Romany Artist Center & Studio


Romany Center & Studio

Where your heart and dreams are lifted by your friends!




Romany Center & Studio

Where your heart and dreams are lifted by your friends!

We are an artist colony and residency.

A safe haven, free from any kind of prejudice —  for artists, built by artists. 

Romany: "A Wanderer; to live as one who roams."

What is the Alchemy of One’s True Self? 

This project is not about me, my desires or my dreams, it’s about what One can achieve when  given a safe environment to be their true selves, no matter what nationality, color, religion, gender or sexual orientation. We welcome everyone.

Personally, I have had to overcome many obstacles along the way in my journey as an actor, to finally be able to convince "Hollywood" that a brown guy with an accent could play a variety of roles.

I never gave up dreaming of that safe haven and what it would be like to live in such a community. I promised myself that I would always find a way to give back and support other artists along the way. It’s a difficult road they travel, and I want to be there for them.

I am building the Romany Center and Studio to give others what I didn’t have when I started my journey- a place to live, create, dream and grow in a community of other like minded artists.  I want to help other artists as they set out on their journeys.

A community is a sense of belonging, a place to feel welcome, included and free to be your true self. Please join our community by helping us finish building the Romany Center and Studio. It will be yours to enjoy!

My name is Navid Negahban.

Most people know me as Abu Nazir (Homeland), Amahl Farouk aka Shadow King (Legion), General Dostum (12 Strong) or the Sultan (Aladdin) and many other characters. I have even been called “The Man of a Thousand Faces”, but there is much more about me that most people don't know.

I was born in Mashhad, Iran, and I wanted to be an actor for as long as I can remember.  

I was 8 years old when I did my first play.
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And, I wanted to be a cowboy since I was 4 years old. I finally ended up doing live western shows when I was in my early 30’s — it took me almost 29 years, but I never gave up on my dream!

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I grew up during the Iranian revolution and left Iran in 1985 in the midst of the Iran/Iraq war. Without having a set destination, I ended up in Germany via Turkey and Bulgaria where I applied for asylum. After being processed in the Ingelheim am Rhein refugee camp, I was placed in Kaiserslautern where I learned German while landscaping, painting houses, cleaning toilets and Lord knows how many other odd jobs, until I finally booked my first acting gig in Sunday in The Park with George at Rheinland Pfalz theater. 

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In search of my dream, I moved to America in 1993 to pursue my acting career. I had to start from zero again; washing cars for $1.50 an hour, because I couldn't speak English. I was sleeping on park benches or in my car, and eating from the 99c Store. And yet, I felt like the king of the world because I was following my dreams. It took me almost 10 years and many life lessons to be able to call myself an actor again. 

I am sure that I am not the only actor/artist who has been through this journey, but I am sharing my story with you because it has made me who I am today and led me to creating Romany Center and Studio. It’s the very reason I have always dreamed of having a center for actors/artists. Not just a center, but a SAFE HAVEN, where artists can live, rest, rehearse, work and help each other. 

Romany Center & Studio is an artist-hostel and creative space located in Boyle Heights-Los Angeles. It will provide housing, a studio and recording space, and an opportunity to earn an income, for artists who need a place to stay and work while they get on their feet. 

Here is a quick overview: 

- A six bedroom house, which can house up to 8 artists at this time. 

- A 1500 sq ft. space to be used as a photography studio, rehearsal or workshop hall  for actors, musicians and artists.

-The former gas station is being converted into an ice-cream/coffee shop to create a source of income for the artists who live at the center.

-A 3500 sq ft parking lot will be used by artists to paint, carve, play music and host art shows. This will also provide the neighborhood kids with a safe place where they can explore their own artistic abilities. There are about five schools within walking distance. 

-Currently, the walls surrounding the parking lot are often covered with graffiti. It’s done mostly during the night; they often sneak around and run away before they are discovered. Now, they don’t have to run anymore, because we will give them materials and permission to paint on the walls of the center. When they are finished, a professional photographer will photograph their work, and then the wall will be painted white, ready for the next street artist. At the end of the year, we will host  an art exhibition to showcase and sell the works, with proceeds going to the artists. 

Romany Center & Studio will provide safety, comfort and the flexibility for artists to work on their projects and to propel their careers toward success. 

I had acting projects and work lined up that would have given me the funds I needed to finish the center. Unfortunately, like so many others, the Coronavirus brought all my work to a halt, and I am at risk of losing the center and all the work that has gone into building it so far. 

I've spent over $400K of my personal money and invested everything I have into the center. Now, during this unprecedented global crisis, I am facing a very challenging situation because I am unable to finish the work without further funding, and the current economic situation is making it impossible to get a loan. Believe me, I have explored that option already.    

So I am reaching out to the global community to ask for your help, to join me in this endeavor to help artists. Your generosity will allow me to finish building the center, which will ultimately lead to housing, food and income for our artist community. 

Please consider a donation of any size. It all adds up, and no gift is too small.  Remember that the vast Pacific Ocean is just an accumulation of individual drops.

Please, share this campaign with your friends and family. 

And while you are thinking about it, just imagine living in quarantine right now without music, films, your favorite TV or radio shows. We all have so many artists to thank for keeping us entertained during this time. Their work is not a luxury — it’s an essential part of human life.  

Thank you for helping me finish this center so we can all enjoy the outcome!

I can't wait to serve you coffee and ice cream and to see the pleasure on your face when you realize you are the reason that Romany Center & Studio exists!

Let’s build something positive during these challenging times.

Wishing you all a fantastic day, no matter what...

Humbly Yours,

Navid Negahban

Donations

  • Narges Straka  
    • $300 
    • 2 d
  • MAHDI BAKHSHIAN 
    • $100 
    • 2 d
  • Anonymous 
    • $72 
    • 3 d
  • Mohini Mundy 
    • $27 
    • 3 d
  • Haleh Kepour 
    • $50 
    • 3 d
See all

Fundraising team: Romany Center (5)

Navid Negahban 
Organizer
Raised $29,553 from 148 donations
Los Angeles, CA
Daniella Spatarel 
Team member
Raised $650 from 3 donations
Daniel Jewel 
Team member
Raised $100 from 1 donation
Ateh Jewel 
Team member
Ava Lalezarzadeh 
Team member
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