We had the good fortune of connecting with Giovanny Camarena and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Giovanny, can you tell us more about your background and the role it’s played in shaping who you are today?
I’m originally from Arlington, Texas… where I was surrounded by a wealth of conservatives and my very catholic family. For a long time this impacted who I was as a person.

I remember being aware for the first time I had brown skin when I came to college in California. It was move in day and tons of other families were staring at me and family in a way we hadn’t been stared at before. Even though I grew up in Texas, my city was really well diverse. My high school was predominately Black and Latine, so I never felt out of place. It wasn’t until I was surrounded by a plethora of wealthy …. white… families at a prestigious university half way across the country that I felt brown.

In a way, I’m grateful for my experience at USC, because it really pushed me to accept the color of my skin and my own culture which I hadn’t fully been embracing. I practiced more Spanish and actively sought friends from similar backgrounds.

I was raised very conservatively. I always had to have the best grades in school and to be the best behaved. I think this is very typical of kids who come from low income families or families who immigrated to the US. Now more than ever, I’ve witnessed how my strict upbringing has only benefitted the man I am today. I work hard at my career because I was raised to. I hear my parents’ voices in my head everyday. I have to keep going.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I remember visiting Mexico when I was little and the smell of the streets. I would wear hand me down clothes and be covered in dirt by the end of the day. I remember trying takis for the first time and drinking off brand gatorade. There’s one distinct memory I have:

There was a big family wedding coming up and we had to prepare the food by hand for the ceremony. I was taken to our family ranch with a lot of my cousins. We were taken to the back where they kept the cows and in the middle of the floor there was a dead cow. It’s belly was slit open and it was bleeding out. They told us to sit on the cow and bounce on it’s stomach to get all the guts and blood out so they could collect the meat for the wedding. I remember feeling disgusted because the cow was squishy. My cousin started laughing and so in turn I started laughing. It was a weird memory.

If you were to tell me that, that little kid grew up to be the artist I am today…. I would have a hard time believing you. That kid has undergone so much personal growth and hard work. Nothing is easy, and there’s always lessons to learn, but the most important one is knowing yourself and where you come from.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I would for sure take them to my favorite spots to eat in the city. -Pitfire Pizza
-Guisados
-Grand Central Market
-Wurstkuche
-Salt and Straw

Honestly, the best parts of LA aren’t the ones everyone wants to visit when they come here. The best parts of LA are the little nooks and crannies of the city hardly anyone knows about. It’s also important to have good friends to surround yourself with to bring the city to life.

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?
God, because through him all things are possible

Website: giovannycamarena.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/camarenagiovanny/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/giovannycamaren

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