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Faces of 2020: Portraits of the year’s pivotal artists, icons and breakout stars

Jennifer Aniston, Christian Serratos, Quentin Tarantino, Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kenya Barris, Daveed Diggs, Katy Perry
(Times photos by Jay L. Clendenin, Christina House and Mel Melcon)
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Making face-to-face connections in 2020 has never been more difficult. COVID-19 has not only brought heartbreaking loss of life and affected the livelihoods of millions, it has also kept us apart from close friends and family. The distance has also transformed the way we work. Those in the business of creating culture have had to come up with inventive ways to safely bring art and entertainment to audiences looking for meaning and diversion during the pandemic.

For Times reporters and photographers, covering these creators has brought new challenges. As you might expect, interviews and even some photo sessions were done on Zoom or Skype. Yet many in Hollywood and the arts world let our photographers into their homes and backyards or met us at parks or nature reserves for socially distanced portraits. These shoots required extra planning, creativity and lots of personal protective equipment. The results, true collaborations between subject and photographer, led to a collection of portraits that make our third annual Sunday Calendar photo issue our strongest yet.

When entertainment photo editor Ken Kwok presented his selections to art directors An Amlotte and Judith Pryor, the hard part was finding space for all of the work we wanted to showcase from Times photographers. What follows are the year’s most captivating portraits of creators who in a time of pandemic disruption made culture meaningful.

—Laurie Ochoa, Sunday Calendar editor

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2020 decimated our cultural and entertainment institutions. Artists have readjusted their ways of working. Many wonder if they can continue their craft even after the pandemic. Yet we’ve also seen resilience and creativity.

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Jennifer Aniston

PHOTOGRAPHED BY JAY L. CLENDENIN

Actress Jennifer Aniston in the backyard of her Los Angeles home, with her dog Clyde, on Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2020.
Actress Jennifer Aniston with her dog Clyde in the backyard of her Los Angeles home on Aug. 12, 2020.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

“There have been moments ... moments of ‘I don’t want to f—ing go here,’ ‘I don’t want to walk out onto the carpet,’ ‘I don’t want to be seen,’ ‘I don’t want to be looked at and everyone’s going to be talking about me and judging me’ ... that’s real.”

Jennifer Aniston

JENNIFER ANISTON plays network morning anchor Alex Levy on “The Morning Show,” the highest-profile series in the opening lineup for Apple TV+, one of several streaming platforms that debuted over the last 18 months. Her performance earned her an Emmy nomination this year for lead actress in a drama series. She talked with Glenn Whipp about the role for the Aug. 20 edition of The Envelope.

In playing a famous woman whose every move is scrutinized and judged, the “Friends” actress finds catharsis

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 Jennifer Aniston sitting backward in a folding chair and smiling
“That show was 20 years of therapy wrapped into 10 episodes. ... I would read a scene and feel like a whole manhole cover was taken off my back”: Jennifer Aniston, photographed Aug. 12, 2020.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

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Regina King

PHOTOGRAPHED BY CHRISTINA HOUSE

Regina King is photographed at 1 Hotel West Hollywood on Monday, Aug. 3, 2020.
Regina King photographed at 1 Hotel West Hollywood on Aug. 3, 2020.
(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

That term ‘Black Girl Magic’ ... it’s not magic. It’s actually work! It’s carrying the load. And that load is heavy.

Regina King

REGINA KING won her fourth Emmy this year for what many consider the greatest role of her career — detective Angela Abar, a.k.a. Sister Night in HBO’s “Watchmen.” King also made her feature film directorial debut with the Christmas release of “One Night in Miami,” an imagining of the real-life meetup between Malcolm X, Sam Cooke, Jim Brown and Cassius Clay (soon to take the name Muhammed Ali) on the night the fighter won the heavyweight boxing title against Sonny Liston. King talked about both projects with entertainment columnist Glenn Whipp for the Aug. 13 issue of The Envelope.

 Regina King standing by the pool at 1 Hotel West Hollywood on  Aug. 3, 2020.
Regina King poolside at 1 Hotel West Hollywood on Aug. 3, 2020.
(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

4

Taika Waititi and Roman Griffin Davis

PHOTOGRAPHED BY CHRISTINA HOUSE

"Jojo Rabbit" star Roman Griffin Davis and the film's writer-director, Taika Waititi, clown around.
“Jojo Rabbit” star Roman Griffin Davis, left, and the film’s Oscar-winning writer-director, Taika Waititi, clown around in Beverly Hills on Jan. 19, 2020.
(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

I’ve learned to not swear on live … I’ve learned to control my inner swearer ... I used to just shout out whatever came to mind.

“JoJo Rabbit” star Roman Griffin

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TAIKA WAITITI and ROMAN GRIFFIN DAVIS gave readers a glimpse of what it was like to be on the awards circuit in a pre-pandemic year when they spoke with Michael Ordoña for the Feb. 9 issue of The Envelope. “Have you got taller?” writer-director Waititi asked his young “Jojo Rabbit” costar during the interview. “My hair’s gotten puffier. I don’t show my hairline so you don’t know where my head finishes. That’s the tip,” Davis deadpanned. Their road to the Oscars yielded 10 nominations — including best picture and a supporting actress nod for Scarlett Johansson — plus an adapted screenplay win for Waititi.

Taika Waititi’s irreverent but humanist look at a boy in the Hitler Youth has been a major presence this awards season — for good and bad.

Roman Griffin Davis and director Taika Waititi at the Academy Awards Governors Ball on Feb. 9, 2020
Roman Griffin Davis and director Taika Waititi, winner of the adapted screenplay Oscar for “Jojo Rabbit,” at the Academy Awards Governors Ball on Feb. 9, 2020 at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

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YG

PHOTOGRAPHED BY JAY L. CLENDENIN

 Rapper YG is photographed at his Chatsworth home Sept. 21, 2020, wearing a shirt  saying, "Black Man Is Not a Target."
Rapper YG is photographed in advance of his fifth studio album, “My 4Hunnid Life,” in the garage of his Chatsworth home on Sept. 21, 2020. The Compton-raised rapper wears a shirt from his 4Hunnid clothing line, with the words, “Black Man Is Not a Target.”
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

When they took me to Twin Towers, they had the homicide people come talk to me. ... Right then, I’m not thinking about the Grammys. I’m thinking, ‘You finished, you ain’t going home.’ They were trying to spook me, hoping to put me away for life.

YG

YG was at his Chatsworth home in January, two days before he was supposed to perform a tribute at the Grammys for the late rapper Nipsey Hussell, when L.A. Sheriff’s deputies appeared on his doorstep, guns drawn, and served him with a search warrant in front of his young daughters. He made bail and performed at the Grammys. But the encounter showed up in his fall album “My Life 4Hunnid” through the single “Out on Bail,” which begins with his daughter Harmony’s eyewitness view of the incident. He spoke with August Brown about his year for the Sept. 27 issue of Sunday Calendar.

Shaken by the death of his friend Nipsey Hussle, run-ins with the police and the Black Lives Matter protests, YG returns with his darkest album yet.

 Rapper YG in the garage of his Chatsworth  home on Sept. 21, 2020.
Rapper YG in the garage of his Chatsworth home on Sept. 21, 2020.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

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Katy Perry

PHOTOGRAPHED BY JAY L. CLENDENIN

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Katy Perry, nine months pregnant, photographed on the roof of Capitol Records in Hollywood on July 29, 2020.
Katy Perry was photographed on July 29, nearly a month before she gave birth to Daisy Dove Bloom on Aug. 27.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Having more awareness and consciousness, I no longer can just be a blissful, ignorant idealist who sings about love and relationships.

Katy Perry

KATY PERRY gave birth to a daughter, Daisy Dove Bloom, and her sixth studio album — her fifth for Capitol Records — in 2020. Last week she released a video for the album’s single “Not the End of the World” in which she switches places with Zooey Deschanel. Amy Kaufman talked with the pop star about heartbreak, depression, COVID and this year’s cultural reckonings for the Aug. 16 issue of Sunday Calendar.

After fighting through what her friend Sia calls a “real breakdown,” a resilient Katy Perry is set to deliver her first child and a new album, “Smile.”

Katy Perry: “I was kind of born into chaos. So I thrive in it.”
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Katy Perry on the rooftop of Capitol Records in Hollywood on July 29, 2020.
Katy Perry met our photographer on the rooftop of Capitol Records on July 29,2020, before the release of her album “Smile.”
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

 Katy Perry takes a selfie with a billboard promoting her album “Smile” near her record label, Capitol Records.
Katy Perry takes a selfie with a billboard promoting her album “Smile” near her record label, Capitol Records.
(Jay L. Clendenin/Los Angeles Times)

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Ozzy Osbourne

PHOTOGRAPHED BY MEL MELCON

 Ozzy Osbourne, photographed at his Los Angeles home on Feb. 5, 2020.
Ozzy Osbourne, photographed at his Los Angeles home on Feb. 5, 2020.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

I’m not dying from Parkinson’s. I’ve been working with it most of my life, I’ve cheated death so many times. If tomorrow you read ‘Ozzy Osbourne never woke up this morning,’ you wouldn’t go, ‘Oh, my God!’ You’d go, ‘Well, it finally caught up with him.’

Ozzy Osbourne

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OZZY OSBOURNE was about to embark on a delayed North American tour ahead of the release of his 12th studio album, “Ordinary Man,” when he talked with Steve Appleford for the Feb. 16 issue of Sunday Calendar. Just after publication, Osbourne, who has been living with Parkinson’s disease, was forced to cancel the tour for health reasons. But Osbourne kept making music during COVID shutdowns and is said to be halfway through his next solo album.

Thanks to a hit single with Post Malone, Ozzy Osbourne is in the midst of a career resurgence, all while he battles Parkinson’s disease, among myriad infirmities.

Ozzy Osbourne, photographed at his home in Los Angeles on Feb. 5, 2020.
Ozzy Osbourne at his home in Los Angeles.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

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Christian Serratos

PHOTOGRAPHED BY CHRISTINA HOUSE

Actress Christian Serratos photographed at the Garcia House in Nichols Canyon on Nov. 17, 2020.
Actress Christian Serratos, photographed at the John Lautner-designed Garcia House above Mulholland Drive near Nichols Canyon on Nov. 17, 2020.
(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

I knew I was never going to make everybody happy. I knew that because [Selena] had that star quality. We all feel a sense of ownership when it comes to Selena — that’s my homie, that’s my family, that’s my sister.

Christian Serratos

CHRISTIAN SERRATOS was best known as “The Walking Dead’s” Rosita Espinosa until this fall, when she took on the starring role in Netflix’s “Selena: The Series.” We’ll be seeing a lot more of her next year in the second season of “Selena” as well as the 11th season of “The Walking Dead.” Serratos talked with Yvonne Villarreal about playing the beloved Tejano singer for the Nov. 29 issue of Sunday Calendar.

Christian Serratos splashes in a pool at the John Lautner-designed Garcia House in Nichols Canyon on Nov. 17, 2020.
Christian Serratos makes a splash at the John Lautner-designed Garcia House near Nichols Canyon on Nov. 17, 2020.
(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

Actress Christian Serratos above Mulholland Drive at the rainbow-shaped Garcia House  on Nov. 17, 2020.
(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

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Don Cheadle

PHOTOGRAPHED BY WALLY SKALIJ

Actor Don Cheadle photographed at the Rustic Canyon Recreation Center on Aug. 13, 2020
Actor Don Cheadle, photographed at the Rustic Canyon Recreation Center on Aug. 13, 2020.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

The one thing that never gets taken out of the equation is people. And one thing people have is greed. If certain people have the opportunity to take advantage, they’re going to do it until they get stopped. So yeah, for some it’s not a cautionary tale. For some it’s terrifyingly like a prescription.

Don Cheadle

DON CHEADLE earned his 10th Emmy nomination for his role in Showtime’s “Black Monday,” about the exploits of “coked-out, amoral Wall Street pirates and ‘80s fashion victims,” as Michael Ordoña described the series in his interview with Cheadle for the Aug. 20 issue of The Envelope. Cheadle will also be suiting up again as Marvel hero War Machine/James Rhodes for the recently announced Disney+ series “Armor Wars,” and he’ll be in LeBron James’ “Space Jam: A New Legacy” in 2021.

The wild, 1980s Showtime comedy can be a blend of “Wall Street” and Sam Peckinpah, says producer-star Don Cheadle.

Actor Don Cheadle sitting in the grass among trees.
In 2020, actor Don Cheadle earned his 10th Emmy nomination for the Showtime financial comedy “Black Comedy.”
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)


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Quentin Tarantino, Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio

"Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood" director Quentin Tarantino with Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt at the Chateau Marmont
“Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood” director Quentin Tarantino, center, with the film’s stars Leonardo DiCaprio, left and Brad Pitt at the Chateau Marmont in West Hollywood on Jan. 17, 2020.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

The summer of ’86, I didn’t know f__-all about Los Angeles, other than what I’d seen on ‘The Beverly Hillbillies’ and ‘Dragnet.’ I landed in Burbank at a house I could crash at for a month. ... Man, I was just so up for the adventure, and so excited when I’d drive by a studio. Then I moved, and it was one of those eight guys in a two-bedroom apartment in North Hollywood kind of things. You have your little corner where you keep your clothes folded up in a little bedroll. I became quite accustomed to McDonald’s and Shakey’s Pizza buffet.

Brad Pitt

We moved to Silver Lake, and it was me bugging my parents on the commute to school to please, please, please drop me off at auditions. But I kept getting rejected by agents. I think because I was a break dancer at the time and had crazy haircuts. ... But that rejection, it was like, even though I lived in the mecca of this dreamland that was the movie industry, it felt like this intangible world where I needed a fairy godmother to come down and say, ‘You are anointed as an actor.’

Leonardo DiCaprio

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QUENTIN TARANTINO, LEONARDO DI CAPRIO and BRAD PITT met Times entertainment columnist Glenn Whipp at the almost inevitable Chateau Marmont to talk about their earliest days in Hollywood, before they teamed up to make “Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood.” The film earned 10 Oscar nominations, including three for Tarantino (director, producer, writer), a lead actor spot for DiCaprio and a winning supporting actor nod for Pitt. Tarantino talked about living in his car while working at Video Archives in Manhattan Beach, DiCaprio opened up about his earliest audition rejections and Pitt shared what he remembers about his first TV roles (Tarantino was outraged that Pitt can’t recall if he had a scene with J.R. on “Dallas”). The interview appeared in the Jan. 23 issue of The Envelope.

"Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood" director Quentin Tarantino with Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt.
“Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood” director Quentin Tarantino, center, with stars Leonardo DiCaprio, left and Brad Pitt. The portrait is made with an 8x10-inch film camera, with naturally occurring imperfections.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

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Daveed Diggs

PHOTOGRAPHED BY JAY L. CLENDENIN

Daveed Diggs wears sunglasses and an open floral shirt along with a big open-mouthed grin.
Actor, rapper and songwriter Daveed Diggs photographed at his home in Los Angeles on May 20, 2020.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

I grew up running track for the Oakland Police Athletic League, so my coaches were cops. Despite the sort of healthy Black fear of police I have, you know, just growing up in my body, I also have profound love and respect and am thankful to some specific police officers in my life.

Daveed Diggs

DAVEED DIGGS was seen in many guises in 2020. In May came the launch of his TNT series “Snowpiercer,” based on

the French graphic novels “Le Transperceneige” and Bong Joon Ho’s 2013 film. In July, Disney+ released the film version of “Hamilton,” featuring Diggs as Thomas Jefferson and the Marquis de Lafayette. And in October his experimental rap trio Clipping released the horrorcore album, “Visions of Bodies Being Burned,” not to mention their Juneteenth release of “Chapter 319" in honor of George Floyd with a sample from Floyd who rapped in Houston’s chopped and screwed scene as Big Floyd. Diggs is also costar of the Apple TV+ animated musical series “Central Park.” Diggs talked with The Times’ Michael Ordoña about “Snowpiercer” and more for Calendar.

Tony and Grammy winner Daveed Diggs (“Hamilton”) tackles class divisions in the TNT series adaptation of “Snowpiercer.”

Actor, rapper and songwriter Daveed Diggs is photographed at his home in Los Angeles on May 20, 2020.
Daveed Diggs at his Los Angeles home in May just as his TNT series “Snowpiercer” was being launched and before the July premiere of the movie version of “Hamilton” on Disney+ and the September release of his rap album.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

12

Viet Thanh Nguyen

PHOTOGRAPHED BY JAY L. CLENDENIN

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Pulitzer Prize-winning author Viet Thanh Nguyen ("The Sympathizer"), photographed with son Ellison on Oct. 20, 2020.
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Viet Thanh Nguyen (“The Sympathizer”), photographed with son Ellison in Pasadena on Oct. 20, 2020.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

If you come from a so-called minority, let’s say me as an Asian American, you live in a condition of narrative scarcity: almost none of the stories are about you. So when a story about you or someone like you comes along, you put enormous weight on that story.

Author Viet Thanh Nguyen

VIET THANH NGUYEN, Pulitzer Prize-winning author for “The Sympathizer,” and his 7-year-old son, Ellison, joined Caldecott Medal winner Thi Bui and her 13-year-old son, Hien Bui-Stafford, for a reading of their children’s book “Chicken of the Sea” at the virtual Los Angeles Times Festival of Books on Nov. 1. Ellison came up with the idea for the story when he was 5. Nguyen then wrote the book with his son and turned to Bui and her son to illustrate it. At their virtual Festival of Books appearance, as Dorany Pineda reports, the four talked about the book and Nguyen expanded on his goal for “narrative plentitude” for storytellers of color. Nguyen also hinted at what’s next for his “Sympathizer” protagonist in “The Committed,” the sequel due in March: “He continues making bad choices in his life.”

After a panel for the Festival of Books, Viet Thanh Nguyen discusses his forthcoming novel ‘The Committed,’ the sequel to ‘The Sympathizer.’

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Viet Thanh Nguyen is photographed with his son Ellison,
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Viet Thanh Nguyen is photographed with his son and “Chicken of the Sea” co-author Ellison in the backyard of their Pasadena home on Oct. 20, 2020.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

13

Patrick Stewart

PHOTOGRAPHED BY JAY L. CLENDENIN

Patrick Stewart sits at a table at his Los Angeles home.
Actor, director and producer Patrick Stewart, photographed inside his Los Angeles home on June 2, 2020.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

If you know you can take risks, and there is a network around you that if you crash land, they will catch you, it’s a wonderful feeling. That’s how I feel now. I feel safe.

Patrick Stewart

PATRICK STEWART returned to his iconic role as Admiral Picard in 2020 for the CBS All Access series “Star Trek: Picard.” Randee Dawn talked with Stewart and lifelong “Trek” fan Michael Chabon, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author and co-creator of the show, about what it took to persuade Stewart to reprise his beloved character — not easy when the actor “felt that the curtain had come down on Jean-Luc Picard.” The story ran in the June 11 issue of The Envelope.

Patrick Stewart thought he’d said his final goodbyes to Capt. Jean-Luc Picard, until writer Michael Chabon showed him what a new series could be.

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Actor, director and producer Patrick Stewart, photographed in the backyard of his Los Angeles home.
Patrick Stewart has returned to his role as Jean-Luc Picard in “Star Trek: Picard.” He is photographed in the backyard of his Los Angeles home on June 2, 2020.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

14

Kenya Barris

PHOTOGRAPHED BY MEL MELCON

Kenya Barris sits on the lawn at his home in Encino with his hands behind his head.
“BlackAF” and “black-ish” creator Kenya Barris, photographed at his home in Encino.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

He’s a hyper-realized version of me. He’s as close to me as Larry David is to his character on ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm.’ ... He’s a lot more of a jerk than I am because I wanted to say some things out loud that I would not normally say. ... This Kenya is the new-school George Jefferson. He’s happy that he’s made it, but he’s also trapped inside the bubble of that success.

Kenya Barris

KENYA BARRIS, creator of the groundbreaking ABC comedy “black-ish,” took what he calls “the biggest risk I could have ever taken, creatively” by casting himself in his Netflix series "#blackAF.” Here is the extent of his previous acting experience: He played a tree in a school play. As he told Greg Braxton for the April 22 issue of Calendar, “I’m not a f—ing actor.” But since the concept of the series, as Braxton wrote, centers on a successful black comedy writer named Kenya Barris, who’s left behind the broadcast TV arena after scoring a high-priced development deal with Netflix, it’s hard to imagine anyone else in the role.

In Netflix sitcom "#blackAF,” 'black-ish’ creator Kenya Barris moves in front of the camera to star as a successful TV writer living the high life.

"Black-ish" creator Kenya Barris is photographed at his home in Encino on April 16, 2020
“Black-ish” creator Kenya Barris, photographed at his Encino home on April 16, 2020.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

15

Ron Athey

PHOTOGRAPHED BY JAY L. CLENDENIN

Performance artist Ron Athey, wearing a red cape, stands among trees.
Performance artist Ron Athey, photographed at the top of the Micheltorena Stairs in Silver Lake on March 27, 2020. He wears a gown that belonged to the late Australian-born performance artist Leigh Bowery.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

I don’t want to die in my pajamas. I’ll be looping in eternity in a bad look. ... My dress obsessions come from the big Hollywood evangelists, like Aimee Semple McPherson. This parading around while healing or talking in tongues, performing in a big dress. It’s channeling something formal, biblical.

Performance artist Ron Athey

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RON ATHEY was one of several artists who spoke with arts and urban design columnist Carolina A. Miranda about how they were adjusting their lives and work to the pandemic. Spring 2020 saw the publication of “Queer Communion: Ron Athey,” a book about the performance artist’s body of work, which delves into politics, myth, queerness and the body. The story ran in the April 5 issue of Sunday Calendar.

Performance artist Ron Athey in Silver Lake on March 27, 2020.
Performance artist Ron Athey in Silver Lake on March 27, 2020.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

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Joshua Caleb Johnson

PHOTOGRAPHED BY DANIA MAXWELL

Joshua Caleb Johnson at Upper Las Virgenes Canyon Open Space Preserve in Woodland Hills on Oct. 6, 2020 in Los Angeles.
Joshua Caleb Johnson, star of Showtime’s “The Good Lord Bird,” at the Upper Las Virgenes Canyon Open Space Preserve in Woodland Hills on Oct. 6, 2020.
(Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times)

John Brown is not a topic most people really learn in school, but I was blessed to have a really good history teacher who didn’t believe in history books — never used them. ... So I had already had a lot of knowledge about John Brown. My mom and I took it as a sign from God.

—Joshua Caleb Johnson on playing a freed teen slave who joins abolitionist John Brown in Showtime’s “Good Lord Bird”

JOSHUA CALEB JOHNSON was 14 when he filmed Showtime’s “The Good Lord Bird” opposite Ethan Hawke, who starred as abolitionist John Brown. As Henry Shackleford, a newly freed slave whose father is shot before his eyes, he takes up with Brown and must pass as a girl nicknamed “Onion” by Brown. The coming-of-age story has made Johnson, previously seen in “black-ish” and soon to be seen in the next season of FX’s “Snowfall,” an actor to watch. He talked with Greg Braxton for the Oct. 12 issue of Calendar.

Joshua Caleb Johnson co-stars with Ethan Hawke in Showtime’s miniseries “The Good Lord Bird,” about John Brown’s fight to abolish slavery in the 1850s.

 Joshua Caleb Johnson at Las Virgenes Canyon Open Space Preserve in Woodland Hills on Oct. 6, 2020 in Los Angeles.
Joshua Caleb Johnson on preparing for “Good Lord Bird”: “My mom and I stayed up till all hours, diving into the character and breaking down every single scene.”
(Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times)

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17

Noah Beck

PHOTOGRAPHED BY MEL MELCON

TikTok influencer Noah Beck at his home in Bel-Air.
TikTok influencer Noah Beck is photographed at his home in Bel-Air.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

When I read the articles talking about national security issues, I’m like, ‘I don’t feel too safe on this.

Noah Beck

NOAH BECK was one of the TikTok stars who famously joined (and invested in) rival platform Triller this summer when President Trump threatened to shut down TikTok in the U.S. As the influencer told Company Town reporter Wendy Lee in the Aug. 4 issue of Calendar, he was feeling insecure on the platform on which he’d amassed a huge following (currently 22.9 million followers). But as the Trump administration comes to an end, TikTok is still going strong and Beck is still regularly posting there. And in October, possibly to hedge his bets, he started his own YouTube channel.

18

24kGoldn

PHOTOGRAPHED BY GENARO MOLINA

Rapper, singer, songwriter 24kGoldn photographed in Los Angeles on Oct. 13, 2020.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

Who better to bring those two worlds together than somebody whose entire life is a juxtaposition? My dad is Black and Catholic; my mom is white and Jewish. And I’m from one of the richest cities in the world but grew up in one of San Francisco’s last ’hoods.

24kGoldn

24KGOLDN, whose real name is Golden Landis von Jones, had a full scholarship to study business at USC before his first single, “Valentino” broke through. But it was his July single, “Mood,” that became, as Times music critic Mikael Wood says, “the biggest song on the planet” this year. Wood talked with the 20-year-old for the Oct. 15 issue of Calendar,

Eighteen months ago, 24kGoldn was a business major finishing freshman year at USC. Today, he has a No. 1 hit with “Mood” and can afford to lease his own car.

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Rapper, singer, songwriter 24kGoldn in his Los Angeles home Oct. 13, 2020.
24kGoldn in his Los Angeles home on Oct. 13, 2020.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

19

Elle Lorraine

PHOTOGRAPHED BY JAY L. CLENDENIN

Elle Lorraine, star of “Bad Hair,” with long braids fanned out, at the Sundance Film Festival on Jan. 24, 2020.
Elle Lorraine, star of the film “Bad Hair,” photographed in the L.A. Times Studio at the Sundance Film Festival on Jan. 24, 2020, in Park City, Utah.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Being a brown-skinned woman, to me she’s somebody who’s incredibly ambitious and deserves to have a seat at the table but is constantly judged on elements outside of herself. ... To go as far as we sometimes go just to be considered beautiful. ... Watching it up close and being confronted by the symbolism [was] a deeper kind of pain.

Actress Elle Lorraine

ELLE LORRAINE, known to viewers of Issa Rae’s “Insecure” as Trina, was the breakout star of Justin Simien’s film “Bad Hair.” The L.A.-set horror is “about a woman battling her own killer weave and other insidious forces,” as Times film writer Jen Yamato described it. Lorraine talked with Yamato during the Sundance Film Festival for the Jan. 24 issue of Calendar about an especially tough scene focused on her character’s childhood trauma over “a hair treatment chemical burn that left her scarred [and] so desperate to change her look that she submits to an excruciating weave procedure, which Simien films with a visceral, skin-crawling flourish.”

‘Dear White People’ creator Justin Simien returns to Sundance with a New Jack Swing in the retro-horror satire ‘Bad Hair.’

Elle Lorraine from "Bad Hair"  at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah on Jan. 24, 2020.
Elle Lorraine visits the GIF booth at the Los Angeles Times Photo Studio at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah on Jan. 24, 2020.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

20

Kelci Hahn as Makwa

PHOTOGRAPHED BY JAY L. CLENDENIN

Kelci Hahn in the opera, "Sweet Land," photographed before a show at Los Angeles State Historic Park on March 6, 2020.
Actor Kelci Hahn in the opera “Sweet Land,” photographed before a show at Los Angeles State Historic Park near downtown Los Angeles on March 6, 2020.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

This opera is an opportunity to look at the founding of the United States from different perspectives.

Tanya Orellana, project codesigner for the opera “Sweet Land”

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KELCI HAHN appeared as Makwa in the outdoor opera “Sweet Land” just before COVID-19 shut down all live performances in Los Angeles. Staged by the Industry, Yuval Sharon’s experimental arts company, the site-specific opera took place at Los Angeles State Historic Park near Chinatown. Times classical music critic Mark Swed called the “tenaciously uncategorizable” “Sweet Land,” directed by Sharon and Cannupa Hanska Luger, “opera as astonishment.” Arts writer Jessica Gelt talked with the two directors about their goal behind the opera: “the excavation, deconstruction and reassembly of the myths surrounding the founding of America.” Arts and urban design columnist Carolina A. Miranda talked with the creative team about the sets and “Indigenous futurism” costumes behind the “opera about land whose main set is, quite literally, the land that makes up Los Angeles” for the March 15 issue of Sunday Calendar. Miranda returned to the park for the opera’s final show recorded for video, done without an audience on the weekend pandemic closures were beginning. “This is the last day we could do something like this,” co-conductor and cast member Jenny Wong, told her. Said Sharon: “I think of it a little bit like if a house was burning, and you had the opportunity to run in and save a piece of humanity.”

‘Sweet Land’ by Yuval Sharon’s the Industry, was being performed at Los Angeles State Historic Park until it was cut short due to the coronavirus.

Actor Derrell Acon, as character Grandfather, in the opera "Sweet Land"
Actor Derrell Acon as Grandfather in the opera “Sweet Land,” photographed before a show at Los Angeles State Historic Park, outside downtown Los Angeles on March 06, 2020. Used sporting equipment formed the foundation of the costumes.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

With a creative team of Native, Chinese and African American artists, ‘Sweet Land’ revisits the founding of America through a different lens.

The opera ‘Sweet Land’ was a success. Then came the coronavirus. How Yuval Sharon’s company banded together for one last show where cameras replaced the audience.

21

Ty Dolla $ign


PHOTOGRAPHED BY JAY L. CLENDENIN

 Rapper Ty Dolla Sign at a Hollywood Hills home on Sept. 17, 2020.
Rapper Ty Dolla Sign is photographed at a Hollywood Hills home on Sept. 17, 2020.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

I can’t get in front of people and perform. Everything went virtual. ‘Expensive’ and ‘Ego Death,’ two of the songs that dropped off the album, are very, I would say, club songs. Not being able to go to a club or to a concert — go anywhere — and perform them is definitely a big burden.

Ty Dolla $ign

TY DOLLA SIGN, born Tyrone Griffin Jr., spoke with music writer Randall Roberts from the patio of his L.A. home about the difficulty of releasing his third studio album, “Featuring Ty Dolla Sign” (formerly “Dream House”) during a pandemic. The story appeared in the Sept. 27 issue of Sunday Calendar. In November, the album reached No. 1 on Billboard’s Top R&B Albums chart.

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Rapper Ty Dolla Sign
Ty Dolla Sign at a house in the Hollywood Hills on Sept., 17, 2020.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

22

Vivica A. Fox

PHOTOGRAPHED BY FRANCINE ORR

Vivica A. Fox, photographed on Sept. 15, 2020, in Porter Ranch.
(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

It’s kind of like the beginning of a return to normalcy.

Vivica A. Fox

VIVICA A. FOX talked with TV writer Greg Braxton for the Sept. 20 issue of Sunday Calendar not long before she was set to cohost E’s “Live From the Red Carpet” with Giuliana Rancic ahead of the 72nd annual Primetime Emmy Awards. Fox saw it as a hopeful sign that the Emmys show was returning with remote appearances planned and distancing measures for producing the show. But just before the ceremony and days after the photo shoot, both Fox and Rancic tested positive for COVID-19 and had to pull out of their hosting duties. Rancic has since recovered and last month was back on the red carpet for the People’s Choice Awards. Fox later found out that her test initially might have been a false positive when another test came back negative. She’s busier than ever with several projects due in 2021.

23

Angel Manuel Soto

PHOTOGRAPHED BY JAY L.CLENDENIN

“Charm City Kings” director Angel Manuel Soto shows off the word "HELP" tattooed on his inner lip.
Director Angel Manuel Soto of “Charm City Kings,” photographed in the L.A. Times Studio at the Sundance Film Festival on Jan. 27, 2020, in Park City, Utah.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

There’s a Baltimore in every state. .... I found in this story a way to tell my struggle, my personal experiences ... with a script ... that does justice to disenfranchised youth and marginalized communities in a way that doesn’t exploit them but celebrates their humanity.

Angel Manuel Soto

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ANGEL MANUEL SOTO, director of “Charm City Kings,” set in the dirt-bike scene of West Baltimore, Md., appeared with the film’s cast for an L.A. Times Live panel at the Chase Sapphire Lounge on Main during the Sundance Film Festival in January. Film writer Jen Yamato moderated the discussion a day after the movie’s Sundance premiere. Based on a real-life community, the film had been set for a limited theatrical release in April but, after pandemic delays, debuted on HBO Max in October. In his review, Times film critic Justin Chang described “Charm City Kings” as “a slick, appealing blend of summertime coming-of-ager and cautionary crime thriller.”

The cast and filmmakers behind Sundance drama “Charm City Kings” on starting conversations with their Baltimore-set coming-of-age drama.

24

Maurice Harris

PHOTOGRAPHED BY JAY L. CLENDENIN

Maurice Harris at his L.A. store Bloom & Plume
Maurice Harris, a visual artist whose “Centerpiece” series showcasing his floral artistry ran on the short-lived streaming service Quibi, is photographed at his Los Angeles shop Bloom & Plume on July 17, 2020.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

I’m obsessed with aesthetics. I’m obsessed with beauty. I think that obsession comes from an extreme point of pain and sadness and isolation.

Maurice Harris

MAURICE HARRIS hardly needed “Centerpiece,” the talk show he hosted on the short-lived streaming platform Quibi. His Bloom & Plume floral design studio and Blume & Plume Coffee expansion next door in L.A.'s Historic Filipinotown had already allowed him to establish “a personal and professional brand focused on luxury, Black excellence and ... social issues with ‘beauty, grace and fun’” as arts writer Makeda Easter wrote in her interview with Harris for the Aug. 11 issue of Calendar. His “surrealist, sculpture-like arrangements and his exuberant personality” has attracted celebrity and luxury-brand commissions (Louis Vuitton, Goop and Valentino), including a spot as floral designer on Beyonce’s visual album “Black Is King.” And he’s currently a co-host and judge on HBO Max’s floral competition series “Full Bloom.” But after George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police, Easter says Harris found himself with a pickaxe outside his Echo Park apartment “digging furiously” and eventually turning the upturned dirt into a garden with herbs, berries, black watermelon, flowers and vegetables — “converting ugliness into beauty.” As Harris told Easter, “When you see someone that looks like you, a Black male body just treated like it doesn’t matter, it just shatters all the work that you feel like you’ve done.”

Maurice Harris,  at his Bloom & Plume Coffee in Los Angeles  on July 17, 2020.
Maurice Harris at his shop Bloom & Plume Coffee in Los Angeles on July 17, 2020.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

25

Madame Gandhi

PHOTOGRAPHED BY MARIAH TAUGER

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Musical artist Madame Gandhi, photographed with a drum set in the Arts District in downtown Los Angeles on Oct. 21, 2020.
Musical artist Madame Gandhi, photographed in the Arts District in downtown Los Angeles on Oct. 21, 2020.
(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

I love music that is about joy and positivity and being present, and beats that are hypnotic. When someone is drumming and they stop, I instantly miss it. Things feel silent.

Madame Gandhi

MADAME GANDHI, the musician and activist, whose given name is Kiran Gandhi, pulled off a Harvard MBA while, unbeknownst to her parents, flying off to Poland, Japan and other destinations on weekends to play drums onstage with rapper M.I.A. Gandhi was also coming to terms with being attracted to multiple genders. Now 31, she’s at work on her third album, “Vibrations,” under a new record deal with Sony Masterworks, and she collaborated with Indian Canadian fashion brand Nor Black Nor White on custom-dyed silk dresses, shirts and jumpsuits. She spoke with Kavita Daswani for the Nov. 8 Image section.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Madame Gandhi has been working on a new album. She also shot a new TED Talk and a Tiny Desk concert for NPR.

Portrait of Madame Gandhi with a bike and sunflowers around the Arts District.
Madame Gandhi in L.A.'s Arts District on Oct. 21, 2020.
(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

Portrait of Madame Gandhi
Madame Gandhi was photographed in L.A.'s the Arts District on Oct. 21, 2020 with the help of the musician’s “dream team”: personal assistant Olive Hays, hair stylist Lady Soulfly, makeup artist Reba Vera and stylist Neal St. Onge.
(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

26

Robert Downey Jr. and Susan Downey

PHOTOGRAPHED BY JAY L. CLENDENIN

Robert Downey, Jr. and wife Susan are photographed on the Universal Studios backlot in Universal City, Jan 08, 2020.
Robert Downey, Jr. is photographed with his wife and producing partner Susan Downey on a soundstage of the Universal Studios backlot in Universal City.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

I’ve had several careers. There was one career where I was happy to be working. Then there was one where I was so happy to be able to be working again. And now there’s one where I’m working — and it’s working.

Robert Downey Jr.

ROBERT DOWNEY JR. and SUSAN DOWNEY are not only life partners but producing partners. At the start of 2020, they came out with Downey Jr.'s first post-"Avengers” movie, “Dolittle,” a big-budget passion project that was negatively reviewed but still made more than $250 million thanks to strong international box office numbers. Up next for the couple in late 2021 is the third installment of their popular “Sherlock Holmes” franchise. The two of them talked with Josh Rottenberg about their married and professional lives for the Jan. 16 issue of Calendar.

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Robert Downey, Jr. and wife Susan  against a background of stylized flowers
Robert Downey, Jr. and wife Susan on Universal Studios soundstage in Universal City on Jan 08, 2020.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

With the family film “Dolittle,” Robert Downey Jr. and his producing partner and wife, Susan, enter a new post-Marvel chapter.

27

Mizon Garde

PHOTOGRAPHED BY DANIA MAXWELL

Burlesque dancer Mizon Garde leans back in front of a wall of bottles at Genever Bar in Los Angeles.
Burlesque dancer Mizon Garde photographed at Genever Bar in Los Angeles.
(Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times)

I wouldn’t have thought Filipina burlesque would ever have been a thing. Filipino culture is very colonized, it’s very Catholic. We don’t talk about sex, so that’s maybe a lot of the programming that I’ve had to deconstruct over the years.

Mizon Garde

MIZON GARDE, an accountant by day, was one of the all-Filipina cast of dancers that arts writer Jessica Gelt talked with for a Feb. 23 Sunday Calendar story on the bawdy revue “Burlesque Las FilipinX.” Sponsored by the Assn. for the Advancement of Filipino American Arts and Culture, or FilAm Arts, the show at Genever Bar in the L.A. Historic Filipinotown neighborhood was created in part “to ramp up recognition and excitement,” Gelt wrote, “for nontraditional art forms in the community.”

“A lot of us are still trying to break free from ... the colonial mentality of what a Filipina should be,” says an organizer of “Burlesque Las FilipinX.”

Mizon Garde in costume Nov. 6, 2019, at Genever Bar, where she performs burlesque shows.
Mizon Garde at Genever Bar in L.A.'s Historic Filipinotown.
(Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times)

Mizon Garde in costume at L.A.'s Genever Bar, where she performs burlesque,
Mizon Garde at L.A.'s Genever Bar where she performs burlesque shows.
(Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times)

28

Chris Emile

PHOTOGRAPHED BY GABRIELLA ANGOTTI-JONES

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Chris Emile at the MAK Center for Art and Architecture in West Hollywood
Choreographer and dancer Chris Emile at the MAK Center for Art and Architecture at the Schindler House in West Hollywood on Feb. 21, 2020.
(Gabriella Angotti-Jones / Los Angeles Times)

When you’re training, it seems more like a dream. But once you start working, it’s about … being an empty vessel for whoever’s in front of the room. And depending on the politics of the company, you might not get to really dance.

Chris Emile

CHRIS EMILE was just about to debut “Amend,” a solo series on Black masculinity at the MAK Center for Art and Architecture at the Schindler House when the choreographer and dancer spoke with Makeda Easter for a March 8 Calendar story about “setting his work in nontraditional dance spaces and ... tackling race and other social issues.” The performances, cut short by COVID restrictions, were revived for limited audiences of 10 in September.

Choreographer Chris Emile has cultivated the kind of hip, young following that dance companies crave. How? Think Solange and Anderson .Paak.

Chris Emile, a choreographer, poses while dancing at the Schindler House in West Hollywood on Feb. 21 2020
Chris Emile strikes a pose at the MAK Center for Art and Architecture at the Schindler House in West Hollywood on Feb. 21, 2020.
(Gabriella Angotti-Jones/Los Angeles Times)

29

Judithe Hernandez

PHOTOGRAPHED BY GINA FERAZZI

Painter and muralist Judithe Hernandez  sits in front of pastel works of art at her Highland Park studio on Aug. 15, 2020.
Painter and muralist Judithe Hernandez sits in front of recent pastel works of art at her Highland Park studio on Aug. 15, 2020.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

I measure everything from that moment. ... There was no way we could stand by. You must do something. You must step in.

Judithe Hernandez, artist

JUDITHE HERNANDEZ spoke with arts and urban design columnist Carolina A. Miranda for the Aug. 23 special issue of Sunday Calendar, part of a paper-wide project on the Chicano Moratorium. The artist’s experience as a young woman at the 1970 antiwar protest that turned violent shaped her as an artist.

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30

Jason DePuy

PHOTOGRAPHED BY CHRISTINA HOUSE

Protester Jason De Puy of West Hollywood wears a face mask that says "Black Trans Lives Matter."
Jason De Puy of West Hollywood, photographed during a June 14, 2020, solidarity march with Refuse Fascism and All Black Lives Matter in Hollywood.
(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

“Racism ain’t a good look, honey.” ... “Racists, sashay away!” ... “Less Karens, more caring.”

Signs seen at All Black Lives Matter March, June 14

JASON DE PUY was just one of thousands of masked protesters who took to the streets of Hollywood and West Hollywood for the June 14 All Black Lives Matter demonstration, where many marched in solidarity against racism and in support of LGBTQ rights. Hailey Branson-Potts and Matt Stiles covered the protest for the June 15 California section.

Thousands of people filled the streets of Hollywood and West Hollywood on Sunday, denouncing racial injustice and supporting LGBTQ rights in a march called All Black Lives Matter.