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

Hi Syd, what inspires you?
Throughout my adolescent years, I clung to different circles. One would say the diversity of age was unbelievable. Throughout my high school years to now, I became mentors to children transitioning into middle and high school. Seeing their smiles and the way life flowed through their lives was beautiful. I would always compare their growth to watching a sunset or a sunrise on a lovely sunny day. I believe my mentees have been my biggest inspiration in becoming the person I’m slowly becoming. As my work slowly became more public, I saw my achievements, such as having my poetry in the MOCA museum, publishing my first book, etc., have an influence on them. Every-time I completed one of my goals; it was like they were meeting one of theirs. I understood then that I was no longer succeeding it for me, but for them also. For their success, I needed to set a pathway for them, and every day I strive to continue.

Please tell us more about your art. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
I feel as if my art defines me as a whole. Between my writing pieces or my photography, they’re uniquely scripting a form of me and turning it into a masterpiece. My writing journey has been an off-and-on challenge. When I began to write, writer’s block seemed to be my best friend. Every time I would pick up a pen, it seemed as if my thoughts would disappear and journey somewhere else. I struggled with this for years. It took until my college professor (at the time), and mentor (Mrs. Knight) gave me a structured and disciplined format to gradually push away the lack of inspiration. I learned that writing couldn’t be a rushed process– that one has to go with the flow of their creativity. My photography, on the other hand, has always been a passion. Every time I pick up a camera, it seems as if the surrounding world stops. As my business grew, exploring and journey into one’s creativity and capturing those endless moments has been magical. Last July, I dealt with a wrist injury that prolonged my creating. From picking up a pen to holding my camera, it seemed as if there wasn’t any hope. After numerous doctor’s appointments and researching, my only thought process was to give up and that my creative career was over. But it wasn’t. My injury was a clear example of fighting the good-fight. My journey hasn’t been comfortable, but I appreciate the lessons it has taught.

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?
Los Angeles, as a whole, is a big city. There’s so much exploring to do, where being out of the house can seem endless. I have a deep passion for sunsets, so the beach will always be my go-to. There’s this spot in Rancho Palos Verdes at the top of the hill (that little to none know about); the sunset is breathtaking up there. I believe it’s called “Flat Point Rock.” Another view spotting area is Mulholland Drive. There are a few sections where you can park your car and fall into the beauty of the view. Food-wise: anything in Marina Del Rey is delicious. My favorite might be Yard House or Salt Restaurant and Bar. Though, I haven’t had any complaints anywhere else. If you wanted to shop your heart away, either Citadel Outlets (Commerce) or 3rd Street Promenade (Santa Monica). They’re both in Los Angeles County, a great distance from one another, but worth the shopping spree.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Last year was a very rocky year for all of us amid a pandemic. My mentors: Mrs. Knight, Mr. Sonsken, Sarell Diamond, kept my spirits afloat. Also, my mother and grandmother deserve recognition as well. In everything, I feel as if their presence inspired me to keep going. Both Mrs. Knight and Mr. Sonsken deserve the world for encouraging me to explore my writing talent. Without them, I most likely would have been trying to figure out a way to express myself to this day. I’ll forever be thankful for both of their foundation and influence upon me. Sarell Diamond has been the older sister I never had. We met throughout the Riordan business program we were both attending at UCLA, and ever since then, it’s been memories. The way she conquers and flows through life is inspiring. My mother and grandmother will forever be my backbone. I think their constant motivation and support have been a big reason why I kept going. I’ll forever be thankful for all of their encouragement and support.

Website: www.sydleilani.com ; www.slsshoots.com ; www.prolificstyles.org

Instagram: @sydleilani ; @slsshoots ; @theprolificstyles

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/slsshoots ; https://www.facebook.com/theprolificstyles

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdN1dU17LEbkoVrM-VMvLUA

Image Credits
Nyla Simone S.L.S. Shoots

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.