The Creators of LA: Visual Artist Nana Agyapong
For the last 10 months, self-taught photographer Megan McIsaac has been traveling the West Coast in an RV — a 1977 Toyota “Dolphin” — and gathering portraits of friends and creative types she met along the way. Now settled in Los Angeles, with a Mamiya c330 camera, McIsaac decided to document the community that’s inspired so much of her work: Tumblr. This is part of a series of photographic profiles.
Nana Agyapong and I met for only a moment when I first saw her at an outdoor event. Very rarely do I photograph complete strangers out and about, but something drew me to this woman. When we met up, we took photographs at her lover’s home near Venice Beach, and then went for a stroll down the boardwalk. Agyapong told me about the handful of projects she had been working on, including a commercial filmed and directed by James Franco, a movie with Asiel Norton, and her first documentary, LA Woman Rising, which follows the morning rituals of 50 women in Los Angeles.
How did you end up in LA?
I immigrated with my mom and brother to America from Ghana for an opportunity for a better life. We settled in New Jersey where I attended high school, then I got scouted to model. I came to LA for a crash course in acting and directing. I fell in love … The beach, palm trees, and sunshine reminded me of my childhood on the coast of Ghana.
You do all sorts of things: acting, directing, modeling, writing. Which is your first passion?
I love all the aspects of expression. I love being in front of a camera. Naturally, I fell in love with acting from being a model. I love that both have this transformation quality. I love that in acting it is about emotions and poetry. To me, acting allows one to forget herself and let the spirit flow through them so that they may serve as a messenger to all. As for writing, I have been a poet my whole life. Throughout the struggles and challenges life gives I always find refuge in jotting down my feeling.
You just launched a Kickstarter for your documentary project, LA Woman Rising. Tell us about it.
The title started with the song “LA Woman,” by Jim Morrison of The Doors. That song initially created a visual icon — an image of the individual woman, an object of beauty and desire. But LA women represent so much more than that. I have chosen 50 LA women that might surprise you. They are homeless, a lawyer, a porn star, a doctor, impoverished, rich, a maid, actress (of course!), a painter, and the list goes on. What makes this project so close to me as an artist, is that it portrays how it is in The City of Angels. Whether naked or bejeweled, thin or fat, famous or homeless, LA women all share the same feelings in the morning.
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