We had the good fortune of connecting with Ariana Alejandra Gibson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ariana Alejandra, where are your from? We’d love to hear about how your background has played a role in who you are today?
I was born in San Jose, Costa Rica to an American mother and a Tico father. I only lived in Costa Rica for 1.5 years before my mother moved us to Prairie Village, KS—a place she had never been but where she had family at the time. I believe that everyone is a product of their lived experiences, and so my story is one that wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for my background. The combination of being raised in the Midwest but visiting my Costa Rican family regularly and staying closely connected to my Latin American roots shaped so much of how I view the world.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I arrived at the place I am today sweaty, strong, and proud. It took decades of hard work, a readiness to double down when faced with adversity, and ultimately a willingness to acknowledge that I deserve the success I’m beginning to see. I came to the U.S. and had a difficult start. We were lucky to have the support of my mom’s father, but we were on welfare—collecting food stamps and standing in different lines with different colored lunch cards at public school. My mom saw an opportunity for us to attend a private college prep school in Kansas City and insisted we apply for the scholarships. From the moment we received our scholarships in middle school until today, I haven’t stopped working. For many of the first years, perhaps even decade of my professional life, I was terrified to follow my passions. Mostly, it was related to money. I know what it is to be poor. I’ve never gone without food or shelter, but I understand the pain, anxiety, and fear that comes with not knowing how you will pay your bills, and I knew I didn’t want that in my adult life. So, I waited a very long time to really pursue the dreams I have as an artist. I’m proud to say that I continue to work very hard. I have a full-time job where I find and tell stories of underrepresented people, and I’m proud of that work. But early in the morning before my son wakes up and late at night if I can’t sleep, I’m building STIGMA. One day it will be all I do, but for now I’m grateful to be healthy enough to be able to work as hard as I do. Because when the day comes that I achieve everything I’ve always wanted to, I will know, unequivocally, that I’ve earned it.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
My favorite spots in L.A., a city I visit often, are always hikes. Because I’m not an Angelina, I rely on my friends to tell me where to go. Anywhere with ocean or mountains or beautiful views is where I want to be…. but a nice patio on the beach with a cocktail, friends, and great food is a close second.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My story was made possible by my background, but my professional success is largely thanks to my greatest champion—my husband, John Gibson. He was brave enough to share his story first so that I could film my proof of concept episode, and his bravery changed the trajectory of both of our lives.
Sean Robert Kelly Jon Hamblin