Category: Westsiders 2018

‘No Legs, No Limits’ — Kanya Sesser

If you’ve been to the Venice Skate Park lately, chances are you’ve seen Kanya Sesser grinding by on her board in cutoffs, wavy jet black hair whipping against her tanned back. She is striking, not only for the ornate tattoos on her shoulders and forearms, but also because she skateboards — and surfs and skis — without legs, a condition with which she was born. She moves around mostly without the use of a wheelchair, instead using her hands or skateboard as transportation. Born in Thailand, Sesser was abandoned at a Buddhist temple as an infant and left in...

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Free to Be — Jake Hofheimer

For the fourth summer in a row, 19-year-old Jake Hofheimer is trading his native Los Angeles for Camp Aranu’tiq, a safe haven for transgender and gender-nonconforming kids tucked in the woods of New Hampshire. “The main reason this camp is really important to me is that it showed me that there are other people like me,” says the former camper, who now gives back as a volunteer counselor and lifeguard. Hofheimer was assigned female at birth, but he never felt at home under that label, refusing to wear girls’ school uniforms and adopting the name “Jake” during make-believe games...

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Leading the Resistance —Maria Casey

Shortly after the 2016 presidential election, a new political voice emerged in Venice. They activated hundreds to gather outside Google headquarters last year to stop an alt-right rally in the wake of Charlottesville. They held sign making parties and canvassed local neighborhoods to drum up participation in Women’s March L.A. They hosted “Flip the House” phone-banking meet-ups during the primaries. And for more than 2,500 Instagram followers, Venice Resistance has become a fixture of daily existential dives into the depths of the Internet. The woman behind this new grassroots global citizenship push is Venice resident Maria Casey, whose day...

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Mr. Hospitality — Mo Krant

What must have been a million meals and three million beers ago — before Mo’s Place became the unofficial civic center of Playa del Rey, before Mo dressed in outrageous costumes to hand out ridiculous prizes during Monday Night Football parties — Mo Krant was down on his luck, betrayed by friends and business partners, and so one night he just started driving. He ended up on Culver Boulevard two blocks from the beach, at a strip mall Chinese restaurant called the Sand Pan, which was kind of a dump, but it had potential. “I came in, sat at...

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Renaissance Woman — Nanxi Liu

Mar Vista entrepreneur Nanxi Liu has worked her way up from a village in rural China with no indoor plumbing and spotty electricity to the boardrooms of two successful startups and a spot on Forbes’ annual 30 Under 30 list in enterprise tech. She produced the Emmy-winning web series “The Bay,” co-wrote a song with a Grammy-winning musician Pascal Guyon, and at 28 years old she’s only getting started. Liu (who pronounces her name “Nancy”) was raised by extended family members in China from age two to five, until her international student parents brought her to Colorado. She describes...

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