Rio Hondo College Newspaper

El Paisano

Rio Hondo College Newspaper

El Paisano

Rio Hondo College Newspaper

El Paisano

“OFF” and Flourishing

BY Michelle Torres

Cheyann Montiel-Reagan is an East Los Angeles native of Mexican descent. Montiel-Reagan proves that a passionate heart breaks the barriers against the odds and stereotypes.

Growing up, Montiel-Reagan looked at her surroundings in plays, films and TV and did not identify with the Latinos portrayed in media. Unaware of her identity as a Latina, Montiel-Reagan decided to attend Rio Hondo College for the diversity it offers and found her identity.

The RHC stage served as Montiel-Reagan’s foundation, it was where she discovered her voice, and the talented soul within her.

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Under the direction of theatre instructor Bill Korf, she learned to write for theatre. She found the strength she needed to face a world full of stereotypes, stereotypes which she works to break.

As a Latina performer, she became determined to embrace her talents instead of feeling isolated with a small selection of roles meant for Latino performers. Montiel-Reagan chose to write, produce, and direct. The creative freedom unleashed her desire to stop feeding limited storylines for Latino performers.

Montiel-Reagan found others as passionate and driven as herself in the theatre department, and with that a magic that freed her. She also became a competitive student by taking honors courses and still holds dear to her a One Act at RHC titled, “Iris,” a romantic comedy thriller – which she wrote and directed. She enjoyed the way she was able to capture the audience with her storytelling.

Montiel-Reagan sees RHC as a platform for networking, for making close connections with people who may lend a helpful hand in the community for the future.

“Building your own personal network. I think that is taken for granted, RHC should be seen as a place to grow, not only as a junior college,” Montiel-Reagan stated.

During her time at RHC she also worked on several MTV projects and with the first series of “First Five,” a health program to fight against obesity in minority children.

With an Associates Degree in hand and a bag full of dreams, Montiel-Reagan transferred to California State University of Long Beach, where she earned a Bachelors of Arts degree in Film. Montiel-Reagan is the first in her family to attend college and graduate.

After receiving her B.A., Montiel-Reagan decided to make a commercial entry for the brand Dove, and was selected as one of the top ten Finalists. This pushed her and gave her the strength to create her first short film, “Salud”. With the success of her short films, Montiel-Reagan created a delightful, family-friendly comedy web series titled “OFf & Running.” She is the creator, writer, director and producer on the series along with an acting role.

OFf & Running’s title has a capital F and lower case f to represent that it is okay to make mistakes.
“Someone is not going to judge you on one little typo, people see the bigger picture, they see who you are as a person, it is about your actions. I needed people to know that it is okay to be a little off sometimes, you can’t be perfect, no one is perfect”, Montiel-Reagan said.
The family-friendly comedy has received numerous articles in major publications and was also premiered at Paramount Studios. The web series attracted a global audience with the Middle East being their biggest fan base. The web series was then featured in New York Times Square, adding to the accomplishments Montiel-Reagan has achieved with a limited budget in a world dominated by stereotypes. Montiel-Reagan stands strong in creating productions free of unnecessary nudity and sex scenes. “We are already consumed by that everywhere else, so to me I don’t need that, I want to project women who respect themselves”.

Montiel-Reagan currently has three feature film scripts completed and a Sci-fi docu-drama project in the works. She will be speaking at Stanford University for the Silicon Valley Latino Leadership conference on May 11. Her speech will be about breaking stereotypes in media. Montiel-Reagan continues opening the world for Latinos who don’t have a voice within media. She stands by change and diversity.

“Be the change you wish to see in the world and you will be a part of creating a New Earth. Find your peace. Be happy with your day and do not let anyone get in your way,” Montiel-Reagan said. Being a Latina never felt more empowering.

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