What better way to discuss motivation than to recognize the efforts of one who motivates? Motivate she does–Chani Christie that is–a very promising as well influential young talent who makes her impact felt wherever she moves.
Whether through her example as an entertainer in music, television and soon-to-be film, or as a role model advocating HIV/AIDS awareness while making a difference with her foundation, ChaniGirl, Chani is someone whom WBM admires a great deal. With some time to discuss her life, her beginnings, and the direction in which she continues to travel, WBM had the opportunity to have a little Q and A to get a better understanding of what makes Chani so amazing.
WBM: Who is Chani Christie?
CHANI: I am an actress, entertainer, entrepreneur. I’m a daughter, sister, friend. I’m a dreamer. I’m a mogul in the making. I’m the girl next door.
WBM: Where are you from?
CHANI: I was born in Seattle, Washington, but I moved all over the place during my childhood: New York, Canada, California, Texas, Florida.
WBM: What can you most attribute your interest in arts and entertainment to?
CHANI: Aaliyah and my grandmother. I’ve always been a huge Aaliyah fan and [have] loved her music ever since I could remember. But I attribute my career to my grandmother because I found my love for the arts, and ultimately singing, after growing up around her singing Yolanda Adams and Luther Vandross. If it wasn’t for her making me sing Sade’s “Love Is Stronger Than Pride” or Yolanda Adams’ “I Believe” to everyone that got in our car, I don’t know if I’d be singing. She’s the founder of my voice.
WBM: What does the ability to express yourself musically mean to you?
CHANI: Everything. [If] there are moments [when] I can’t express what I’m feeling in words, I turn to music. That’s what music is…feelings with a melody.
WBM: How long have you been involved?
CHANI: Professionally, I’ve been singing since 2006-2007, but I have been acting and modeling since I was three for Macy’s and Nordstrom. Entertainment has always been a part of my life. It’s just second nature to me.
WBM: When did you know you wanted to pursue life as an entertainer?
CHANI: I figured it out around 12 or 13. I pondered the idea, and then I finally brought it to my parents, and we went from there. I didn’t expect it to happen as fast as it did, but the hard work and dedication that I put into it was well worth it. And those moments when things were stagnant and not moving as quickly, I mentally reverted back to my modeling and acting days when I was three or four years old and I had to wait on a job or wait on set. I learned patience, and I was able to carry that along with me into my young adult years, and it ultimately helped me a lot.
WBM: What inspires and motivates you?
CHANI: My grandmother is my biggest inspiration, but I’m inspired by those unsung heroes. I’m inspired by the youth that are out there making a difference. I’m inspired by President Obama. I’m inspired by those tribulations to triumph stories that you may not hear about very often. All of that gives me the fuel to keep going and make a difference in others’ lives and eventually make a difference in the world.
WBM: Do you write your own material?
CHANI: On the first album I didn’t write much, but on this second album I was so much more involved, and if I didn’t write the entire song, I was extremely involved in the writing process and I made sure that the producer or writer knew what I was going through or had gone through previously so that when I sung about it, it was coming from the heart.
WBM: Is this [album] from experience?
CHANI: Yes! Everything on this album is real life and it comes from experience. From love to heartbreak to happiness, it’s all straight from me.
WBM: What’s your biggest accomplishment?
CHANI: Releasing my second album. A lot of artists, especially those that are independent, don’t get the second chance to share another batch of music with the world. I’ve been blessed and put in a position that I can be an independent artist, free to do what I love and say what I want, while still having major distribution and getting all of the blessings that major artists get. Every time someone tells me they love my music, I smile. Who would have thought a small town girl from Seattle that moved around her whole life, was home-schooled, and wore glasses would one day become someone’s idol or role-model, or have young women and men supporting her movement? It’s such a humbling, beautiful, breathtaking experience.
WBM: Do you feel you are successful?
CHANI: I do. I think success comes in different levels. I may not be exactly where I want to be, but I am nowhere near where I was. I am extremely proud of my accomplishments, and I know that there are only more blessings to come with the help of God and those around me.
WBM: What type of impact would you like to make with your efforts?
CHANI: A positive impact. If I can’t change the world, I’d like to at least start by changing one person at a time. Making an impact on someone’s life and changing the way they live and think.
WBM: Do you have any plans for 2011?
CHANI: Take over the world! No, seriously, I would love to just continue fulfilling my dreams and doing God’s work.
WBM: Who have you worked with so far?
CHANI: I have worked with a lot of underground and up-and-coming artists such as Malo, iRoCc, Bobby Tinsley and Taylor Park. I also got the pleasure to work with Lil Mama, who is featured on my second album, “Lyrics and Lipstick”, and now she is like my big sister. It’s always a pleasure to work with down to earth people.
WBM: What do you do outside of music?
CHANI: I am the United States Youth Ambassador for HIV/AIDS awareness and I am also representing the city of Los Angeles in Donald Trump’s 2012 Miss California Teen USA Pageant.
WBM: Tell us a little bit about your foundation?
CHANI: The ChaniGirl Foundation was built from my desire to give back to the community. Ever since I was little, I’ve wanted to help and make a difference, even if it was only small. At the ChaniGirl foundation, we realize that we may not be able to change the world but we can try to change ourselves, the way we think, the community, and ultimately others’ lives.
WBM: What’s next for Chani?
CHANI: A clothing line and a short film. The clothing line will be released this summer, its called “Hot Young Jane” and the short film is titled “Strength, Courage and Wisdom”. I’m hoping to do a partnership with YouTube to debut the 32 minute movie on their website. I have big dreams and I’m putting them into motion.
WBM: Any advice for those looking to pursue their dreams?
CHANI: Keep going. Don’t give up. It’s easy to get discouraged, but you have to keep the faith.