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30 Under 30: L.A.'s Bright Young Things

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header Los Angeles is known for its sunny days, trend-setting ways, and cool, laid-back vibe. But that doesn’t mean its ladies and gents aren’t working hard to do big things, change the way people think, or make their dreams come true — they just do it all with a chill attitude. That’s why we’re excited to share Refinery29’s second-annual 30 Under 30 list, a celebration of the influential, inspiring, and seriously awesome under-30 set who are making this city great, right now.
Whether you share mantras with the skateboarder that has a knack for photography, or love L.A. like the girl who's kicking cancer's butt, this talented lot is chock-full of wisdom and life lessons that are ripe for stealing. It’s like a pot of gold for self-motivation. And after reading what these go-getters are doing, we guarantee you’ll be inspired to start making a few big moves yourself. So, check out this epic list of game changers, from artists and designers to a YouTube sensation and a self-made juicer, for a dose of creativity and a first look at some up-and-coming stars. As Pretty Woman so famously puts it, “Welcome to Hollywood! What's your dream?”
30 Under 30Angel HazeAlex OlsonAlia ShawkatAri TaymorOven SchmitYunaSteven DuarteMadeline PooleJulie SarinanaYael CohenMike RosensteinKyle NgRob GarciaTrevor McfedriesKendrick LamarAdam VanunuAshley WestonIsaac RavishankaraSean CarlsonCamilla Blackett Mara RoszakGrace HelbigAlex VegaYung JakeCourtney HoffmanNat Mauro and Cole MorrallSam TellerDanielle CharboneauHannah Hoffman
10_AngelHaze
Tell us a little about your career goals, including any creative endeavors on the horizon.
“I think that overall, I want to be the voice for people who've spent so much time being muted, or drowned out, or just simply unspoken for. No Miss America, though.”
What’s the best professional lesson you ever learned?
"'You're never too good to get better or get coached.' —Markus Dravs."
What kind of kid were you? How does that affect who you are now?
“Quiet, standoffish, imaginative — I think I've carried most of my childlike qualities into adulthood.”
When you were a kid, what did you think you were going to be doing at this age?
"I had no clue. I went from wanting to be an artist to a lawyer to a firefighter to Angelina Jolie to a doctor...and then I became what I am now. I guess that’s the issue with wanting, you spend so much time doing it that you don't notice yourself becoming."
A perfect day in L.A. always includes these three things...
“Fans, food, video games.”
What’s your mantra?
“Start wide, expand further, and never look back.”
Photographed by Geordy Pearson, hair and makeup by Bethany Brill, styled by Willow Lindley.
Is art becoming more of a priority for you than acting?
“I've been acting since I was young, it's great to have it be a natural thing. But things change so much, and so fast. One day I'll feel like things are going well, and I have steady work and cool projects, and then the next I'm thinking I'll never work again. That's why I like painting, because it's like I'm in control, to a degree. It's just me and my own creative expression. But I hope to write with friends and make all kinds of different things.”
How do you deal with that uncertainty, that constant pressure?
“I think the natural frustrations that any artist has, I deal with daily. Doubting yourself, being hard on yourself. But the studio system and the way movies are being made is definitely evolving. I think the answer to that, for me, is to make things on a smaller scale. Things that may have lower budgets but are more interesting, not just the same shit that gets thrown at us over and over again with a ton of money behind it. I'd like to be part of that new wave, if I'm not already.”
Are you optimistic about the future of art and Hollywood?
“Every generation feels like it's challenged and fighting up against some big bully, whether that's corporations, or the government, or whatever. I think the role that I play in this life, as an artist, is to have hope. You always have to have hope. The frustration and the bitterness are what fuels art, but that shouldn't be what stalls you from continuing to make it. I'm 24, and sometimes I feel like 'Ah, I've been doing this for years!' [Ed. Note: Shawkat puts on some kind of Boston/Brooklyn hybrid accent, to great effect]. But, then I realize I'm only just starting to have an idea of the kind of expression, the kind of art, that I want to ultimately make.”
Who are the people you admire most in L.A. right now?
“I know so many talented artists, actors, painters, crew members, and I feel like there's a collective consciousness growing. We're all thinking, hey, we should just work together! We don't need to make too much more money, we've worked on enough professional projects to know what needs to be done, and we just want to get back to more of the creative aspect of things. Like, what do you really want to watch? What can we do that's not so serious and based off of some teen romance book? I don't want to see another teen romance made into five million movies.”
What's the most solid professional advice you've ever received?
“I got it from the actress Judy Davis, I worked with her once. I wouldn't say she was an unfriendly woman, but she was maybe a little rude or cold. I went up to her to say goodbye and that it was a pleasure working with her, and as I was walking away she goes, 'Alia...don't take it all too seriously.' At first I was really offended, and I thought she hated me, but now I know it's great advice.”
Do you still live by those words today?
“This is such a cheesy metaphor, but life is like an onion. You're in the same place, but at a different level. The times I feel best with my work are when I'm not taking it too seriously, and I'm light with it, and I'm having fun. That's how I remember feeling when I was a kid. When I was younger I never thought about what jobs would give me better name recognition, or how I should look for an audition, or how succesful I was. I definitely think I've become a much better actor over the years by putting more thought into it and working harder, but in a way, I want to get back to those ideals. Why do I do this? Because I love it. I just try to focus on that instead of comparing myself to Jennifer Lawrence.”
Ha! We've been there, with the J.Lawr thing. Is that a problem for you?
“I think every young actor has the same thing with someone their age, who gets all the parts.”
Is there anyone whose life you really admire?
“I used to think Isabella Rosselini was the best, but she's so much older, I think I still have the time to have that life. I do like my life, but I like the idea of having someone's life that is totally different from mine. Like, fuckin' Gandhi or something. It would be cool to have a life that was constantly helping others, since my life mostly revolves around myself.”
How has your idea of fame and success changed from when you were young?
“It's a struggle sometimes. For some parts, I know I won't get it because I'm not worth a lot of money at the box office. Some people recognize me, but not many, and they're generally cool people, not just people who get aggressive and just automatically think 'I've seen your face before!' It's nice, actually, I can travel by myself and not feel trapped. I think secretly I'm fearful of that changing.”
Photographed by Clarke Tolton, makeup by Liset Garza, hair by Jessica Liparoto, styled by Natalie Toren.
What’s the best professional lesson you ever learned?
“My father taught me to be on time and nice to the people that support you. Without them, you’re nothing.”
If you could switch lives with anyone else under 30, who would it be?
“There isn’t anyone who comes to mind. We’re the lazy generation. I guess, I would be a baby, so I would have a restart on life and the lessons I've learned.”
What kind of kid were you? How does that affect who you are now?
“A reclusive, shy, imaginative kid. Let's just say I’m not the best in social settings.”
Which celebrity would play you in the movie version of your life?
“Oh, god. I don’t know. Anne Hathaway, and the movie would never get released.”
A perfect day in L.A. always includes these three things...
"Eating a good breakfast, lunch, and dinner."
Photographed by Geordy Pearson, hair and makeup by Bethany Brill, styled by Willow Lindley.
What’s the best professional lesson you ever learned?
“Armand Arnal, who I worked for at La Chassagnette in Arles, France, taught me to try to tell a story with the food, to make everything link together, and explore something personal.”
When you were a kid, what did you think you were going to be doing at this age?
“When I was a kid, I thought I was going to be a diplomat or someone working in foreign aid. I've always wanted something stressful that involves connecting with others.”
What's been your most humbling moment?
“Opening Alma and having services where no one would show up to the restaurant and then having to motivate a staff to cook for no one. It was difficult, but it made me want it more and cling harder to our values as a restaurant rather than try to please everyone.”
A perfect day in L.A. always includes these three things...
“Coffee and the Sunday New York Times, a yoga class, and a Negroni and Thai food at Night + Market in Beverly Hills.”
What’s your mantra?
Tout sera fini. Everything will end, so be mindful to appreciate the small things, those around you, and the details that make life worth living.”
Photographed by Clarke Tolton, makeup by Liset Garza, hair by Jessica Liparoto, styled by Natalie Toren.
What’s the best professional lesson you've learned?
“Probably the most useful lesson I have learned is one I taught myself the hard way: Don’t work with people you don’t respect or people who don’t respect you, no matter what the incentive. It’s better to be surrounded by authentic support and intellectual stimulation and be broke than to make more money through situations that are a drag.”
If you could switch lives with anyone else under 30, who would it be?
“Claire Boucher (Grimes). I think she is very talented and unusual and seems to be having a lot of fun.”
When you were a kid, what did you think you were going to be doing at this age?
“I always knew I wanted to make art.”
What's been your most humbling moment?
“Every moment in the studio is a humbling one. Being creatively productive is hard work and requires a lot of honesty with oneself on a daily basis, which is never easy and constantly surprising.”
A perfect day in L.A. always includes these three things...
“Getting up early for a long hike with my dog, Pebble, lots of iced coffee, and making dinner with good friends at my house."
What’s your mantra?
“Make whatever you want.”
Photographed by Clarke Tolton, makeup by Liset Garza, hair by Jessica Liparoto, styled by Natalie Toren.
Tell us a little about your career goals, including any creative endeavors on the horizon.
“I really just want to make music that I love, that I believe in, and that people can relate to. I think, ultimately, I just want to continue to create something that makes me happy. That applies to music, art, fashion, film — I don't know! The sky is the limit. I want to learn it all!”
What’s the best professional lesson you ever learned?
“Don't be afraid to say yes to things that you think you won't be able to do. When you take up a challenge, you will automatically work hard to do really well in it — even when, in the beginning, you have no confidence. Never give up.”
What kind of kid were you? How does that affect who you are now?
“I was really quiet and a bit of a tomboy. I had a lot of friends who were boys, so we would climb trees, we would go cycling, but I would always be really shy around the boy that I liked. I used to have a huge crush on this boy in school, but I would never talk to him. I would just write poems about him or pretty letters with nice strings of words that would maybe impress him...I guess that helped a lot in the songwriting department!”
A perfect day in L.A. always includes these three things...
“Skateboarding. Park. The beach.”
What’s your mantra?
“Do good anyway.”
Photographed by Clarke Tolton, makeup by Liset Garza, hair by Jessica Liparoto, styled by Natalie Toren.
Tell us a little about your career goals, including any creative endeavors on the horizon.
“I'm currently working on a book, photographing people living and thriving with HIV/AIDS. I'll be fund-raising for the project this World AIDS Day (through Kickstarter.com) to expand the number of survivors and cities featured. I see my photography in the future being a blend of iconic images of creative heavyweights coupled with everyday inspirational survivors. When all is said and done, I don't want to [be] famous; I just want my work to be.”
What’s the best professional lesson you ever learned?
“I took a mural-painting class in college with an incredible instructor named Youme. I expressed how I wanted to fuse my art with my activism someday, but there seemed no clear path for it at the time. She told me, ‘If there isn't a title that exists for the career you want, that means the universe needs it.’ Those words laid the groundwork for me to create and follow my own blueprint, which is what I'm living by today.”
If you could switch lives with anyone else under 30, who would it be?
“I would switch lives with my favorite photographer, Herb Ritts. Even though he's not alive today, I would have loved to experience the world through his eyes at my age. Everyone gets to see what a photographer captures in an image, but I would have loved to see the beauty that was left out of the frame.”
What kind of kid were you? How does that affect who you are now?
“I was a shy, goofy, creative kid with a ferocious imagination. I was an introvert at school, but an extrovert at home. It laid the foundation for my quirky dual personality — very good at entertaining people, but also just as great at 'inner-taining' myself alone. In some ways, this makes photographing people the perfect career for me. It involves needing strong people skills to warm up the person in front of the camera, while juggling the endless internal technical aspects of the art. I find it common that the people in front of my camera give me what I give them — honesty, patience, and magic.”
What's been your most humbling moment?
“Every time I'm hired and my creative vision is trusted, I'm humbled. Initially, I never sought out to be a photographer professionally, I just loved immortalizing moments in my life. A day creating images is better than a day doing anything else."
Photographed by Clarke Tolton, makeup by Liset Garza, hair by Jessica Liparoto, styled by Natalie Toren.
If you could switch lives with anyone else under 30, who would it be?
“I think I have it pretty good — no switch necessary."
Which celebrity would play you in the movie version of your life?
“Pikachu, my spirit animal.”
When you were a kid, what did you think you were going to be doing at this age?
“I thought I was going to be a famous princess! Then, when I grew up a bit, I thought I'd be an 'expert.' I wasn't sure what kind of expert, but I knew it would be an unusual expertise.”
What's been your most humbling moment?
“Every morning, carrying my heavy nail kit up and down stairs into the exhausting heat of the summer.”
A perfect day in L.A. always includes these three things...
“I'll wake up and visit my two next-door neighbors and dear friends, Vishwam and Eugene, walk to the Pupuseria, and take a run around the reservoir. When you have the chance to be aimless in LA, it's the best place to get lost.”
What’s your mantra?
“Stay calm.”
Photographed by Geordy Pearson, hair and makeup by Bethany Brill, styled by Willow Lindley.
What’s the best professional lesson you ever learned?
“‘Always be yourself.' —Beyoncé Knowles.”
If you could switch lives with anyone else under 30, who would it be?
“Is Beyoncé under 30?”
Which celebrity would play you in the movie version of your life?
“Armen Weitzman, from Burning Love, Season 3, because he told me last night that he would.”
When you were a kid, what did you think you were going to be doing at this age?
“I thought I would be a Ninja Turtle. No explanation.”
What's been your most humbling moment?
“When I was retweeted once by @humblebrag.”
A perfect day in L.A. always includes these three things...
“Comedy. Music. Friends.”
Photographed by Clarke Tolton, makeup by Liset Garza, hair by Jessica Liparoto, styled by Natalie Toren.
It’s exactly that newness that has people excited. Not only is Lamar proving to be the next great thing to come out of Compton, he’s proving to be one of the next great things in music, period. In a short time, the artist has worked with the likes of Dr. Dre, Robin Thicke, Drake, T.I., 50 Cent, and Jay Z. “I always looked up to the greats to be a great, so to actually be on a track with him is an accomplishment,” Kendrick said of working with Hova himself. And with more exciting collaborations in the works, it’s not a stretch to imagine that there will be a lot more accomplishments in this man’s future — if he can find time to catch his breath. “I think my worst problem is actually living in the moment and understanding everything that's going on. I feel like I'm in my own bubble…” Kendrick said of his rise to stardom. “So it's really about me trying to adapt — that's like the toughest thing for me right now. I feel like I'm in my own world.” And we can’t wait to hear what that world is all about.
Photographed by Clarke Tolton, grooming by Caile Noble.
What’s the best professional lesson you ever learned?
“Learning to say no. Learning that what I say no to is just as important as what I say yes to was a lesson that took me years to learn, but is ultimately one of the most valuable ones.”
If you could switch lives with anyone else under 30, who would it be?
“Does Sophia Grace count? Girl can sing!”
What kind of kid were you? How does that affect who you are now?
“I was a major tomboy. My big brother was my hero, and I wanted to be just like him. Growing up with boys has definitely impacted who I am and how I do business. It taught me to not take myself too seriously; how to fight like a man, which is a really great thing — men fight then move on, they don’t tend to hold grudges, or be nice to your face when they don’t want to; and that a sense of adventure makes any situation better.”
When you were a kid, what did you think you were going to be doing at this age?
“I thought I would be a doctor, a pediatric cardiologist to be specific. That’s what I wanted to be since I was three, although I called it a baby-heart-fixer then. I thought I was born to be a doctor. Then in college, I decided I wanted to fix the system, not just the patients.”
What's been your most humbling moment?
“I’m humbled every day by our amazing community. Every day we share the worst days of people’s lives with them and do what we can to help. We’re constantly humbled and amazed by our community’s spirit, love, and hearts.”
A perfect day in L.A. always includes these three things…
"Good food, good friends, and a lot of laughing."
Photographed by Clarke Tolton, makeup by Liset Garza, hair by Jessica Liparoto, styled by Natalie Toren.
The Fashion Blogger
If we had the opportunity to switch fashion DNA with someone else on the planet, Julie Sarinana would be at the top of our list. It’s safe to say the Sincerely, Jules blogger has never met a graphic print, bold hue, or towering heel that’s stumped her sartorially. Pairing ragged Levi’s with delicate Isabel Marant sandals and leather leopard-print shorts with studded Valentino kitten heels, the 27-year-old seems to make the impossible work — and looks really good doing it. Thankfully, we have her highly addictive blog to dress vicariously through: Full of fashion inspiration, envy-inducing travel logs, savvy style advice, and downright gorgeous images, this site is one to be bookmarked. And, if conquering the fashion world one keystroke at a time wasn’t enough, the style star has entered into the world of design, creating graphic tees and sweatshirts that have already become a hit with the fashion set. Turning our fashion bible into something we can actually wear? Amen.
What’s the best professional lesson you ever learned?
“All the advice and lessons I've learned along the way were given to me by my family. One thing that always stuck with me was to ‘always be hungry, not thirsty.’ I try to apply this in every aspect of my life — work, love, and personal. I think it's true; we have to stay hungry in order to keep wanting, to stay focused, ambitious, to achieve what we want. You never want to be thirsty — it’s like you're tired and are willing to do anything just for the sake of doing it.”
If you could switch lives with anyone else under 30, who would it be?
“The Olsen twins. I've been a fan since Full House, and I think it's been fascinating and impressive to watch them build an empire. It's inspiring to see them be so hungry and not care what anyone thinks about them. They live their lives how they want, and do it successfully.”
When you were a kid, what did you think you were going to be doing at this age?
"I knew that whatever I did, it was going to relate to art, fashion, design, or food. I really wanted to be a chef for a long time. I wanted to focus in pastries and make the prettiest pastries for people to enjoy. Also, being around art growing up, I also wanted to be an art teacher! I thought it would be the coolest job ever. Now, even though I didn't end up doing either, I appreciate both tremendously, and one of my dreams is to open a pastry shop in L.A. filled with my favorites goodies — cupcakes, macaroons, brioches, waffles, funnel cakes, ice cream, cannolis, etc.! Sincerely Sweet? Ha!"
What's been your most humbling moment?
“When my readers come up to me in the street and express their love and admiration has to be the most humbling. To hear their stories, and how I inspire them, is touching and makes what I do worth everything.”
A perfect day in L.A. always includes these three things...
"Instagram; I have to capture each moment, duh. Jamba Juice — my go-to juice no matter what I'm doing —Razzmatazz, please! Shopping."
Photographed by Clarke Tolton, makeup by Liset Garza, hair by Jessica Liparoto, styled by Natalie Toren.
What’s the best professional lesson you've learned?
“I saw the Lil Wayne documentary, and he was talking about how hard he works. He basically records wherever he goes. He’s recording on the tour bus, in his hotel room; you name it, he's recording there! He never stops working! I was very inspired by his work ethic. Success comes from the blood, sweat, and tears that you put in. If you are not exhausted by the end of the day, then you’re not working hard enough!”
If you could switch lives with anyone else under 30, who would it be?
”I would be Lil' P-Nut. Super swagged-out 11-year-old.”
What kind of kid were you? How does that affect who you are now?
"I was super into punk and skate culture. Everything was about the DIY lifestyle. This mindset really gave me the drive to just make things.”
What's been your most humbling moment?
“My most humbling moment was when my parents lost all of their money and my whole life savings during the market crash. Knowing that I had nothing to fall back on, I realized that money can come and go, but the pursuit of success comes from working hard. I invested all the money I had made during that time and put it toward starting my clothing. The gamble of knowing that I could lose everything again didn’t faze me, because you can always start over.”
A perfect day in L.A. always includes these three things...
"Coffee shop in the morning, rock climbing in the day, and a trip to the art-house movie theater Cinefamily at night.”
Photographed by Clarke Tolton, makeup by Liset Garza, hair by Jessica Liparoto, styled by Natalie Toren.
What’s the best professional lesson you ever learned?
“‘Even if there is a goalie, you can still score.’ My 10th grade English teacher, Mr. Shea, told this to me. I was venting to him about a girl that I was trying to win over, but she had a boyfriend. But this idea could be related to your career in many ways.”
What's been your most humbling moment?
“That moment when we broke down in Amarillo, TX, and I had to take a six-hour cab ride at 5 a.m. to Lubbock to get a throttle cable to get the bus started. The cab driver asked for $200, and ‘all I can drink Dr. Pepper.’ Somehow he managed to drink four liters of Dr. Pepper during that ride.”
A perfect day in L.A. always includes these three things...
“Waking up before 9 a.m., hanging out with my dogs, a good cup of coffee, going to Oh Happy Days, riding my bike, shooting the shit with my friends. I don’t know; every day is a perfect day.”
What’s your mantra?
“Life is short. Enjoy yourself.”
Photographed by Clarke Tolton, makeup by Liset Garza, hair by Jessica Liparoto, styled by Natalie Toren.
If you could switch lives with anyone else under 30, who would it be?
“Emma Watson. I mean, her skin, damn. I just want to see what products she uses."
What kind of kid were you? How does that affect who you are now?
“I was terrible as a toddler, quiet and shy as a teenager, and probably over-documented as an adult — an introvert's natural progression.”
What's been your most humbling moment?
“I just finished reading The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. It's about a teenage girl living with cancer. It's made me think about my own mortality and also caused me to sob openly on a plane. Also, editing my own face five days a week and reading feedback from strangers, pointing out all of my flaws regularly, has been pretty humbling.”
A perfect day in L.A. always includes these three things...
“Great weather, creating a video I'm proud of, happy hour.”
What’s your mantra?
“Try to enjoy this experience.”
Photographed by Clarke Tolton, makeup by Liset Garza, hair by Jessica Liparoto, styled by Natalie Toren.
Tell us the true-life tale of the last completely awesome thing you did.
“Fortunately, for me, I get to do completely awesome things on a daily basis. Waking up and being able to do whatever you want is most people's dream. When I wake up, I have the opportunity to create and bring thoughts and ideas to fruition right then and there. I can choose to go to Miami or Paris, or wherever, if I want to. That to me is happiness and the true essence of a true-life tale of doing something completely awesome.”
Tell us a little about your career goals, including any creative endeavors on the horizon.
“Some career goals I have set for the next few years are the expansion of the brand to Asia and Europe. I also want to receive a CFDA award. That is a great recognition that I would love to work harder to get. Also, I’d like to open a flagship store in NYC or Paris. Another goal is to get into designing more accessories and home and lifestyle goods. That's something I’m developing now and can't wait to release to the public.”
What’s the best professional lesson you've learned?
“The best professional lessons I’ve learned were mostly from my father. He is a huge reason why I'm even here with the opportunity to be a designer. He always encouraged me to follow my passions. And he encouraged me at times where most parents would tell their kids to go take a job they weren't passionate about just to work and have a job. Instead, he told me to stay faithful to what I really want to do and work hard at making that a reality. So, I sacrificed a ton and worked hard to make this a reality. But, without that encouragement and support from my father, I wouldn't have been able to get through the struggle most creatives go through to make their passions a career.”
What kind of kid were you? How does that affect who you are now?
“I was a quiet kid who was stubborn and wanted to do what I wanted. It definitely got me in trouble at times, but it also fueled me through the hard times when most people quit and stop following their passions and dreams.”
What's been your most humbling moment?
“Most humbling moments so far has been showing at New York Fashion Week and Paris Fashion Week and having my family there to see me. And also the moment I saw the amazing display Barneys New York gave me on the designer-collection floor. Those were special, surreal moments that made me feel very thankful and humbled.”
Photographed by Clarke Tolton, makeup by Liset Garza, hair by Jessica Liparoto, styled by Natalie Toren.
What’s the best professional lesson you ever learned?
“‘Money is the cheapest thing.' It’s a quote by Bill Cunningham in the documentary Bill Cunningham New York. And it retroactively justified most of my professional decisions since college.”
What kind of kid were you? How does that affect who you are now?
“I think the best word my parents use is ‘curious’ — I was curious. I always asked questions. I think I still am and still do.”
When you were a kid, what did you think you were going to be doing at this age?
“I thought I was going to be a professional basketball player, point guard, probably. Then I thought I was going to be a physicist, the next Feynman, hopefully. At some point, early on, I thought I’d be a director, but I killed that dream pretty quick and stuck to basketball and physics.”
What’s your mantra?
“‘Live forever or die in the attempt.’ —Joseph Keller, Catch 22.”
Photographed by Geordy Pearson, hair by Ryan Hunter Mitchell, makeup by Sarah Torrento, styled by Morgan Hungerford West.
What’s the best professional lesson you've learned?
“Stop trying to fit in and learn to stand out. And that's not to say you should be the loudest or the most brash, but just bring something different to the table. And know when to shut your mouth when you don't.”
What kind of kid were you? How does that affect who you are now?
“I was constantly hiding in a book or glued to the television on a completely different planet. I do remember being fantastically desperate for my autonomy. I was ready to move out of home and explore the world at about nine. As far as I was concerned, all these grownups were just getting in the way of my adventure. It's a terrible business being a child — you're so utterly reliant on a bunch of other people's decisions at all times, and there is nothing you can do about it.”
Which celebrity would play you in the movie version of your life?
“John Malkovich. He just gets it.”
When you were a kid, what did you think you were going to be doing at this age?
“I thought I was going to be a lawyer. And by lawyer, I mean Ally McBeal.”
A perfect day in L.A. always includes these three things...
“Sunshine. A parking spot on Sunset Junction. And just, please for the love of God, one good idea!”
What’s your mantra?
"Don't worry, everything is going to be amazing."
Photographed by Clarke Tolton, makeup by Liset Garza, hair by Jessica Liparoto, styled by Natalie Toren.
What kind of kid were you? How does that affect who you are now?
“I kinda still consider myself a kid. I was always like this. However, when I was yunger I did a lot of traveling. My family surfed and I did, too. I quickly grew to hate it, because I thought surfers were too obsessed with surfing. When I was eight, I quit to rap and draw pictures.”
Which celebrity would play you in the movie version of your life?
“Basquiat. Some dude once told me I was him reincarnated. It was really weird; he was like totally sure of it. I think Basquiat is really cool. The movie would be called Basquiat 2.0, and Kanye would play Andy Warhol and/or Jesus. I guess it’s not even about me.”
When you were a kid, what did you think you were going to be doing at this age?
“I kinda still consider myself a kid, but I guess I wasn’t too far off. I wanted to be a character — like do the voices for cartoons or in movies or something. So, I guess I’m doing that in a way. I knew I wanted to be famous, but I guess I thought I would’ve been more famous by now. And I work at Cartoon Network, so that’s also kinda funny. I sort of want to have a closet full of all the same outfits, like cartoons have.”
What's been your most humbling moment?
“Whenever I get my heart broken. It always feels like a set back and makes me rethink a lot of things. The good part though is that it makes my work better...I think.”
A perfect day in L.A. always includes these three things...
“I would be with friends. We would be outside in a beautiful place, and we would have beer.”
Photographed by Clarke Tolton, makeup by Liset Garza, hair by Jessica Liparoto, styled by Natalie Toren.
What’s the best professional lesson you ever learned?
“To not hold on so tightly to one thing. And I think that’s just with life in general, but especially professionally. When you’re working one-on-one with individuals, things change and people change, and that’s okay. So, to be able to let go is important. And to trust.”
If you could switch lives with anyone else under 30, who would it be?
“Florence Welch. She is like an angel — some sort of angel sent here for us humans to enjoy. She’s just otherworldly. I don’t know much about her life, but she obviously works really hard, and there’s something really special about her.”
What kind of kid were you? How does that affect who you are now?
“I was definitely a more quiet, reserved kid. I feel like it’s definitely played a part when I think about why I do what I do, and how I sort of fell into it. I think there’s definitely something to the fact that I was always more of a listener and didn’t ever want to be the center of attention. I’m truly interested in people and genuinely want to listen and be there for others.”
When you were a kid, what did you think you were going to be doing at this age?
“I was lucky to have figured out what I really enjoyed doing early. When I entered beauty school I was 16, and people were talking about careers and life. And I think that’s when I started to realize there’s a future in this; there’s something to this. Since I can remember thinking about careers, it was always this.”
A perfect day in L.A. always includes these three things...
“An Intelligentsia soy latte, visiting a famers' market, and getting to hang out with my husband and two dogs, Mark Silverstein and Kate Middleton.”
What’s your mantra?
“‘This too shall pass.’ Everything seems so big in the moment, but to have some foresight and know that this moment will pass is important.”
Photographed by Clarke Tolton, makeup by Liset Garza, hair by Jessica Liparoto, styled by Natalie Toren.
Tell us the true-life tale of the last completely awesome thing you did.
“Last week, I was in Stockholm and ended up seeing Faithless play with my friend Mans from Savage Skulls, Katy Perry, Robyn, Shellback, and a few others. Then we headed to karaoke until about five in the morning and spent the rest of the evening/morning talking about the history of Sweden and eating McDonalds. That was completely awesome in every way.”
When you were a kid, what did you think you were going to be doing at this age?
“I was pretty convinced I’d be in the NBA. I was the kid who dribbled a basketball to school and spent my evenings practicing my crossover until my mom made me come home. Basketball is definitely a large part of who I am today. The ups and downs and politics of athletics provided so many lessons for me as my music came together.”
A perfect day in L.A. always includes these three things...
“Beverly Juice Banana Manna (apple, ginger, coconut), playing pickup basketball, and listening to music really loud while laying in my bed.”
What’s your mantra?
“I think as a generation we spend a lot of time hiding behind irony and generally being scared to like things, because they may be faux pas. So, I spend a lot of time thinking and saying, ‘Don’t be afraid to be genuine.’ I don’t have guilty pleasures, and I take the things I find pleasure in seriously, even if they may seem out of step or comical in nature.”
Photographed by Clarke Tolton, makeup by Liset Garza, hair by Jessica Liparoto, styled by Natalie Toren.
We also just got done with our third camp weekend that the senior staff of Autostraddle helps run and organize ACamp. We do two camps every year (we had our first in April 2012), where 300 queer women who read our website travel to a mountain in the San Bernardino National Forest to hang out with each other, do workshops, talk during panels, create DIY projects, have s’mores and camp fires, drink, dance, and all sorts of fun things. We try to bring the website to a 3-D setting, so there are a lot of feelings and processing, but also celebrating, friend-making, and community-bonding...we hope. The goal is to create a space where our community can come and have fun and be themselves.”
What’s the best professional lesson you ever learned?
“‘Always be inspired.’ An important part of my day is scouring the Internet for anything new and inspiring that I can read or look at. I’ve recommended this to a lot of people, not just creative, but everyone could benefit from a little dose of inspiration: a good story, podcast, or something new to look at and ponder each day.”
If you could switch lives with anyone else under 30, who would it be?
“Sasha or Malia Obama. I’d be fascinated to know what it’s like living in a family of power, in the White House, as a kid already in history books before graduating high school, whose mom is Michelle Obama, the coolest first lady ever, besides Hillary, obviously.”
Which celebrity would play you in the movie version of your life?
"Probably Scarlett Johansson, because we’re both blonde and both really curvy. But really Ellen Page, because she could probably pull off a little androgyny."
When you were a kid, what did you think you were going to be doing at this age?
“I thought for sure I would be digging in the dirt for dinosaur bones. Then I wanted to be a cartoonist, because I drew cartoons all the time. Later, once I understood what graphic design was, I wanted to work at a magazine. I was never sure what I would be doing. I’m not even sure I know what I’m doing now.”
A perfect day in L.A. always includes these three things...
“Brewing a good batch of coffee in my Chemex in the morning (or if it’s summer, making some cold brew), eating the perfect vegan sandwich at The Hedgehog, which is a little café down the street from where I live. (What’s the perfect vegan sandwich? Apparently, it’s avocado, dressed spinach, and tomato confit between two crispy, toasted pieces of bread.) And taking our dog, Kai, to the dog park.”
Photographed by Clarke Tolton, makeup by Liset Garza, hair by Jessica Liparoto, styled by Natalie Toren.
Tell us a little about your career goals, including any creative endeavors on the horizon.
“I want to work on films that expose me to different parts of the world, allow me to investigate historical time periods and even create new ones. As a native Angeleno, I’d die to have my costumes on display in the Arclight lobby.”
What kind of kid were you? How does that affect who you are now?
“Aside from my mullet, I was the loudest kid in the room, often had dried ketchup on my overalls, and was relentlessly involved in life. I’m still all of those things, but being on set has taught me how to use my indoor voice. And my hair has gotten better.”
Which celebrity would play you in the movie version of your life?
“Lucille Ball, because she was silly, animated, sharp, and — above all else — a lovable troublemaker.”
What's been your most humbling moment?
“I had always idolized Colleen Atwood. And while interning at Giorgio Armani’s celebrity division in college, I stole her info out of the Rolodex and wrote it down on a Post-it. But later, when I realized it was her home number, I couldn’t come up with a professional excuse to actually call. Years later, I was contacted to research and shop for her on Dark Shadows and Snow White and the Huntsman. I found the folded-up Post-it in an old wallet, and it was a physical reminder of a dream I had years before. It was humbling, because I realized that your dreams are often presented to you in a way that you couldn’t have imagined.”
A perfect day in L.A. always includes these three things...
“NPR, cookies, and 50 percent off at the thrift store.”
What’s your mantra?
“If you’re smart, resourceful and driven, you’ll figure anything out.”
Photographed by Clarke Tolton, makeup by Liset Garza, hair by Jessica Liparoto, styled by Natalie Toren.
Tell us a little about your career goals, including any creative endeavors on the horizon.
"Always striving to better my product and making Cotton Citizen grow into a lifestyle brand that is a necessity to those in need of a luxury basic."
What’s the best professional lesson you've learned?
“Over the years, I have taught myself that if I want to make something happen to do it on my own at the very moment I have the idea or desire. Waiting on others to make things happen is the wrong move. It’s also very important to surround yourself with people who want to see you improve — people with only good intentions and no jealousy.”
What kind of kid were you? How does that affect who you are now?
“I was always very shy growing up. Also very business-minded. I feel like that has helped me keep my thoughts and ideas inside until I am ready to release. And when I do, it’s exactly how I want it to be played out.”
When you were a kid, what did you think you were going to be doing at this age?
“I have always wanted to follow in my father’s footsteps. Watching the struggle, ambition, and dedication that’s involved in a craft you love brings happiness to my life.”
What's been your most humbling moment?
"Staying humble has been a way of life. I am proud to continue the business my dad has built over the last 25 years of his life. Keeping the same team he had on his side, and being able to support them and their families, brings a sense of closure to me."
A perfect day in L.A. always includes these three things...
“Waking up early, having breakfast, and just cruising the streets, whether I’m shopping around or hitting PCH and getting some of that beach life in, is enough of a great time.”
What’s your mantra?
“Everything happens for a reason.”
Photographed by Michael O'Neal, hair and makeup by Renee Rael, styled by Sheri Evans.
What’s the best professional lesson you've learned?
“When I was working for Gavin Brown, he once casually told me that where there is truth and there is beauty, there is art. It has stayed with me.
Also, for life in general, ask and you shall receive. Time and time again, I am reminded that you need to be your own advocate. If you let others know what you want, more often than not, you get it. Don’t suffer in silence.”
If you could switch lives with anyone else under 30, who would it be?
“Jack Andraka, the 15-year-old who developed a new tool to detect pancreatic cancer in its early stages that’s cheaper, less-intrusive, and better at detecting cancer than our current method. I mean...how incredible. And I’ve always loved a lab.”
What kind of kid were you? How does that affect who you are now?
“I probably was a little bit of a loner who aspired to be more outgoing — in some ways I’m still that.”
When you were a kid, what did you think you were going to be doing at this age?
“I always wanted to be a biologist, but I think my mom was a little disappointed when I didn’t end up a Dallas Cowboys' cheerleader.”
What's been your most humbling moment?
“Starting over in a new city with new people under my own name. It’s humbling to be reminded daily that, in many ways, I’m back at the very beginning.”
A perfect day in L.A. always includes these three things...
“Breakfast at SQIRL with my boyfriend, Jonathan, and my dog, Shu. Tennis at the LA Tennis Club. A sunset walk around the Silver Lake Reservoir.”
Photographed by Clarke Tolton, makeup by Liset Garza, hair by Jessica Liparoto, styled by Natalie Toren.
Tell us a little about your career goals, including any creative endeavors on the horizon.
“To continue to produce in L.A., stay true to our brand identity, explore film and other multimedia arts within the brand, and eventually (one day!) design clothing.”
What’s the best professional lesson you've learned?
“When starting our own business, we found that we were putting our whole selves into it: time, energy, money, love. We were working around the clock and still not seeing/feeling the results that we were striving for. When, at a bit of a low point, a business mentor of ours said, ‘It’s not a question of how hard you both are working, because it’s obvious that you are working really hard. It’s now about working smarter not harder.’ Once we started to carry that mindset into how we approached all aspects of our business, we started seeing the results and fulfillment we had always been working for.”
What kind of kid were you? How does that affect who you are now?
Mauro: “I was a very free-spirited, wild, yet extremely stubborn child. I feel like my stubbornness has turned into determination and drive, pushing me to persevere even when told no or when I am faced with a challenge. And the free-spirited, wild nature of my youth embodies the girl that I design jewelry for, and the person I strive to continue to be like day-to-day.”
Morrall: “I literally grew up in the best place ever, surrounded by beaches and nestled in a valley by a river. I lived an hour away from the nearest movie theater, stoplight, or fast-food restaurant. My free time was spent either in nature or involved in the arts in some capacity. I am essentially the same when it comes down to it. It is those things, places, and activities that make me the happiest and most fulfilled.”
Which celebrity would play you in the movie version of your life?
Mauro: “Anna Karina. She’s a constant muse, and I’ve always related to her perfect imperfections, quirkiness, and endearing vulnerability.”
Morrall: “Isabella Rossellini. I love Blue Velvet. Rossellini has such a pretty, creepy way about her that I adore. She always seems so elegant, adventurous, and mysterious. While I can’t vouch for having all of those traits, I can at least claim a creepy/pretty sensibility.”
What's been your most humbling moment?
“We’ve both been humbled a bit by the fashion and jewelry industry. Neither one of us is classically trained in jewelry-making and design. Because of this, there has been a lot of trial and error, a lot of nos and hits and misses. In the end, we are the better for it and feel it has made us, and the line, stronger and more well-rounded.”
A perfect day in L.A. always includes these three things...
Mauro: “Waking up to my English bulldog, grabbing brunch or coffee with friends, and spending the day at the beach with loved ones.”
Morrall: “Beach, art, love...in no particular order. “
Photographed by Clarke Tolton, makeup by Liset Garza, hair by Jessica Liparoto, styled by Natalie Toren.
The Dream Maker
Every year Sam Teller makes some very hopeful, very inspired people in L.A. very, very happy. Like the tooth fairy of the tech world, the 27-year-old delivers, or as he puts it “invests,” in early-stage tech startups in his role as cofounder and managing director of Launchpad LA. But what Teller and his team are offering is much better than a simple $100k stashed under a pillow: Launchpad provides its lucky recipients with a network of mentors and advisors that are, in a word, priceless. Getting to handpick the next set of up-and-comers might be an honor we’re slightly familiar with, but handing them the means to make their dreams come true? Unbelievable. But as Teller sees it, this gig is kind of a gift for him, too, “I feel really lucky to get to spend my days with brilliant, passionate entrepreneurs who are changing the world, and as long as I’m still doing that, I’ll be happy.”
What’s the best professional lesson you've learned?
“Many people have phrased it many ways, but the main lesson is 'if you don’t ask, you don’t get.' Don’t be afraid to ask for the thing you want, and don’t negotiate against yourself.”
If you could switch lives with anyone else under 30, who would it be?
“Kevin Durant, because I’ve always wanted to live in Oklahoma City. (Also because I want to dunk and be an NBA All-Star.)”
What kind of kid were you? How does that affect who you are now?
“Like now, I was always pretty extroverted, and my interests shifted a lot over time. I went from an obsession with soccer and cars to dying my hair blue and starting a punk band to falling in love with politics and working on Capitol Hill. My parents were really supportive of this extracurricular whiplash, and it’s helped make me comfortable now with the idea of switching industries, jobs, or cities in the future.”
Which celebrity would play you in the movie version of your life?
“Daniel Craig (because we have similar voices) or Macy Gray (because we look alike).”
A perfect day in L.A. always includes these three things...
"Wake up in Venice, go play basketball at Poinsettia Park, get lunch at Sycamore Kitchen, hang out with my family, coffee with some entrepreneurs, see a movie, dinner at Feng Mao Mutton Kebab, drinks at HMS Bounty, karaoke in Koreatown."
What’s your mantra?
“‘Focus on fun.' —David Fialkow.”
Photographed by Clarke Tolton, makeup by Liset Garza, hair by Jessica Liparoto, styled by Natalie Toren.
Tell us the true-life tale of the last completely awesome thing you did.
"I was traveling through Southeast Asia with one of my best friends. It had been a long month of sleeping on boats, hopping trains, and crashing motorbikes. We were on our way back from the Perhentian Islands, headed to Kuala Lumpur, on a night bus. We were exhausted from all the travel and were stoked to post up and sleep for the 12-hour ride. About 20 miles into the drive, two men boarded the bus, walked back to our row, and began gesturing at their tickets. We were in their seats. Our tickets were for a day later! That’s how out of it we were. We didn’t even know what day it was. They tried to kick us off the bus in the middle of nowhere in Malaysia, but two tall, white girls having a meltdown was clearly not something to be fucked with. We negotiated for a bucket and a stack of newspapers to sleep on, taking turns rotating throughout the night. It was hilarious but total hell, Asia-style. I’ll never forget that."
What’s the best professional lesson you ever learned?
“’If it’s not cost-effective, it’s a waste of your time.’ —Garry Eaves. Had to learn that one the hard way!”
What kind of kid were you? How does that affect who you are now?
“Growing up in a small town outside of Detroit, I started out as a relatively timid kid. My dad was always pushing me to step out of my comfort zone, take risks, and do things that scared me. And I did. I tried spicy food (yes, that was scary to me). I reluctantly jumped off the 50-foot diving board into a dark lake. Without floaties, I might add. I think my dad forced me to be adventurous, whether I wanted to or not. I look back on it now and see how all of those uncomfortable moments definitively shaped who I am today. I love to be scared. I love taking risks. It makes me feel alive.”
When you were a kid, what did you think you were going to be doing at this age?
“I was going to be a world-class professional ice-skater. Swear to God. I knew how to ice-skate but was never that great. For some reason up until I was about 11, I was convinced that this was going to be my life path. My mom loves to revisit this at my expense whenever possible.”
A perfect day in L.A. always includes these three things...
“Brunch. Searching for records in flea markets and garage sales. If gardening and the beach got in there somewhere, I wouldn’t be disappointed."
What’s your mantra?
“Fuck them. Do you.”
Photographed by Clarke Tolton, makeup by Liset Garza, hair by Jessica Liparoto, styled by Natalie Toren.
Tell us the true-life tale of the last completely awesome thing you did.
“Recently, I collaborated with one of my favorite designers, Richard Chai, on a client’s look for the Met Ball. I’ve been a huge fan of his for so long that I never imagined we’d be working together. Seeing an outfit, that I helped create, go from rough sketch to the red carpet was definitely an awesome experience.”
What’s the best professional lesson you ever learned?
“I learned that it’s important to be open to new opportunities, but to also know when to say no. As my career progresses, I’m starting to realize I can’t be everywhere all the time, and that I have to be careful about overextending myself. I love styling and keeping busy, but it’s important to remember quality over quantity.”
If you could switch lives with anyone else under 30, who would it be?
“Adele. Everything about her is captivating — her voice, her songs, her soulfulness. I’d love to be able to tour the world, performing in front of hundreds of thousands of people.”
What kind of kid were you? How does that affect who you are now?
“I was a painfully shy kid who preferred books to people. If I wanted to talk to someone, I’d have to plan out my talking points in advance. This odd quirk has turned me into an expert planner. In my line of work, you have to be prepared for anything, much like the uncertain nature of conversations with strangers.”
What's been your most humbling moment?
“As a student, I excelled in math and was constantly told I would make a great teacher. Fast-forward to my first day as an inner-city math teacher, I entered the classroom and immediately froze. It was in that moment, I realized that being a great student didn’t mean I’d be a great teacher.”
A perfect day in L.A. always includes these three things...
“Embarrassingly enough, it revolves entirely around food. I’d start my day off with the best cornflake-battered French toast at Marston’s, then inhale a double helping of Brown Bread ice cream from Scoops for lunch (yes, lunch), and finish off the day with Korean BBQ at Soowon Galbi in K-town.”
What’s your mantra?
“‘Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.’ —George Bernard Shaw.”
Photographed by Clarke Tolton, makeup by Liset Garza, hair by Jessica Liparoto, styled by Natalie Toren.
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