Published: February 10, 2007
Golden Gate [X]press

By Christine Joy Ferrer

Krishtine de Leon, 24, a former SF State student and section editor for [X]press, has perplexed viewers by calling herself “ghettoized” and has been stereotyped as an “Asian with a Latin accent.”

Bloggers have written disparaging remarks about her and she has responded in kind. She’s been ridiculed for not knowing Jann Wenner’s name, called out for her grill, and declared a “poser bitch” by one blogger. People can’t seem to figure her out, she said.

After being chosen as one of the six interns featured on MTV’s “I’m From Rolling Stone,” it’s not a secret that de Leon has catapulted into a surreal reality as a pseudo-celeb, with fact competing with fiction. With a couple episodes left, the new series documents young journalists competing to win a yearlong editor position at Rolling Stone magazine.

At times, the show portrayed her as a ghetto caricature who cussed people out, she said. They sensationalized what made for good TV and omitted the hard work they all put into their stories.

However, learning how to deal with it is just part of life, she said.

“You want someone to stop hiding behind words of a blog,” said de Leon. “It makes you just want to kick their asses, but you can’t fight every battle like that.”

Just think, they’ve never influenced you on your path to accomplishment, so what the fuck? Why does it matter? What motivates me is when people underestimate me.”

For some, her words reflect her strong confidence.

“Everybody knows she has a big-ass ego, but that’s just how self-confident she is,” said Mark Cunanan, 19, de Leon’s cousin and a psychology major at SF State. “She knows what she wants and is not afraid to run after it.”

When they were little kids, he remembers her calling the shots among the cousins of whom to pick on next. Cunanan remembers being the butt of the jokes. Now he looks up to her like an older sister.

“She’s tough. She doesn’t just talk out of her ass,” said Cunanan. “She understands what it means to be underprivileged and struggle. She would always tell me this is what people are going through … she taught me that there’s more to life than just school and work; you gotta do stuff within our community.”

De Leon said she is out to make herself known and hopes to represent those who are underrepresented.

Zoniel Maharaj, 23, who was one of de Leon’s magazine editors on [X]press, also applied for the internship with Rolling Stone. He passed de Leon on the way out of the building after his on-camera interview.

“I saw her and was like, ‘damn, she’s gonna get it,’” said Maharaj.

With her grill in, de Leon sported an airbrushed hoodie for her interview.

“They asked us guys to look GQ and the girls to look hot, but [de Leon] wasn’t about to compromise her style for MTV,” said Maharaj. “I give her a lot of respect for that.”

One thing she strives to do, de Leon said, is to challenge the status quo. She wore her grill for the interview to make a statement.

“A Filipino with a grill, no one has seen that,” she said. “When I was there, no Filipinos were working for Rolling Stone. If they were, they were janitors cleaning the bathrooms … but if a Fil-kid in Oakland wearing grills sees someone like them on TV, they’ll have hope to become someone because I can identify with their struggle.”

A couple of weeks ago, the journalism department told her she is technically not a university graduate because she failed a publication laboratory, she said.

However, de Leon does not see herself as anything less than who she sees herself as now.

“I hustle. My drive to succeed is my testimony and has served me much more than just trying to get a degree as a journalist,” said de Leon. “I must be doing something right if everyone is trying to figure out how I’ve gotten this far. I don’t know exactly what my destiny is, but I’m someone who will always hold their nose above water.”

Originally from San Francisco, De Leon is now living in Los Angeles and freelancing for different independent publications. She has come a long way from the days she began freelancing for Bay Area magazines like Mass Appeal and held the position of editor at Ruckus Magazine when she was just 16.

Her first couple of weeks in Los Angeles she met up with Roscoe Umali, Clyde Carson invited her to check him out at the House of Blues, and she interviewed Estevan Oriol and Tech N9ne.

Eventually, she will be moving to New York to pursue journalism, from magazine to music writing, and anything else that comes her way, she said.

“If it wasn’t for this opportunity, I’d still be a struggling journalist,” de Leon said. “And now at the end of the day, I’ll be paid attention to.”