August 24th: Artist Profiles

Last Sunday’s event was another amazing success. For those of you who were there, and for those of you who missed it, take a peek at all of our beautiful performers.

Valerie Tosi
Hailing from Boston, the land of clam chowdah and watah bubblas,  Valerie is surprisingly not vindictive towards the letter R; Though she can be after she gets off the phone with her mother. Since moving to LA, Valerie has been a part of the improv community at both The Second City and iO West, performing short and long form improv, sketch, and musical improv. Aside from stand up at various locations around town, you can also catch her in commercials & short films. Valerie is currently in production as the lead in fun full length independent feature called “The Sex Addict”. 
Twitter: @valerie_tosi
April Morrow
April Morrow is an actor, writer, producer, and director hailing from the Midwest. With a BFA in Musical Theater, she made her stage debut at 9 years old, and hasn’t left since. With numerous regional stage credits, this is her first go at putting on a full fledged production from start to finish.  Working with the ever talented Marissa Galloway, Lindsey Newell, April Sheets, Jessica Rosando, Michaela Kahan, and John Sperry Sisk, she was able to truly capture a story of survival.  Coupled with the daring choreography of April Sheets and Chris Marcos, Catalyst takes it’s audience on a journey of self discovery and inner strength. In sharing snipets from the show with you today, She hopes that you are reminded of your inner beauty.  No one said recovery was easy, they said it was worth it.
Ilka Cortes
My name is Ilka Cortes, and I was born in Mexico and raised in the good ol’ south in Durham, NC. I’ve been writing songs since I was 12 yrs old but I was so embarrassed about my passionate lyrics, that I didn’t show anyone my songs until I was in college. I promised my parents I’d get a “real degree” before pursuing anything artistic, so I did. Then exactly one month after handing them my diploma, I bought a one-way ticket to Los Angeles for me & my dog Batman Rodriguez, and I’ve never looked back… except to hug my mama & daddy, and to eat some shrimp & grits.
I will be accompanied by my incredible bandmates. ILKA consists of our twins Anthony Duran on guitar & Victor Duran on Bass & Gabriel Donate on drums/percussion.
Instagrams: _IlkaCortes_   AnthonyDMusic  VictorSkeleton   DonateGabriel
Blog: Life’s Nessy!
Josephine Glass
Josephine Glass is a brightly beaming, shining star in a galaxy of midnight skies. She is thirteen years old, tends to seem a bit shy upon first meeting her and loves Carole King. Although she has been belting Idina Menzel favorites since age four, most people recognize her as a dancer and choreographer. She is also a deep soul who cares for others dearly in life and in remembrance. Josephine is SO grateful to have been invited to this month’s show at A.WAKE and to be included in the company of such amazing female artists here in her hometown of angels.
Flavia Schweizer
Flavia Schweizer is a swiss Choreographer currently living and working in Los Angeles,

her intention is to translate matters of the heart into movement, to move, touch and inspire others through her work.
She has choreographed and danced for So you think you can dance Europe, Nike, Carhartt, Belkin, One Direction, Pharrell. With a background in movement therapy that provided her with fundamental knowledge about the body, soul and mind she has taught all over Europe as a dance educator. I will be performing with four dancers: Kristen Shapero, Rebekah Denegal, Eri Sonoda.
“Im more interested what moves someone rather than how they move”, intention and clarity are the common demeanor of her work.
Here is a short video about me
Youtube Channel:

Tory Taranova 

(Formerly Tory Tompkins) is a musician, vocalist, award-winning songwriter, model, and actress.  The singer/guitarist/keyboardist has opened for artists like alternative rock favorite Puddle of Mudd and Cody Canada (Cross Canadian Ragweed). Recently a contestant on American Idol, Season 13, she finished in the top fifty.  Tory performs as a solo and with her band at festivals and public and private events. A Houston, Texas native, she relocated to Los Angeles summer 2014. She is regularly invited to sing the national anthem for professional events, including a personal invite by CEO Tad Brown of the Houston Rockets, and most recently the inaugural game for the Houston Dash, Houston’s first professional women’s soccer league.

Tory’s voice has been described as “a blend of the powerful low tones of Tony Braxton and the rocker sensibility of Heart vocalist Ann Wilson.” Growing up the 2000s, while others were focused on the Spice Girls and *NSYNC, Tory was more influenced by classic rock artists like Led Zeppelin, The Eagles, and Heart. She also was inspired by singer/songwriters like Leonard Cohen, Sara Bareilles, Natasha Bedingfield, and Sarah McLahclan.

Tory’s YouTube videos have received hundreds of thousands of views. Tory’s first album “Somewhere Good” was released to a sold out crowd in Austin, TX. A new original music album is planned for winter 2014. The ASCAP songwriter has licensed her songs for films and commercial campaigns, including the documentary “Charlie Chaplin 100 Years’ for the Charlie Chaplin Festival in NYC.

In addition to music, Tory is also a screen actress, voice-actor, and television personality. Tory’s success as a commercial actor includes national campaigns for Lipton Ice Tea, Dairy Queen, and Joe’s Crab Shack, among many others. “Butcher Boys,” a feature from the writer of “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” in which Tory plays a supporting role, is currently available on NetFlix.  June 2014 Lagniappe Film Festival awarded her Best Leading Actress for her performance in “Legend of Darkhorse County,” a feature with Lee Majors (“The Six Million Dollar Man” and Michael Bean (“Tombstone”).  Tory is currently represented by Pastorini Bosby Talent (Houston) and Acclaim Talent (Austin). She looks forward to announcing her Los Angeles agent/management team soon, once details have been finalized.


Jessica Cornejo
Well-rounded artist Jessica Cornejo is a dancer, actor, poet, and vocalist. She is a founding member of the Inner-City Arts Repertory Dance Company who had the honor of performing for Their Royal Highnesses, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in July 2011. In the spring of 2014, Jessica received her BA in Anthropology with a concentration in cultural anthropology, emphasizing on cultural arts. She has learned, shared, and performed in cities across Los Angeles County, as well as cross-culturally in La Habana, Cuba and Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. Jessica recently performed at the San Diego International Fringe Festival, where she and her poetry were featured in Contemporary Arte in Movement’s production “Cuentos: Stories from the Living to the Dead.” She has performed and worked with the Watts Village Theater Company, the LA Influence Dance Company, and Burst Entertainment as a dancer/actor for “Good Life with Gabby.” Jessica performed at the first “A.WAKE” event, and is grateful to have been invited back to the “A.WAKE” stage.

Esther Austin

Esther’s parents, Pastor John & Mary Austin knew from an early age that acting and being a ham was a part of Esther’s DNA.  In college, Ms. Austin got cast in her first lead roll in George C Wolfe’s play, “Colored Museum”. It was the first all Black cast in CSU, Chico Theater Dept. history and the first show ever to be held over a week by public and city demand. Ms. Austin joined the Chico City Light Opera House and Chico Creek Theater Co. to get lead rolls in “Big River”, “Godspell”, “Once on This Island” and many more.  After college, Esther decided to try her chops at the Groundlings in Los Angeles, and then on to stand up comedy. One evening while trying out her “Condoleeza Rice and getting weaves in South Central” bit, she was discovered by a TV executive producer and got her first TV role on the show “One on One”.  Ms. Austin made multiple guest appearances on the show and was a guest star on numerous shows during that time. Esther also sings and writes music. Esther has sung background for many artists such as Chaka Kahn, Christina Aguilera, Josh Groban, Gavin Rossdale, and even Andrea Bocelli. She has worked with Grammy Award winning producer David Foster, Kirk Franklin and Vincent Herbert.

esther a


**Photography by Ryan Johnson

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