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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.

Dushaun Thompson

Clifton Dushaun Thompson known professionally as Dushaun Thompson, is an American actor, songwriter and pro-dancer from Richmond, Virginia. In 2017, he graduated from Norfolk State University with a bachelor’s in mass communication and moved to Los Angeles to take his career to the next level. Dushaun was also a finalist in the AAU national ESPN Olympics becoming first in the nation in the discus in track and field breaking multiple records. Soon after doing track and field, he went to West Virginia Weslyan college to play football. Gaining so much discipline in sports Dushaun soon gained interest for entertainment and took the big move to Los Angeles, California. Now Dushaun is using his gifts to motivate, encourage and be a positive impact in the industry. Read more>>

Wontel Washington

I was born and spent most of my early years in West Covina, CA. I moved around in my preteens and ended up in Boise, Idaho. Going from such cultured communities to a place with scarce diversity was an absolute culture shock, which caused me to stay to myself and keep a small circle. Reservations aside, I always knew I was destined for a life in music. My peers saw it too, voting me ‘Most Likely to be Famous’ in junior high. I started making music when I was 12. In 7th grade, I saw Lil Jon’s “Snap yo Fingers” music video and it clicked, I wanted to make beats. After seeing him play the melody on a keyboard, I asked my mom to get me one. I promised her I would teach myself and I haven’t looked back since. My father always had sound systems in his car, inspiring me to fall in love with heavy drums and bass. He and my mother exposed me to Rap, R&B, Motown, 80s Freestyle, and Funk, some major influences on my sound/style. Read more>>

Shana Robinson

I started my first business in 2014 as a life coach. I was taught the skill of coaching, but not the business. I loved being a life coach but knew I wanted more. Once I built a successful coaching business, I went on to teach other coaches how to do the same. I repurposed Rebrand You (my coaching business) to focus on branding and The Branding Boutique was birthed! During this transition, I decided to refine my speaking skills and that is where I met my mentor Chris. One day Chris asked me to style him as he was turning 40 and wanted to redefine his look. The rebrand was a success so I tapped into my retail background, learned more about the art of styling and that is when I found Image Consulting. It allowed me to do all of the things I loved under one umbrella. I stepped more and more into my craft and absolutely fell in love with the work. Read more>>

Sun-Mo Koo

I have always had a hand in the arts and I also knew from a young age that I would pursue art as a career. I remember when I made my first clay creation, it was a sun glazed with a bunch of colors. When I got the piece back from the kiln, I was just captivated with the process that led me to the final piece. That was the beginning of my fascination and love for clay. Before transferring to art school, I did three years at a small liberal arts college in Pennsylvania. At that time, I was also an art major with a focus on ceramics and printmaking. Although I went to college as an art major, I felt that the arts at this institution was very limited; therefore, I made the ultimate decision to transfer. I transferred to ArtCenter College of Design and went in as an Illustration major. I took a variety of classes but surprisingly did not take that many printmaking or ceramic classes. It wasn’t until my last two terms at ArtCenter that I finally took a ceramics class. And when I took the class, it felt like I made a full circle back to the medium I loved working with. Read more>>

Paul Preston

Early on in my twenty-plus years of living in L.A., I got the idea that this city is one big movie set. Everywhere I looked reminded me of a scene from a movie I saw. It got to where directions started being given in movie sets. “You wanna get to the mall? Sure, you go down Santa Monica Blvd. ’til you get to that building Riggs jumped off in Lethal Weapon, then turn left just past the burger joint from Real Genius. Go all the way down to Nakatomi Plaza and the mall’s just past that.”. For a friend’s birthday, I put together a list of our most sought-after locations we wanted to check out – the Poltergeist house, the Pulp Fiction pawn shop, a bar from Memento and more. After that adventure, I wanted more, so I started scouring the city. I run a website (TheMovieGuys.net) all about movies. Films have been a LIFETIME passion of mine so exploring and devouring movie history in the city where it all started (and continues) didn’t require a nudge. Much like I was urged by friends to start the website, after numerous runs around the city to show people famous movie locations, I was encouraged to fire up a business. Read more>>

Angie & Gino Schenone

I started making homemade alfajores at home many years ago. I was determined to make the traditional alfajor that melts in your mouth…I started sharing it with family and friends and was surprisingly please with the wonderful comments each person had. I offered them in a fundraiser and from that day, we started selling them due to the high demand they had become. Then it hit us, why don’t we start an alfajor business? We knew In order to take them to the next level we had to be in a Farmers Market. After that our business has not stop growing. Read more>>

Eva Mouradian

House of Colors was born after my mom and I (Eva) realized there were no art studios in the surrounding area where locals could spend time together creating art (for an affordable price)! We opened a paint-your-own ceramic studio in March 2015, where friends and family could come in and spend quality time together painting ceramics! It was family-run and located on Glenoaks Blvd in Burbank! We had many private events and birthday parties, which quickly became very popular. After six months of opening, we decided to close the studio and focus on servicing private events and expanding our art activities. We now offer four art activities: ceramics, canvas, slime & tie-dye! Read more>>

Dan Durant

My father was a musician, a drummer; and my mother is an avid music lover. They divorced when I was young, but both instilled in me a deep appreciation for music of all kinds. My dad was a rocker guy – long hair, tattoos, the whole thing. He introduced me to bands like Linkin Park, Metallica, Incubus, and Pink Floyd. Meanwhile my mom, being a brought up in a house of soul music, RnB, and Spanish bops, introduced me to artists such as Stevie Wonder, Donny Hathaway, the Delfonics, and countless others. So that was the foundation of my musical development. As soon as I expressed any sort of interest in music, my parents were on it right away. They had gotten me little toy keyboards, toy guitars, a little, tiny drumset. These would eventually all be upgraded to real instruments at some point in my life; but it goes to show how early this fascination of mine took hold of me. Read more>>

Denise Butler

My real estate photography journey began in 2007 shooting the listing for my own house after a failed attempt by another photography service. Having done photography as a hobby for many years, I knew I could do better. From then on, I was the go-to photographer for that agent. Over the course of the next several years, I built up enough clients to force me to make real estate photography my full-time focus. Read more>>

Malcolm Roberson

I started off in the business at a very young age. I was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan where I spent my adolescence and teenage years. I started off as an actor, booking my first “real” job on a PBS Kids show called “Think Squad;” I was the understudy to a character named “Lab Rat.” I filmed ONE episode but had to be on set everyday. Being on set exposed me to the behind the scenes. I was always asking questions to the Director, Producer, and Writers, trying to learn the inner-workings of the business. This really pushed my curiosity, so I took it upon myself to try independently producing my own content, mind you I was in 7th/8th grade. Like most, my work started off very sh*tty, haha. So upon entering high school, freshman year; my parents wanted to send me to the most elite school in Detroit at the time, which was Cass Tech, it was fancy (not really), you even had to test to get in. But no, it was honestly one of the best high schools for education purposes; I was an artist. Read more>>

Benjamin Williams

I started my career as a dancer in South Africa. I competed in international competitions for years, and by the time I graduated high school, I had a lot of performance experience under my belt. I wanted to go to college and get a degree. I had to choose between going into something like engineering or acting. Thankfully my parents supported either choice, and I chose what makes me happier. Cut to three years later and I’ve graduated from the New York Film Academy LA with my BFA in Acting for Film. I acted in at least 36 short films during my studies. Now that I’ve graduated, I’m working towards my O1 visa. Read more>>

 

Cyler James

I am a 4th generation musician in my family. I moved from Idaho to LA when I was 19 with a bag of clothes and attended Audio Engineering school. I have been in LA for 11 years now. My journey has been anything but ordinary. My first roommate I was given in school ended up being a heroine addict and I had to live with that situation for over a year before we could get him help. Shortly after that, we had an incident where a neighbor from upstairs knocked on my door bleeding and had been stabbed by his roommate. I decided it was a good time to start looking into other living situations at that point. From there, I hopped around moving a lot in a few years to stay here and keep pursuing music. I have performed all over LA in some legendary venues as well as hole in the wall locations. After moving all over LA, I finally settled back down in Burbank where I originally loved living. The house I was in was very toxic and the homeowner was abusive to the tenants but we put up with it to have a nice place to stay. Read more>>

Bernadette Tibazi

I am a fine artist, I have been painting for more than 40 years. I came to LA in 1990 from Liverpool, England. I didn’t really have intentions to stay in Los Angeles but the way things worked out, I have been here since then. Raising my two boys on my own, I worked as a special education teacher for LAUSD for the past twenty-two years and continued to paint. I love the light here. It’s really special. I’m always enthralled at the way it bounces off everything and the shadows cast are stark. For the past five or six years, I have been working exclusively in watercolor, although I’m comfortable with any painting medium. I work from the figure and have drawn at lots of different studios all over the city over the past thirty years. The animation and movie industries have some influence on artists in this city and their approach to drawing from the figure. Which is very different from my approach. I also work outside. For several years now, I have been chronicling the subtle changes in the seasons in Los Angeles by painting urban trees in bloom.  Read more>>

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