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Inspiring Stories from The Valley

The heart of our mission at VoyageLA is to find the amazing souls that breathe life into our city. In recent weeks we’ve had the privilege to connect with some of West LA’s 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 The Valley’s rising stars below.

Chris Meugniot

I first started taking photos my senior year of high school. I remember I saw this image of Half Dome in Yosemite and was blown away by the clarity and colors of the image. I ended up going there over our fall break with my family and figured I would take some pictures to see if I could recreate the image I saw. At the time, all I had was my iPhone 4 so the pictures I got were not ideal. I remember being really frustrated that my pictures didn’t look the same as the one I saw online, so I started studying photography and eventually got my first camera. After making thousands of mistakes and learning from them, I’m at where I am today. Read more>>

Stanley Swindling

I kickstarted my career as a filmmaker at the top of 2016 in Orlando, Florida. Like so many, I began by writing, directing, and starring in short films shot on my phone, with the aid of a few friends who I paid in pizza. It wasn’t long before I graduated to more professional equipment, with crews of dozens. For as cathartic as the writing process can be, it’s no match for the electric energy on sets. To see an image or an idea that’s lived in your head brought to life by a team of brilliant craftspeople is a high like no other. Since high school, I’d dreamed of moving to Los Angeles, for its boundless opportunities and for the culture and camaraderie that can be found in every pocket of the city. I finally made the journey in the late summer of 2018 and committed more intensely to improving my craft.  Read more>>

Suzy Gruzen

I was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. My grandparents immigrated from Odessa, Russia in the 1920’s and were Orthodox Jews. When I was young, I spent most of my weekends with them. During that time I witnessed them praying two times a day during the Sabbath. When I was with them, most of the time I could feel this presence, a very loving energy and bright light in the household. Of course, being so young I couldn’t explain this feeling, but I knew it was very loving and powerful. I didn’t ask anyone about this, not my parents or grandparents, but I keep asking myself, “What IS that?” When I became a teenager, one of my mom’s best friends was studying astrology. Read more>>

Deanna Gandy

I know it’s what everyone says, but I have always wanted to be a performer. My whole life. I wasn’t sure if it was going to be more of a hobby or a profession but I knew that performing was in my future. I was in choir in church, which leads to plays at church, and then I joined the drama club in middle school. But it wasn’t until high school that it really hit me. I went to Harrison Performing Arts Center, a performing arts high school in Lakeland, FL. I majored in theatre. I remember the day that I knew acting was my calling. I was rehearsing for a Thespian competition and I was standing on the stage looking around at my scene partners and my teachers and I felt more alive than ever. Read more>>

Christal Endler

The story of my journey to becoming Executive Director of one of the largest non-profit camps for children with heart disease in the world starts with my mother, Lisa Knight. She was an electrophysiology nurse at UCLA. She assisted the teams that diagnosed and treated cardiac rhythm conditions in children. Lisa helped perform the procedures and pacemaker implants that would change these children’s lives, alleviating them from the physical limitations of their heart condition. My mother was surprised to discover however, that even after successful surgeries her patients continued to suffer from the emotional scars left by chronic illness. Read more>>

Conor Biddle

My story is a winding one with many different interests that led me to where I am today. I’ve always been someone who loves to do a lot at once. Rather than honing in on one specific goal, I try to work on several big ideas at the same time; I am most at peace when I have too many exciting things on my plate. I grew up in a loving family with two older brothers who I still look up to (literally). Both of my brothers are over 6’3″. One of them works at Amazon and has his personal training certification and the other is a left-handed pitcher in the MLB. Guess how tall I am… 5’8″ (on a good day). This height disparity at one point caused me great insecurity, but now I believe that my height is part of what got me into all of my creative endeavors. Read more>>

Ericka Guitron

I discovered singing when I was eight years old. Due to stage fright and severe timidity, I hid my singing from everyone including my parents until I was about 17. After high school, I joined some music performance classes, determined to overcome my stage fright, and started to make YouTube videos. Those classes eventually helped me to overcome it, and one of the YouTube videos I had posted caused me to get signed to Grammy Award-winning music producer RedOne. I thought that was my big break but little did I know I would be shelved for five years. After leaving that contract, I’ve been an independent artist, pushing my own music out of pocket. Read more>>

Brianna Parks

I was always interested in photography when I was in high school, but when I went off to college, I didn’t really think twice about it. It wasn’t until I got to college when I basically had an identity crisis. I was freaked out at the idea of having a 9-5 job for the rest of my life, but I didn’t know what else I could do. I met my husband the day I was dropped off for college. We ended up getting married about a year later, and during this time, we were broke. I was 19, and my husband was 20. For our wedding, we got a ton of Target gift cards. We had around $500-$600 in Target gift cards and about $700 in the bank. I still had no idea what I was doing or what I wanted to major in. All I knew is that I didn’t want to have a “traditional” career. Read more>>

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