Anis Maknojia initially grew up in Houston, the son of Indian immigrants. Throughout his childhood, his parents worked hard to provide for their family through their retail business. Anis soon worked with them, taking the time to become an alum at the University of Houston. Eventually, he took over the business, allowing his parents to retire.
A flood of misfortunes came rushing into his life, including a pair of failed business ventures, a broken heart, and the sudden death of a close friend. Despite the support network of friends and family, Anis slid into a downward spiral, both physically and mentally. Then, something clicked. Specifically, the lens of a camera.
Anis has always been interested in photography. He began to take photographs, as a way to express his emotions, as a way to let the pain out. Framing an image became an escape from the hopelessness and depression. Like a bright flash lighting the shadows, the art form became the spark, igniting the path to his future.
In 2017, he began posting images on Instagram. He also began to explore the idea of self-portraits. Within a year, financed by his success in the family business and buoyed by his rising status on Instagram, he moved to Los Angeles, where he found even more success. He continues to be a rising influence on the social media platform, with more than 85,000 Instagram followers and counting via his Instagram account: Anis Maknojia.
At the beginning of 2019, Anis also established Land Ahoy! Films – a company that aims to showcase multicultural talent from around the world and to bring up-and-coming creators together to create inspiring and thought-provoking works of art. Anis calls the company an extension of his passion for photography, this time with moving pictures and the birth of his desire to become an actor and produce films.
In the late 2019 and early 2020, he completed numerous advertising projects, supporting Mercedes-Benz, Don Julio Tequila, and Armani Code.
Anis is also an advocate for animal rights, world poverty and climate change, LGBTQ rights, and more diversity in film. He holds mental health awareness and finding a cure for multiple sclerosis close to his heart because he has family and friends who suffer from these issues.
Model & Mode Magazine recently caught up with Anis to discuss his journey in the entertainment industry and here’s what went down:
Could you please provide a background about yourself and how were you actually ‘discovered’?
I came to LA for film-making. After my first film project, I connected with a friend and did some modeling for Mercedes-Benz, for an ad campaign they were working on. That was done on spec and it worked out really well. I had worked hard to find some opportunities here and then a couple of things just sort of fell into place, one right after the other. I’ve connected with a couple of other advertising programs since then and I’ve been fortunate to keep making connections.
What does it mean to you to be an influencer?
This is something I am still discovering, to a certain extent. I know who I am. I know the kinds of things I want to accomplish. The work and the fun is finding the images and ideas that speak to those … ideals. There is a responsibility and a time commitment to the process and a lot of people, I think, don’t realize how important it is to be consistent, without repeating myself. There is a balance, between being in the moment and, almost, hyper-aware of what I am doing.
What sort of person usually follows you?
People who are into fashion, people in the fashion industry, are probably the most common type following my social media. Travelers are also a big part of my audience, people who are looking for something new, something different from the current trend, and quality of the content.
Who’s your main audience?
Fashion and film enthusiasts are at the top of the list. There is a wide space where those two interests can overlap. They can influence one another in interesting ways. I would say the social media posts that have gotten the most interesting responses have been in the areas of fashion and film, from people who are passionate about those ideas.
What’s the biggest challenge of being an influencer?
There are many challenges such as making the content look high quality, beating the expectation of the client, and creating something that my audience will enjoy. There has to be a balance and it can be tough to keep all these challenges in balance. It’s great when it works, but it can be a lot of work to make it work.
Have you always wanted to be in the entertainment industry?
Yes. I actually first started as a DJ who eventually made on the radio at private parties and clubs.
What’s your personal mission in life?
I want to have some sort of awareness and purpose behind most of the things I create. I created Land Ahoy! with that mission in mind – it’s looking beyond the typical expectation and finding the unexpected.
What has been the most memorable experience of your career so far?
Without a doubt, doing my first film project as both an actor and producer. I’ve never thought I would be able to undertake such a project but the feeling of joy of seeing my own final product is the most memorable to me.
Who have been the most interesting people you’ve met so far?
I’ve actually met a lot of entertainment industry people here in LA (Hollywood) and gained great knowledge and experience through them.
How active are you on social media?
I’m pretty active but I’m also focused on my film making projects so I’m not as active as I used to be. Initially, I posted once a day and now approximately twice a week and I’m active on my Instagram stories.
What is your favorite social media platform?
Instagram. The versatility and the range of audience is just on another level, it’s far superior to any other platform out there.
What will you advise other influencers who may wish to follow your footsteps?
Stay true to your work and be persistent.
What are your future plans? Inside your career or out of it.
Keep creating works of art and telling stories. It’s a broad goal, but it is supposed to be broad. I want it to be broad. I don’t want to limit myself. If something new comes along and it interests me, I want to be able to try it through those criteria. I think that should be everyone’s goal, every artist’s goal, to keep creating. Don’t be afraid to try something.