Connect with us


Portraits of the Valley

It’s more important to understand someone than to judge them. We think the first step to understanding someone is asking them the fundamental questions about who they are and how they became the person they are today. Understanding and empathy are essential building blocks for a better, more compassionate world. We’re incredibly fortunate to be able to ask these questions each week through our interview series. Below you’ll find inspiring interviews from in and around the Valley.

Zeynep “Z” Tozum

I was born and raised in Istanbul Turkey, with a rich genealogy/ancestor going back to Kaufkas district of Russia, Albania, Greece, Central Asia and Anatolia… I certainly got their “nomadic genes”! From 2000 onwards, I worked and lived on all continents except for the Poles and Australia. I grew up as a hyperactive kid, interested in asking questions, sports, reading, conversing with people of all, listening to radio plays and watching movies. Read more>>

Nicole Timms

I was first brought by the stalk to my parents in Johannesburg, South Africa. I was pretty obsessed with music, entertainment and performance from the get go – probably because I have always been very bad at Math. I started playing the piano first, and was later given a flute after asking my parents to buy me a violin. I am very grateful, as I could live out every woodland creature fantasy I ever had. I was a strange kid with a twisted sense of humor who didn’t always fit in. Read more>>

Ariel Jackson

Hailing from Pittsburgh, PA, I knew at the tender age of five, my passion was found in acting. Without knowing where to start, I began performing locally on stage, and would continue on that path until college. After graduating from the historically black university, Johnson C. Smith University, in Charlotte, NC, with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration; I decided to turn her passion into a career as a professional actress and model in the southeast region. Read more>>

Alex Garcia

I had a film production program in high school, which initially was a class that I didn’t take interest in whatsoever. For the first year and a half, I wasn’t necessarily sure of what part of filmmaking that I had interest in and it took me a while but the moment I was assigned “camera man” for a project, I became infatuated by the idea of creating imagery in films. From there I started focusing on doing things that related to the camera department by any means possible. Read more>>

Chloe Elise Villamayor

So when I was a kid, I wanted to be a superhero. Just thought I’d throw that out there. It’s important. Part of it is because I watched way too much Power Rangers Jungle Fury as a kid, but I like to think that the main reason was because I wanted to help people somehow. I’ve always liked the messy chaos of creating things. I was the kid that mixed the play-doh because I wanted new colors- my sister hated me for it. I had this small, crappy, pink guitar with my name misspelled on it in silver sharpie. Read more>>

Julie Harris Walker

I started out wanting to be an actor but realized before I graduated NYU that I really didn’t. I wanted a bit more certainty about my career than acting would provide, and let’s be honest, I probably wasn’t that good at it. Instead, I started working behind the scenes at a commercial production company and made a deal with my boss that he would make me a producer if I would do his bookkeeping. Read more>>

VLAD (Nic) Vandamme

When I first started painting it was in college and I was painting my buddies penthouse walls and different fraternities, I was running a marketing company at the time hosting events and designing websites, someone we hired at the time got us mixed up in some trouble and I moved back to California, I was in quite a bit of debt but I met a guy named Laurent who was able to hook me up with a galley in Hongkong of all places. Read more>>

Erame Okoije

I just graduated with a degree in Philosophy, there are currently 40+ million people unemployed, and I have an obsession with pursuing every idea I’ve jotted down in my notes folder. I live for the future, and I always feel as if the moment is a waste of time. It’s all goodie tho. Ima true valley baby, and this is the place I call home. I hope the story I dream of actually crafting out, not the story I’ve lived this far, will be able to inspire the future valley babies and their own babies. Read more>>

Elizabeth Thach

Oddly enough, I wouldn’t have considered myself an artsy kid growing up. I did like drawing, but I never thought of it as a professional option for myself. I originally assumed I’d become a doctor, but my grades in high school quickly proved that assumption wrong. At this point I still didn’t draw much, but I did participate in my school’s theater shows and I enjoyed writing a lot. At some point, I read about CalArts’ animation program and watched a ton of the incredible student films. Read more>>

Crack Jesus

I’m I got into rap music Christmas of 2005; I was 11 at the time. My sister bought me my first CD player and the Eminem album “Curtain Call”. I thought it was the best thing I ever heard in my life. I was always in love with music but the hip hop sound was a different experience for me. That upcoming summer me and my childhood friend started rapping ourselves. We started recording using voice notes on a Virgin Mobile flip phone my mom bought me. Read more>>

Niccolo Lekai

I started making gelato down in San Diego for David Arato at Bottega Italiana while I was attending the University of San Diego. David taught me a lot about gelato mix, how to decorate gelato, all about inclusions, how to make coffee and how to run a proper gelateria. This of course took a long time… Roughly four to five years to work my way up from a barista to the gelato maker. I would spend late nights practicing and practicing the decorative style that he liked to use. Read more>>

Tony Livadas

I started off as a musician with guitar and piano as my main tools. Throughout high school and college, I was heavily involved in the local band scene in South Florida. I had also started a recording studio after high school with money I made from my Bar Mitzvah which led me to producing and writing music for others. After spending several years on the production side, I had the urge to perform again and started an electronic DJ/Production trio called Brass Knuckles. Read more>>

Kelsey Edwards

I’m originally from San Antonio, TX! My mom got me into acting at a young age because she had done it in high school. I also wouldn’t stop singing, so she decided to give me an outlet in musical theater. I did my first play at five and my first movie at seven and I quickly fell in love. We came out to LA for pilot seasons when I was 10, and that was when I got my first agent/manager. I knew I wanted to be an actor and singer even at a young age. Read more>>

Nick Nshanyan, George Martikyan and Eric Yepiskoposyan

We are a three man team with a serious passion for Breakfast Burritos. Three Best friends Nick, George, Eric grew up together in Northern Los Angeles. The inspiration for our story was to create a Breakfast Burrito that people can always grab before work or school. Our mission was to better people’s mornings by giving them a great meal during the most important time of day. Read more>>

Soul Larouge

My story starts on a goat ranch in the corn fields of Southern Ohio. I grew up in a small town of approximately 20,000 people. Growing up in that sort of place taught me a lot about myself – and most importantly, taught me that my happiness and dreams wouldn’t be found there. In addition to that, to never settle on things as important as your dreams, no matter how much resistance you may be met with. Fast forward to my 18th birthday, and you’ll find me on I-70 heading west to Denver, Colorado. Read more>>

Brooke Johnson

The idea for Brunch started one night having some wine with friends. We kept talking about how cool it would be if there was a place locally where you could get Brunch every day of the week just not Sunday. We started coming up with really fun Brunch items like our Chorizo Breakfast Pizza and S’mores French Toast. We even came up with our T-shirt slogan, Brunch Me in the Face, that night too. Read more>>

India Carney

I’m originally from Brooklyn, New York – born and raised. I started learning music around two years old at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music in Park Slope, Brooklyn, taking “Mommy and Me” classes with my mother. At around four years old, I started learning flute, recorder, piano, and singing in choirs, which is likely where my love of music began, as I was deep into my private music studies for the next five or six years. Read more>>

Craig Lee Thomas

My name is Craig Lee Thomas, and I’m an actor and voiceover artist based out of LA. When I was a kid, instead of playing soccer or taking karate lessons, my mom drove me back and forth the 130 miles or so from Northeastern Pennsylvania to New York City to be a child actor. From the age of 4 to around 14, I did dozens of commercials, some cartoons, a few soap operas, and even hosted a show on the Discovery Channel. I also did a ton of voiceovers, both commercial and animation. Read more>>

Nate Rich

I was born and raised in a small town in Northwest Georgia called Dalton. We are known as the carpet capital of the world. Growing up I spent a lot of time outdoors playing sports with my family. I had decided at about six years old that I wanted to be a professional baseball player. By the time I was eight, I had learned to pitch and was giving the other 3rd graders a run for their money. Read more>>

Samantha McDougall

My partner, Austin Pearlman, and I own AusSam Candy. We are two local families that have known each other for 30 years. We wanted to open a neighborhood business that was inclusive of everyone. We chose candy because it makes everyone happy! We reach every demographic and age. Our customers can be 3 or 93 and AusSam Candy evokes the same response…. happy customers. Read more>>


I’m from California. I grew up in Northern California, graduated from San Diego State and quickly, moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in Television. Every job I had, up until that point, involved kids, so, I knew I wanted to bring those things together. When I was little, I was overweight, I had big curly hair and a deep voice. I’m also Black and Assyrian, so, there weren’t many women in the mainstream media, who looked like me. Read more>>

Karl Hadrika

I’ve always known I wanted to pursue a career in animation. My mom was an animator at the Disney Studio in Florida, and I already loved cartoons, so there was never any second-guessing my career trajectory. Animation; that thing you do when you grow up. Since schoolwork always involved lots of blank paper, I was constantly drawing comics and characters. Two canvases per page if you use both sides. Read more>>

Sam Cividanis

My mom used to take me to work with her whenever I had a day off of school. I’d sit on the bus with her by my side watching the city fly by until we eventually reached one of the many suburbs of Los Angeles. I’d watch her clean and organize people’s homes and when I’d get the chance, I’d sneak off to explore what seemed to be massive, brightly lit homes. By the end of her days as she was packing up. Read more>>

Luis Tarin

I originally started pursing photography as a hobby when I was about 14 years old, which for many years was taking photos with my phone of whatever I happened to think was cool at the time. It all changed direction when I was 16, when I first started getting into BMX with my friends from school. This usually consisted of pedaling around where we lived in North Hollywood every day after school, while exploring and looking for spots usually until it got dark out. Living in a place like Los Angeles. Read more>>

Ariel Dale

I am a 23 year old woman originally from Redondo Beach, CA. I began acting at age five, when my parents enrolled me in a local summer theatre camp. My first show was Charlotte’s Web, and I played Charlotte. The first day of camp, I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life acting and singing. I spent the next five summers at that camp, performing in musicals, and learning about technical theatre. The camp taught me every aspect of theatre, and the magic the community held. Read more>>

Jeff Rudman

I was born at Cedars of Lebanon Hospital in Los Angeles. My parents were Fairfax High School sweet hearts that actually met while working together at the Fairfax Theater. My father, Barry Rudman, was an usher, and my mother, Sherry Rudman (Madow) the “candy girl”. They were married at Hollywood Beth-El Temple on Crescent Heights and Fountain. My mother worked as a legal secretary and put my father through law school. After he graduated, he worked as an attorney at the same firm as my mom. Read more>>

Kevin Schmiegel

My life from start to finish has been a journey that has brought me back time and again to the realization that I want to serve others and why I am the CEO of Operation Gratitude today. This realization is best illustrated in a conversation I had with a Jesuit priest and professor who gave me advice when I was a senior at the College of the Holy Cross in 1988. At the time I was having doubts about my decision to serve in the military, just months before graduating and being commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps. Read more>>

Luis Ramón Quintero

Writer, Director & Producer Luis Ramón Quintero is the founder of Foreshadowing Entertainment. His latest short film “Mirage” was featured on Telemundo, NBC, Estrella TV and KPFK Los Angeles. His previous short film “Guiltless” was nominated for an Imagen Award in the Best Theatrical Short category by Norman Lear’s Imagen Foundation in 2016. Previously Luis was a finalist of the NBC Universal Pictures Emerging Writer’s Fellowship in 2014. Read more>>

Tyre Mills

I first felt a passion for film when I was in my later years of high school around 17. Growing up in East Oakland California as an athlete, playing baseball was my whole life. I was trying to pursue college baseball after high school. Once that faded and I was left to only pursue school and find myself, I originally went to college to study film but was quickly persuaded away from it by some people that were close to me. I didn’t believe in myself much back then. Read more>>

Sunny Tianqing Li

I was born in Beijing, China. My family has nothing to do about art or design but I had a huge interest in doodling and drawing from the time I could remember. I realized my wish to become a part of the creative industry at a very young age. And that led to constant fights with my mom because in such a traditional family, being an image creator can never make a living. The first time I won the fight was back to 2012. I entered an art high school and was trained as a traditional fine artist who focuses on drawing and painting techniques in Beijing. Read more>>

Rick Lazzarini

I loved horror films, monster movies when I was a kid. So, I started making my own. A magazine called “Famous Monsters” came out with “behind the scenes” articles so I began experimenting and researching Prosthetics and Mask -making and Prop making, so by the time I was 17 I was already working for rock bands such as “The Tubes” and “KISS”. I came down to LA and went to Film School at Loyola Marymount U, where I rented a garage off-campus and continued making props and monsters for music videos and low-budget slasher films. Read more>>

Gabrielle Ruiz

I was born and raised in South Texas, regionally known as The Rio Grande Valley. I danced all my life and was classical trained as a vocalist all thanks to public school education. I was lucky to fall in love with musical theatre in my collegiate years at Oklahoma City University, where I auditioned and attained a role as a resident ensemble member at Music Theatre of Wichita. There I realized that I could dance sing and act AND get a paycheck for it. Read more>>

Jose Bahena

My wife and I were in need of functional furniture for our small space. We spent a lot of time looking for simple furniture within our budget and came up short every time. We decided to try and build some pieces ourselves. With two full-time jobs, these projects were only a weekend hobby. Neither one of us has a background in designing or building furniture but somehow here we are. Read more>>




Judge Reverses $5,000 Bond For Capitol Rioter Shortley After Meek Mill’s Furious Post

Meek Mill and a judge in Washington D.C. agreed on something – how foul it was that an infamous guy who…

Meek Mill and a judge in Washington D.C. agreed on something – how foul it was that an infamous guy who stormed the Capitol Building in DC was about to be freed – until the Federal judge stepped in.

The post Judge Reverses $5,000 Bond For Capitol Rioter Shortley After Meek Mill’s Furious Post appeared first on %%

Continue Reading


Rap Legend Edward “Duke Bootee” Fletcher Of “The Message” Dies

RIP Duke Bootee, the co-writer of one of rap’s most influential hits.
The post Rap Legend Edward “Duke Bootee” Fletcher Of…

RIP Duke Bootee, the co-writer of one of rap’s most influential hits.

The post Rap Legend Edward “Duke Bootee” Fletcher Of “The Message” Dies appeared first on %%

Continue Reading

Video Of The Week