Meet Chanty, the Argentinian-Filipino Singer Slaying K-Pop

Courtesy of MLD Entertainment.

While waiting at an airport gate in Vietnam as she was returning to South Korea, Maria Chantal Videla is glued to the TV screens as the rest of her members quickly rest. It’s the World Cup final, and as a half-Argentinian, she’s excited she gets to watch the game despite her busy schedule. “I thought I wouldn’t get to watch it, so I couldn’t contain myself. I was like, ‘I need to show my support. It’s Argentina’s time,’” she tells Remezcla over a Zoom call from her family home in the Philippines. As part of the K-pop group Lapillus—and a big fútbol fan—she shared videos and pictures of the historic moment on social media for her fans to see at the time. “I couldn’t leave. We were boarding the plane, but the TV was right beside us. I was watching until the last goal. Even some of the other passengers were doing the same. So I was good. I wasn’t alone. [But] my manager was pulling me,” she chuckles. 

Though she didn’t watch the entire game, she got the news of Argentina’s win when she was back in Korea. As “Chanty” from the girl group Lapillus, she’s currently the only active Latina and Filipina in the K-pop industry, making her a beacon for international fans with dreams of getting into the K-pop industry. With an Argentinian engineer dad and a Filipino singer mom, Chanty grew up in Argentina until she was around 9 years old and then moved to the Philippines. Among her fondest memories of growing up in the South American country is visiting her mom on set as she competed on the American Idol-like TV show Cantando Por Un Sueño. “I was 5 years old, so they would focus the camera on me too. So I guess I was famous back then too. Just kidding,” she laughs.

When she moved to the Philippines with her parents, four older brothers, and three younger sisters, Chanty hit the ground running with her own career. As she visited a local mall with her family, she was approached by an entertainment agency representative holding auditions. They addressed her parents by saying they thought their daughter had potential and should audition. “My mom saw how I excited I looked, so she was like, ‘Okay, if you want to do it, just do it,’” she shares. On the spot, Chanty was asked to show her singing or dancing talents.  

“I was so confident that I sang a ‘Barbie’ song. Just any song that came to me. I was like, ‘I can do this,’” Chanty says. “From that moment on, I feel even my parents saw that I had the potential to be an artist, and that’s how my career started.”

Chanty had a pretty successful acting and modeling career in the Philippines, starring in dramas like Familia Blondina and Starla. Eventually, she left it all behind to start anew in South Korea as a K-pop idol and, hopefully, one day, a K-drama actress. This led her to debut in Lapillus in 2022, a six-member group under MLD Entertainment. Some of their songs include “Hit Ya!,” “Gratata,” and their latest single, “Who’s Next.” The girl band even covered Natti Natasha, El Alfa, and Chimbala’s “Wow BB” at an awards show in Japan last year. 

This weekend will be a busy one for Lapillus. The ensemble will be performing in Mexico City on Aug. 19 at KAMP Fest CDMX. The day after, they’re headed to the annual event KCON in Los Angeles, CA, marking their first U.S. performance. 

Remezcla spoke to Chanty earlier this year about being the only active Latina singer in K-pop, leaving a career in the Philippines to pursue a new one in South Korea, and her ultimate idol—Thalia

[Interview was cleaned and condensed for clarity]

I know you still speak Spanish rather fluently. Did you continue to speak Spanish in your house so that you wouldn’t lose the language?

I only speak Spanish with my dad and my mom, and whoever I meet who can speak Spanish. And also with my grandparents and my cousins sometimes when we contact each other. [So] sometimes I get tongue-tied when speaking with someone that’s actually from, let’s say, if I meet someone that’s Argentinian or someone who actually speaks Spanish as their native language, I’d be like, [fumbles on words].

But you understand everything, so it’s fine.

Yeah. And also, I’m in love with old telenovelas, so that’s the only way for me to actually not forget the language.

Speaking of which, I know that you’re a big Thalia fan. Are there any Thalia telenovelas that you like?

I watched a lot of them. I watched “Marimar” many times. I watched “María la del Barrio,” “Rosalinda,” and “María Mercedes.” I watched all of them. And I even know the theme songs. Rather than singing reggaeton back then, when I was around 12 years old, I would be in the house singing “Maria Mercedes [hums tune].” I would be like that everywhere.

I know that she’s also super big in the Philippines, and you’ve said she’s your ultimate idol, but what is it about her that draws you to her and her career?

She’s my go-to artist for every situation. Let’s say I want to do this style or I want to perform on stage, how do I do it? I search for Thalia immediately. Or, I want to become this type of actress, I want to do this role. I search for Thalia right away. I search for interviews, I search Thalia. She became someone that I look up to in every way. I just love her confidence. She’s just so graceful on stage, and I feel that’s something that I also want to have, want to develop in myself.

You mentioned that your mom was a singer. Did that impact you in wanting to be a singer?

Yeah, because I grew up waking up to music all the time. I would hear my mom singing or doing karaoke in the morning as her exercise or just as her way to up her mood while cleaning the house. Music has become a lifestyle in our house. I see music as a way to communicate to people and to send a message in a more emotional but somehow indirect [way]. 

So was she very supportive when you decided that you wanted to become a singer and move to South Korea?

Yeah. My mom has so much confidence in her children, she’s the type that would look at her child and be like, “My child can do great things. This person can be a president if she wants. Earth doesn’t deserve my daughter.” Something to that extent. If we’re passionate about something, she supports all of us, not just me, even my siblings, whatever we want to do. [She’s like], “You want to do this? Okay, let me help you. Here’s how you do it.” 

You started your career very young. How do you think being a child star prepared you to become a K-pop star now that you’re a bit older?

It helped me have a professional mindset when it comes to work. Because from a young age, I started earning [money], and I got exposed to being in front of the camera and knowing how to act, and knowing how to interact with people, whether it be someone my age or someone older, the directors and stuff like that. It gave me a really good advantage now because I don’t have to think about it anymore, it just comes out naturally in a way. That helped me even as a Lapillus member because I feel like I’m able to help my members too. That’s one of the plus points for our group, too, because I’m like, “This is how you do [it].”

You had a career in the Philippines. How did the idea of going to Korea and becoming an idol come about?

Our family was very enthusiastic about it. But at the same time, we also had to think [about] it thoroughly. It wasn’t an easy thing to do, to just leave everything while actually having a somewhat stable career, to start back from zero and become a trainee again. I took the risk, and I’m glad that I did because I got more experience and I learned a lot as well.

But why start your career again in another country? And why Korea? Why K-pop and not Argentina or Latin America?

I became a fan of Korean dramas and K-pop, and I got inspired by how passionate they are when it comes to their work and their job. Seeing how my K-pop 선배님 [seonbaenim, a far more experienced person within the same line of work] and Korean actresses, seeing how dedicated they are with their work, you just see how much hard work they put in everything they do when it comes on their stages, performances, their movies, their shows. I actually got the desire to be part of it too, and to learn from them too. As someone who’s an international fan, to actually be able to experience it, it’s different. You realize just how difficult it is, but it’s also worth it. 

You are one of the only women with a Latine background in K-pop. What do you think about that? What has your experience been like being Filipino and Latina?

I still can’t wrap my head around it. It still feels surreal. I’m really happy. I’m really grateful that I got to be part of this and that girls everywhere, Latin America and the Philippines, can feel somehow motivated or they got the desire to try it out too [because of me]. To be able to be someone who gave them hope, I’m just really grateful, and I find it a really good blessing.

I’m really grateful that I got to be part of [K-pop] and that girls everywhere, Latin America and the Philippines, can feel somehow motivated or they got the desire to try it out too [because of me].”

Latin America really likes to rally behind their own, and I’ve seen fans support Lapillus in a very big part because you are Argentinian. How is that for you? 

I actually didn’t expect it. Even before we debuted, the company uploaded our pictures and some videos of us, saying, “These are going to be our trainees. Will be debuting soon.” From that moment, there were a lot of Argentinian fans that showed support right away. I was so shocked to see the comments section filled with Argentinian fans. They were like, “Mi país!” “Te amo mucho, mi reina.” I was amazed and really grateful.

What are some of your immediate or long-term goals? You mentioned you’d like to act in a K-drama, for example. Or even with Lapillus. What is something that you hope to achieve?

[I want] to be an artist that’s not just putting out music, but putting actually good music and being someone that people can look up to in a good way. Being someone that can actually remind people of what it is to be a good person or be a good role model. I just want to be someone that would be—even as a Lapillus member or in acting—I would also actually love to have roles that would give people lessons they can relate to. I just want to be someone that’s relatable to people.