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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.

Gabriela Revilla Lugo

I came to the country undocumented with my mother. We lived in Texas for several years while she tried to be a student and work multiple jobs including one at the 7-11, which I thought was cool until she wouldn’t give me free slurpees. We lived with my grandparents and my uncle in a small house and life was pretty quiet and simple. Eventually, it became safer to go back home to Nicaragua and at this point nearly a teenager, I had become so much more Americanized and had a hard time adapting. I had even forgotten a lot of my Spanish and had to re-learn the language and general societal norms. I didn’t grow up with a father until my mom met my dad who adopted me when I was fifteen, so I had a difficult time making sense of family. That exploration of the concept led me to write from a very young age, but I had no idea that was a job you got paid for. When my mom married my dad and they moved us back to the states in Virginia, I felt pressure to get a good immigrant job and make them proud, so I decided I would study to become a lawyer. Read more>>

Renato Sebastiani

I moved to LA from Italy to pursue a songwriting career and along the way, I learned to produce as well. What I achieved I did simply by determination and insistence. Read more>>

Marlow Everly

I have always loved creating things; from a life-sized “rubber ducky” paddlewheel boat made almost entirely from cardboard that could actually transport two humans across a swimming pool to 18th century historically accurate corsetry to a fully pandemic-produced cosplay music video. There is just something in my DNA that not only enjoys creating but thrives when a new idea pops into my brain. Read more>>

Anthony Bailey

In 2017, at the age of 40. I ran 26.2 miles and crossed the finish line of the Los Angeles Marathon. Up to that point was the biggest physical achievement I not only strived for but completed. Crossing that finish line meant so much more to me than just a physical achievement. It was a symbol of something much, much more: Shedding of the skin of the person I used to be. My childhood was a far cry from ideal. Due to the drug and alcohol addictions of my parents, life in my home growing up was extremely chaotic. Many of my memories within that home included extreme neglect, physical and mental abuse and numerous episodes of violence. Those years of trauma left many emotional scars that followed me into adulthood. Seeing firsthand the effects of substance abuse, I swore to myself that I would never drink alcohol or do drugs. Unfortunately, at 21 I discovered that alcohol actually helped me get out of my anxiety-riddled shell I was in. At first, it was a fun thing that I would do with friends on the weekends. But over time, it slowly morphed into less of a social activity and something I would do alone numerous times a week. Read more>>

Evan Zissimopulos

I started making what I would call “films” when I was 14 years old while trying to gain sponsorship for skateboarding. A family friend who was a teacher of mine mentioned that I should compile skate videos of myself and my friends into a longer-form piece as a project for school. CKY and Jackass were big at the time, so we found ourselves emulating the skits, stunts, and stupidity of those shows with some skateboarding peppered in between. This caused us to end up creating four feature-length skateboard movies over the course of several years, through which I found that we were having more fun just being together and going crazy over actually practicing our sport. Shortly after the 4th skateboard “movie”, my high school TV Production teacher nudged me to create a narrative project for a county-wide school video competition. Because Star Wars had such a big impact on me as a child from playing with action figures and telling my own stories around them to filming stop motion videos with the figures, I decided to create a “Sci-Fi” film based around a real story of an alien abduction case in Tarpon Springs, where I was from.  Read more>>

Bryan Brodsky

My father moved from LA to Palm Springs in the late 70’s to open the Coachella Valley’s first bagel store. It started in a little shop in Palm Springs called The Royal Bagel. Eventually, the store grew into a Coachella Valley wide business with multiple locations. Growing up, I would run the cash register at the family business which eventually rebranded as Brodsky’s Bagels. In the beginning of 2020, my wife Yesenia and I decided to start a cookie company. For the prior few months, I had been baking cookies for our friends, family, and coworkers. They loved them. As the holiday baking was winding down, our doggy Paola developed some health issues. The vet bills were an unplanned expense, and we started considering ways to generate a little extra income. At that time, it seemed obvious that our business should be the cookies. People kept saying that my cookies were the best, so we named our company THE BEST COOKIE PS. Read more>>

Elsa Lopez

For years I wanted to start my own makeup company. I fell in love with the beauty industry when I was in high school. I used makeup and hair to express myself, I used it as an outlet. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always had really bad anxiety when I was a kid. With that being said, whenever I would feel either depressed or anxious I’ll just start doing my hair or play around with makeup. I would zone into what I was doing to get my mind off of things. I would play some of my favorite bands (Paramore, Pierce the Veil, The Strokes, etc.) and get creative. Growing up, I was never 100% happy with the makeup options that were out there. Either they didn’t provide the dark aesthetic I was looking for, some companies STILL test on animals, or the CEO’s/owners of the companies were involved in controversy. In the alternative world, it’s hard to find a makeup company that you can really stand by. So, I took matters into my own hands. Read more>>


I’m mostly known for my work as a guitarist but I also do extreme metal vocals and play bass. My focus at the beginning of my creative journey was making Youtube videos and paying tribute to the bands that I found cathartic. My focus has since shifted my own original music in my band’s Kryptkeeper and Poontickler, as well as session work and live performances. Read more>>

Piper Reese

I always loved to talk wayyy too much and I needed an outlet. We realized quickly that I needed to be performing for a lot of reasons. I really love making people smile, laugh, and really love helping society think about something important, like bullying and self-expression… if you were to ask my parents, they’d say I always feel like I need to be a part of the conversation, which is something that continued into my career :-D. Read more>>

Katina Fields

My career started in Florence, SC as an Intern at WPDE NewsChannel 15. After a few months of interning, I was offered the opportunity to produce the weekend news on a Part-Time basis. Within a few months, I was promoted to the 10PM News Producer and was assigned my first special reporting assignment. After three years there, I moved to other News Stations in the Carolinas as a News Producer and Special Assignment Reporter. My 7-year career in the news industry provided me opportunities to network and meet many others in my profession. It also allowed me to transition smoothly into Executive Management positions in the Public Relations sector. This career move inspired me to open my own public relations business now known as KFields PR Agency. Over the years, my educational achievements and professional advancements allowed me to secure several jobs which granted me access to work alongside many actors, music artists and other types of entertainers. This motivated me to open a Music Consulting Agency known as UTOPATT Consulting Agency. Read more>>

Sherwin Loyal

The best way to introduce myself is a dedicated father, serial entrepreneur, life-long resident of the San Fernando Valley, and the founder of Lucci’s Childrens Grooming Supply. Like most business ventures, the idea of Lucci’s Children’s Grooming Supply was created by coincidence and parental instinct. One day, I was sitting in the barbershop with my four year old son waiting for a haircut and noticed that every single barber was utilizing the same chemical-based, dye-colored, heavy scented hair product on the delicate hair of young children–the same products that they were using on their adult clientele. From a father’s perspective, I then realized that parents should have a clean, safe, and environmentally friendly alternative option to style their children’s hair, made especially for them. Right then and there, the idea of Lucci’s Pomade was born. A plant-based, vegan, and cruelty-free kids hair product, with harsh chemicals or dyes, EVER!. Read more>>

Justyn Eddins

I’ve always been a bit of an outsider. I believe people always looked at me and assumed “athlete” or “entertainer”, no one really knew my passion was tech and entrepreneurship. I grew up in the San Fernando valley. Shout out to the 818 zip code. As a boy I was fascinated with video games and learning about how things were built technically. I found gaming to be a way to see new worlds and experience things I would never experience in my reality. I wanted to pursue a path in gaming or tech but all my friends and family members were either athletes, law enforcement or in the entertainment business. I closeted my passion for games and tech and focused my efforts on playing in the NFL. I got a full-ride Division 1 scholarship to play at the University of Texas at San Antonio. After college, I struggled deeply with an identity crisis, I had no clue which path I was supposed to take. It was either follow in my father’s footsteps in law enforcement, work at Enterprise or get a typical 9-5. Read more>>

Michael Vaughn Hernandez

I was first introduced to film through my high school as an alternate end of term art elective, and as the final we had to make a film. Though I immensely enjoyed the experience, I initially opted for a traditional career path and went on to college for medicine. After graduation, recurring opportunities to film led me to making the decision to take it seriously by shooting any projects I could find or create. From that point, I kept shooting in Miami until finally moving over to Los Angeles, and have been working in film since. Read more>>

David Martinez

I started studying music when I was ten. My dad decided it was a good idea for me to spend my precious Saturday morning learning guitar, so I started what it was a three years journey. After one year I was so ready!!!…to quit the lessons, and then my father told me something that I will always remember: “You always have to finish what you start”, and I told him that the only reason that I started it was because he enrolled me on the program, and he said “Well…either way you have to finish”, so I took that only option he gave me, and I finished. After that, I never put my guitar away. What started as a hobby, it later became my career. Few years later, I got a scholarship to go to Berklee College of Music, and after I graduated, I decided to move to Los Angeles, where I got my Master in Music, and I had the opportunity to meet, play, and work with great musicians and now good friends. It has been around 15 years since I moved to L.A., and I definitely call it my home. I love the weather, the different great places to visit and relax, and the opportunity to meet people from all around the world, the opportunity to learn from different cultures, and specially to learn about different music styles and influences that I can incorporate on my music. Read more>>

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