Everyone knows words of encouragement hit harder when they’re doled out alongside emojis. Thus is the power that 23-year-old Toronto native Donté Colley wields. Of course, with great power comes great social responsibility, and Colley has gone above and beyond what we seem to deserve in 2020. His Instagram videos have raked in millions of view, garnered the attention of 859,000 followers and paved the way for him to appear in the New York Times and on Good Morning America. Last year he even collaborated with Ariana Grande and Victoria Monet for their lo-fi music video “Monopoly.”
With every motivational WordArt that has glided across Colley’s page in, he’s risen to fame on a wave of honesty, vulnerability, and pure positivity. This years non-stop flow of personal and global struggles have allowed Colley to rapidly emerge as our one true hope. In the beginning of the pandemic, he created an endless supply of dopamine hits rabidly reposted, DM’d, and shared. From acting as our collective Insta-therapist to the tune of the Jeopardy theme song to choreographing Michelle Obama’s speech to breaking his back to Evanescence, Colley offered brief respites from the boredom.
But Colley also provided a light in the darkness. In the wake of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor’s murders, his grid took a turn. He put in the labor of educating his followers on news regarding Black Lives Matter, police brutality, and ways to help. He fully harnessed his platform to push the conversation forward. It was self-sacrificial, but for the most part it didn’t bother Colley. “My mental stamina and mental endurance was definitely put to the test,” he told ELLE. “But this is a marathon, this isn’t a 100 meter dash.”
The gift that is Colley is rare, and he’s living proof that doing the work, staying true to yourself, and keeping your chin up pays off, even if fame was never his goal. Not only has he captured our likes, but brands are lining up to align themselves with him. Colley is currently the quarantine star of the Diesel’s newest campaign, alongside fellow creatives Evan Mock and Julia Fox, all of whom were directed over FaceTime by RAYSCORRUPTEDMIND (in Toronto, Mallorca, and New York City respectively).
We videochatted with Cory about about how he remains positive through the darkness, the creatives that bring him joy, and the one pair of jeans he’s least like to try.
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