Growing up, Donte Colley was often bullied as a teenager for his dancing.

But the now 22 year old from Scarborough, Ont. kept to his passion -- dancing at home and learning new moves through YouTube clips-- and turned it into a phenomenon. 

Today, Colley posts uplifting dance videos on Instagram to his nearly 780,000 loyal followers, including actress Jennifer Garner, actor Will Smith and comedian Leslie Jones. He even collaborated with Ariana Grande for her “MONOPOLY” music video.

His videos are unique in the way he uses emojis and graphics, combined with his dancing, to spread positive messages. His posts frequently contain messages like “You are a star,” “Keep pushing,” “You got this” and “Celebrate how far you’ve come.”

“The messages that I share are, they’re personal messages…messages from my heart,” he told CTV News. “I am not the only one feeling this way, so let’s try and make each other feel better.”

Recent studies suggest a connection between depression and social media use. Just three weeks ago, a study out of the University of Montreal found as social media use increases throughout a child’s adolescent years, so too do their symptoms of depression.

Colley said his videos are meant to brighten someone’s spirits and they appear to be working. He regularly receives messages of support and also from people who say they were on the verge of harming themselves until one of his videos came across their Instagram feed and brought them some joy in a dark time.

“Hearing what I am doing is saving people, is something that impacts me a lot” Colley said. “If it does catch you and impact you in a certain way that makes our day better, I think that’s amazing and for me I’m excited that it would make you feel that way.”

Colley knows all too well how social media can affect the well-being of its users, having deleted his accounts for a year at age 17, because of how the platform was making him feel. 

“You’re constantly comparing yourself to people and their unrealistic realities,” he said. “I wanted to find joy in what I did, versus things that made me feel bad about myself.”

Colley’s mother Leeanne is proud of her son’s newfound fame online and the way he offers an antidote to the negativity often prominent on social media.

“Donte is spreading kindness and happiness,” she said. “He’s created a really great happiness platform where people actually go to his page if they are having a bad day. I have clients that go there if they feel like their week isn’t starting off right. They’ll go to Donte’s page and watch a couple of his videos.”

Colley’s videos have led him to create his own clothing line and landed him contracts with Starbucks and McDonald’s. Instagram even created a special “You got this” filter with hearts and stars based on his videos.

“It’s definitely a cool way of bringing awareness to mental health, but also understanding that we’re all going through our own things and that’s OK,” he said.

He hopes to one day expand his creative ventures, beyond the popular Instagram videos.

“I love acting, I love dancing and I love creating,” he said. “Whatever that entails over the next few years, I hope that it will make other people happy but also make me happy too.”


You made it through to a new day!! #keepgoing #keeppushing #yougotthis ☺️��⭐️�� #YouAreAStar

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A lil #letter from me 2 u �� #wiiareinthistogether sending u love and energy for #2019 #letsgo ✨❤️��

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[ from me to you�� - donte #YouAreNotAlone] �������� Today is #BellLetsTalk day. #BellLetsTalk is a campaign I am super passionate about. Mental Health affects us all. Working together to end the stigma surrounding Mental Illness. We’re all here and in this together. We need each other in order to make a change. I’m so into everything that this campaign is pushing out into the universe. @Bell_LetsTalk will donate 5 cents for every hashtag of #BellLetsTalk used on twitter or any videos watched on their platforms and donates to mental health initiatives. 4 years ago, my sister committed suicide. I am so thankful to see comments like “this saved me” under the posts I create, it means just as much to me as it does for you. Everyday is a struggle and not one day goes by where my heart doesn’t hurt or I don’t wake up broken. I live with the guilt of not being able to save her. I love her with all that I have and I know she’s always around. I can feel her presence and I hope she’s proud of each and everyone one of us vocalizing what she didn’t have the chance to. You are here for a reason, you DO belong and you are SO important. You are not alone in this. If you are contemplating life today or tomorrow. I just want to remind you that there ARE people here who care about you and that you are such a fucking important person. I love you. You are needed to make this world a better place. You have so much to offer that no one else is going to be able to provide because YOU are the only YOU in this world. no one else can even compare to YOU. I love you. so much. Let’s work together to make the change this planet needs. We are losing too many amazing people.

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