Where you grew up and your background can often have surprising effects on our lives and careers. We’ve asked folks from the community to tell us about how their background has affected them.

Dru Phillips | Content creator

I was born in Queens, NY but I was raised in Ft. Lauderdale FL. My upbringing has helped me mold me by teaching me how to hustle. Single parent home with a strong mom shows you how to make ends meet without letting the world know you’re struggling. If I have some sort of mishap on set, I know how to get through it without a client knowing anything was wrong. I know how to be grateful for what I have and to be appreciative of anything someone can offer. Read more>>

Laura Hesp | Artist

I grew up in Toronto, Canada as the youngest of three siblings. My upbringing was quite unstable and traumatic and I was usually buried in my inner world keeping myself company. My parents worked hard to provide but things were definitely tight and became worse once they divorced. The age gap with my siblings made it hard to connect and I was often isolated, bullied, and neglected instead of protected. This always forced me deeper into myself and made me reluctant to make friends or even leave the house but I have really fond memories of being outdoors around water, nature, and animals and I cherish that. Read more>>

Olyasha Novozhylova | Entrepreneur, Model, Blogger, Author, Celebrity Podcast Founder&Host

I’m originally from Mariupol, Ukraine, the city that became world-famous, but in a very sad way. I came to US when I was 17, over 16 years ago. Even though I was born in Ukraine, my first language was Russian, as everyone else’s at that part of Ukraine. I can say that by growing up in Ukraine, I went through so many struggles and challenges that made me strong, and made me who I am today. Read more>>

Lenny Thompson | The Dj & The Photographer

I call Blytheville, Arkansas home! Being a military brat I’ve moved around a lot as a youngster but Blytheville is definitely home. Growing up moving around you learn to adapt to new people and surroundings. You learn that everyone doesn’t operate the same or have the same beliefs or methods. Read more>>

Julia Townsend | Yoga Instructor, Mom, & Entrepreneur

I grew up in the suburbs of Atlanta. I come from a family who was and is still heavily involved in the church. I was homeschooled until the ninth grade, and attended a Christian school for high school. That is where I met my husband. Growing up, I was a dancer and also did horseback riding. My childhood is full of memories playing with my best friend, my sister, and my cousins. I was raised to be independent, hardworking, to look out for my family and friends, and to be generous with my time, talent, and resources. Today, I feel that these values still play out in my life and relationships. Read more>>

Veronica Aldridge | CEO & Owner Glamaurie the Label, LLC

I was born in Chicago, IL however I was raised in an incredibly small town by the name of Brinkley, AR. Relocating from Chicago, IL to Brinkley, AR was like a culture shock indeed. To leaving valuables in plain sight, hunting, and the media focusing their stories on local news, it was a cultural difference to say the least! Being born in Chicago was no walk in the park and relocating to Brinkley was also something that required some getting used too. Growing up in such a small town, the resources were limited, and it had its fair share of drawbacks. Read more>>

Lattifa Bryant | Non Profit Publisher, 15 Time Author, Celebrity Ghostwriter

I’m from a small town called Douglas Georgia…and no, NOT Douglasville! Douglas, Georgia, well…it’s not exactly a metropolis, but it has a lot of good people and great food. We recently got a Chic Fil A in 2021; it’s great to see my hometown growing up with me! I moved away to make way for more opportunities, but my hometown is the fuel behind my fire. I have so many people standing with me in support of me from my hometown that I hold close to my heart. Read more>>

Juwan Harris | Creator

Well I’m originally from Charleston West Virginia Almost Heaven you know? It’s a small city but it’s a city with heart. I got my swag from my dad and my uncles. They all had a cool but gritty, gentlemen but savage energy and style about them. They all walked with confidence no matter what and that’s why I walk like I walk and talk like I talk because of them. I used to look at my dad like he was 2pac or 50 cent in his prime it was crazy. Read more>>

Asha J. Watson | Author, Speaker, Poet & Community Catalyst

I was born and raised in a suburb called Oak Park (right outside of the Westside of Chicago). My parents were both born in Mississippi, grew up during the Civil Rights movement, and chose to move to Chicago, then later to Oak Park to start their family. They were one of the first African-American families to live in this community. Oak Park helped me to learn a lot of what it meant to be black, and a woman, in a white male-dominated world. I have used this life education as fuel to be excellent, instead of an excuse not to be. Read more>>

Hoodoo Jim | Musician/Artist

I’m from Augusta, GA. It’s a big city, but it’s really low energy, it reminds me of a small town. Living there was a drag to be honest. I knew I wanted something different. I was never content. Over time I realized the only way I would change my situation was to find a way out. It was hard, I lost a lot of friends during this process, but sometimes that’s a necessary part of growth. Read more>>

Rizzo Fresh | Rap Artist

I’m From Beaufort South Carolina. I grew up with just me and my mom in the house and seeing her work hard everyday to provide for me and my brother made me want to have more and my kids are a big reason I’m building my brand Read more>>

Kamyra Moore | Registered Behavioral Therapist

I am from Chicago,Illinois. Where I was born & raised. Growing up there I always knew that, in my head I always wanted to be different from everyone around me. I just knew that I always wanted better & to become a better person. My background probably affected me for most of my life but that didn’t stop me from being who I knew I wanted to be in life. Read more>>