Bright Spot: Filipina “Snapchat celebrity” Cyrene Q
by Steve Angeles, ABS-CBN News
LOS ANGELES — In a few short years, Snapchat has produced many successful Filipinos. One Cyrene Q has taken the world by storm, one snap at a time.
An art major from Arkansas, Cyrene Quiamco first logged onto the social app during its early years.
She was using Snapchat to show off her art pieces.
“I saw these people doing this art on this really simple program, and I was like this is really cool,” Quiamco shared. “I starting adding those people and I started making art on my own.”
Eventually, her work caught the eye of boyband-er Kevin Jonas.
Since then, companies have been lining up for a place on her Snap story feed.
Her sponsored snaps are worth $30,000 each, generating half a million dollars a year.
“Brands started to notice this app had potential to story tell, to do art, and to integrate their brand with it,” she said.
“One of the things that got me to go viral is I would take a selfie on Snapchat, and I would draw a celebrity on it, and I would tell my friends, look I took a selfie with Ellen Degeneres. I took a selfie with the Jonas Brothers,” she shared. “It’s just a funny series to say I took a picture with all these A-list celebrities, but it’s really a Snapchat drawing… and that went viral, so Kevin Jonas contacted me and say, hey I like your selfie.”
Quiamco says her humble roots is what drives her to success.
Migrating from Bacolod City to Arkansas at age 7, her and her sister were raised by a single mother.
“She brought my sister and I from the Philippines to here, and we didn’t live like a rich life. We lived in a modest apartment it’s not like the best part of town. We always stayed indoors, and one day were going to be rich, and we’re going to get to go on all these vacations… and I knew my mom really tried to set that path for us. She worked a couple of jobs. I saw her struggles, and so I wanted to give back to her.”
Unlike her 10-second Snap posts that disappear in 24 hours, Quiamco has used her real-time viral fame to advocate on many platforms — from digital media, to a book “11 Seconds to Success,” and a panel to South by SouthWest.
She hopes her work can inspire and empower people, especially women of color.
“I think that nobody grows by themselves. I didn’t grow by myself,” she said. “It was through the support of the community, and through the support of celebrities and brands that are helping me boost up… other people don’t have that opportunity. So I want to help other people grow.”
She’s even made her way back to the Philippines, as ambassador for the National Digital Arts Awards.
She was recently in Los Angeles to meet with Snapchat at its Venice Beach homebase, and to film the first ever live Candy Crush game show with her mom.
With no slowing down, we can expect to see more of Cyrene outside of her Snaps.