Out of about 4 million Los Angelenos, LA Weekly found just 47 – or .001 percent – that are out there doing amazing stuff across the city for its annual People Issue. Now in its 10th year, the publication picked a wide variety of inspiring locals contributing to city culture. Here are the 10 LA Latinos you should be following if you’re already not:
Van Nuys native David Romo and his business partner, Adam Weiss, are ones to watch because of HAM on Everything, which according to LA Weekly, is “the most fun and least pretentious party in Los Angeles.” Though their parties may seem like an accident waiting to happen, other people haven’t been able to replicate what makes them stand out. Perhaps it’s because Romo and Weiss aren’t the typical “douchey-promoter” types or because they offer an alternative to LA’s glitzy club culture.
“We’ll throw rap shows for two months, then be like, ‘I kinda wanna do a weird rave thing.’ We’ve trained the kids to just be down. They trust us,” Romo said.
Read more about the duo here.
Alex Estrada almost became a sixth-generation mariachi. His grandfather performed with Mariachi Chapala, and his father is a Grammy-nominated mariachi. “My father got me a trumpet when I was 9 years old,” he said. “It was given to me with the understanding that I would become a mariachi … but then in seventh grade I discovered Smashing Pumpkins and Nine Inch Nails.”
And though he freaked out his parents with his preference for punk and melodic post-hardcore, he has paid homage to his roots. Silver Snakes’ “The Loss” includes flamenco clapping known as palmas.
Read more about Estrada here.
28-year-old April O’Neil is a porn star. But based on her stage name, you might guess she’s a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fan. According to her Tumblr, she’s absolutely obsessed with Doctor Who. The part-Mexican, part-Nicaraguan LA native is looking to become a pinball champ. She competes weekly in the L.A Pinball League at her favorite arcade bar, Eighty Two. And because she’s also an emo rave scene ambassador, she learned that Davey Havok of AFI is “so good at pinball.”
Read more about April here.
Brilliant Garcia is a visual artist, DJ, and creative director originally from Texas. With things like No Service, a live art experience, 22-year-old Brilliant is at the forefront on the city’s new art-focused nightlife. She credits her mother, who died before she moved to LA, as her inspiration. “It’s important to know that when you see me, you’re seeing my mother – her presence, her gifts,” she said. “She is the reason for my everything.”
Read more about Brilliant here.
Born in Talpa de Allende, Mexico, Chuy Tovar arrived to the United States at age 5. Tovar, a tequila importer and coffee shop owner, grew up in Lincoln Heights. “I remember when there were actual tumble weeds rolling through the Arts District,” he told LA Weekly. “That’s where me and my brothers would hang out.”
And though at his family’s ranch his grandfather made his own raicilla (a tequila blanco-type spirit), he got into tequila marketing because of some of his USC friends. He eventually started linking the city’s top bartenders and chefs and the distilleries from Jalisco. And it’s a role he used to get a foothold in the industry, because Tovar became directly involved in helping restaurants break into LA’s competitive food scene. And just last year, he and business partner Antonio Segoviano, bought Mariachi Plaza, a coffee shop.
Read more about Chuy here.
Five years ago, a 22-year-old Daniel Lopez took control of the Los Angeles County Young Democrats. Disheartened to see that most of the board members were in their mid-30s and not really doing anything with their positions, he organized a group of friends to help him take over. Currently, the 27-year-old is the political director for Kamala Harris’ senate campaign. California hasn’t had an open senate seat since the early 90s – when Lopez was 3.
Through his mother’s encouragement, Lopez attended Loyola High School, an all-boys school. There, he became passionate about politics. “The Jesuits tend to be more liberal — there was more social justice and liberation theology,” he said. “Two of my priest teachers were arrested in immigration rallies.”
Before graduating college, he worked for the Hillary Clinton campaign and he worked on the social media team for Antonio Villaraigosa.
Read more about Daniel here.
Jennicet Gutierrez made headlines in 2015 when she interrupted President Barack Obama at an LGBT Pride event and all LGBT immigrants be released. Gutierrez, who emigrated from Mexico as a 15 year old. And as a transgender, undocumented woman, she tried to sink into the background and go unnoticed. You wouldn’t expect the woman who didn’t even raise her hand in class to boldly speak to the president, but Jennicet became fed up. “I have been so patiently waiting for change, and change never came,” she said. “I’ve been part of this country for a while, so I have every right to raise my voice and demand dignity for myself and for the community.”
According to Fusion, 75 transgender immigrants are held in detention by la migra every day, and Jennicet knew that this could very well be her fate. That’s why she volunteered to interrupt the president when Familia and GetEQUAL looked for a volunteer. Since then, Jennicet has traveled across the United States to speak at conferences about where LGBTQ and immigration rights meet.
Read more about Jennicet here.
Born to a Mexican father and black mother, 30-year-old Miguel grew up between San Pedro and Inglewood, Los Angeles. Miguel, who rode a wave of critical acclaim for his latest LP Wildheart, cites his father’s obsession with funk, jazz, and hip-hop, as well as his mother’s preference for R&B as influences. “I always knew. I want to make music,” he said to LA Weekly. “This is it. I never ever thought of anything else.” His parents always supported his dreams.
But despite the strong support system, he had a deep fear of moms, which kept him in check as a teenager. He didn’t even have his first drink until age 18.
Read more about Miguel here.
Anthony Carasa, aka Tito Bonito, is a boylesque performer, who’s certainly got an audience. And that’s even before he shows off his last move – a set of tassels spinning from his pompis. The Miami-born Bonito dreamt of living in Los Angeles, where he thought he’d become an actor. He even attended theater school in Chicago, but he struggled to land a role.
His best friend started performing burlesque, and Tito “was hella judgmental about it” because he didn’t think it’d pay well. But as a good friend, he showed up to support his friend. That’s when he learned men could perform, so he quickly jumped into that world. And the 31-year-old’s new career path led him straight to LA.
“I’ve been showing my butt since I was a little kid,” he said. “Had I known I could have made a career off of that, I probably would have started a lot younger.”
Read more about Tito here.
Valentina Garza is Latina making it work in Hollywood. The Echo Park native didn’t grow up seeing herself on TV – outside of novelas. She served as the supervising producer on Fox’s recently canceled Bordertown, and before that, she formed part of the writing team on The Simpsons. And it’s her family dynamics – specifically her “crazy” Cuban-American mom – that drew her to writing.
“I had this really kind of weird upbringing, and I needed a way to cope with the crazy in my family,” she said. “I started writing to do that. I’ve been writing since I was a kid.”
Read more about Valentina here.