Anis Maknojia may be relatively new to the Hollywood scene, but he’s definitely a rising star to watch out for. He’s an actor, model, executive producer, and the founder of Land Ahoy! Films. Besides being passionate about creating art, Anis is an advocate for animal rights, world poverty, 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.
Anis is the oldest son of Indian immigrant parents and a native Texan. His road to success didn’t start with glamour and glitz. It started in Texas, built on a lifetime of hard work, and overcoming personal hardship.
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 but then 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. He eventually slid into a downward spiral, both physically and mentally until something clicked.
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.
He began with a mobile phone camera and moved on to a more professional camera, reveling in the freedom digital photography allowed. His interests started to expand, and he began to look for images, scenes, and moments that reminded him of himself.
“I’ve approached photography as a means of telling a story,” Anis explained. “As a photographer, I wanted to capture a moment of a scene or a person, but before that image and after that image, things happen. When framing a photograph, I’m trying to tell a story about how the subject got to this point and where they are headed from here. Storytelling has always intrigued me and I believe the camera is the best way to express those ideas.”
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 90,000 Instagram followers (Anis Maknojia) and counting.
In late 2019 and early 2020, he completed numerous advertising projects, supporting Mercedes-Benz, Don Julio Tequila, and Armani Code.
With the mission statement, ‘We are stronger together,’ Land Ahoy! Films was formed at the beginning of 2019. Land Ahoy! 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.
“Land Ahoy was started in the fall of 2019 just about the same time I was finishing up Artifice, which I was able to put together within months of moving to LA. I look at Land Ahoy! as a sort of partner, to help me, and others, really, to succeed,” Anis said. “I created it as a foundation for what I want to do as an artist, to help me push my creativity. As it grows, I see it becoming a way to include others who may be underrepresented. I like to say that we are stronger together. I want to use Land Ahoy! to help give a voice to people who might not have been heard before.”
Collaborating with Phoenix 4 Productions and Land Ahoy!, Anis starred as Tony in the short crime drama “Artifice” while also taking on the responsibilities of executive producer. He pursued the lead role because he saw an opportunity to bring an unexpected quality – his race – to what could have been a cookie-cutter presentation.
“It’s a thrill of its own. Whether you are doing a dramatic scene or a comedic scene, there is this energy, an adrenaline rush, from the creation of something new,” he quipped. “I’ve never gone skydiving. I don’t know if I could jump out of a plane. But I think the thrill is similar. I’m jumping into something new, a free, open space where I have to rely on the people around me to get to the ground safely, to bring the scene alive. Do you know what I mean? For me, they seem similar. I get the same sort of rush when a project is released, an anticipation of how it could affect someone I’ve never even met. I enjoy that thrill.”
Anis is also the executive producer for “Breathe,” which is currently in post-production. The short film connects several stories exploring the darker side of drugs, violence, and religion, again he takes the lead role in the film.
“Simply put, I’m a businessman turned film-maker,” He said. “That is really what it boils down to. I was lucky enough to have some success in working with my family business in Texas. That success provided opportunities. Some people would travel or collect cars or things like that. But with me, the arts have always been a hobby of mine, something I’ve worked at. More than a hobby, really. It got to the point where I wanted to explore the arts more. Participate more. Create more. So, we set up the business with a good management structure and I was able to follow my passion to California. I’ve been very lucky to get these opportunities and I want to keep offering new visions of art and new collaborations.”
In an almost impossible turn of events, and after a mere eight months in Los Angeles, Anis had already become a force on Instagram with over 85,000 followers, he has served as executive producer and starred in the lead role of a short film!
Additionally, the two companies are currently in pre-production for the mob comedy-drama “With Interest,” a short film following a mob debt collector into his rising interest in stand-up comedy. Anis will both act in and executive produce the project which will be released later in 2020. When asked what his upcoming projects are, he said “I’ve got another short film planned in my home state of Texas. This a real passion and all the more sentimental to me since it’s in my home state. I’ve got few other projects in LA as well along with a couple of music videos, and a modeling gig for a famous luxury brand.”