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.

Steve Murray | Photographer and Director

Born in Asheville, NC. I spent many years in Raleigh – the first 7 as a photojournalist at the N&O where I went from a fresh out of school newbie to a seasoned photographer. When you work for a newspaper you learn to work fast. This served me well when I then started a commercial photo biz. Over the years I produced hundreds of images for ads, posters, brochures + annual reports and then in 1990 I began filming TV commercials. My specialty was producing both print and TV with one crew. Read more>>

Claudia Cavaliere | Healer and Artist

I’m from Montreal, the city that possesses some of the world’s finest talent. Growing up I was surrounded by the most artistic and expressive people. Montreal really taught me how bless it can be to embody your truest and most authentic self, from underground cyphers, to speak-easy art shows,. Everything is art. Although I was born in Montreal, I bleed Italian, and this is how I was raised. Like typical Italians, my family is very expressive and loud. I was brought up with intense and radical emotions, loud speaking, showing love through grabbing your cheeks and amplifying your speech with hand gestures. Read more>>

Melanin Monroe | Recording Artist Singer, Rapper, Song Writer, Engineer – Melanin Monroe

I am from Phoenix, Arizona and grew up in the Maryvale area. My background consisted of a very impoverished upbringing. I was raised by my grandmother in a home of sometimes 14 people in a 3 bedroom house. My mother and father were both crack addicted and abandoned myself and my sister at the age of 8. I learned that “you are a product of your environment”, before I learned that you do not have to be a product of your environment, Today, my brand stands for the right and the decision to be whomever one chooses to be; despite where they come from and their background. My brand is focused on empowerment and unity of all people as well as being comfortable with ones sexuality, individuality and expression thereof. Kindness, humor for life and the many milestones; and being your best self are at the forefront of what #Blondish means… Read more>>

Jerry Bridges | Wildlife Photographer

The question of “where are you from?” has always elicited an almost cliché response of, “all over”, or maybe it is fully cliché. Either way, I was born in California, raised in Washington, grew up in and travelled with the U.S. Marine Corps, then back to Washington, then a stint in New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina, and currently in Lake Havasu City Arizona. While in the Marine Corps I was stationed in Southern California, with a few temporary duty stations in Florida, Arizona, Okinawa, Iraq, and a few months on-board a Navy ship. That, is why I say I am from “all over”. Now I’m not saying that being from all over is any better or worse than being from your hometown but it certainly gives one a broader sense of self. Read more>>

Johnnie Purvis | Entrepreneur. Creative owner of the SPEED WE LUST brand, Consultant for specialty clients customizing exotic cars, SAG Stuntman and Actor.

I’m Italian-Scottish and Japanese. Born and raised on the southern islands off Japan, called the Ryukyu islands or as most people know it as Okinawa.. My dad William was a U.S. Airforce military man- spent a tour in the Korean War and Vietnam war. He got stationed in Okinawa after the war and met my mom there.. being a military brat, I made a lot of friends from all ethnic backgrounds and got to travel around a bit. I grew up with no judgment or prejudice for people of all races and I think that mounded my overall perspective of not qualifying people based on skin color and ethnicity. We are all here for a purpose to fulfill on this journey. Read more>>

Larry Nader | Photographer & Digital Artist

Hailing from the city of Detroit (born and raised), I grew up in the 1960s and 70s in a bungalow home in the city’s west side community of Warrendale. Early on in my life, we were in a three-generation home with my maternal grandfather living with us. My dad worked at Ford Motor’s Rouge Plant for 37 years. We didn’t have a lot of luxury but we lived comfortably for that era. My parents were amazing caring people and we were raised to work hard, help others, and live our lives without hatred or bigotry towards others. Read more>>

Harley Hope | Owner of ROGUERIES Leather, Art Director & Muse

I was born in Paris, France, raised in Maryland and have traveled and worked in Europe and all over the U. S. My deepest ties are with Honolulu and New York, however I learned a lot working in London and living in the American South. All of the people that I’ve met and every single experience, whether it be uplifting or depressing, has shaped how I interact with society and how I continue to create. Read more>>

Ashley Petefish | Outdoor Content Creator and Attorney

I was born and raised in Camp Verde, Arizona. Living in a small town in the Verde Valley meant growing up playing in the red rocks of Sedona, by the Verde River, swimming in the creeks. Those values of respecting nature and the outdoors have inspired me to be who I am today- an avid hiker who educates others on leave no trace principles, outdoor ethics, and the best way we can preserve the wilderness around us. Read more>>