Never underestimate a woman. If there’s one thing to take away from our interview with Chanel West Coast, it’s that.
You see, Chanel may be bubbly, but don’t mistake her friendliness for weakness. Overflowing with talent and possessing an enviable ability to see her dreams through, this week’s guest on the L.A. Weekly Weekly Podcast is a prime example of not underestimating the will of a woman with goals.
Chanel is an entertainer, in all aspects of the word. She makes an impression that sticks in your mind, and whether you love her or hate her, you can’t forget her. And she knows it.
The truth behind the television character she’s created is that underneath the giggles, Chanel is sharp as a tack and knows how to channel interest in her – good and bad – to a captivated audience. As someone who has been sure of her dreams since childhood, people’s continued curiosity about who she is has fueled Chanel to become her most unapologetic, authentic self.
And we love it. What can we say? Chanel fits the description of an empowered woman in every sense.
Though you may think you know who she is from what you see on TV, Chanel is so much more than just a television personality. For starters, she’s an artist who’s been a musician far longer than she’s been a network star.
“I’ve been doing music first and foremost my whole life, so I’ve just stayed doing it and I don’t really care if people pigeonhole me,” says Chanel. “I think that – especially these days – people get bored so easily and there is so much content that it’s much better to be a triple-threat and do more than one thing… if you have multiple talents I think that’s going to go a lot further these days because people want content and they want to be entertained, and the more you do the better.”
As one of the most ambitious people in the entertainment industry, her energy is enviable.
“I go until I can’t go anymore,” agrees Chanel with a laugh. “I definitely go into those little [shutdown] modes and I have to remind myself that it is okay to take some time to relax… that’s how you stay sane, that’s how you stay creative. You can’t stay doing all of these things if you don’t take a little bit of time for yourself. Otherwise you’ll literally go insane, you know?”
Living up to her honest reputation, Chanel paints an accurate picture of the non-stop hustle one must commit to if they want to make it in one of the world’s most difficult industries.
“Like I said, I’ll literally go, go, go until I’m about to have a mental breakdown – that’s when I’m like ‘OK, I need a couple of days off,’’’ she confides.
It seems like she’s doing a million things at once because, well, she is.
From co-hosting MTV’s Ridiculousness for 25 seasons and counting, making music, producing albums, directing music videos, creating clothing lines Valleywood and LOL Cartel, guest-appearing on reality shows, hosting a weekly live stream, to most recently, founding her own cannabis company, comparing Chanel to the Energizer Bunny is a pretty spot-on assessment of the young hustler.
What’s incredible is that the above just scratches the surface of all she’s involved in professionally. When you take into account her perfectly coiffed hair, her dedication to the gym, her relationships, and all of the run-of-the-mill responsibilities that accompany adulthood, one can’t help but wonder if she has the same hours in the day that we do. Drive aside, the sheer energy she exudes keeps her ever-youthful in the eyes of her audience.
While Chanel is involved in a number of notable projects, she is currently most recognized from Rob Dyrdek’s Ridiculousness, where she co-hosts alongside Rob and Sterling “Steelo” Brim. However, Chanel thinks this point needs some clarification.
“We aren’t really on the show as hosts, we are on the show as personalities,” she explains. “I don’t think people understand. Rob didn’t just pick random people to be on the show. He picked friends of his to be on the show that did have talent and were pursuing acting and music. … I think that’s where it got confused because we are called co-hosts but we’re really there more as personalities and friends.”
This long-running MTV hit series is where she became known for not only her bubbly demeanor and infectious laugh, but her charming ability to become fast friends with just about anyone.
“Me, Rob, and Sterling, we’re all friends,” Chanel explains of her coworkers. “We kind of have the same sense of humor and like the same types of things. I think that’s why the banter we have together is just always there, because there’s just such natural chemistry.”
“We just passed our 900th episode,” she continues, expressing disbelief over the sheer amount of content that can be found on the internet. “The clips are never-ending. Everybody in the world has a camera in their hands at all times and there are so many opportunities to catch just dumb, stupid, random things happening. We pretty much have content forever thanks to everyone having iPhones.”
While she loves her show, she loves her music even more.
“I’ve pretty much been doing music my entire life, ever since I was a little girl. I grew up in L.A. with my mom, a single mom. My dad was in New York City. When I was about four I started flying back and forth to visit my dad in New York. Even though I grew up here in L.A., I did kind of grow up a little bit bi-coastal. So it’s funny that my name is Chanel West Coast,” laughs our guest. “The East Coast definitely has a huge influence on me musically as well. My dad was a hip hop DJ so going to visit him I got a lot of that influence.”
Noticing her daughter’s talent, Chanel’s mom enrolled the then-four-year-old in dance classes and encouraged her to participate in every performing arts activity she could at her school. An early obsession with poetry and a passion for hip hop dance made it clear to young Chanel that she needed to pursue rap.
At the time, Chanel did what every aspiring rapper would do: create a MySpace page for her music. It was through this page that she would meet her future boss and friend, Rob Dyrdek. Her career blossomed from there, as she was eventually cast as Rob’s secretary in the precursor to Ridiculousness, Rob Dyrdek’s Fantasy Factory.
Her relationship with MTV allowed her to pursue opportunities for her musical passion. Chanel began recording her music professionally in 2009, and was able to showcase her singles on a reboot of TRL.
“Being on MTV, obviously any opportunity I could use to expose my music I took, but outside of the show I really just hustled and networked super hard,” Chanel explains. “I over-network to the point where I can’t keep up!”
Not one to take any opportunity for granted, she puts in the work to achieve her dreams.
“Obviously being on [MTV] and having that platform made me visible to so many people. It got me invited to a lot of really cool red carpet events and all these places where I could meet really cool people and use those events and networking opportunities to elevate my career,” she continues. “Outside of the show I really, really worked my ass off to use the visibility I had as major leverage, but it was hard… some people don’t take you seriously as a musician when you’re on reality-type television. It’s very interesting when you come from reality TV to doing music. It’s actually kind of a setback.”
MTV’s television division is very separate from their musical one, Chanel tells us, explaining that it can be harder than you’d think to bridge that gap from one side to the other. She knew from the start to use every opportunity she could to her advantage, as opportunities are rare in the industry. This is why she describes in the podcast that her invitation to perform on the legendary TRL was a dream come true.
“When they asked me to be on TRL I was so honored,” she affirms. “I was like ‘oh my God, MTV is finally acknowledging me as the artist I am. This is the moment I’ve been dreaming about!’”
With that childhood dream off of her checklist, her hustle now has even more heart behind it as she continues to realize her ambitions in all industries of interest. As a woman of many talents and an extraordinary drive, Chanel has spent her time doing just that.
She now produces a livestream called “California Dreaming,” which airs every week, Wednesdays at 7 p.m. PST on the Bigo Live app. Chanel uses the medium to share inspiring stories, advice, and secrets with guests like Austin Mahone, Steve-O, Meta World Peace, and more.
Chanel has also made her wish of owning a cannabis brand come true, with the recent drop of Coasty premium cannabis.
“Coasty – it’s very fitting for being Chanel West Coast’s,” she laughs. “I wanted it to be a very easy, breezy sounding name.”
A supporter of the cannabis movement and connoisseur herself, Chanel’s participation in the green rush is a natural progression of her business portfolio.
“I know my weed very well, and I know what’s quality cannabis. I didn’t want to put my name on any cannabis that was overly-chemicalized or that was just not good,” she explains of her endeavor. “I wanted to make sure it was good quality weed, and that there was more than one type. A lot of people will just put out one type of weed and call it a million different things, but I wanted to be very true to the old-school weed. We have OG and Bubba. It’s very straight to the point.”
In a world saturated with brands, Chanel has made sure hers stands out in quality and safety.
“Everything is top of the line tested – which I was very adamant about making sure we have the right testing facilities. The testing facilities are so important for putting out quality, legal cannabis because they’re the ones who basically hold your brand in their hand,” she educates. “There are so many little things that people don’t know go into a cannabis line: The licensing, the state licensing, the federal licensing, all of these things take so long and so much time but we’ve been working on it for a while now and I am hands-on with every single part of it.”
Not wanting to be put in a corner as just the celebrity face of a brand, Chanel wanted her own brand, so she created it for herself. This allowed her to be a part of every step of the process, from branding to marketing all the way to licensing, genetics, and testing.
“I don’t want to put out anything that’s not quality with my name on it,” she says, explaining why it’s taken so long to get products on shelves. She’s been meticulous about getting Coasty just right, and we’re thankful for it. There’s nothing better than uncomplicated, good, safe weed.
However, music always comes first for Chanel and she’s continued to make big moves. In October 2020, the artist released her long-awaited debut studio album America’s Sweetheart.
“I called this album America’s Sweetheart because it’s an oxymoron and contradicts the perception that many have of me,” Chanel said in the accompanying press release at the time. “I have flaws. I’ve made mistakes. I’ve benefited from white privilege and I’ve had second chances in life that, unfortunately, many people have not received. That’s why it was important for me to donate to the REFORM Alliance and do my part to address the injustices taking place in our world, particularly our Black and brown communities.” A portion of the album’s proceeds were donated to the REFORM Alliance, a non-profit organization dedicated to probation, parole, and sentencing reform in the United States.
As an independent artist today, she is aware that she is facing increased industry obstacles as she gears up to put out new music. But she doesn’t mind – the end is worth the means.
“I’m so excited, I just can’t wait for everybody to hear the music,” reveals Chanel. “With this body of work I have, I really feel that once it’s out, I think that it’s going to surprise a lot of people, from not just my fans but to my haters.”
“I think a lot of haters will turn into fans,” she challenges. “I’m really pushing my boundaries as an artist. I went way outside of the box as far as what I’ve been doing for years.”
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