Check our interview with Riza Santos who is a classically trained mezzo soprano who studied for years under a Professional Opera Singer and worked in Europe at the Moscow Conservatory. Riza also joined the military, serving with the Canadian Forces Army Reserves and successfully completing the Basic Military Qualification and Soldier Qualification military career courses.
She was a TV and Movie Star as well as model in Asia. So, now as a global influencer, she continues to self-produce and refine her skills as a musician. She was inspired by her mother who was one of only two Chemical Engineers in her graduating class. She was a state scholar as well as gifted pianist.
Riza’s cousin was also an up and coming DJ, and they had talked about working together in music. But after his tragic death, she took a brief hiatus from the field. As a classical musician, she has a highly nuanced style, borne of her unique background and she brings this to her work as a DJ and producer.
Tell us about Riza Racquel.
My family came to Canada on scholarships. I have uncles and and my aunts that earned Doctor and PhD’s. One of my uncles had seven degrees and was also a summa cum laude at UP, educated at Harvard Law School on a Fulbright scholarship, and was the first Filipino to be elected into Canadian government. I’m Alberta born in a small town of 5,000 people and raised in Calgary.
I am very close to my family. I love hanging out with my parents and my two siblings are my best friends. Last year, this idea came out of a conversation over the phone with my sister, niece and I while I was walking to the grocery store. If I were to advocate something, I’d use the acronym #GIFTED that we came up with. We spoke of our family legacy and what we truly believe in.
Traditionally we see people as being born #GIFTED, but we’d like to introduce a new viewpoint. I think it encompasses a mindset that I was brought up with.
G is for Generosity. Being generous starts with being grateful and abundant wherever you’re at in life. It’s also being empathetic toward others, seeking to understand them, and having compassion for them.
I is for Integrity. Trust is foundational and valuable because it is the foundation of all relationships in life. My father taught me that you’re only as good as your word and it should be ironclad. My word is Malinda my honor and my honor is my life. I aim to live a life of integrity regardless of who is looking.
F is for Focus. Goals can only be achieved through focus. Tiny shifts in action and focus cause people to succeed.
T is for Tenacity. Tenacity is focusing efforts and focusing on purposeful action. It’s not just about working hard, but making sure what you do is purposeful. It’s not easy, but I do find that when I stay purposeful in what I do, feelings remain in perspective.
E is for Education. It’s not just about a formal education, but learning from experience–and not just the bad ones. You may lose the battle, but never lose the lesson. I also appreciate it when someone shares their experiences.
D is for Dedication. Anything worth doing isn’t going to be easy. There are always setbacks, and it can be easy to waiver and fail to see things through to the end. But dedication is about seeing things through. Dedication comes towards the end of the word #GIFTED because at the end of your life, you will come face to face with what you dedicated your life to.
The letters and order they are placed in have significance. I didn’t follow the conventional career path, but trailblazers make a path. There’s a lot of risk involved, and at times we must walk by faith. But those are the kinds of adversities that grow character and forge identity. How can one hope to influence people if they don’t even know who they are? I believe anyone can make the world a better place with these values, because it’s the foundation for a strong person, and what is society other than the people who comprise it?
You are a global influencer by trade, what inspired you to become a Deejay?
I’m a mezzo-soprano vocalist and musician at heart. I studied Classical Music under a dramatic soprano who studied at the Moscow Conservatory of Music and worked at an Opera house in Paris.
I love how music brings people together. I grew up in a home where someone would always be playing guitar or piano. Music moves people and can invoke deep emotions one can’t express in words. Walking into our home is like walking into a musical. Someone will say something and it will remind someone of a song lyric and before you know it, we are singing our conversations and dancing while doing chores.
Also when I was young, my cousin that I was very close with started DJing at family parties. He had a natural gift, and he saw success at some of the hottest clubs in my hometown. We planned on working together, but he was tragically killed a few weeks before his big debut at the age of 19.
What are some of the misconceptions about being a global influencer?
You don’t need the title of ‘influencer’ to be an influencer. Social media reach may be a factor, but I think anyone can be influential. If you can influence one person in a positive way, that can have global reach, because the world is so connected.
But if you’re going to influence someone, I would suggest doing it for the better, which is why one needs the right tools and principles to stand on. There’s only so much time in life, and you want to leave this world a little better than it was.
Oh, I think that some people think there’s a lot of glitz and glamour, but in reality, it’s a lot of looking down at your phone haha.
What are the best experiences and perks about being a global influencer?
Being a global influencer, I’ve had opportunities to meet and connect with people all around the world. And I like connecting with other women on their journey. There’s solidarity we have together as women, and I was certainly influenced by the women around me. My older sister was the first female engineer manager in her department. My mom was one of the only women being educated in chemical engineering in the 1970’s. My grandma was a business women and still managed to raise three successful children.
My heart broke when I heard of a young girl with scoliosis. With the help of my family and community, I was able to use my platform as a global influencer and Miss Universe Canada to raise the funds needed for live-saving surgery to correct her scoliosis…and that’s just one person helping another. I’m no exception, and other people can do something just like that.
Oh, and also, being on some of the most beautiful beaches, but looking at it through your phone. Haha jk. But seriously, only after I’ve captured the moment for the sake of content, then do I feel I can enjoy it in person and live in that moment.
Your publicist mentioned that you have a passion for music and singing. Who would you compare yourself to? Why?
I’m a mezzo soprano. I would list my current classical inspirations as Elina Garanca and Lara Fabian. I like the discipline of classical instruction, because from the formal academy, you can find your own nunanced style.
What would you consider your real passion? Why?
I am definitely an artist. I like to create things of beauty, whether visually through the use of makeup, or musically. When we make something beautiful, from our moments of intense inspiration, we can stir people to wonder. There’s something special about being human, as we can be creative and make something beautiful. It can inspire the people to savour life, and be optimistic about the future, and their own lives.
There is something genuinely mysterious and transcendent about art, as it can outlive the artist, and define culture for generations to come.
What type of music/genre do you play when you spin?
I like to spin EDM, with a good mix of mainstream and underground Hip/Hop, RnB, and a little AT40.
Being in the military, what would you say your most unforgettable experience would be? Why?
I’ll never forget the ceremony when I was sworn into the military; I felt such a deep sense of pride. Another time was when I stood on the parade square for the first time. I saw the history of the regiments, and imagined the sacrifices that were made. The depth and meaning of being part of something bigger than myself really set in.
I thought of my grandmother, who was part of the underground resistance during the second World War, in the Pacific Theatre. She transported messages in bags of rice, and sewn into articles of clothing. She was an awarded honorary corporal for her bravery in underground military intelligence operations in the war effort.
I also thought of my grandfather who contributed to society during wartime. He was a train engineer who would make unscheduled stops to rural areas and help those in need. Together my grandpa and grandma would make huge pots of food for villages where people were hungry.
I would think of those sacrifices every time I’d go out on exercise in the field in Wainwright or Suffield. The conditions are never comfortable, especially when you’re doing a winter exercise. You try pitching a tent and the peg bends from the ground being frozen. You’re sleeping on the same frozen ground at night, and it’s the same ground you dig your trench in. I can never forget these experiences, but they all pale in comparison to those that risk life and limb for us, and those that have and will make the ultimate sacrifice. They deserve our remembrance.
As an advocate for women empowerment, how would you empower those who would like to follow in your footsteps?
We are blessed as women, knowing we have value to contribute. You have your gifts that you and only you can bring to the world. No one can do it for you. If people try to discourage you because of your gender, don’t listen. Take risks, don’t be fearful and don’t worry about what anyone thinks. There are opportunities I’ve missed in the past because I was worried about what other people would think. My older sister and my mom are both Engineers and they both did extremely well in male dominated spheres.
My advice is simple. Go for it, with single-minded focus and tenacity. Don’t be afraid to be a pioneer.
What beauty tips do you have for women who are on the go but would still like to look amazing?
The better you take care of yourself, the more it will reflect from the inside out. Also, I like to find shortcuts in order to be more efficient. Quality products produce the best results in the shortest amount of time. I would suggest using products that have quality ingredients because it will show on your face–if not immediately, then eventually.
What is your beauty regimen?
I get adequate rest and drink eight glasses of water per day, preferably lemon water. I never sleep or exercise with makeup on. Also, I avoid going into the sun without wearing sun protection.
I like to give my face breaks from makeup and often run errands bare faced. However, I just love my glam and full faced makeup looks as well. I always make sure to double cleanse after wearing makeup and never skip moisturizer.
What keeps you looking fresh and vibrant?
Sleep, water, and good nutrition. As an introvert, I like to recharge and rest…but that’s like anyone. Your body runs like a machine. It’s important to take the time and effort to take care of yourself. I think it’s also important to be connected to values that are beyond yourself. Also to be connected to people you love and love you, so you have the mental and emotional support as well.
What can we find in your bag?
I love saving money almost as much as I like making it. So you’ll find coupons, and loyalty cards. I always have my mobile phone and some lip gloss!
What is something we do not know about Riza Racquel?
I really want to promote #GIFTED. It represents a set of principles to live by, and I try my best to embody them. If I were to influence someone, I’d want them to be #GIFTED, and there’s no better way to be influential in that respect other than embodying those principles in my own life. No one is young forever, but a beautiful soul through a well lived life will outlive your outer beauty. If I can embody those principles and inspire even one person to be #GIFTED, then for me, I’ve lived a successful life.
What’s next for you?
I’m really excited for the new opportunities coming up as a DJ, and again, stepping on the world stage. I hope I can stay #GIFTED in my work as an influencer, as they are values that have brought my family through hard times. Music is something that’s always been a huge part of my life, and I’m excited to share my music with the world.