There are so many factors that affect how our lives turn out, but one of the most interesting is how our backgrounds give us unique strengths and perspectives that affect who we are as adults. We asked rising stars from the community to tell us about their background and upbringing and how they feel it’s impacted who they are today.

Ashley Cherney | Wardrobe Stylist & Owner/Creative Director of TheRedCowgirl

I grew up in a small town in the center of Wisconsin called Marshfield. I lived there through my senior year of high school and then went on to attend and graduate from The University of Wisconsin-Madison with my Bachelor’s of Science in Communications and Film. Growing up in Wisconsin I can only describe as slow paced with a lot of emphasis on nature. My early years consisted of camping all over Wisconsin in the summer and snowmobiling in the winter. I also started figure skating when I was 5 and continued to skate for 14 years into my freshman year of college. Read more>>

Nenia Samayoa | Mother, Business owner, Foster youth advocate.

Born and raised in Los Angeles. I had a very rough upbringing which has a huge amount of impact on where I am today and who I am today. Being in foster care and seeing how the system failed me and others pushed me to be an advocate for a change in the foster care system. I have a different level of understanding for the youth I serve because I was once in their position, no one to trust, lean on or truly have my back. I lacked basic life skills and much more. The only thing I knew how to do was survive. The foster system should not be this way for youth in care but often youth are treated this way due to their behavior. In society eyes, they see a rebellious youth but in my eyes, I see a youth who needs extra love and extra guidance. My background fuels my foster youth advocate mission. Read more>>

Zoe Pham | Animator, Illustrator, Maker, Pink Squisher

I was born and raised in Hanoi, Vietnam in a family where though, math and science is crucial, creativity and day dreaming are also encouraged. Life growing up in the city was interesting, there weren’t much of nature to explore and I wasn’t really allowed to go outside a lot so I was just in the house, drawing and imagining myself traveling the world and going through portals to other worlds. I think the person that has the most influence on my imagination is my dad, he is an amazing storyteller. We watched a lot of movies together and he always told me these bed time stories that was purely created from our imagination combined. We would create this imaginative world together and traveling through it and when I fell asleep I would dream of it. It was so fun. I think that is why I am so fascinated with creating worlds in my film that is a bit odd, a bit strange, a bit dreamy and reflects the psyche of the characters more than the real world. Read more>>

Isabella Manning | Fashion Designer and Stylist

I am from Sacramento, CA. It’s a pretty small town. My mom is Sicilian and Mexican and my Dad is Irish. They sent us to private Catholic School and were extremely strict. I didn’t know that being a fashion designer or stylist was even possible for me. Every step of the way was exciting. My first job at 15 1/2 working at the Arden Fair Mall at Abercrombie. That was how close I could get to fashion. I never take opportunities for granted and think every job is a jaw dropping dream. Fashion was always my escape, a lighter space I could enter. I escaped my strict, chaotic, and heavy household by locking myself in my room and collaging, cutting out pictures from vogue magazines and pasting them into a notebook. I tested limits at my private uniformed school with striped tights and unique ways of layering. Constantly facing detentions and public shame, I always felt uncomfortable in my body, until I found fashion. It was my power. Read more>>

MAZI $MAZI | Creative Entreprenuer

My name is Mali Dada D’Janite, professionally known as “MAZI $MAZI”. I’am “I Can Do AnyThing I Put My Mind To In Human Form”, but in my physical form i’am a full time entrepreneur; Specializing in Professional Dancing, Modeling, & Designing. . I’am born and raised in Brooklyn, New York City; Bed Stuy to be exact. I come from a family full of creatives, all of us touch the scale of multi-talent with the common theme of our love of music. My father is a DJ, Whom introduced me to all things hip-hop at a very young age. I grew up being exposed to classic music and movies such as Breakin’, Beat Street, and shows such as Graffiti Rock, and Soul Train to name a few, that made me fall in love with street styles and all that dance had to offer. Read more>>

Georgia Parker | Musician and Artist

To preface, I am going to answer this question in how my background and upbringing impacted who I am today musically; I was born in Ashford, England and grew up closeby right outside of Canterbury. Surrounded by farmland for the most part, I lived in the same spot up until the age of eighteen with my parents and younger sister. I learned early on that I had a love for singing in particular, and performing. I’ve always had the same dream of being an artist, a singer and a writer. None of my family members have a musical background, but both of my parents had a deep passion for listening, and their introduction to their favourites impacted many of the artists I listened to in my middle to late teens. Looking back now, I believe this period of time and what I listened to is what began shaping the groundwork to my artistry; this was also the age where I first began writing songs I took seriously and was proud of. Read more>>

Marisa Sarto | Polymer Clay Jewelry Artist & Photographer

I’m a native LA creative, and come from a family of creatives. I’m also a person living with a disability. My parents create magic in the garden; my mom is a painter; my father is the family’s interior designer; and my older brother is an art director, focusing on film posters. So, I like to think I was born to create beautiful things. I was born with a severe hearing loss and was fitted with hearing aids at the age of one. While my hearing loss had a big impact in my life and came with a lot of challenges, it also came with many positives too. It taught me to advocate for myself very early on. To be comfortable saying things like: “I need you to speak slower and louder”, or “Can we turn on captions?” I became very comfortable asking for help, as most of us are not. Read more>>

Julie Earls | Actor, Voiceover artist, Model and Fitness Professional

I was born and raised in northern New Jersey. My dad is Irish-American and my mom immigrated to the United States from the Philippines when she was in her late 20s. Whenever someone asks me “tell me a little bit about yourself”, I always start off by saying that I am mixed race. It completely shaped me into who I am today. Being raised by parents from two totally different cultures forced me to have different perspectives and be open minded from a very early age. I sang “Danny Boy” at family parties but also grew up eating “lumpia” and “pancit”. My dad is kind of like an Irish Tony Soprano (minus the mafia boss part, more of the tough Jersey demeanor) whereas my mom likes to garden. And I’m a little bit of both of them. Read more>>