Today we’d like to introduce you to Chyenne “Chy” Roan-Santini.
Hi Chyenne “Chy”, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
I am a former foster youth, fashion model, activist (and future author) from Los Angeles, CA. I began modeling work in 2018, landing modeling gigs for brands such as Apple, Audi, Facebook, H&M, Vans, Samsung, and Capital One to name a few. When the Covid pandemic hit in 2020, I was featured on Fox 11 news here in Los Angeles with Emmy award-winning reporter & foster youth advocate Christine Devine (who is also a mentor of mine now). My news segment was entitled “LA girl goes from foster youth to fashion model”. I was able to share about not only my modeling/activism but also about my mother, who suffers from mental illness and homelessness. She is the driving force behind all of what I do. Her strength gives me strength every day to keep reaching new heights in my life that I never imagined, even on the most difficult days of wishing I had her in my presence. Having a mom who deals with mental illness is like experiencing grief daily. “She” is “here” physically but I miss her more and more every day the more it takes over. So that grief doesn’t really leave me. It’s hard, but the pain pushes me to maintain stability in my life. She has also inspired me to become involved in homeless outreach in my community, which brings me a lot of healing and connection to her, no matter how far we are physically. I volunteer with Bright Path Center twice monthly, which provides housing, food, hygiene items and clothing to our unhoused community.
I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
Currently, I would say that readjusting after the Covid pandemic has been the main challenge for me this year. I don’t like to say I “have” anxiety anymore because I don’t want to own that title…. But I definitely have a history of experiencing severe anxiety. Being that Covid changed the world as we know it in the many ways it did in those two years, I’ve really had a hard time being around people again this year. I believe that having that alone time for so long may have heightened the anxiety that I experience now. It even has been interfering with my work… but I am working through it with lots of prayer and lots of therapy. My modeling career was just beginning to really take off in 2019, and I was in such a consistent flow. I had just booked a DSW campaign when the pandemic caused the malls to close (luckily I was able to take my dad and a couple of friends in the DSW stores to see it in person beforehand). So I am really trying to get myself back out there after all of that. I mean I haven’t stopped… but it just feels as if Covid created a bigger fear for me of being around others for too long. I must say I am still so proud of myself because I’m still doing pretty major things regardless. I’m really blessed to still be working and I have no complaints, just pure gratitude.
Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I work in fashion, but that is a small piece in the big picture. I feel so lucky to be able to kind of transform in modeling and live out a dream, but also to live life on my terms and pursue other passions in the process. I value my free time as a free-spirited creative but most importantly for my activism. This past summer I had the privilege of working as a camp counselor for foster youth at Happy Trails for Kids. It was a life-changing experience and another dream that I got to live out. I too was once a foster kid in camp who dreamed of being a counselor for other foster kids someday, because of how much my camp counselors impacted my life. So being able to see this come to fruition was definitely a highlight for me this year. I recently was asked to be a speaker at Happy Trails’ Taste of Camp fundraiser and I was able to speak about my experiences as a camp counselor there. Along with working with children, I continue to pay it forward for the organization A Sense of Home. They created my home in 2018 and have played a tremendous role in all of my success as well. Founders Georgie Smith and Melissa Goddard are two of my close friends and mentors. This year I was also awarded with the Heidi Duckler Dance creative fellowship program, a program started in 2020 by the late Dr. Kerry English, which connects foster youth to the arts.
I am also in the process of writing a book which I hope to publish in the near future.
On the question of what I’m most proud of in my life…. Wow, I really just gotta say for continuing to be a dreamer even when I’m going through the hard shit in my human experience. I can genuinely say I’m proud of myself and so full of thanks… for every single person who has played a part in my story (so far). I have so much more to do!!!
Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
I would like to just offer a few different practices that have been helping me through some of my mental challenges this year. CREATE A VISION BOARD, THEY WORK!!!!! So much of what I put on mine at the start of the year came to life right before my eyes. Develop a routine of gratitude, journaling, therapy (if comfortable) watching what you’re taking in on tv, social media, and even in music. Being active, shifting your diet (because our gut really regulates a lot of our mood and many other functions that influence how we feel overall). It all sounds as if it wouldn’t make a major difference but it really does as long as you make it a daily practice. Also, I want to offer this to anyone who has a mom like mine or any relatives/loved ones like her. Forgive yourself if you ever wished they could be what we consider “normal”. Forgive yourself if you ever got angry or frustrated because they weren’t present mentally, physically or both. Forgive yourself if there were times you just lost all clarity about what they were facing because it was too complex for you to make sense of and remember that you are doing your best. Your love for them speaks volumes on its own.
- Instagram: @chy_mellow
Image credits: Kevin Coffey, Jessica Sterling,