We had the good fortune of connecting with Chyenne “Chy” Roan-Santini and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Chyenne “Chy”, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
The concept of taking risks has become an idea that I’ve learned to become homies with. As a kid, I always thought of myself as a star. I loved the arts and anything that involved creating. I remember there was a talent agent that approached my foster mom about me when we were in a toy store. I’m not sure how legitimate it was, and I don’t think my foster mom contacted the lady because she probably was skeptical but from then on, I could picture myself on the walls of malls and stores. I thought, “I could be up there one day, and everyone would recognize my face.” I didn’t get into the industry until much later, and independently at first.. but I believe that there is power in picturing exactly who & where you want to be, because that part came true for me later. The risk in following that vision is equally as important. People may call you crazy or doubt your path, but I’ve found that the more I take risks, the more I end up with results I could have never imagined for myself. I’ve noticed a pattern: every major milestone I’ve reached in my life so far, involved some degree of risks (and often I was really nervous but the results were well worth it). For example, I came from a living situation that was unstable and toxic for me. With the high cost of living in LA, I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to keep up with my rent when I got approved for my place. There was a legitimate risk associated with this decision, but I decided to take the leap. Fast forward almost three years later, I’m still in my apartment and I’m thriving. Then I took the risk of quitting my day job as an after school teacher, and following my dream of working in fashion as my primary source of income. Fast forward almost two years later, I am signed with an amazing agency and I have been in modeled for clients such as Apple, Capital one, Audi, HP, and Uber Eats. So yeah, take that risk and anything that comes with it ten toes down! It will be worth it in the long run.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am a fashion model, community activist, and future author. I got to where I am with the help of the people I mentioned and many more people. I believe that what sets me apart from others is my story, my authenticity and my mission. I am a former foster youth and I want to show other foster youth or anyone who has faced challenging times in life that they can be successful, and dream big.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
My favorite spots in my city are the beach of course, DTLA, West Hollywood, Market Street in Inglewood, Long Beach, Baldwin Hills, and Leimert Park. If my best friend was visiting we would hit these places. I’m a beach bum and I find a lot of peace at the beach, so we would roller skate at the beach, then grab some pizza. The next day we would hit up DTLA, maybe grab some flowers in flower district and do some shopping. Then, we would hit up Leimert park on a Sunday. There is such beautiful and rich black culture/art in Leimert so we would cruise around, stop at the booths, buy some stuff like sea moss, incense, Jamaican food at Ackee Bamboo etc and enjoy the energy & music. We would go to Kenneth Hahn for a hike and get some fruit with chili and chamoy after our workout. Then we would slide to Fox hills mall to shop. Long Beach is cool too!! I sometimes go to Downtown Long Beach on the blue line. And Venice is a must too.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There are so many people who have continued to help me feel supported with every major risk I take in my life. First I’d like to give recognition to Georgie Smith and Melissa Goddard, founders of A Sense of Home, who not only gave me the true essence of a home when I got my apartment but who also have mentored me and led me to so many doors and have helped me to flourish in every way possible. Thank you to all of my peers from ASOH like Marisela, Johna, Candice, Fatima, Joshua & Junely to name a few, I’m so proud of you all. Thank you to Christine Devine, from fox 11 news who has been dedicated to amplifying the voices of foster youth for over 20 years who is a huge mentor to me, and gave me the opportunity to share my story on a segment of “Wednesday’s Child” on fox 11 news last year. Thank you to everyone who had a hand in raising me when I needed them most, my foster mother aka “Grammy” Mrs. Barbara Keelen, my aunt Tonya Roan, and my uncle Tony Roan. Thank you for all of your sacrifices when my mom and dad couldn’t be there for me I love you all so much. Thank you to my amazing agents who have also become family (thanks to the introduction from Georgie and Melissa) Maria Minelli and Tabitha Lawrence, you both work so hard for me and have changed my life, thank you I love you. Thank you to every person who has mentored me in modeling so far or had a hand in my success like James, Alma, Lou Noble, Lyndie Benson, Renee Banks & Daniel Hoff, Ryan & Bobby, Angel, Jacely, Kari, Mitchell Tomlinson, Iain MacDonald, Johnny, Paige Mauriello, everyone from Parks Project, the nice people at Vans, Chris Blackwell, and Alexandria of Intuition.LA. Thank you Kyle and Lizzie Alexander, who helped me to share my mother’s story so beautifully through a short film and for all of your continued love, support, and mentorship. Thank you Jamila Russ from United friends of the Children, who was my AC in transitional living. I know sometimes I was a pain in the a** when you first got there, but you were always there for my stubborn behind regardless and because of that I am where I am today, I love you!!! Thank you Charmaine Jackson from UFC also, you helped me with finding my apartment after I exited transitional housing, HUGE thanks to you. Thank you to the amazing Marki Costello, who gave me the incredible opportunity to attend her “Become a Host” class, and who is now a mentor to me and someone I look up to immensely. Thank you to all of the nonprofits who have given me an opportunity to give back to my community, like Bright Path Center. Thank you to my close friends & sisters Kiyanna, Jennifer, Fredine, Bridgette, Armentria, Erin, etc I love you all and I thank you for supporting me every step of the way. Thank you to my extended family Tammy, Ashley, Perris, Gabby, Maddie, Xzavier, Jordanna,Tony, Nina, Miko, Benny & LaToya, RJ, yiyi, BB Verlin & big Reggie. Thank you to the love of my life Logan, who has been here for me through every trial in my life so far, unconditionally (and you were there even through our trials) I love you! I want to thank my father, David Santini for coming into my life. I’m so thankful we found you on Facebook, my sister and I were looking for you for so long. I’m so thankful how far our relationship has come, you know we’ve been through a lot and no matter what we went through you have become not only my father but my best friend too. Thank you to my sister Jayde Roan, for the rebuilding we are doing in our relationship. I believe in you and I love you. And lastly, thank you to my mother, Tina Roan for your strength that is unmatched. Though me and my sister are adults, I know in your mind you’re still fighting to get us back. Everything I do is with you in mind, to give you a better life one day. You are my inspiration. I love you. Anyone not mentioned here, please forgive me there are so many kind people to name and I’m going off the top of my head! Just know that the impact you’ve had in my life, whether it was kind words, gestures, or anything else you did to help me, does not go unnoticed and I owe it all to you xoxox
Portrait photo by Kevin Coffey, group photo by Stefanie Keenan (Getty Images)