Where you grew up and your background can often have surprising effects on our lives and careers. We’ve asked folks from the community to tell us about how their background has affected them.

Will Raojenina (WCMTL) | Contemporary Artist

Both my parents are from Antananarivo, Madagascar. But I was born and raised in Montreal, Canada. Montreal is made up of a varied mix of races, cultures, and ethnicities from everywhere in the world. My parents chose to immigrate there in search of a better life. I grew up with friends from different countries such as Haiti, Trinidad, Philippines, Congo, Cameroun, Barbados, Bangladesh, El Salvador, etc. Growing up with all these cultures helped me love everyone and discover and appreciate the different cultures. Looking at my parents grinding hard for us in a new country and seeing all the other immigrants doing the same influenced me to be a hard worker. I recently moved to LA a few months ago and loved to see the different cultures here too! Read more>>

Rebekah Thornhill | Maker behind R+D

Something that I’ve only come to learn was such a big influence was my elementary school art program in Florida. It was an absolutely off-the-charts amazing program. It was the first time I got to try a wide range of techniques and materials. I remember marbleizing paper, throwing clay on a wheel, and using oil pastels. We always spent time exploring how each technique worked, artists who use it, and then were able to try it ourselves to make a particular project. At the time everything about it seemed normal, but now I realize that not a lot of other elementary schools will willingly hand kids cans of spray paint to get us to explore stenciling and gradients on t-shirts or take kids to a Keith Haring exhibit in the early 90s. Read more>>

Chiderah Uzowulu | Actor, Writer, Artist

I was born and raised in Houston, Texas by Nigerian immigrants. From an early age, I knew I was different. No one had my name, my parents talked differently then other kids parents, I ate different foods, the list goes on. However, one thing I did learn was to always work hard. I have no excuse not to. I saw my parents work numerous jobs, meanwhile they were in the works of starting their own business. So, I saw first handily how much you have to work hard from such an early age. I would always tell myself “My parents made something out of nothing here, why can’t I do the same when I’m blessed enough to have all types of resources surrounding me in my everyday life.” Read more>>

Mark Haptonstall | Actor, Writer and Artist

I’m from Colorado Springs Colorado and I lived there until I was 18 years old. My upbringing had a lot to do with who I am as an actor and a person today. I was fortunate enough to grow up at our small family business, Quality rubber stamps. My dad still runs it in Oklahoma. My grandpa started the business in the 60’s and my parents both worked there when I was a kid. Growing up at “the shop” taught me how to work hard, even when it’s not easy; and watching my grandpa live his dream as the business did well still inspires me today. Read more>>

Hannah Crum | Founder and Master Brewer at Kombucha Kamp; Co-Founder & President of Kombucha Brewers International

Hi, I’m Hannah from Chicago – emphasis on those midwestern “a’s.” Growing up in the Midwest is a fruitful experience as you are forced to deal with ALL of the elements of nature, from frozen nose hairs and gray skies in the winter to hot humid summers complete with fireflies and cicadas buzzing, plus don’t forget ducking under the desk for tornado drills! The weather prepared me for all kinds of unpleasant circumstances in life and also cemented the need for community connection so that everyone remains safe, even when Mother Nature is flexing her might. Read more>>

Jessie Dib | CEO (The Dib Studio), VP & Co-Founder (RA+RE), VP & Director of Publishing Technology (Atomic Software)

I am from Caracas, Venezuela, a spectacular sin city. Both my parents are dentists, who impressed upon me the importance of attention to detail. My dad’s hobbies were sculpture and jewelry design, which inspired me to create things with my hands. My father is Venezuelan and Lebanese, and my mother is from Tennessee, which made for an uncommon cultural mix that nurtured my upbringing daily, turning me into a bilingual chameleon. My family’s multicultural nature was instrumental in teaching me about empathy, treating others with kindness, and following your passions. Read more>>

Roland Guballa | Professional Photographer

I was born in Manila, Philippines. My family immigrated to North America back in 2004. I was only 13 years old then. Growing up, my parents would always remind me that kindness and humbleness goes a long way. They taught me how to be generous towards people and to empathize to those who are often misunderstood by the society. Everybody has their own turmoil to battle so instead of judging people, my parents would constantly remind me to open up my heart and understand their feelings better. Read more>>