Mark D. Sikes
Los Angeles has a reputation for radical experimentation and avant-garde thinking. And yet the designer Mark D. Sikes, a self-described “traditionalist and classicist,” has become one of the city’s most sought-after names. A Texas native who grew up in the Midwest and Tennessee, Sikes currently oversees a popular lifestyle blog, a booming interior design business based in West Hollywood, and a women’s clothing line, MDS Stripes. Also in the works: rug, fabric, and furniture collaborations with big-name interiors brands Merida, Schumacher, and Henredon, and a coffee-table book scheduled to hit shelves this fall. For a guy who stumbled into what he calls “a career that was never meant to be,” he stays pretty busy. Sikes, who has a degree in business and economics, spent two decades in visual merchandising and store design before moving to L.A. in 2011 to pursue interior design full-time. “In everything I do, there’s this blurred line between interiors and fashion,” he says. It’s an approach that is particularly evident in Sikes’s work on Reese Witherspoon’s first Draper James shop, in Nashville. He’s also decorating the actress’s new Music City pad. “I believe good design is that mix of old and new,” Sikes says. “We create interiors that have a timeless quality.”
The Music Maven
“I didn’t really realize until I was out of the South how much it informs what I do now,” says Richmond native Anne Litt, a popular radio DJ for L.A.’s ultracool NPR affiliate KCRW. “But everybody’s got their touchstones—what’s in their DNA musically.” Litt’s Southern-bred musical sensibilities have helped establish the station as a taste-making powerhouse. Local listeners tune in to her weekend afternoon shows, and thanks to the Internet, folks from all over can, too. Litt’s fascination with broadcasting, however, had much more low-tech beginnings. “I was the kid with the transistor radio in her room,” she says. “And I found the University of Richmond college radio station one night and was like whoa.” It was a life-changing moment. She went on to become a fixture at the University of North Carolina station in Chapel Hill and worked at an independent record label before moving to L.A. nearly twenty-five years ago. She still regularly returns south with her husband, screenwriter Howard Franklin, and their son, who is learning to sail on Chesapeake Bay, just like Mom did.
The Downtown Dining King
Ten years ago downtown L.A. was where you went for a meeting, but certainly not a meal. Today, crowds flock to the area to sample the city’s most talked-about food scene, and leading the charge is chef and restaurateur Josef Centeno, whose four perennially packed restaurants are concentrated within essentially one block. Bäco Mercat, Bar Amá, Orsa & Winston, and Ledlow explore all the foods Centeno loves—from eastern and western Mediterranean to Japanese to classic Americana—each with a heavy focus on Southern California ingredients. It’s at Bar Amá, though, where the easygoing Texan pays homage to the food he grew up eating in San Antonio. He’s won an embarrassment of accolades with his contemporary takes on fajitas and puffy tacos, and his vegan versions of chalupas and enchiladas inspired by his days at Mother’s Cafe in Austin seem tailor-made for L.A. “I don’t know if I’d trust anyone who doesn’t like Tex-Mex,” Centeno says. After all, what’s not to like about a five-buck nacho happy hour that gets you a heaping plate of tortilla chips topped with guacamole, sour cream, salsa, and his gorgeously gooey queso?
The Rising Star
So far, Emayatzy Corinealdi’s 2016 is shaping up to be the kind of year L.A. dreams are made of. At the Sundance Film Festival in January, the Kentucky-born actress made a splash with her role in Miles Ahead, in which she stars opposite Don Cheadle as Frances Taylor, the jazzman Miles Davis’s first wife. Then there are roles in the buzzed-about indie thriller The Invitation and the second season of Amazon’s Hand of God courtroom drama, along with A+E’s all-star remake of the landmark miniseries Roots, in which she plays Belle Waller, the wife of Kunta Kinte. It’s exactly the kind of success she hoped for more than eleven years ago, when she packed up her tired Nissan Sentra (with its broken air conditioner) and drove cross-country solo from New Jersey, where she was living at the time. Corinealdi landed in L.A. with what was in retrospect a hubristically grand plan. “I think my first three goals were: Get head shots, get a manager, and take over this town, or something dramatic like that,” she remembers. And it seems she’s finally on her way. Does Corinealdi have any regrets about her Hollywood journey? Just one. “I would’ve gotten my AC fixed first.”