Recently, while in Los Angeles (and among other projects), I collaborated with, and shot promotional portraits of recording artist and actress Lexy Panterra, in L.A.’s beautiful fashion district.

Given Lexy’s Persian heritage and laid back personality, I felt connected to her as soon as we met, due to the fact that I grew up in Toronto’s North York district, with a number of close friends who are of Iranian descent. In fact, prior to high school, at least a quarter of my friends were children of Iranian immigrants, and from a certain perspective, hanging out with, and working with Lexy felt familiar — as if I was spending time with an old friend.

Moreover, I was excited to work with her, due to her obvious talent and beauty, and I was curious to find out how a relatively young artist was able to amass a social media following of well over two million fans (via Instagram alone), within a relatively short time period.

My excitement was further amplified by the fact that I was working with Lexy’s highly-organized assistant, Naaz Amirsadeghi, her talented make-up artist, Jenny Ventura, and my friend Monica Seggos, who happens to be one of the most gifted stylists that I have worked with. As such, I entered a state of flow and extreme focus, prior to taking a single picture, primarily because I fed off of the creative energy in the awesome studio that we were working in (FD Photo Studio), and also because we had a clear game plan of combining cool, late 80s and early 90s looks with modern looks.

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Once the photo shoot started, it was quite apparent that Lexy was as good to go as I was, and she consequently matched the state of flow that I was in, which resulted in an incredibly high volume of portraits being taken, after hair and make-up were done, and within a two hour time period.

The number of photographs, along with the different outfits and poses that we cycled through were voluminous in comparison to most of the photo shoots that I have produced in the past, and being in the zone with Lexy showed me how comfortable she is in front of a camera, how she is ready to perform at a moment’s notice, and the standards of professionalism and physical fitness that we both hold ourselves to. As such, it took more time than we both anticipated to choose the final edits from our first shoot together.

With that said, Panterra is an entrepreneur, a recording artist, a dancer, a fitness professional (who is the founder of LTO Fitness), a fashion designer (behind the brand Just Peechy), a social media influencer, and a former motocross racer. Due to the complexity of her skill set and story, I decided to interview her, instead of attempting to articulate her professional and personal evolution from my perspective.

My interview with Lexy (which has been edited for clarity), and more photographs from our photo shoot can be viewed below.

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Ajani: How and where did you cultivate your skills as a performer?

Lexy: I’ve always been a singer and a dancer, since I was little. It just came naturally to me and I’ve always wanted to be a superstar! My grandmother could sing and write poetry, and my mother was a great dancer as well.

Ajani: Who and/or what inspires you as an artist?

Lexy: It’s just myself, honestly. Others don’t inspire me as much. It’s kind of what I feel.

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Ajani: What is your most dominant fear, and how does it show up in your life?

Lexy: I think the thing I am fearful of the most is losing the people that I love.

Ajani: What inspired you to create your clothing line, “Just Peechy”, and how would you describe the creative and technical process involved in creating the line?

Lexy: Well, I always wanted to have my own line, especially since I became more involved in the fitness world. I decided to leave a fitness clothing company that I worked with in the past and build my own, even though I loved the company that I was working with. I want to show people what I like, and hope that they like it too. I never knew it was this much work, but I love every moment of it! It’s a big process, I’m not used to it, and a lot of money is being spent, but I know that it will be all worth it in the end.

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Ajani: How did LTO Fitness come about, and what is your long-term vision for the company?

Lexy: LTO Fitness started three years ago. It was just an idea, and then the demand was so high that I had no choice but to keep going, and I eventually learned how to make a business out of it! My long-term vision is to have instructors all over the world, and creating a world-renowned LexTwerkOut brand. I’ve opened my first workout studio in Burbank, California, but I plan on opening more, and maybe franchising the company.

Ajani: Based on my observations of your social media profiles, you are obviously very close to your father. How would you describe your relationship with him, and what are the most valuable lessons that he has taught you?

Lexy: We are kind of like brother and sister, we argue often, but are very close . He teaches me a lot, I have thick skin because of him and can handle pretty much anything, because of his guidance.

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Ajani: L.A. and other parts of the United States are home to a number of social media influencers with large audiences, so from your perspective, is there currently a difference between a social media influencer today and a celebrity before the Facebook era?

Lexy: Yeah, I think the difference between them is social media influencers have to depend solely on the social media platforms that they use to promote themselves. Whereas, you can have a superstar actress that doesn’t even have an Instagram, and they’re still just as popular as a social media influencer, if not  more.

Ajani: As a former motocross racer, what did you learn from the sport, and did any of those lessons carry into your current career path?

Lexy: I learned that it was too dangerous [laughter], so I stopped! My dad races every weekend. It’s pretty scary, but he loves to do, it’s his passion and he won’t give it up!

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Ajani: Can you recall a major professional setback that has benefited you in the long run?

Lexy: I’ve been through manager after manager. There’s a lot of people in the industry that can potentially take advantage of you, and don’t know what they’re doing. They sell you the dream, so you just have to watch out for people like that.

Finally, I have included a number of videos (and some more portraits) featuring Lexy below, and more information on her is available via her website and the LTO Fitness website.

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