Kevin ScanlonTyrese Gibson, the kid from Watts who broke into America's consciousness as the star of John Singleton's Baby Boy in 2001 seems to balance more gigs than Bon Jovi, and sometimes it shows. Gibson says he never dreams; his whole life is a dream. "I dream with my eyes open."
Kevin ScanlonAlicia Estrada's fashion company Stop Staring! employs more than 25 people at its headquarters in Paramount. Estrada's sexy, feminine dresses are carried in more than 1,000 boutiques in 55 countries, and Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian and Eva Mendes have been photographed wearing them.
Kevin ScanlonIn other cities, vice president of the Chamber of Commerce would not be considered a flashy gig. But in Hollywood, it's a dramatically different story and one unique to Los Angeles. Ana Martinez, vice president of media relations for the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, produces one of Tinseltown's most enduring traditions: the Walk of Fame ceremony.
Kevin ScanlonArmando Gonzalez's fork in the road came in 1985, when a good friend was gunned down by rival gangsters. He wanted to use his anger to kill. But skating instead became a relief valve, a way out. His dad bought him a Santa Cruz Rob Roskopp model the next year, and it was on.
Kevin ScanlonIf viewers can't quite figure out what to make of Shahs of Sunset, well, they're really divided on The Shahs' breakout star: self-proclaimed Persian pop priestess Asa Soltan Rahmati. She's both loved and resented a successful businesswoman who remains close to her Muslim family, a lover of over-the-top luxury who nevertheless seems down to earth.
Kevin ScanlonLast year's Mars landing by the NASA rover Curiosity was a nail-biter broadcast live from the control room at the Jet Propulsion Lab in La Caada Flintridge. Yet as the rover touched down, much of the world at least, the part on Twitter was riveted by Bobak Ferdowsi, the grinning flight director who'd sculpted his jet-black hair into a red-tipped mohawk and shaved stars onto the side of his head.
Kevin ScanlonIn January, Carla Esparza became the first Invicta Fighting Championships Straw-weight Champion in Women's Mixed Martial Arts. The gorgeous 25-year-old, ranked No. 1 in her weight class in the world, says her victory against Bec Hyatt via unanimous decision was like a dream. "There's a goal you aim toward, and the accumulation of training and hard work all come together when you have your hand raised! Even if you come out bloodied and broken it's all for that one moment. It's almost unreal."
Kevin Scanlon20-year-old Victoria Justice worked every day but six in 2012. The star of the inexplicably canceled hit Nickelodeon television show Victorious is a certified millionaire, not to mention a film actress, a singer in possession of a Columbia Records deal and an emerging pinup who has been in Maxim. In her spare time she makes AT&T ads urging teens not to text while driving. Easy for her to say: She's been too busy to get her driver's license.
Kevin ScanlonChelsea Peretti, a 35-year-old Bay Area native, has written for groundbreaking comedy shows like Portlandia and Parks and Recreation and has a popular podcast, Call Chelsea Peretti, in which she treats callers as savagely as she treats herself (often by hanging up on them). It's hard to know where her act stops and her real personality begins: Like her friend Louis C.K., who once followed her around with a camera for a botched film project, she uses her comedy as a platform to sort through her issues.
Kevin ScanlonColey King practices street medicine, treating the homeless where they live, taking the clinic to them. His goal: getting them healthy enough to get off the streets and into Section 8 housing.
Kevin ScanlonJessie Andrews was a 17-year-old American Apparel salesgirl in Miami Beach when company founder Dov Charney, impressed with her abilities, hired her to instruct the other area employees. She later began modeling for the company and then, at 18, was recruited by elite porn agent Mark Spiegler, who manages high-profile adult stars, including former client Sasha Grey.
Kevin ScanlonDavy Rothbart is many things a writer, documentary filmmaker, This American Life contributor and creator of Found magazine, a print publication that pieces together stray letters, lists, drawings and photos. Most people would have migrated Found over to a Tumblr by now. Not Rothbart. He's a literary slow cooker in a world of microwave media.
Kevin ScanlonBest friends since preschool, Anna Dewey Greer and Christine (Tina) Stormberg moved from Omaha to Los Angeles to open a bikini shop that was also a life/art project and also a girly wonderland, a place where they could have haircut parties, fortune-telling parties and craft parties, even drink margaritas outside. They called it Dog Show. And in the year and a half it's been open in Echo Park, it has become something of a scene.
Kevin ScanlonDoron Ofir original casting director of more than 100 reality productions finds the world's most fascinating people. Then he quickly decides whether they have what it takes to be on reality TV. "Ten years ago, this profession didn't exist," he says. "I'm one of the first to create a brick-and-mortar, fully functioning, talent-integration casting company in the world of entertainment."
Kevin ScanlonThe founder of Tails of Joy animal rescue organization, Elayne Boosler is a dog lover but other than the occasional visiting pooch, her home is currently dog-free. "I've gone through eight dogs," she says dolefully. "I can't take the heartbreak."She raises money through comedy shows and donates it to the tiniest rescue organizations, those focused on saving animals rather than building a national presence.
Kevin ScanlonEloise Klein Healy has had a long and successful academic career, directing the women's studies program at Cal State Northridge, founding the MFA program in creative writing at Antioch University Los Angeles, where she is now a professor emeritus, and founding Arktoi Books, a Red Hen Press imprint that specializes in the work of lesbian authors. She's written seven books of poetry, the most recent of which, A Wild Surmise, was published in March. And then there's the poet laureate honor, which Healy says took her by complete surprise, "because I didn't think they'd choose a white lesbian."
Kevin ScanlonHeather Taylor can't put a precise name to her style, she says, except to note that it is cozy and classic, with elements of "the indoor-outdoor L.A. thing." Whatever it is, people want to be around her if not outright be her because Taylor is the epitome of a certain kind of Southern California living: casual, elegant, playful and creative.
Kevin ScanlonBrothers David and Andrew Fung began making the San Gabriel Valley a focus of their YouTube videos, an appealing mix of rap and food jokes that also spotlight their Asian heritage. "We're not food experts," David says. "But I'm happy to be a cultural representative for the Chinese."
Kevin ScanlonThe first time Jennifer Klausner spoke up on behalf of bikes was at a Santa Monica City Council meeting in the early '90s. It was also the first time the avid cyclist and star member of UCLA's racing team learned that not everyone shared her love of two-wheeled transportation.
Kevin ScanlonHere's how Heather Shaw spent 2012: She was production designer on her first TV show, a little singing competition called American Idol. She had three installations on various stages at Coachella. She designed and fabricated a "water chandelier" for the poolside club at the Cosmopolitan in Vegas. She created and built an 80-foot-tall, 30,000-capacity "dance temple," graceful and neon-colored like a raver's Angkor Wat, for a music festival in Portugal. And she took her parents to their first Burning Man.
Kevin ScanlonHyongsoon Kim studied to be a classical musician as a teen, attended Cal State L.A. at age 15 and earned his law degree from Columbia at 22. Today he's lead attorney in a federal lawsuit that's shining a light on Los Angeles City Hall chicanery by challenging a controversial 2012 gerrymander that handed City Council president Herb Wesson more power.
Kevin ScanlonJanice Min was helming Us Weekly when Prometheus Global Media then-CEO Richard Beckman reached out to her about revamping The Hollywood Reporter, which he'd recently purchased. She was intrigued. "Creating something is interesting," she says. "You can focus-group it to death. Or you can deliver things to people they didn't even know they needed or wanted."
Kevin ScanlonWhile most people get into hand modeling through other avenues of the entertainment industry they are primarily actors, spokespeople, stunt doubles or models Jenna Chong began eight years ago on a whim.
Kevin ScanlonAt 76, George Takei is in the prime of his life: The Star Trek actor and L.A. native is now a social media maven, a theatrical producer and, with his husband, the former Brad Altman (now Takei), a poster child for marriage equality.
Kevin ScanlonRaised in East Providence, R.I., Jennifer Lee was a flute-playing band nerd who "became a cheerleader a nerd cheerleader." She graduated from the University of New Hampshire and went to New York to work as a graphic artist in publishing. But after the shattering death of her true love at age 20, she yearned to tell her own stories.
Kevin ScanlonJohn O. Dabiri is the impossibly young chair of faculty at the California Institute of Technology, where he studies jellyfish propulsion and fish schooling behavior. Handsome and quick to laugh, the professor of aeronautics and bioengineering explains, "Look, I do understand the idea of saving taxpayers money" his research could end up saving piles of it. But his true aim is to address greater challenges like climate change and disease.
Kevin ScanlonInfusing his SoCal upbringing with his Taiwanese roots, Jonny Hwang created the 626 Night Market, a weekend event bringing stinky tofu, spam musubi, roasted chicken butt and pig ears to nostalgic Asian-Americans and allowing others to try the rich flavor combinations and tastes provided by Asian street cuisine.
Kevin ScanlonJorge Cham was on track to become the cool professor who explains difficult subjects with cartoons and pop culture references. But at a conference in Spain, he met a famous MIT professor whom he admired. They began talking about the cartoon, and Cham mentioned that it could be a full-time job.
Kevin ScanlonThe merging of traditional private studio and public exhibition/event space has allowed Laura Owens to participate in her indefinite show, "12 Paintings by Laura Owens," beyond the opening, allowing both artist and audience to spend more time than usual with each other and with the work.
Kevin ScanlonJos Tanaka was born in Kyoto, Japan. But his parents were so dedicated to flamenco music that they named him Jos, to make sure he'd always be tied to the traditional Spanish Romani folk art of singing, dancing, guitar and hand claps.
Kevin ScanlonAt first glance, there might seem to be some cognitive dissonance between lecturing about early U.S. colonialism and screaming at shows with Graf Orlock, which plays a chaotic, fast-paced metal subgenre called grindcore. But Justin Smith insists otherwise.
Kevin ScanlonTaghinia's love affair with vinyl began at age 14, when she worked at her local Columbus, Ohio, record store. After school Taghinia moved to New York, where she got involved with the British record label Finders Keepers, launching its U.S. arm.
Kevin ScanlonMargot Ocaas couldn't find enough green space on the L.A. map, so one day she created an inviting, temporary public space in her Wilshire Vista neighborhood, organizing a one-day street closure that drew delighted walkers and bicyclists. It was a prescient, guerrilla version of CicLAvia, L.A.'s massively popular, now-triannual bicycling and walking event held on 10 or so miles of closed streets.
Kevin ScanlonWhile New York has sustained sizable, world-renowned dance companies for decades, Los Angeles has yet to follow suit. Melissa Barak, ballet dancer and choreographer, sees dance as L.A.'s "next artistic frontier." Her vision is to create Barak Ballet, a company dedicated to new, contemporary choreography rooted in classical technique.
Kevin ScanlonMorihiro Onodera left his renowned sushi restaurant Mori Sushi not to retire ("no, no no") but to work on his pottery, a vocation he found 18 years ago, when he was cooking at the venerable New York City sushi restaurant Hatsuhana.
Kevin ScanlonOver fish and chips at a downtown L.A. beer bar, Natasha Deon remembers the turning point in her life a decade ago. She was working on a court case in which her client was being sued by a 70-year-old woman who had slipped and fallen in his building. Though she needed a hip replacement, the woman's attorney carelessly settled the case for $1,000, not nearly enough to cover her medical expenses. "I was just, like, 'This is wrong. This isn't what justice is about, this isn't why I became an attorney.'"
Kevin ScanlonJan. 7, 2012: Los Angeles Galaxy defender Omar Gonzalez was in an airport bathroom in Belek, Turkey, injecting himself with a blood thinner. He'd arrived in Belek two days before to train with German club FC Nuremberg, which was interested in signing him. But in his first training session, he tore his ACL. Now he was going back to Los Angeles.
Kevin ScanlonPablo Alvarado, 46, normally affable and soft-spoken, bristles when he's called the Cesar Chavez of day laborers. Despite his accomplishments as director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, he doesn't see himself as a hero. "I do this work because I love it," he says.
Kevin ScanlonBorn in Indianapolis and raised in Monrovia, Gomolvilas' career started while he was a college student in San Francisco. In the next decade, he became known for his plays, including Big Hunk o' Burnin' Love and The Theory of Everything, which have been performed everywhere from L.A.'s East West Players to Singapore Repertory. He eventually made his way back to Los Angeles in 2002, and lives in Glendale.
Kevin ScanlonTim Heidecker, the eastern Pennsylvaniabred parodist, is best known for his experimental, schizophrenic Adult Swim comedy Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, which ran for three years in the late aughts and was created with his former Temple University film school classmate Eric Warheim. Since then, Heidecker has been involved in practically a new project every week.
Kevin ScanlonRita Gonzalez has a quiet energy and expresses her knowledge of art and its history in an unpretentious way. She has organized or co-organized a number of landmark exhibitions in the last few years. The most notable of these, "Phantom Sightings: Art After the Chicano Movement," which included experimental art made since the 1970s, and "Asco: Elite of the Obscure," about the influential L.A. performance art group, dealt with Chicano cultural history, a subject that major museums have barely begun to explore.
Kevin ScanlonIn 1985, after graduating college, Rob Weiss found himself in Los Angeles, working at the Galleria in Sherman Oaks, when a female friend suggested he attend a 12-step meeting for his sexual addiction. There, "I started to realize I had a self," Weiss says. "I realized I couldn't maintain my sexual behavior and still like myself."
Kevin ScanlonRocio Camacho's two San Fernando Valley restaurants, both named Rocio's Mole de los Dioses, or Mole of the Gods, bear uncelestial exteriors. But the gods would be charmed by their own images inside on vivid paintings, and they would be tempted by earthy, fruity and spiced aromas.
Kevin ScanlonNassrouie, 60, has been snooping around L.A.'s Persian community for 13 years. He follows cheating spouses and hunts down hidden assets. A lot of business comes from protective parents who want to know more about who their kids are dating.
Kevin ScanlonIt's a given that Sean Z. Maker would grow up to create comics he's been drawing them most of his life. That he would also produce one of the most intriguing comic book events in the country is a little unexpected, especially for him.
Kevin ScanlonPeople who spend lots of time around Shrikanth "Shri" Narayanan may not hear him ask "What are you thinking?" too often. That's not because he doesn't care but because he might just try to analyze their gestures and vocal sounds instead.
Kevin ScanlonSimon R. Lewis would like to expand your consciousness, which might seem odd coming from the man who co-produced the silly but successful movies You Can't Hurry Love and Look Who's Talking. But Lewis barely survived a horrific 1994 car crash that killed his passenger, his wife of five months. Now he's serious about helping others find what he calls "the hidden path."
Kevin ScanlonSix-foot-something Philippa Price glanced across a New York City bar and locked eyes with a fellow skyscraper, a blonde named Smiley Stevens. That night, as the young women conversed, they realized they had more in common than just stature. Both were avid readers. Both grew up in Los Angeles. And both shared a fancy for fashion.
Kevin ScanlonLast year Frankie Eder DJed at underground beat music club Low End Theory, joining the ranks of Thom Yorke, Erykah Badu and Flying Lotus. Pretty cool. He's no professional musician in fact, he's just a regular eighth-grade kid. Still, the crowd went wild once he started playing his raw, dubstep-inspired piece "Ghost," even though he could barely reach the boards.
Kevin ScanlonTo say Tim Walker is obsessed with grilled cheese "sammiches" (as he likes to call them) would be an understatement. Since founding the Grilled Cheese Invitational, his annual silly-yet-serious cooking competition, in 2003, he has become a madcap yet undeniably influential figure in the world of gourmet comfort food.
Kevin ScanlonThe piata king likes big. His royal highness, known in less formal circles as Tony Dominguez, makes 12-foot-tall Virgenes de Guadalupe out of papier-mch (the ones at the Century City restaurant Pink Taco are his). He makes 2-story-tall skeletons and massive cacti and frogs and grinning suns and devils.