On Tuesday, April 18, Discover Los Angeles launched the Welcome Initiative, two videos and a social networking project designed to put out a virtual welcome mat for visitors from international locations as well as domestic destinations.
Distributed online through social media platforms, #EveryoneIsWelcome was released as the original :90 video and an alternate :60 version. The video is directed by L.A.-based newcomer Isaac Ravishankara, a Harvard grad with a degree in Physics. The son of an Indian father and Jewish mother, Ravishankara was inspired by the idea of extending an L.A. welcome to those who may currently feel uninvited. “I wanted to be involved in this piece because it encapsulates things I am passionate about: diversity, inclusivity, community. We used real Angelenos with amazing stories and backgrounds – one of my mandates. I think the video is a beautiful example of how Los Angeles welcomes world visitors with open arms.”
Set to the soundtrack of Father John Misty’s “Real Love Baby,” the paper planes guide us through the city, featuring glimpses of famous landmarks like the Hollywood Sign, Walt Disney Concert Hall, Olvera Street and The Original Farmers Market.
The visual cue of brightly colored and unique paper planes, which float through the bright blue sky on a typically beautiful day in Los Angeles, is meant to represent visitors from around the world: people of every race, gender identity and sexual preference, whether you're a family visiting an attraction, friends stopping for ice cream, or Madonna’s choreographer and her partner dancing at the top of Elysian Park on a hike.
The video also features iconic street art by Shepard Fairey, Dour One and even an impromptu cameo appearance by Steez, who just happened to be painting a mural near the director’s home in Echo Park. This tricky execution of on-the-spot casting led to individuals with interesting background stories and provides the viewer with an authentic snapshot of Los Angeles neighborhoods and their residents.
Layla Shaikley, a self-described Muslim Hipster (or #Mipsterz, a phrase she coined), not only has chops on a skateboard, but also a celebrated degree from MIT. She co-founded TED talks in Baghdad and heads a software company. She felt so strongly about the Discover Los Angeles Welcome message, that she flew from Boston to be part of it. “I’m the proud Muslim-American Daughter of immigrants,” she declares. "You are welcome here too.”
“I love to celebrate my cultural identity in Los Angeles with the food and music of my heritage,” explains Ricky Rojas, a creative filmmaker and actor of Cuban and Guatemalan descent. He’s the runner in the Venice Beach scene, greeting a friend at a café. "You are always welcome here,” he adds. ”Cherish the magic of your ancient lands. The motherland, our root, our strength: Never forget her. Welcome to Los Angeles!”
On Saturday, May 6, hundreds of Angelenos helped create one of the world’s largest, human-powered welcome signs, greeting visitors arriving from around the world with a warm message of love, compassion and inclusivity. As the next evolution of the #EveryoneIsWelcome initiative, synchronized volunteers spelled out “welcome” in four languages: Spanish, Chinese, English and Arabic in a spectacular, stadium-style show, to welcome visitors from around the globe.
Join us as we continue to celebrate what makes Los Angeles great by sharing our message #EveryoneIsWelcome.