For Chantal Lue, being born and raised in a Caribbean household where her mother was a nurse, there weren’t many career tracks she could pursue.
“I was on the pre-med track,” she said. “I had dreams of being an anesthesiologist, going to Johns Hopkins…”
That is, until she took chemistry her first semester at the University of Miami. She loved it in high-school. But, once she got to college?
“I hated it,” she admitted.
The 24-year-old always loved to write, but with her upbringing, that simply wasn’t an option. Despite that, she decided to pursue her passion anyway.
Now, Chantal works for herself as the executive producer and founder of her own production platform and does freelance video work for two clients. With a determination to tell positive stories in the black community, Chantal’s work is a force to be reckoned with.
Out of this, Colourful Illusions was born.
Road and Rigor
Started in 2016, Colourful Illusions is a digital platform that highlights positive stories in the black community. It’s currently going into its third season.
At first, the project started as a way for Chantal to get to know a new city — Washington, D.C. — and its people. She’d just moved there to start a journalism graduate program at Georgetown.
“I was in a new city and figured it would be a good way for me to explore the town and meet new people. I was only taking 6 credits so I had a lot of time,” she said.
She soon withdrew from the program after noticing that her classes were basically the same introductory classes she’d taken in undergrad.
“So I just said I was going to withdraw, save the $30,000 and go off into experience,” she said.
When she moved back to Miami, she began working for a local newspaper while still doing Colourful Illusions part-time. But after about a year, that no longer worked for her.
“Knowing that my real passion was Colourful Illusions, I noticed the better I did at the [newspaper], the more I would put Colourful Illusions aside. It was hard for me to give both experiences my devoted attention. I would slack on stories, I wasn’t consistent,” she said.
In August 2017, she decided to leave the newspaper and pursue Colourful Illusions full-time.
‘I AM REAL’
Colourful Illusions currently has over 200 subscribers on YouTube and over 1,300 followers on Instagram.
Through her work, Chantal has been able to travel to document events, she’s been able to feature Muslim women, Black businesses, artists, poets and others trying to make a positive impact in the black community. The whole message of Colourful Illusions is I AM REAL.
“I created [Colourful Illusions] in the summer where the racial climate was very tense,” Chantal explained. “It was when Alton Sterling and Philando Castile died and it was mentally draining people around me, so I wanted to create a platform that would help lift up the morale in the black community and show that there are good things going on.”
Because of the plethora of people that she’s worked with, it’s not very difficult for Chantal to find stories. Many times people come to her with ideas of who she could feature. Other times it’s through being aware of her surroundings.
“One of the stories I did was the bikers and that was just something from my own inquisitive mind and I just wondered about them,” she said. “When I was trying to freelance for the Miami Herald, I tried to pitch that to them and they never got back to me. It turned out to be really good and interesting. So just things that interest me and would serve well with my audience.”
As she continues to build her platform, she wants it to grow into something world-wide.
“I definitely want to be like an Anthony Bourdain where I can travel the world and go into different communities, some that are not known and some that are very well known and portray positive things and impactful things that are happening,” she said. “To share stories, good human interest pieces that are happening in all communities alike.”
Because she decided to pursue her calling, Chantal has major support. Her biggest supporter? Her mother.
“She wants to quit her job and work for me one day and she also says a lot that I helped to open her eyes because all she knew was medicine. Now she sees how you can make a life out of being creative. She’s supportive, she’s got my back,” Chantal laughed.
You can follow Colourful Illusions on Instagram @ColourfulIllusions. You can subscribe to the YouTube Channel here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCUvlDFxFfKp-SOUh_x-J1dw