Name: Donte Colley
Claim to fame: Mr. Colley, a Toronto native, began posting dance videos to Instagram in 2015, when he was in high school. While he dances — be it to Drake, the theme from “The Office,” Ariana Grande — emoji and affirmations flash across the screen in time with the beat and choreography. In one of his most popular videos, Mr. Colley dances to the opening song from “Friends” (“I’ll Be There for You,” by the American duo the Rembrandts). Heart, rainbow and star emoji animate the screen, as well as text that says, “You’re meant to be here. Stay strong. You are not alone. You are you. Embrace that. Keep pushin’.”
Living his best life: The emoji and text have become part of Mr. Colley’s visual online identity. Earlier this year, he collaborated with Ariana Grande and Victoria Monet on the music video for “Monopoly,” which borrowed Mr. Colley’s style of having words pop up across the screen. He also dances in the video. In the last year his following has grown to 800,000, and his posts often accrue more than a million likes. His videos have been liked and shared by Beyoncé, Will Smith, Tracee Ellis Ross and other celebrities.
Helping him heal: Mr. Colley said that he has been dancing as long as he has been able to walk. As a teen, he was able to match his passion for dance with technique when he studied at Wexford Collegiate School for the Arts. When his sister died by suicide four years ago, he grappled with how he could use dance to address mental illness and show support for people feeling lonely or struggling with depression and anxiety. “Dancing helped me heal and sharing dance with others has helped me raise awareness,” he said. “It helps just being able to remind people that they are not alone.”
Morning routine: His morning routine involves making coffee, putting on some Solange and, of course, dancing. But for Mr. Colley, wellness isn’t about perfect hair, glowing skin, a relaxing massage or meditation — it’s about dance and using movement to think positively and act kindly toward others. “My mission is to make people feel better and make myself feel better in the process,” Mr. Colley said. “The internet can be dark, social media can be cruel, but we as humans are a community and a family.”
What’s next: Mr. Colley works as an inventory associate for the clothing store Aritzia and is finishing his last year of university at the University of Guelph-Humber, where he is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in digital communications.