Even if you are from the same neighborhood as someone else, you might still be coming from different places. Where you are from is a complicated question and it elicits complicated, but interesting and thought-provoking responses. We’ve shared some of those responses below.

Renaissance Austin | Performing & Visual Artist

Greetings Voyage LA! My name is Renaissance Marie Austin and I have had a pretty unique upbringing. I was raised by a single father throughout the 1980’s which was quite different from my fellow peers. I am lucky enough to have lived my life parallel to my twin brother whom I am still close with today. While I did attend public school, my home life carried an aesthetic of homeschooling. My father was taking child development courses at some point while I was growing up, so our home was filled with volumes of encyclopedias, dictionaries, children’s books, text books, pencils, pens, paper, notebooks, and art and craft supplies. There were books on Churchill, law, English Literature Anthologies, animals, dinosaurs, and learning how to sketch and draw, most of which I did not understand until my high school and college years. Read more>>

Jyoti Chand | Mamajotes, is your “cool mom friend”

I come from a first generation Indian and Burmese family. Growing up, I was embarrassed of my culture, embarrassed to be different. I would huff and puff under my breath when my mom made us stop at Target in our Indian clothes. I was terrified someone would see me and yell “INDIAN”. My cultural embarrassment got worse after 9/11. I was one of the few Indians at my school and an easy target for “jokes” and harassment. I tried to hide my Indian-ness as much as possible for the longest time. In college, I met more and more Indians. Some who were fully embracing their heritage while doing Bhangra in the quad and others who were hiding as tokens in white fraternities. I felt like I was somewhere in between and it was a very uncomfortable place to be. I didn’t know how to be “American” with my non Indian friends and I definitely wasn’t Indian enough with the Indians even though I pretended to be. I was constantly fighting this battle and questioning my true identity. Read more>>

Jake Dean Taylor | Actor, Writer, Comedian

Growing up, my family moved around a ton. We jumped from small town to small town, all across the country. I was raised in a very conservative household, where things like being queer weren’t tolerated. As an LGBTQ youth who moved around, I’m sure you can see how difficult it was to fit in. I was bullied for being the new kid. I was bullied for being different, and I couldn’t find solace with my family, because my family didn’t know. It was only after I moved out and halfway across the country, that I was able to finally be myself. For the longest time, I resented my parents for not being supportive. I resented them for not shielding me from the torment in each new, small town. It took many years of self reflection for me to come into my own and accept my queerness as my superpower. I realized that the bullying, hiding, and shame was shaping me into the strong, confident, and powerful person I am today. Read more>>

Ana Lydia Monaco | Filmmaker (Writer / Director / Producer)

I was born in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles on a mild winter day in February. I was the firstborn from a marriage of two Mexican immigrants: one white Latina (my mother’s great grandparents immigrated from Spain) and one Brown Latino. While I grew up knowing all about my mother’s family and their background, a privilege only afforded to the white and wealthy Mexicans, I knew nothing about my dad’s family. I did, however, watch my paternal grandmother’s Conversa customs closely (Many Mexicans converted to Catholicism but kept their Jewish customs). Still, there was very little else discussed about the family or its past. I have only recently found out that my dad’s family was Black (Arab, Senegalese, and North African). Because my dad and most of my relatives on his side of the family are dead, and again, no history for those with black or poor ancestry in Mexico, I know nothing else. Read more>>

Kristina Bennett | Tattoo Artist, Healer, Creator

My Healing and the world of Tattooing. I was raised in a suburb outside Minneapolis, in a outwardly ‘normal” looking family, but inwardly messy chaotic home. Both of my parents were creatives, but came from generational curses of depression, drug and alcohol addiction, c0-dependency, and abuse . Growing up in this dysfunction I needed an escape and found my only refuge: art and music ( which oddly enough were the creative interests I took from my folks). After finding my moms old paintbox, I taught myself to oil paint at the age of 12. Also around that time I started to find an outlet as an angsty teen in hardcore punk and gothic music. Once these two art forms joined forces in my brain, it was pretty natural I would become obsessed with being a tattoo artist. Read more>>

Audrey Loeb | Casting Associate

Born and raised in Los Angeles, I grew up surrounded by family and friends in the Entertainment Industry, but I actually never intended to pursue a career in the field. While most kids would simply watch television shows or movies, I would envision how the story would be different with another cast. No matter how small the role, I found myself keeping a mental log of actor and actress’ performances that made an impression on me. I always thought that these were normal things everyone else did, haha. Little did I know, this innate interest is what ultimately guided me towards my career in Casting. I graduated college with a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology because I loved the unique insight it gave me into the way people think. Without a specific career in mind, my passion for working with underserved communities led me to various jobs within the realm of non-profit organizations. For about five years, I proceeded to work with agencies that provided services for people with disabilities. Despite being enthralled by the opportunity to assist those in need, I was still intrigued by the world of Casting. Read more>>

Barbara Schucko | Music Producer & Composer

I was born and raised in the southeast of Brazil. People have enormous hearts, an endless joie de vivre and an undeniable connection with family. I was quite a shy kid growing up. Looking from a distance it may have even seemed like I didn’t fit in that bright festive place. Music always made me feel I fit like a glove. The songs we listened to went everywhere from lively to deeply metaphorical and introspective – or both. It’s an important part of our culture that brought much pride to be born there. I even remember when I learned how to dance samba as a kid. I didn’t think about it, I just moved my feet in a way that somehow made sense with the music. Don’t think by any means that I’m an actual good dancer after that fun fact, but the point is, music was around whether you wanted it or not. Read more>>

Dimitri Milbrun | Artist, musician & cartoonist

I live in Paris, I grew up in a multicultural district, the 18th arrondissement. My parents are from Haiti and I was raised in the Caribbean culture. Today I use images from different mediums to translate different trauma of the black community and also and especially mine. My inspirations are just as different, ranging from comics, to the punk movement, to hip-hop, black panthers, to manga and Caribbean folklore. Read more>>

Greg Sato | Co-Founder & Creative Director

Growing up bi-cultural (Japanese-American) in a suburb of LA played a huge role in shaping how I view the world and my place in it. Never being fully a part of either, you instead become a hybrid of both. I consider myself lucky in that I rarely encountered much of the overt racism we’re seeing against our community today. But looking back, I do think there was a sense of adaptation that had to occur in order to survive and thrive in a world that viewed you as “other”. I’ve now found my background a source of strength and pride. To be Asian-American in Los Angeles is a badge I wave proudly. My community inspires me everyday. Not only do I look at what previous generations did in the early 1900s, leaving everything they knew to start a new life an ocean away, only to have it all taken away with the stroke of a pen signing into law EO 9066 in 1942. But I also look at my generation who have achieved so much. The Asian-American community in LA is one of the most vibrant and beautiful I know and everyday I’m proud to be a part of it. Read more>>

Tiffany Abney | Professional Stunt woman

I am a professional stunt woman who is from west Philadelphia. I attended Waldron Mercy Academy for grade school and Merion Mercy Academy for high school. Both Catholic private blue ribbon schools of excellence. I started running track when I was three years old and I started running competitively when I was around 5 or 6. Today I am a professional stunt woman who has doubled Gabrielle Union, Angela Basset, Barrett Doss, Aisha Tyler, Niccole Thurman, Nia Hollow and many other spectacular women. Being a stunt woman is super unique and takes knowing so many different skills and disciplines. It is a challenging occupation that I believe I was prepared to undertake because of my background in track and field. Track and Field taught me how to push my body and mind far beyond my comfort zone. Starting at such a young age was pretty pivotal as physical pain was all I knew. I was so use to experiencing pain regularly which I believe has made the pain I experience as a stunt woman, bearable. Read more>>

Julio Chavez | Shoemaker

I was born in Watsonville, CA and raised in Aurora, IL. When we lived in Watsonville, my family worked in the strawberry fields and we lived in a small hut on the property owner’s ranch. When I was 2, my mom and I moved to Chicago for a couple years and later settled in Aurora, IL. My mom and I lived with her sister and my cousin and I remember my mom and my aunt worked multiple jobs to support us. To pass time I would draw, which helped me tap into my creative side. We didn’t have much and seeing my mom always working to support me instilled in me the work ethic I have now. I’m always working on different designs and pushing my boundaries to learn different techniques. Read more>>

Catherine McNeil | Holistic Career Development Author | Speaker | Coach

My roots are southside of Chicago, specifically the Roseland Community; I was born in Roseland Community Hospital, attended Roseland Christian School until 3rd grade and Pullman Church. My mom and I moved about every 2 years, I’ve lived on the east side, north side and north west side of the city; I attended public and private school. Today, I am an advocate for the holistic career development of single (unmarried parents). I got pregnant with my oldest daughter at 19, my sophomore year of college, and was forced to choose between continuing my education and keeping my child. 21 years later, I have one radio show and podcast, two degrees, two businesses, three children and have written five parenting related short read books. Read more>>

Breon Bliss | Actor, Singer & Artist

I’m from Kansas where there’s nothing much to do. We had to invent our own fun & spearhead our own “projects”. Whether it be a bike ride to go fishing or creating our own backyard game.nKansas also has a strong work ethic & entrepreneurial streak. Most of us grew up farmers so we’re used to being our own boss & having to make it work. Read more>>

Nelly Castañeda | Film Producer

Im originally from Mexico city, born from a Mexican mother and Colombian father. Latino cultures diversity has helped me learn and understand other cultures It has also opened many opportunities in the US, specially through other Latinos that have felt more in home to there culture through our work. Read more>>

Alli Conrad | Artist & Muralist

Growing up I never thought the question, “where are you from?” was a complicated one until I became what they call an “Expat Kid” or a “Third Culture Kid”. I generally have a hard time answering this simple question as the concept of “home” or “where are you from” brings a great deal of confusion about my cultural identity. I usually start by saying I am a US Citizen with an HK Residency. I lived in North Carolina, Texas, Hong Kong and Singapore. However, to me, home is Singapore and Hong Kong. Though I only lived in Singapore for roughly 3 years and spent every summer in Hong Kong living out of a hotel, these places always made me feel at home and always will. To me, home is not about where you have lived the longest, but about the feeling and memories it brings you. So….that’s where I am from! In terms of my background, I am both Chinese and American (German-Slovenian descent from my father’s side of the family). Growing up in both the US and Asia made a significant impact on my life, to which I am forever grateful for. I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Read more>>

Lortir Pierre-Louis | Black Tech Founder & CEO

I was born on the island of Abaco, in the Bahamas. My parents were hardworking immigrants from Haiti who settled on the island in the late 1970s. I grew up in a Haitian shanty community, Pigeon Peas, which until hurricane Dorian in 2019, was right in the heart of the city of Marsh Harbour. Pigeon Peas has made me everything that I am today. I learned about the valve of community, sharing, toughness, loyalty, resilience, and opportunity.My first paying job was at the age of 11, bagging groceries at the local super market. I am also no stranger to late night immigration raids, or hiding in a rainy tropical forest evading capture from immigration officials. If it wasn’t for the grace of catholic nuns from the U.S, I probably wouldn’t have a formal education. At the age of 13, my parents sent me to the U.S to live with relatives in hopes of a better education and a better future. Leaving my parents behind, I had to grow up fast. I learned independence and self dependence early on in life. Read more>>

Milla Goldenberg | Los Angeles Realtor

I was born in the Ukraine when it was part of the Soviet Union. My birth city is Lviv, though back then it was called Lvov. I left when I was three years old and have no memory of it. My family landed in Los Angeles with nothing beyond the idea of an American Dream. At that point, my story follows the path of many similar Angeleno immigrant stories. There were language barriers, food shortages, money anxiety, hard work for low wages, delayed gratification and, ultimately, rewards after a long journey. The backbone of my business is my work ethic and I give all the credit to my parents, who showed me that hard work can pay off. Those early struggles still inform who I am today, keeping me humbled, grounded and focused on the long game. I wouldn’t change a thing about my upbringing. My family is my foundation. Read more>>

Shawn Ewashko | Visual Effects Project Manager

I spent most of my childhood in Queens New York. Splitting my early years between Brooklyn and Queens and then being entered into the foster care system around 13 years old. I think being placed in the system at that age is what really helped shape who I have become. Even prior to entering the system my family had dealt with homelessness and other circumstances that forced me to grow up emotionally at least much faster than most of my peers. I went on to learn so many lessons the hard way and through “tough love” which gave me the base I needed to deal with so many different people, personalities and situations. I am so comfortable being uncomfortable that I find I can thrive in any environment no mater how stressful or chaotic it may become. So many years of feeling under pressure and out of place makes it easy for me to navigate those feelings as an adult. I find those are some of the most used skills or skills I lean on the most. While most people around me in my experience are unable to really be effective in those situations I find my calm in those moments and am able to execute complex solutions because of it. Read more>>

Wahida Liapis | Owner, CRAVE ’ems

I was born in Tanzania (home of The Lion King!) along with my four sisters. My family moved to Canada while still in my youth and we grew up in Edmonton, Alberta (Go Oilers!). Like most people, the importance of family has had a significant impact on our lives. As a kid growing up, we lived modestly and had a family-owned business – a unique convenience store in the heart of the suburbs. My parents worked hard to give us a good life and we were taught to share our good fortunes with our community. I worked at our store after school and learned a great deal from these experiences. My parents taught me a lot about running a successful business and I’ve loved the idea of starting my own company ever since. Giving back to the community has always been important to our family and I appreciate the dedication of our public servants. As often as possible, I donate my time and various baked goods to charities, nonprofits, public service organizations and other special people doing good work in our communities. I also believe it sends a positive message to my children. Read more>>

Latife Whittington | Photographer

I was born and raised in Nuremberg, Germany. I moved to Southern California in 2012, I was 13 and I didn’t know the English language very well at the time. As I reflect and think back on my childhood in Germany, it was really weird for me as a mixed black girl. I was living in a country that was dominantly white and I grew up not liking certain features about myself, like my natural hair. When I moved to the U.S. everything started changing for me. I was in a whole new country with a completely different culture and diverse people. As time started passing I learned a lot more about black culture. Growing up in a dominantly white country did rob me of certain black experiences like getting a protective hairstyle done in a hair salon. The only thing that I’ve ever gotten done was getting my hair semi-permed and straightened a few times a year because I really wanted to have straight hair. I didn’t like my natural hair at the time and always wished for straight hair. Read more>>

Benjamin Burr | Songwriter | Acres Even

We all met in college! Having those really formative experiences together really impacted who we are and how we write!. Read more>>

Markia Butler | Actor, Dancer, Model, & Business Owner

I am from Jacksonville, Florida. I grew up attending the Boys and Girls Club doing lots of sports and lots of art-related activities throughout the academic years and summer programs. I have been dancing since I was five years old. I have been an entertainer since I was born 😊. I have been a junior safety patrol, peer mediation advisor, and have given away holiday turkeys with the NFL Jacksonville Jaguars team when I was in elementary school. I have been a part of a program called 4H for about 10 years of my life when I was in grade school. It is a volunteer program which cleans up trash within the community, give to those in need, bake cookies for firefighters, and go to nursing homes to play board games with the elderly. Also, 4H has a lot to do with Agriculture, properly taking care of animals, and protecting the land. Read more>>

Christopher Lee | Interior + Architecture Photographer

Born to a Chinese family in Vietnam and raised in Los Angeles, both my parents were entrepreneurs. They believed honesty, discipline and hard work are the key elements to success, and I implement their teachings in every aspect of my life on a daily basis. Read more>>

Mireia Vilanova | Producer

Some of my earliest memories are of watching Old Hollywood movies with my grandfather. Born before the Spanish Civil War and raised under a dictatorship, cinema allowed him to live a different, more exciting life, even if just for a few hours. His life-long dream was to come to Hollywood and experience a reality that was captured in black and white or glorious Technicolor. In a way, those Hollywood stars were part of his own family, to the point that he had pictures of Marilyn Monroe hanging in the hallway of his house! Film touched him on a personal level and it’s that same inexplicable feeling that has made me the person I am today. Like my grandfather, for most of my life I saw that passion as a dream but that changed in 2008 when I discovered Meryl Streep’s work. This discovery made me realize that I could not only love movies, I could perhaps work in them. Read more>>

Vivian Au Fang | Au for Gold | Designer & Creator

As an American born Chinese (abc), first generation born to immigrate parents, I was born and raised in Overland Park, Kansas. Living in the middle of the United States, growing up had many challenges and often I questioned about my identity. Up until high school, I was the only Asian girl in my school. Learning the American culture at school and strictly following my Chinese heritage at home, it was often confusing. I didn’t understand it as a child but as I grew up and left Kansas to move to Los Angeles, I then understood that my parents raised me to be a strong person. I am a proud ABC, and my Chinese heritage is a big part of how I design jewelry pieces and conduct my business. Read more>>

Petronio | Interiors & Home Staging

Our Italian upbringing was instrumental in getting our firm to where it is now. From a creative standpoint we have been immensely lucky to have experienced beauty, art, and design firsthand. Excellence, craftsmanship, detailing were our immediate surroundings as kids. As such, Italy has left its print in the way we do anything from choosing a door handle to discussing sources of inspiration with our clients. From a business education standpoint, art grad school has provided us with an invaluable skill set which has surprisingly little to do with artistry and is much more focused on how to run and manage a creative practice. Countless hours of art critique have strengthened our ability to describe and translate complex visual, tactile, and formal perceptions into everyday language. Our job as designers is to aggregate those grandiose stimuli into something concrete, something domestic, worth our clients’ ordinary consumption. Read more>>

Navin P. Kumar | Movie Actor & USA Table Tennis Athlete & Motivational Speaker

I was born in Arizona to parents who are originally from India and I’m the direct descendant of a king from ancient India (King Kaushika) who would voluntarily give up his warrior life and wealth to become a spiritual teacher, changing his name to “Vishwamitra” (Sanskrit name meaning “friend to the world”) and devoted his life to helping people. Similarly, I too have devoted my life to teaching and helping people given the medical struggles I’ve faced since birth, being born with a rare congenital heart condition, almost getting my right arm amputated due to a cardiac catheterization accident when I was only 20 days old. I also have underwent 5 major open heart surgeries throughout my life, plus several more heart-related surgeries resulting in me having a partially mechanical heart and electronic pacemaker, earning me the nickname of the “Bionic Man”. Read more>>

Nicole Stevenson | Designer, Writer and CEO & Creative Director at Dear Handmade Life

From a young age, I knew that the corporate world wasn’t for me. Nearly everyone in my family is independently employed and our family ethos of entrepreneurship and creativity was ingrained in me early. I’m not cut out to sit behind a desk under fluorescent lights just working for the weekend. Those types of jobs would always make me think about that scene in Joe vs. The Volcano where he’d finally had enough with his oppressive office job and launched into a big speech about how short life is. Like Joe, I knew that I didn’t want to sit at a desk, working for “the man”. I wanted to make a living doing something artful, purposeful and filled with passion. I’m Nicole Stevenson, writer, designer and CEO and Creative Director of Dear Handmade Life. I can’t recall a time in my life when I wasn’t creating. I spent many childhood afternoons combating only-child boredom by scrawling poetry and drawings on the inside of my closet door where my mom couldn’t see my own private ‘art gallery’. Read more>>

Chuck Lapinsky | Percussionist & Photographer

I am originally from Chicago, Illinois. From the time I was a pre-teen I had a love of music. I think it began with visits to my uncle’s home where they always had classical music playing on their record player. I began playing music in my school band and have been playing music my whole life. Eventually I landed on drums and before moving to San Diego, did a stint as a drum instructor for a now defunct music store. Meeting so many different types of artists over the years expanded my appreciation for the whole creative process. Being a photographer as early as my high school years, I gradually moved away from performing and into serious concert photography once I moved to San Diego. While I photographed many major stadium acts, my focus has always been on supporting local artists and smaller venues, where the need for support is the greatest. Read more>>

Gwendolyn Osborne | Actor/entrprenaur

I am from Bath, England. My mother is Jamaican and my Father is British. Growing up biracial in such a small city was limiting. Although I loved how quaint and safe it was, I knew in my soul i was made for a big platform. I am so grateful for the cultural diversity I was constantly exposed to as I was being raised. Read more>>

Katayoun Bahrami | Artist

I am an Iranian living in Bay Area, California. I grew up in Tehran and became interested in art and making when I was a little girl. As a child, watching my mom making those beautiful crochet work using silk yarn and my dad’s poems, photography, and calligraphy made me choose art as the path I wanted to take. The society I was growing, had a huge impact on me, my personality, and my practice. Different laws and orders focusing on women and women’s body were always made me have questions. Questioning the taboos that targeting women’s bodies has always been my concern, and I portray them in my work. I have always had this question why women need to cover their hair and their body? Why most of the strict rules are focusing on women and their bodies? I have been looking for answers, but little by little, it became clear that these rules and laws are there for us to obey. Read more>>

Amy Goldberg | Writer, Producer & Action and Growth Strategist [UnCoach]

Having experienced with eyes wide open my families evolving learnings and success, they all emerged as entrepreneurs in one way or another. My family are and was made up of very successful filmmakers (screenwriters, directors, producers). artists and business-creatives. Trying things was something we all just did. It wasn’t a formula as much as it was an observation in seeing what ‘others’ were doing (and not doing) at that time our lives. I feel we all felt that we didn’t want to settle. ‘All’ being me and my 3 siblings.This way of growing up helped inform me in a way that allowed me to explore my own creativity in a number of different areas. Although there were clear ‘pressures’ from society to land on THAT one thing that you should focus on and just do THAT, I never saw it that way. I attribute that to my experience being in art classes when I was very little. Read more>>

Francesca Jandasek | Interdisciplinary Artist, Owner of SOURCE Studio, Gyrotonic & Gyrokinesis Pre-trainer

I was born in Namibia, Africa. My parents fled Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic) because of Communism. When I moved to the United States when I was 5, I did not speak English and had a noticeable accent until high school. I was naturalized when I was 16 (when my parents got their American citizenship). We only spoke Czech at home and my mother taught me to read and write in Czech as well. We did not have a TV (in fact, I did not own one until quite recently and I rarely watch it, even during this pandemic). My parents encouraged me to dance, draw, play music, read, and use my imagination. As a child, I was never bored – I was always creating something (or playing pranks on someone). Read more>>

Amber Wyche | CEO, Pray 4 Fashion

I’m originally from southwest Philadelphia. I didn’t grow up poor, but as I got old I realized that my family did fall in the less fortunate category. However, my parents made it work, I didn’t feel any lack. I was the middle child out of three. I wouldn’t consider myself the black sheep but I was often left out by my sister and brother, which made me a little obnoxious when it came to wanting the attention of my parents and other family members. Growing up, I was involved in everything that could put me in the spotlight and show my creativity, I danced, modeled, sang on the church choir, participated in talent shows, etc. And I was pretty good at everything anything I did. That’s what gave me the confidence that I could do ANYTHING I wanted in life. Fast forward, I moved to LA at 17 years old and I went from being a big fish in a small pond to very small fish in the biggest ocean. I was no longer smartest, the best dressed, the most talented/creative person in the room. Read more>>

Luz Maria Perez | Artist, Instructor & Proud Wife, Mother & Grandmother of a budding artist

I was born in Mexico the 12th child of very loving and somewhat successful parents. We immigrated to the US and life sort of got turned around. Although my dad was an electrical engineer in the old country, he did not have the qualifications for the same career in the US so he did the next best thing he knew which was being in agriculture. He was always the superintendent of the many farms in the many places where we lived. I did not feel that I suffered any and I had a very happy childhood along with my two older brothers. He was always very proud of me, bragged about me always, and told everyone how smart I was to the point of teaching myself how to read and write both Spanish and English. I was quite an accomplished little artist for my age. Read more>>

Susan Taylor | Interior Designer

I grew up in Westfield, NJ about 20 miles south of Manhattan. My father was the Director of Design and Construction at Rutgers University and my mother was a draftsman and extremely creative. My dad was always working on our house, fixing and upgrading. He would let me ‘help’ him and taught me how to use tools at a young age. He would take me to work sometimes and I would listen to his conversations and watch him interact with the construction crews. He was professional and respectful to everyone from the top down. It was a high stress job with massive budgets and he had tremendous patience, it took a lot to ruffle his feathers. I try to soak up his style and manage my jobs in the same way – always asking myself, ‘How would my dad handle this?’. My mom was incredibly resourceful and a creative force, she spent countless hours crafting with me. She taught me how to needlepoint, knit, paint, sew. Every year in early November we would sit down and pick a Christmas ornament to make that year and sell door to door. Read more>>

Rachael Quinn & Abigail Reed | Founders of Moonwake

We both grew up on the east coast, but we didn’t meet until college. We already had a passion for writing and acting, but once we got to Franklin & Marshall, we really began to focus on film. F&M offered a wide range of performance, directing, and leadership opportunities, which allowed us to work together in a variety of capacities, both personally and professionally. It’s always difficult to work with your friends, and even harder to work with a roommate, but looking back, it really prepared us for an industry that is so closely tied to personal relationships. After graduation, Rachael went to work at a local production house while Abigail studied abroad at the London Dramatic Academy. Looking back, that was an incredibly formative year for us individually as we delved deeper into the industry and solidified our true career goals. After Abigail returned to the States, we decided to pack up our things move to LA. Read more>>

Tatiana Ortiz | Actress & Entrepreneur

I grew up on the north side of Chicago – actual Chicago, inside of the city itself – in one of, if not the most multicultural environments you’ve ever seen. And I am not only referring to racial variety. I attended a very small, private, predominantly white school in an upper middle class neighborhood by day; and spent every other waking hour on a basketball court. By age seven I was part of an inner city all boys (except me) AAU team based out of the low income housing project Cabrini Green. Those boys tuned into my brothers, the coach turned to my father figure, and culturally it was the opposite of my school life. Race was not the only thing that divided the two environments that dominated my developmental years. Interests, style, informal vocabulary, preferred meals and cooking style, you name it. They were pretty much on opposite ends of the spectrum. Read more>>

Shadow C. LaValley | Professional Storyteller

I am from small town in central New York. And by small, the population size of my hometown is less than a thousand. Which impacted my upbringing quite a bit. You see, living in the middle of nowhere CNY I wasn’t able to be socially active as a child growing up. I was very much isolated in my own little country bubble while growing up. Which wasn’t all bad. Looking back I am grateful to have experienced the quietness of country living along with having that peaceful easy feeling. It’s a feeling that I cannot explain into words, but one you would have to simply experience on your own. However, the fact that I was the only boy in a family with three kids (one older sister and one younger sister), I never had the experience of hanging around other boys my own age. In fact, my only male influence was my father, who was either at work or enjoying the “night life.” To make a long story short, I was positively surrounded by women throughout my life. Which I am truly thankful and grateful for!. Read more>>