Standing in the Spotlight
WRITTEN BY: ALEXA ERICKSON | PHOTOGRAPHED BY: JEFF FARSAI
STYLED BY: STYLE BY F.E.A
MAKEUP BY: PATRICK TA | HAIR BY: LAUREN STOUT
APPAREL PROVIDED BY: Emily Daccarett www.emilydaccarett.com
PHOTO SHOOT LOCATION: FAIRMONT MIRAMAR HOTEL & BUNGALOWS
101 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401 310.576.7777 www.fairmont.com/santa-monica
If her infectious laugh hasn’t captured you yet, then you probably haven’t seen the wildly popular MTV shows “Ridiculousness” and “Fantasy Factory, ” that rose itsy bitsy blonde bombshell CHELSEA DUDLEY to fame with her fun loving vibes and laid back attitude. A Los Angeles native, her stage name, Chanel West Coast, is an appropriate ode to her love for the City of Angels. But being a TV personality isn’t the only thing that represents this young star’s career. In fact, she hopes people will stop referring to her as a cast member on an MTV show and recognize her as a talented musician.
Putting out free music on Myspace as a teen and searching Craigslist for “pay to play” opportunities, Chanel’s aspirations for a voice in the hip hop community came true when Lil Wayne caught on and signed Chanel to his record label Young Money Entertainment in 2012. A fusion of rap and singing and a blend of beauty and boldness have made this babe a sought-after commodity in the industry, but, Chanel admits she is nowhere near where she hopes to be. A perfectionist with goals set sky-high, she knows someday soon you’ll see her in the spotlight like never before.
With flashy style and a smile from ear-to-ear, she’s not easy to miss. Whether laid back in a hoodie and sneakers or glammed up in sky-high Christian Louboutins, Chanel West Coast likes to keep it fun. But don’t mistake her for some Barbie bubble gum goddess. She waves off anyone who tells her that she’s the next princess of pop. She knows the hip hop world is the path for her and encourages anyone trying to make it in the industry to keep their head held high and follow their own dreams, not someone else’s.
Q: Before we discuss the glitz, the glam and the perpetual success that is Chanel West Coast, can you tell us about where you are from? Did you always know you wanted a life in the spotlight?
Chanel West Coast: I grew up in North Hollywood. I actually moved quite a bit growing up, but I basically always stayed in The Valley, so I grew up here in Southern California. And yes, I did always know I wanted to be in the spotlight. At a very young age, I was involved in performing arts. Since I was little I wanted to perform and be in front of people. That’s what I like doing most.
Q: You got your start in the industry as a receptionist to Rob Dyrdek on his MTV series “Fantasy Factory.” How were you introduced to him?
CWC: I basically met him through my Myspace music page. I started pursuing music when I was 17 years old, and I met him through that and mutual friends. Basically, he saw me hustling and doing my music thing and thought I was funny. He originally asked me to do one episode of “Fantasy Factory, ” but after I had done that one show, they liked me and asked me to be a permanent cast member.
Q: What was it like being on the show? I remember watching it and always loving your laugh and how you seemed to go with the flow despite all the craziness. Tell me about some of the craziest things you witnessed/ took part in.
CWC: Oh man, there are so many things, it’s almost hard just to mention one. But one of the craziest things we just did recently for this upcoming season. It was above and beyond. I don’t want to spoil it though! I guess you’ll have to stay tuned to find out what happens. But let’s just say that after filming that episode…I was a little disgusted.
Q: During your time on the show, you also made your acting debut on the MTV series “The Hard Times of RJ Berger.” Is acting something you will continue to do?
CWC: Yeah, I definitely want to get into more acting, but I want to do that after my music career really takes off because music is my passion first and foremost. Once that happens, I want to get into doing more film and TV. I started doing acting stuff when I was really little. My mom wanted to get me into it, so she took me to a bunch of auditions and I got a couple little gigs here and there as a kid. I was in a music video and took on a couple commercials and right before I was on “Fantasy Factory” I started doing a lot of extra work—anything I could do to get my foot in the door. Getting that role on “RJ Berger” made me want to do more, but it’s been really crazy trying to do “Fantasy Factory, ” “Ridiculousness” and work on my music career. When I feel I have more time, I definitely want to do more acting because I love it.
Q: What do you have more fun filming, “Ridiculousness” or “Fantasy Factory”?
CWC: Filming “Ridiculousness” is a very fast paced show. We film two episodes in a day, so the whole season only takes about 10 days. Whereas for “Fantasy Factory, ” a season takes months to film. On “Ridiculousness, ” we are watching the crazy videos and on “Fantasy Factory” we’re doing the crazy stuff ourselves. I’d have to say that “Fantasy Factory” is a little bit more fun for me to film because I feel like we are involved in making the funny stuff.
Q: Let’s discuss your budding music career. When did you get your start in this industry? Was this always something you knew you wanted to do?
CWC: As far back as I can remember, I was into music. At a very young age, I started taking an interest in it. My mom noticed and helped me to get involved with the choir as well as singing and dancing lessons. Anything as far as performing arts stuff that she could get me involved in she did because she could tell I wanted to do something with it. And it’s funny because my mom always tells people she knew I was going to be into music because when I was about three years old, I came out into the living room with my little keyboard and I yelled “Mom, mom! You’re never going to believe this! ‘Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star’ and ‘ABCDEFG’ are the same song!” And they are the same melody. I noticed that as a little kid. And it made my mother really want to look into supporting me in that musical direction. Also, my dad was a DJ for like 30 years in New York so that definitely inspired me as well.
Q: Describe your first experience playing live. Where was it and how long ago?
CWC: Well, I’ve been performing my whole life in things like talent shows and dance competitions, but my first live show as an artist was at about 19 years old. It was a show I found on Craigslist. I had gone on the website searching for ways to perform. I was determined to perform in front of people and get my music out there. I had to hustle. Basically, it was one of those “pay to play” shows where if you don’t sell the amount of tickets they give you then you can’t perform. I sold enough tickets and was able to perform. Rob hooked me up with some free clothing for me and my dancers, because I was flat broke, and couldn’t afford anything!
Q: You’ve definitely come a long way since then. You were signed by Lil Wayne’s record label Young Money Entertainment in 2012 and by 2013 you had come out with your mixtape “Now You Know” featuring artists like Evan Ross, Snoop Dogg and Robin Thicke. What was it like working with such accomplished people in the industry?
CWC: I put my heart and soul into that mixtape. It was like an album pretty much that I put out for free, but so many of my fans kept asking me to put it out on iTunes, so I did and that’s when it became real. I’d say that was definitely a milestone in my life. And also, having been able to work with some of my idols…Snoop is one of my idols…being able to say I worked with him was pretty crazy.
Q: You have a debut album scheduled for release in early 2015, and the latest track is titled “Miles and Miles.” Can you tell us about the creative inspiration that went into this album? Do you feel it is different than anything you’ve done thus far?
CWC: There’s definitely going to be a lot more singing on this album than there was on my mixtape, and I think you’ll hear newer, fresher sounds.
Q: Describe your sound in three words as a music artist.
CWC: There’s just one word: Fresh.
Q: Who are your musical inspirations?
CWC: My biggest inspiration as a rapper would be Tupac. He’s definitely the artist that made me want to start rapping. As far as a female artist that I really look up to, I’d have to say Gwen Stefani. I’ve loved her since No Doubt. It was the first CD I bought as a little girl. Also, her style is amazing.
Q: What accomplishments have you made in the industry that you are proudest of?
CWC: I’m definitely proud of being known as a musician, because, for a long time, people didn’t even know me as a musician, they only knew me for my roles on TV. It’s cool to now be known as an artist. I get really excited when people come up to me now and instead of being like “Yo! I love your laugh!” they’re like “Yo! I love your new song you just dropped!” To know people are recognizing me for my music is a pretty dope feeling.
Q: Let’s talk fashion. How would you describe your style?
CWC: I think I’d have to say diverse. I mean, sometimes I want to dress more laid back and be chill and wear hoodies and sneakers and other days I want to get dolled up and wear Louboutins and feel more glamorous.
Q: Do you have any clothing designers or eras of style that inspire you?
CWC: Definitely Chanel. I think Chanel is an amazing brand and not just because I have the same name. It’s timeless. You can look at something from Chanel from the 40s and something from the brand today, and you can tell that it’s Chanel. As far as shoes go, I love Jimmy Choo. I have absolutely tiny feet, and they always have my size, which is hard to find. I love Giuseppe as well. They have beautiful styles and a lot of bright colors, and I’m really into that. I also really like a lot of streetwear brands like Volcom and Vans.
Q: I’m sure there have been some highs and lows along the way in your career. Are you where you want to be? Where do you see yourself in five years?
CWC: No. I am not where I want to be by any means. I am a perfectionist. I have OCD. I am a Virgo just like Beyonce. One day I want to be a superstar, and I want to win awards and I want to perform on shows like the VMAs and the Grammys. I’ve been performing my whole life, so it’s something that I really want to do—perform in front of all those people and let them see that I have more talent than just laughing on a couch.
Q: What advice can you give to other artists in this highly competitive field who are just starting out and trying to get their name out there?
CWC: Never give up! Don’t let anybody tell you what to do and don’t let anybody tell you who you are. I have had so many people try to tell me that I shouldn’t rap and that I should do pop music. But I know what I love and I’m not going to let anybody stop me. So, I’d say to anybody trying to pursue music to have confidence in what you want to do.
#WestCoastWednesday: Head over to www.iamchanelwestcoast.com every Wednesday, where Chanel keeps her fans up-to-date on all things Chanel West Coast with updates on tour dates, deals and contests, episode recaps, music video releases and more.