We had the good fortune of connecting with Natalie Arroyo Camacho and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Natalie, is there something you believe many others might not?
I do not, at all, believe that you should “Be the first one in the office and the last one out.” I love to work and I’m good at what I do — I also am fiercely against exploitation, which is embedded in the current American work system. We’re already in the office 40 of the 168 hours out of the week. To be expected to work anything more than that, especially without pay, is egregious. I know the intention of the advice is to show how hard you work, but there are better ways: think of innovative ways the company can market, better ways they can do the tasks at hand, out-of-the box solutions to problems that have been plaguing the company. All better for the company and for your mental health!

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’m a born-and-raised Valley girl. I’ve always loved to read and I’d often be told in school that my “writing voice” was clear. I’ve also always loved the Valley and I’d also often be told that nothing cool is here, that we’re not part of “LA proper.” My friends and I had a conversation about this, and we arrived at a question that we had all individually wondered: Why do people hate the Valley? We love it here!

There’s so much to do: there are five breweries, there’s a museum, the food is amazing and super diverse, celebrities are from here, movies and music videos are filmed here… I really could go on, which is why I have never and will never understand why people hate on the Valley. To combat that hate and shine  a light on the *real* Valley — the one with community, culture, mom and pop shops, and history — I launched Viva the Valley in November 2020. Viva the Valley is a sit showing that the San Fernando Valley’s cool, from Arleta to Chatsworth, Van Nuys to Porter Ranch, and Encino to Granada Hills.

After graduating from CSUN, where I interned as a writer, I took a job at a PR firm and worked closely with journalists on some of their stories. From there, I decided that PR wasn’t for me — journalism was. In 2019, I started emailing writers/editors I looked up to and told them something along the lines of, “Hi! I’m a recent college graduate who interned for my campus’s magazine. I’m also a huge fan of yours and was wondering if you had time to grab a coffee (though I suppose currently, it’d be Zoom) for an informational interview?” Some people happily obliged, and I asked them how they got their start, what they wish they knew before they started, etc. Of course, others never got back to me and some people even told me that they didn’t have the time to do it for free, but that I could schedule something through their site. Don’t let that be enough to make you your own gatekeeper. Keep reaching out to people who can answer your questions.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?

First of all, it’s dope as hell that my friend is visiting town! I went with a weekend trip that starts on Friday and is assumed to be after COVID is over. Here’s what we’re doing:

Friday, May 14
Morning: Coffee and a pastry from House Roots in Granada Hills
Afternoon: Juice from Flor de Lima in San Fernando and a salad after we go shopping at the Granada Hills Trader Joe’s
Evening: Dinner and drinks at Truman House Tavern in San Fernando

Saturday, May 15
Morning: Smoothies at home (with TJ’s stuff) and a hike at O’Melveny Park in Granada Hills
Afternoon: Brunch and coffee at Cafe Aficionado LA in Northridge before a board game at home
Evening: Dinner and drinks at Surly Goat in Encino

Sunday, May 16
Morning: Bottomless mimosa brunch at Hamptons 818 in Sherman Oaks
Afternoon: Assuming we don’t head straight home after brunch, I’d take my friend to House of Billiards, also in Sherman Oaks
Evening: Go shopping at Midnight Hour in San Fernando as well as Throwback Junction, also in San Fernando

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?

I feel like I’m accepting an Academy Award and I hope my list doesn’t get so long that y’all have to play the “wrap it up” music. Here goes:

1. María Elena Arroyo Barreto, my mother and fiercest person I know — Mami, you are and always will be at the top of my shoutout list. You may still not fully understand what my type of writing means since I’m not writing books (yet), but you are still my number-one supporter. Te quiero mucho.
2. Cinthia Camacho, my sister and true empath — Cinthia, my baby sister, I am so
glad we are as close as we are now. Thank you for always proofing my essays and stories. If (when?) I make it big, I promise to buy you dinner for each story you proof. I love you.
3. Gina Paola Vazquez, my soul sister and ultimate hype woman — GIRRRRL, what can I say to you in this lil shoutout that I haven’t already said to your face, in our texts, or in our voice memos? Thank you for showing me that people are still good and for leaving no doubt in my mind that we’ll be there for each other until the end of time.
4. Yaniv Raymond, one of my best friends in all the galaxies and time continuums — Yaniv, thank you for getting me through the last five years and for allowing me to witness your growth. You are one of my biggest blessings and I can only hope to be half as good a friend to you as you are to me.
5. Emily Olson, a bad-ass social media manager and amazing mentor — Emily, much of what I have and am now I owe to you. Thank you for believing in me, for pushing me to be better, and for saying my name in a room full of people who could hire me. I might not be able to pay you back, but I’ll do my best.

Website: https://vivathevalley.com/

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

Image Credits
Victor Greenwood (for the four photos that are brand-indicative.)

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutLA is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.