(See ChicaGirl Magazine: Issue 8)
Written/Interviewed by Brittany Valadez
Chanel. No, not the designer. The rapper. The 21-year-old rapper, singer and designer of her own clothing line, Valleywood. You know her best as Rob Dyrdek's rapping receptionist on the hit MTV show, Rob Dyrdek's Fantasy Factory. While the show might be her claim to fame, her family history doesn't trace back to Hollywood royalty. In fact, just a year and a half ago, she was "so broke" and looking for a full-time job on Craigslist. Yet just one phone call would change her life forever.
Rob Dyrdek previously starred on MTV's Rob and Big for three seasons. In his new show, he would be featured in his workplace dubbed the "Fantasy Factory." She met Rob through mutual friends, and then he asked Chanel to be on his show. They ended up doing a funny skit, and that’s when she was asked to stick around permanently.
For Chanel, the show has only helped shape her career, not create one. Her talent is not to be underestimated. She is not another reality star hoping for her 15 minutes of fame. Before the cameras were rolling, she was already performing. Her mother noticed her natural talent at the young age of four. “My mom was trippin' out. ‘I cannot believe this voice came out of this little girl!’” Since then, she’s been in everything from cheerleading and dance, to choir and drama. “I actually remember the first time I wanted to perform. In fourth grade, my friends and I did the Spice Girls at the talent show.” Fast forward several years later. It was 2007, and the young singer was at the start of fulfilling her dream. Then, out of nowhere, tragedy strikes.
At this time, Chanel was in a bad relationship with a guy who was very controlling. He was very jealous of the time she spent with one of her producers, who just happened to be her ex-boyfriend. Although any time they spent together was purely professional, that did not stop the jealousy. Sadly, things took a turn for the worse when two of her producers, including her ex-boyfriend, were brutally shot and killed. With this life-altering setback staring her in the face, she refused to let it take away her drive. “For them to lose their chance…I have to take advantage of my life.”
She turned to music. Chanel used her MySpace page as a way to promote her songs. “I started hustlin', adding everybody.” Her page is entirely run by her. There’s no manager, publicist or bodyguard checking her mail or adding her friends, just her. She’s as real as you can get. Her music expresses realism at its best. Her admiration for Gwen Stefani is evident in the young singer. She is amazed at Gwen’s ability to do it all. “She went from being in a rock band to rapping.” For Chanel, she is currently searching for the right record deal. Right now, she has the privilege of working with “Grammy award-winning producers” for her debut album. It is expected to be released in 2010.
If you’ve watched the show, you know that Chanel is the only female in the cast. That’s not a bad thing, as the guys at the factory love her. Yet it’s the rarity of who she is that puts her under scrutiny. She’s also a rapper…a female rapper. Not only is she a female and a rapper, but she is also ‘white’. It’s rare enough to be a female rapper, but it’s almost unheard of to be a ‘white’ female rapper. Yet her skills are raw talent. Not only can she rap, she can sing. She breaks all barriers. “Being a girl is a challenge. Being a girl, you have to watch your own back. They might want to take advantage, maybe [want you to] be more sexy.”
As for sexy, that’s definitely not the look Chanel was going for with the creation of Valleywood, her clothing line. “I’m really passionate about my clothing line. It’s cute and fashionable and a mix of styles. You can be hip hop, skater and girly. She is also heavily involved with the designs of her clothing. “I totally tell them what I want it to be. We have designers that interpret what I want.” For future pieces, she wants “palm trees, sunsets, radios, low-rider cars that represent the West Coast.” Her line embodies who she is as a person. “I want it to represent my personality. In school, I was a cheerleader, yet I kicked it with the skaters…” Her line is not only fashionable, it’s affordable. “Kids that get an allowance can afford it.” Her clothing is available on her website, www.valleywoodclothing.com, as well as the websites of Pacsun and Tilly’s. Right now, her line is made up of tee’s v-necks, tanks and hoodies. In the future, she is looking to expand to jeans, jean jumpers, tube tops, and shorts.
Her passion for clothes most certainly coincides with her choice of charity. Chanel is no stranger to the charitable clothing store, Goodwill. “I have a passion for charity, I love Goodwill. I give away so many clothes.” She understands the important value of sharing what you have with others less fortunate. Donating to her community is not a means of selfish publicity, but a gesture of selfless aspirations.
Even with all the success in her life, in her eyes, she hasn’t even scratched the surface. “I haven’t accomplished anything of what I want to do. I want a record deal, tour the world, and make enough money to support my mom.” Even then, her goals aren’t entirely about herself. She is a self-motivator, hard-worker and role model because of it. “Be yourself, don’t let people change you. Nobody’s gonna stop you…if you have it in you…”
See ChicaGirl Magazine: Issue 8