was doing his homework. I was stunned. Making art is your homework? He was pursuing his degree in graphic design and I wanted in! That is pretty much when I knew I wanted to be a designer. I had a passion for drawing when I was a child and I was interested in exploring color and combinations I hadn’t seen. We vacationed in Florida a couple of times and visited MGM studios in Orlando, (now called Disney’s Hollywood Studios), where they demonstrated how cartoons were made. It fascinated me. Back home, I spray painted my entire room with a beach-alien-snowboard inspired story (I still like aliens). At school, I was the one designing the sports team’s logos and my school books were always decked with doodles and colors. Read more>>

Ryan Hopkins

I was born and raised in St. Louis, and I come from a family of storytellers. To this day, I’m not sure if I’ve met someone who can tell a story better than my dad. Every lesson he’s taught me has been housed within a story. I credit most of the way I carry myself to these moments I spent listening to him. What I didn’t realize, though, was that I was also being taught how to tell an effective story. So while I didn’t really get into filmmaking until high school, I like to think I’ve worked my whole life sharpening the necessary skills to be effective at it. In high school, I took an improv class as one of my electives and was instantly hooked. That class really opened me up to begin finding my voice and being able to utilize it in an effective and humorous way. Read more>>

Reagan Frazier

Arts has always been a part of my life, beginning with music when I was only five years old. It was something that my parents required of my sister and I growing up. So at the time, it just felt like a rule but now that I’m older, I see it as my gateway into art-making. I ended up in an arts high school for music. There I became conscience of how much I liked being surrounded by artists. People who were passionate and showed me ways of thinking differently. I very much wasn’t sure of what my own passions were at the time, as at that time I realized I didn’t have the discipline or sensibilities to be a professional musician. I always had photoshoots with my sister and cousin during the summertime and used videos for artistic projects as it was more natural to me than drawing. Read more>>

Matt Jennings

I can’t say I was the class clown but I definitely spent a good chunk of time entertaining friends with a bad English accent when I was in elementary school which evolved into a descent Gandalf impersonation by the time I got to High school. In junior high, I was convinced that I was going to pursue a career in some kind of visual art whether it was graphic design or woodshop. However, one day a school friend of mine (that knew of my interest in performing arts) saw the lopsided woodcarving I made for my mom. He lovingly pulled me aside and said I should pursue a career in performing arts instead. When I got to High school, I auditioned for my first musical; “Bye Bye Birdie” and was cast as “ensemble” with five lines! Read more>>

Ryan Chua

I was working for four years at UCSF Medical Center in the pharmacy department when I realized how miserable I was living a life my parents wanted. This was the all too familiar struggle most kids have with their Asian parents – do we live the life they want for us to make them happy? Or do we live the life we want to make ourselves happy? I decided to choose the latter and embraced my creative side. I started doing photography part-time and working with other aspiring models, makeup artists, stylists, etc. in San Francisco. Then decided this photography hobby was indeed my passion and continued the journey, never looking back. Read more>>

Kandis Golden

In 2014, after film school, I stepped out on faith and decided to move to LA. I ended up getting a job within the first few days of arriving as a personal assistant to an independent director and acting coach. I worked there for about a year and learned a lot, but I wanted to get studio experience. I eventually landed as a production coordinator at DreamWorks Animation. It was like discovering a passion I didn’t know I had. I really love working in animation, and even though my personal work is live action, it has helped me develop my eye. I also still assist part-time at a small documentary company Night Fire Films. I’ve been there for about five years, it’s like working with family. Read more>>

Tanya Mikaela, Rebecca Marie and Anahid Boghosian

Tanya: The three of us met at Ten Women Gallery in Santa Monica where we’re all artists in residence. Ana: We all became part of Ten Women around the same time. Rebecca: After hosting several events together at the Gallery we realized that we have a great working relationship – we really like each other and enjoy collaborating so that makes it a lot of fun! Tanya: And what’s so great is that our creative styles all compliment each other beautifully! Ana: That’s true, we’re all mixed media artists, and we all enjoy working with paper and paint. Tanya: And a lot of our work is female-centered. Read more>>

Nicole Hanasab

I actually started my career in Marketing. I studied Marketing in university and graduate school, and worked at various agencies. And like many young adults, I found myself lost and unhappy in my career. I felt a deep sense of disconnect with my job and truly felt unfulfilled. I decided I had to do something about it. So instead of going on a regular job hunt, I started doing some personal growth. I took classes on spirituality, read amazing books, and took an empowerment course. During that same time, I had multiple people very close to me tell me I should become a Life Coach after helping them through some hardships. I had no idea what a life coach was! Read more>>

Amina Lei

As a 2nd generation Chinese American born and raised in the Bay Area, I am a product of community and cultural intersections. I picked up my her paintbrush at the age of three, guided by my first art teacher, my grandmother who once was a school teacher in China. My most favorite memory was my grandmother telling me stories as she drew them out. Watching stories come alive in front of me will serve as a strong foundation in my art career. My childhood represented the complexity and beauty of growing up in the diverse culture of the Bay Area. I was raised simultaneously in the crowded and historical streets of San Francisco’s Chinatown and the hardened neighborhoods of Richmond, CA. It was the revolutionary spirit of Oakland, Ca that shaped my social justice thinking and my passion for women empowerment. As a child, teenager and an adult this always fueled my revolution as a woman, the ability to tell a story. Read more>>

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