Known for her animated and explosive personality, Chonique Sneed is a force to be reckoned with. Her natural swagger, out-of-this world movements, and witty lyrics carry a message of empowerment, education, and evolving entertainment. She has magically touched audiences world-wide with her work for such celebrities as Missy Elliot, Eve, Gwen Stefani, P. Diddy, Jay-Z, Janet Jackson, Pink, and Jennifer Lopez. Committed to inspiring others and being an urban bohemian at heart, Chonique provides her audience with magnificent work that acts as a mere prelude for what’s to come.
Mateo Magazine: Having been born and raised in the “city of dreams,” you’ve witnessed a lot—from dancers whose dreams have come true, to those whose dreams have been shattered. How do you continue to inspire dancers despite all the challenges they face?
Chonique Sneed: By being honest with them. Hollywood is not the most honest place. The industry is sometimes not loyal. Fortunately, I know the difference. I inspire them by coming from a genuine place. I tell them to find their path, and that not everyone’s path or way is at the center of Hollywood.
MM: Everyone is motivated by different things, ranging from fear, to love, to money. What keeps you motivated to work in the entertainment industry?
CS: Knowing that I’ve made a life of it. It’s not like I’m trying to get to a certain place. It’s what I do. There are different aspects of the entertainment industry, and I get to do it all, whether front and center or behind the scenes—from music, to performance, to writing. I can do it all simultaneously and stay both motivated and creative.
MM: Your music video “Snap Crackle Pop” is crazy fresh and shows the side of Chonique that everyone is used to seeing. I’ve also viewed an experimental video you created featuring what seems to be your alter ego, Sufferina. She’s much more vulnerable and musical-theatre based. Is she someone you want to share more of?
CS: I would love to reveal Sufferina a lot more. Now that I’ve had a chance to have some fun with her and develop her, I realize, Wow, she’s really inside of me. It’s cool because it is a part of me…a part that has been hidden for a long time.
MM: Most recently, you’ve also been involved with this season’s “America’s Best Dance Crew.” How did you land that job?
CS: I met Michelle McNulty, the casting director for the show, at the Hip-Hop Internationals in Las Vegas, where we have both worked as judges for the last two years. After we became cool, she called and asked if I wanted to be a choreography consultant for the show. And I said, “Hell yeah!”
MM: Nice! How has the experience been?
CS: So much fun! It has been one of the most fun jobs I’ve had in a really long time. The staff is great. I inspire a lot of dancers and also get inspired by them. I’ve made really great connections, including one with a journalist at LA Times who asked me to do some commentating for the show. It has been a great experience.
MM: With these kind of shows aggressively sprouting, how do you feel about the state of hip-hop today? How can dancers sustain its culture and identity as we propel into the future?
CS: Hip-hop is in transition right now. It is slowly dying and being reborn. Things are in the incubator, and people are in the labs. Everything is in fact so fused together that most of hip-hop is becoming street jazz, or funk jazz intertwined. I’m fine with all those styles, but don’t call it hip-hop when it’s not. People are confused because they think they can take a few classes and automatically do hip-hop.
MM: Is this one of the reasons why you and Lisette got back together and started teaching hip-hop at Debbie Reynolds in Hollywood again?
CS: Yes, that is exactly why we wanted to come back. We felt that there wasn’t enough leadership in the dance community, and so we decided to bring it ourselves.
MM: Your classes have been the catalyst for the careers of so many dancers. To this day, what has been your highest high?
CS: Hmmm…shooting my “Snap Crackle Pop” video. All of my friends and family were there in every capacity that day. You know the saying: “It ain’t no fun if the homies can’t have none!”
MM: You said it! If you were a cartoon character, what character would you be?
CS: The Roadrunner, because that’s just me. The way his feet run so fast…that’s the theme of my life. I’m fast. On the flipside, I would also say the Little Mermaid. She is at first underwater, but then she comes out, and her feet hit the ground running.
MM: Where are we going to see you in the future?
CS: It will be threefold: On Broadway, where a part will be written specifically for me; on tour with my album, performing in arenas and theatres; and in a sitcom. I love both comedy and television.
MM: How are you going to get there?
CS: It’s a development process—by staying up on my game, constantly growing, and making sure I’m ready when the time comes.
MM: No doubt. Keep spreading the love, Cho. The world needs it!
Photograph by: Mike Quain
Makeup by: Kamani Sawyer
Stylist: Mr. Bradshaw