I live to tell stories of marginalized youth that change how they are perceived in media and culture. I live to bring people from the fringes right to the center, as our artists, our cultural leaders, our shamans. What the ancient poet Hafiz would call “the beautiful rowdy prisoners.”
My parents worked to live, to survive. My dad quit school young to support his brothers, and because of him, I was fortunate to be able to take my sweet time. I build my own weird dream. I live not for today, but for tomorrow.
I see things differently than others. In my childhood home, I developed an acute hyper-awareness of my surroundings. I became perceptive as a means of survival.
When I had my son, I found I belonged somewhere – an intangible place, but a place never the less. I had this fear that I would tire of the role of “Father” like mine perhaps did.
When I die, I don’t need to be remembered or need anything named after me. I just want to know I made the world slightly better. The wealth gap has created the empathy gap, and it is my deepest purpose to try to close that.
The road hasn’t been smooth. I’ve endured a lot of struggles since moving to America. I moved to Los Angeles when I was 20 years old with $50 in my pocket. Faith fueled me. My potential pulled me forward. The idea of who I might become if I just keep going is what has carried me this far.
I create work to fill in that void. I don’t want kids who are growing up now to have those missing pieces. A lot of my work is about reclaiming my indigienous ancestry. I’m on the land of my ancestors, but that’s never acknowledged by the American government. There’s a reason for that.
I’m intrigued by people and their stories, their realities. I want to see you as you are, not as you want to be seen. My shutter is always seeking the warm truth of my subject. My lens is hungry for the sound of their true tongue. When I find that truth, it helps everyone feel a little bit less lonely.
I never committed to anything before the birth of my daughter. I was always a free spirit. I lived my life going with the flow and just kind of hoped things would work out for the best. They always did.
I wasn’t born hating myself. I was taught it. My self-loathing was the result of living as a brown boy in a tactically planned environment. Hoods don’t become hoods by accident.
I always knew we were Jewish. I knew that my dad was a non-practicing Christian from a small town in Texas. I understood that my mother had a hard time with his family because they said anti-semitic things to her. My blood battled itself.
I was diagnosed with cancer at 21. Instead of dealing with the trauma of my diagnosis, I bypassed the full spectrum of my experience by immediately looking for the gift. The silver lining we seek to make sense of life’s chaos.
When I was younger, I’d run straight to the Girls’ section for my clothes. They had all the colors, and to me, color represented joy. My mom never complied.
I was bullied as a child. This sent me into a sort of isolation. Books, film, and music filled the gaps of my loneliness. My best friend was my uncle, an ex-gang member and movie fanatic, who shared lessons of wisdom in between Star Wars or Kubrick sessions.
Death is always around the corner. My friends jokingly call me morbid, but really, I’m just hyper-aware of my mortality.
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