After Leslie Martinez moved from downtown Los Angeles to Inglewood suburbs during her early teenage years, her world shifted and she looked to the arts to express herself.
From an early age, Martinez said she was overwhelmingly left-brained which she used in her illustrations and writing, which soon transformed into journalism. Martinez, 17, discovered a love for journalism through Vice News. Its coverage of world news and cultural perspectives fascinated her.
“Now that I’m looking back, she’s always been the type to write small letters for people, and she’s always expressed how she’s felt through writing and art,” said Michelle Antino, Martinez’s close childhood friend.
Her art and perseverance have even sparked entrepreneurship between her and her close friend Christopher Ekong. The two are working on a company called Honor Roll, known as @honorcll on Instagram, which will feature signature Martinez illustrations on T-shirts, skateboard decks and stickers.
Martinez’s love for art and her desire to learn new things has resulted in endless doodles, illustrations, photography and, eventually, writing.
“At first she would draw and do little comics,” Ekong said. “And that turned into songwriting and poems. And that turned into journalism.”
Since then, Martinez has begun exploring journalism in depth and enjoys having a platform to tell stories that matter. At first, she said it was difficult for her to talk to people, but journalism is what forced her to step outside her comfort zone and become more social.
“I like having a platform where you can share other people’s stories,” Martinez said.
As for her future in journalism, Martinez hopes to grow more confident in her work to the point where she can pursue the field seriously.
Both Antino and Ekong believe Martinez’s hard work and perseverance will take her great places in life, no matter the field or career.
“She has gotten a lot more confident with herself,” Antino said. “Whenever she puts her mind to something she can do it.”