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Meet Rimski Chua

Today we’d like to introduce you to Rimski Chua.

Hi Rimski, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
My birth name is Rimski Alexis Cruz Chua. I was born in the Philippines and grew up in Binalonan, Pangasinan. Yeah, I’m not sure where to pinpoint it on the map either. My mother is Maribeth Amparo Cruz Chua, a Filipino mestiza and my father is Danilo Ocampo Chua, a Filipino-Chinese. Our home was on a particularly large piece of land, or at least I think it was. There were two houses, a chicken coop, a pigsty, a basketball court, a warehouse, a long driveway that could fit a dozen or more cars, and lots of grass. Daddy was rich, but mommy was the one that made the money grow. I have two brothers and a sister, I’m the youngest. My days before coming to America was so carefree: catching dragonflies (and eventually killing them because I didn’t know they needed oxygen in a tight-lid jar), watching anime, riding my bike around the house (over and over), watching my brother, Jam, play his playstation, or hanging out with my siblings or cousins in the sala. Some nights, I dream that I was back in the same timeline like my life never changed. It’s more complicated than this but I’ll keep it simple, the family business died out. A deal that my parents heavily invested in never went through. My parents took on many side hustles before immigrating to America. My mom and dad were going back and forth until my mom decided to bring me with her. I came to America with my mom in 2005, when I was nine years old going on ten.

To this day, I haven’t been back to the Philippines or seen my brothers, cousins, and the rest of my family that I grew up with since. Rags to Riches? Quite the opposite. In 2014, President Obama and his administration introduced the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a United States policy that allowed a renewable two-year period for protection from deportation and eligibility for a work permit for individuals that was brought to the country as children. You had to be under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012 and your arrival to the United States had to be before your 16th birthday and a couple of other requirements. I went to a regular elementary and middle school and later enrolled in a performing arts high school. It’s the shiny silver building that you see on the 101 south freeway. It either reminds you of the Disney Hall or the building in Fantastic Four. I enrolled in the Dance Academy, but truthfully, I wanted to be in all four academies all at once. Dance, Visual, Music, and Theatre. Thank you to my lovely teachers who guided me in my angsty and lost teen years: Diana Delcambre, Alexandra Wiesenfeld, SANO, Emiko Sugiyama, Marlita Hill, Mark Gozonsky, Greg Schiller, and Giancarlo Lazarte-Amado. You have all sparked something in me and for that, I am forever grateful and will always remember you.

On December 27th, 2013, I was applying for my social security at the Social Security Administration with my mom and sister and my dad called my mom on the phone. He was having a heart attack and didn’t want to call 911 because he didn’t want to pay for anything just in case. My mom rushed home and called for an ambulance, but they said he most likely died before he even got to the hospital. The worst day of my life has taught me many great lessons over the years. Smoking will kill you and frugality may as well. Haha just kidding. My dad would have laughed at that joke so please don’t be offended. I was very lucky to receive the empathy and love that I did from my wonderful friends to help me properly grieve in that time. Thankfully, I was able to work and help out my mom. I worked three jobs and rarely ever had a day off. I used work to distract me because I felt guilty for not making money 24/7 but also because most of jobs I had were really fun because of my hilarious coworkers. I actually started earning really good money and had the opportunity to earn more, but I would have had to work a job that lacked a creative outlet. I’m Filipino, so yeah I tried to be a nurse. I couldn’t even pass the prerequisite classes, but my older sister was able to do it and for that, I am so proud of her. I wasn’t passionate about nursing and I wouldn’t trust myself with another person’s life. It wasn’t until I was having an identity and career crisis that I found art again. I was literally lost and I didn’t know what I was doing with my life. What was the point of making money if I didn’t enjoy what I did with my life? My life that my parents worked hard to protect.

I began taking art classes in Los Angeles City College with Alexandra Wiesenfeld and dance classes with Dexter Carr at Playground LA. I learned how to get my creative gears going again. Thank you Alex, for simply believing in me and in all your students. Thank you Dexter, for helping me remember how much I love dance. In 2016, I met a curious boy that replied to all my text messages with emojis and had a passion for traveling and photography. I made it my mission to make Ron fall in love with me. So, I made him a (really bad but sweet) rap song, burned it onto a CD, and played it for him on a CD player by a waterfall in Pasadena. I asked him out that same day. And so here we are, going on five years together. He taught me about patience, commitment, and everything I know in Adobe programs. We actually just got married during the pandemic. Spoiler alert! We didn’t tell anybody except direct family and a few friends haha. We’re planning a trip to the Philippines next year so I can see my family again. That is something I’m really looking forward to. Reconnecting with my high school friend Ashya has brought so many opportunities and inspirations. I began as her backup dancer and choreographer. She then trusted me and to direct her music videos. Next thing you know, I booked a gig to be in Wolftyla’s ‘Candy’ music video and began directing other videos with Ron and other videographers in LA. I began teaching HipHop classes at Dance Refuge, a dance studio in Los Angeles.

Unfortunately, the pandemic hit and most things had to come to a halt. However, I’m grateful that I can take this time to get lost in my craft and that my family is healthy and safe. I also began a YouTube channel to document my life, but also to have another creative outlet that I enjoy. Vlogging, makeup, hobbies here and there. Can never have too many outlets, ya know? I believe that if you genuinely enjoy something enough to be lost in time with it, you can be good at it. You hear it in movies all the time. If you believe in yourself, you can do anything you put your mind to. Sometimes, it takes other people to people in you too. I think it’s important to get to know yourself no matter how old you are. It’s like a relationship. You have to know what makes you happy and fulfilled. Creating something that is far bigger than myself is what success is: a story, a work of art, movement, inspiration, or guidance for the younger generation. I am privileged to be able to feed myself with my creative outlets. I thank my friends Steph, Nick, Ashya, and Roger for believing me, even when I’m not at my best. I thank my sweet husband and my in-laws for supporting me in all that I do. And I thank my parents for raising me with love, providing food and shelter, so I can have dreams.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The biggest challenge was when my father passed away. Most of the people who knew me at the time probably thought quite the opposite of me because I didn’t show it, but I often victimized myself for unfortunate events happening to me. That’s when I thought I lost myself. I began pitying myself and my mom when really I should have been grateful for what I still have. It took a while but my friends helped me get through it.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I’m think I’m mostly known for being a dancer and creative director. However, I am actually most proud of my oil paintings and my YouTube channel. Maybe because paintings and editing videos take longer to finish, haha. I guess what makes me different is my life story, my experiences are mine only. But thats also what makes other people special. No one has seen through your eyes. As a dancer, I have choreographed and danced for music videos, dance projects or been a backup dancer for performances. As a creative director, I am responsible for creative and visual execution, budgeting, production planning, styling, and coordinating. I often collaborate with my husband who is a videographer and photographer. Being a multi-media artist and director in training in Los Angeles is still crazy to me. However, I’m still learning but I hope to create visuals worth remembering and leaving on this planet. (Email me for painting/charcoal commissions, music video directing and production, and choreography)

What has been the most important lesson you’ve learned along your journey?
It’s better to follow your dreams than regret you never started. Should I die tomorrow, I’d like to believe I would be proud of the person I have become and the creative impact I have left in this world.

Contact Info:

Image Credits:

@ronderrek @aleiramoon

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