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Conversations with Chele Roland

Today we’d like to introduce you to Chele Roland.

Chele, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
Well, I think the best way to describe how I got to where I am today, is by saying that I’ve always been drawn towards the underdog. I’ve always been moved and inspired by people that weren’t given the things that they have—people that had to not only create it, but fight for it. I think everybody would say that they love a good “underdog story,” but I REALLY truly gravitate towards those authentic humans that had no safety net…The people that had no other choice, but to keep going in order to succeed. There are some people that are ‘born on third base,’ with a lot of heavy hitters coming up to bat behind them… Then there are those people that are not born anywhere near the ballpark. I like those people, the ones that are so far off the field, that they don’t even know how they’re going to get to the game—Those are my people—the ones that make something out of nothing, those are the ones that really speak to my soul.

And it’s these types of people that I have watched and observed, and been inspired by, that have been my role models in the art of “never giving up.”

My professional career has often felt like 6 steps forward, but then 3 steps back—and I have made millions of mistakes. So although it’s been a long road, I’m in a place now to understand that it has all unfolded perfectly, and that every step of the way, I was exactly where I needed to be.

And because of my somewhat jagged path, it has led to a very eclectic portfolio of ventures and projects. Had my pursuits been a straight arrow, I never would have crossed paths with many of the successful souls that I have.

For example, due to certain events in my life, I was dealing with a lot of crippling anxiety, so that inspired me to start a wellness company (bWell Network) where I have partnered with doctors and scientists that have patented the only topical absorbable glutathione. (Thank you Dr. Nayan Patel). Had I not dealt with this anxiety, I would have never been introduced to glutathione, and how powerful it is in dealing with anxiety (PTSD) and systemic cellular health. So it was a hidden blessing. And now we are in talks to partner with HSN, (Home Shopping Network) for the topical glutathione!

I’m also writing a memoir about my very unique life as an “underdog,” and we have a scripted series that I co-created that is being produced around my story as well. So my portfolio is rather diverse, and I don’t think I have ever felt bored a day in my life! Lol

Like I said, all of my ventures have been born through something personal and pivotal that has happened in my life. So every project I work on touches me in a meaningful and profound way. I literally get to do what I love in every single arena, every single day.

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?
It has most definitely not been a smooth road for me, and because I have always struggled with being a people-pleaser and a “do-gooder,” I ended up getting sucked into a religious cult when I was in college at Long Beach State as a Film major. I moved to California from a small town in Washington state called Puyallup. It was a wonderful place to grow up, but when I arrived in California, I was the epitome of someone that had just fallen off the proverbial ‘turnip truck.’ And I got lost inside of this cult for 17 years. This experience almost physically killed me, but once I got out, I now had a new lease on life and a clearer understanding of what truly matters. I felt like I had been in prison for 17 years, so once I escaped, no one was going to shut me up ever again.

And like with everything else, I was able to cherry pick the good out of this, and realized that I wanted to help people never go through what I did, or any type of indoctrination for that matter. So me, and one of my best friends, Hoyt Richards, who is also a very well-known cult survivor, started a podcast called WhaTheFlok “Cult Survival Stories.” Not only is this podcast/channel therapeutic for Hoyt and myself, the fellow survivors that we have interviewed, and all of the people that have called in, have made it a life-changing experience. We truly are reaching people around the globe, and it’s the most rewarding thing I have ever done.

It was also really exciting to be invited on two different local channels in Los Angeles and West Hollywood where our WhaTheFlok podcast now plays as a talk show format on Thursday evenings.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
So I just shared about escaping from a religious cult, which usually causes people to pause, or look at me sideways, or assume I am gullible. But nothing could be further from the truth. It used to be something I was tempted to feel ashamed about. Because who wants to talk about being indoctrinated inside of a cult?!—But now it’s something I am actually the most proud of, and I’ve been able to learn to wear it like a badge. NOT the fact that I was inside of a cult, but the fact that I was able to fight my way out of it, and make it to the other side. I escaped that cult with nothing but the clothes on my back, and was instantly shunned and lied about. But here I am today not only surviving, but thriving. I think there is something so powerful about being able to ‘own your past,’ and not hide things, or shy away from what you’ve experienced. But instead, to use it as a sort of lighthouse to help guide others.

I’ve clearly always been a little obsessed with “saving” people— That’s how I got sucked into that cult—But at least now I can possibly ‘save’ people from making some of the mistakes that I have.

Is there something surprising that you feel even people who know you might not know about?
What most people have been surprised about lately is that due to our WhaTheFlok podcast and all of the survivors messaging us, we experienced what I am coining the “Podcast Discovery Phenomenon” (PDP), where podcasts, like ours, all over the world are helping to not only bring awareness to different social injustices, but are also helping to solve crimes. It’s fascinating to see all of the listeners calling in to provide tips and details. For example, what has been happening with WhaTheFlok is that multiple people were calling in to report different abuses within the particular cult that I was in.( So I pulled in my friend, Bobby Samini ( also from Orange County, who is the best and most compassionate lawyer that I know, and we immediately jumped into action and started tackling all of these cases. Through this process I was also able to meet Senator Joe Dunn, who is the former California Senator who has been working behind the scenes, pushing what is known as ‘window legislation,’ to overturn the statute of limitations on sexual abuse cases, for a certain window of time. Joe Dunn also co-founded a group called the Zero Abuse Project.

Helping these survivors has been beyond life-changing for me, and Rolling Stone magazine broke the story for us on New Year’s Eve 12/31/22. We recently sat down for an interview in the Access Hollywood studio, to be a part of their series called
”I Survived.” And we have many more big media stories coming soon out as well.

This is just one more example of the ‘silver linings’ that I keep talking about—I truly believe it’s possible to take the hardest, most painful things from your life, and turn them into something powerful and beautiful, and useful for the world around you. I’ve wanted to quit more times than I can count, but then me and so many others wouldn’t have the chance to experience these sweet, sweet victories.

Lots of other exciting things in the works, as we were approached to do a Docuseries surrounding these events, and all of the court cases. And we are discussing some other amazing partnerships in tandem. Looks like I will finally get to use that film education that I abandoned all those years ago! 🤩

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