by Susan Mae Loseo
“Be brave. Be different.”
This is what content creator, model, actress, and self-love advocate Chennie Montero has to say after years of cultivating self-love, building confidence, and embracing her uniqueness. With her ceaseless passion to create content and express the message of her #BeDifferent advocacy, she started posting videos on her YouTube channel.
From vlog series, K-drama reviews, skincare, fashion and modelling tips, brand collaborations and BTS of events, Chennie has it all covered. Not to mention her acting credits on the family-oriented K-drama Wonderful Mama (2013), starring Park Bo-gum and American crime drama series Almost Paradise (2020), starring Christian Kane. Chennie talks about her journey towards self-love, overcoming her struggles, and creating her advocacy:
What initially drove you to “create to inspire” and promote self-love?
I’ve always been drawn to creating. I’ve always loved the arts, particularly – performing arts and multimedia, both in front and behind the camera. What led me to the purpose of creating to inspire is driven by my personal experience. Growing up, I’ve fought my battles mostly alone and one of it is being bullied (because of how I look — I was skinny, my brown complexion stood out, I don’t have perfect teeth and my classmates would tease me for having huge eyes, too), and I am always invalidated whenever I speak up or show my emotions. I also experienced getting rejected because of my bent back (I have scoliosis) and the fact that I have bigger hips than the standard model size. I was labeled different and weak, always an outcast. I firsthand felt alone battling what I have experienced. I know or I understand how it feels and it isn’t easy fighting alone. I want to bring comfort to those who have experienced the same way, to let them know they’re not alone and what they feel is valid; that they matter and they’re enough.
I founded my advocacy #BeDifferent, which promotes self-love, being brave and embracing/celebrating one’s uniqueness — inspired by my experience with the aim to inspire and empower people — especially the youth so they won’t be afraid to live their truth, embrace all that they are so they can unleash their potential out there and be the best version of themselves. I have learned to love myself more and it is empowering. You’ll attract the love you give to yourself. Give yourself the love you deserve.
How long did it take you and how did you build your confidence enough to handle criticisms, doubts, and rejections?
It took years for me to build my confidence. I took a call center job right away after college so I could develop my communication skills. I was trained by Chime Osabel. I eventually became more confident to speak up and learned to build rapport with strangers. After testing the waters, trying different fields/careers, I took the virtual executive assistant role and worked with an Australian client, Carolyn Birchill. It was a real-life experience that I had to go through to actually learn and be confident and develop skills. Those two people I mentioned, they’re part of who I am now. They helped me realize my potential so I’m forever grateful to them.
Being a part-time model has helped me build my confidence too in spite of the industry’s standards. I become a more confident woman the moment I step on the runway and the moment I am being photographed. Also, when you love yourself and you believe in yourself, confidence will naturally show.
I personally believe for one to handle criticisms, doubts, and rejections — is really, to have self-awareness, to begin with, and to ask the right questions to yourself. Will this benefit me? Is their opinion important? What is this teaching me? Do I need to defend myself or fight back? Is it worth it? It’s more about self-awareness when handling those and always setting your mind to your purpose. When you have doubts, go back to your WHY. Confidence steps in then after you reflect and evaluate by believing in your choices, doing the right thing for yourself, and being true to yourself.
What challenges have you faced in the past year as a content creator and self-love advocate? Are there new things you’ve discovered about yourself?
Truth is, self-love is on and off. That’s the reality and that is one of the challenges. I am an advocate of it but that doesn’t mean I don’t have bad days wherein I am down and I question things about myself too. It’s normal. I just pick myself up, remember my WHY, remember my strength, and how brave I am. I learned how important it is to also rest and pace yourself. Also, it was challenging for me as a content creator to build numbers and traction. It’s hard when you have a unique niche. But I am authentic and I still want to continue being authentic and create what makes me happy and has substance or value. Because I left my corporate job to pursue my passion, which is being in the creative field, the hard reality I had to face was that it’s still a long way to go and I can’t sustain myself just yet. I was so pressured with the numbers that I felt I was losing who I am and it felt so wrong.
I discovered that I can’t be driven by numbers and how it’s important to stick to your niche, what makes you happy, and always go back to your WHY. Keep going and doing what you do with love and pure intentions. Things will fall into place at the right time.
How do you use your platform to encourage those who experienced major setbacks as a result of the pandemic?
By continuing to create videos that empower/inspire, showing my authentic self (in my videos) living my life through the message that I deliver — to love myself, continue to be brave and different. I also share other empowering/inspiring people’s stories and wisdom through my platform (on my advocacy series) in the hopes that someone out there might need it so that it inspires or encourages them to move forward in spite of the setbacks, not just with the pandemic but generally in life.
Moving forward, what else do you plan to showcase through your vlogs?
I am planning to limit my niche moving forward and focus on the current niche I have. My niche now revolves around my advocacy, lifestyle, fashion, and BTS of events or modeling projects I am a part of. The Kdrama, personal, and vlogs with my sister are just bonus videos to show a more personal side of my content.
If you were to appear in another K-drama, what role would you want to play? Who else do you want to work with aside from Park Bo Gum?
I would love to be in another family or romantic comedy Kdrama and play any supporting role if not the lead (scary to go for a lead role when I don’t have the training yet. I’d love to attend an acting workshop first). Perhaps a character who’s a dreamer or had experienced what I experienced so I can portray her story and character well.
I dream of working with Jung Hae In, Park Seo Joon, Kang Ha Neul, Song Joong Ki or Hyun Bin, and if women, I dream of working with Lee Sung Kyung, Song Hye Kyo, or Son Ye Jin.
What advice do you have to every wanna-be vlogger or content creator out there who dreams of creating to inspire?
It’s going to be tough or challenging, but it’s going to be fun. Before venturing into the world of content creation, ask yourself the following questions —
1. WHO am I (as a person and as a content creator)?
2. WHAT do I love to do and what can I offer?
3. WHY do I want to create?
The answers will define your foundation and purpose. Let this be your guide so you won’t feel lost and create content that speaks the truth. Most important is to have the passion and commitment to create AND, do what makes you happy. It will reflect on your content and it will have an impact on someone consuming what you create.