CyreneQ.com provides links to many news articles about the lucrative niche she carved in social media and her journey that began as a seven-year-old leaving Bacolod City, Philippines with her widowed mother Christine Ganzon and younger sister Chris-Joy for the Arkansas capital of Little Rock (Entrepreneur Philippines); the profits she realized as an early adopter of Snapchat (Forbes); and her groundbreaking work as a brand influencer (The Hustle). Working in an industry where new innovations arise without warning, she could not have planned every milestone in her career. But what did happen by design and sheer force of will was the attainment of financial security for her family. The possibility of reliving the struggles Cyrene and her family endured in the Philippines and their early years in a tiny apartment in Little Rock has been rendered unimaginable even for a creative artist.
Exhausted workers in expensive cities might find Little Rock to be a hidden gem despite a Filipino population of less than two thousand. “My mother chose the capital of Arkansas because of the low cost of living. Of the approximately 200 Filipinos she sees at parties and holiday celebrations,” Cyrene says, “I like having a small tight-knit Filipino population. I feel like everyone knows each other better. I know a lot of their stories, and they know mine. It’s a more intimate connection, more of an extended family instead of just a community.”
“Brands sponsor my artwork. With AR lenses, I create interactive experiences people can play with while promoting a product. For the Lego Movie, I created a gun that shoots stickers to your face with the Lego Movie logo on top of the screen,” she explained.
Each day Cyrene publishes her sunny accounts of travels, celebrity encounters, social media tips and observations for over 200,000 followers, 88 percent of whom are under age 35 – the audience that stimulates the salivary glands of big advertisers like McDonald’s, Pixar and Walmart. Little more can be added about her present life or her past. What’s left to be discovered is the interior space between the worldwide web persona and the individual personality. Or is it?
Cyrene claims, “The persona I put online isn’t much different from my real-life persona in terms of my interest in family, games, movies and arts. I think what people might find surprising is that I’m actually a hermit in real life. I only leave my house occasionally when there’s an event that I have to go to. I can go for weeks without stepping outside and I don’t mind it. I actually enjoy it!”
She fills free time between Snaps and sleep with outside assignments, such as producing and managing Snapchat content for actor Rainn Wilson’s company, SoulPancake.
All for the Family
She appreciates work that integrates into other parts of her life, but a deeper motivation is an intense desire to achieve financial security for her family and leave behind the past struggles of her mother, who worked in an optometry office and cashiered to afford a small apartment and Catholic school for her daughters. This obsession with economic independence dates back before her comfortable stint as a web designer at Verizon and pioneering discovery that Snapchat can do more than display temporary photos. Cyrene strung together multiple scholarships to pay for three art degrees from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock with a surplus of scholarship money to buy her family a house.
Fans might find a personal connection to the anxious side of the sprightly big sister, who seldom projects one angstrom of the teenage angst familiar to her viewer demographic. What her anxiety pushed the young immigrant to accomplish goes beyond the initial empathy. “America is the land of opportunity and you can make anything happen. I and a few others created our own jobs, paved our own path and made a career of making content on Snapchat.”
In acting against her insecurity, she achieved financial security beyond the reach of many people twice her age. “My mom is now retired. We can now indulge in reasonable luxuries.” Among them is a mini arcade featuring video games and a claw machine for scooping up prizes. Precisely put, “We have enough saved for over thirty years. I want to keep working to increase that number. I want my mom to know everything she did was all worth it.”
Cyrene also lives to help others outside her family and Filipino neighbors. “I constantly try to help as many people as possible.” To guide others in building a Snapchat business, she says, “I teach tips, tricks and skills to grow their audience, get them brand gigs, and get them placed in press articles. It’s so normal for me to help others, I don’t consciously call myself a mentor. Why focus on one person when you can be there for anyone who needs you?”
Anthony Maddela and his family live in the city with the most Filipino-Americans along with many other kinds of Americans. They also value the diversity of bird species.
More articles from Anthony Maddela