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.

Fumi Ozaki | Licensed Esthetician/Electrologist & Master Educator for Beauty School Training

I was born in Yokohama, Japan (approximately 30 minutes away from Tokyo); and immigrated to the U.S. when I was 2 years old. Being an only child in the family, it came naturally for me to fully read, write, speak in Japanese and immerse into my Japanese culture at home with my parents who were strict in raising me in a bilingual setting. Such upbringing has a great impact on who I am today as a business owner, which I am truly thankful for my ability to communicate well and relate with all cultural diversities, personalities, and business levels. Read more>>

Shawn Carter Peterson | Actor, Director, Producer & Writer

I’m originally from Baltimore, Maryland. I began training as a classical pianist at the age of 4 so music has been a part of my life since I can remember. I began playing violin in elementary school and middle school as well as singing in the school choruses. While in middle school I also began acting and singing in school plays. That continued until I went to Vassar College where my music & theatre work morphed into being musical director for the school’s gospel choir as well as student theatre productions. In essence, I’ve been creating music and storytelling all of my life. When I moved to Los Angeles, after a few years of just being a part of others’ work, I remembered that I had the ability to direct, create and artistically express myself in the world of film. I’d directed a couple of short film projects in high school so tapped back in to that. Read more>>

Matt Macedo | Film Director

I was born and raised in the Central Valley of California. Originally from Kingsburg, I moved to Hanford in 2008, when my mom purchased her first house. During that time, I was already writing short stories that would eventually become my first two feature length screenplays, Envision at ~120 pages and Dream at 247 pages. Both of my parents are incredibly hard working, passionate, and driven. My father never graduated high school, and to this day, struggles with reading and writing, however, that never stopped him from owning and operating his own landscaping business. He’s also locally known for his ability to reliably repair lawnmower motors and other landscaping equipment. Right after purchasing her first home, my mom nearly lost everything. Read more>>