By Joe Roberts @jrobertsjourno

AT BIRTH, Khloe Quintana was only able to move her eyes and was thought to be in a vegetative state

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Videographer / director: Colin Weatherby

Producer: Joe Roberts, Ruby Coote

Editor: Alex Lubetkin

 

She was born with Spastic Cerebral Palsy; a condition which causes stiff muscles and in Khloe’s case means severely restricted movement on her right side.

But the now-24-year-old has spent her life demonstrating how she isn’t defined by her condition; defying doctors’ expectations and embracing her passions.

Khloe, of Thousand Oaks, California, told Barcroft Studios: “I went to college, I travel, I sing, I act, I do makeup.

“Doing all of these things I just want to show people that it's possible because growing up I was told it wasn't.

“I started from the bottom, I started from nothing, and here I am through hard work and perseverance, surrounding myself with the right people, and having a positive attitude.

“If you put in the hard work and the dedication, nobody can stop you.”

So far, Khloe has wowed friends and family by performing in musical theatre, singing, and recently studying to become a professional makeup artist - despite only being able to use her left hand.

As a child she was unable to stand up, and had to undergo surgery to correct the problem at the age of nine.

But as time went on she underwent botox procedures and started physical exercise such as swimming, and gradually began to get the better of her condition.

Khloe has since flourished, performing as part of a disabled cheer team in high school, learning to play piano, and performing in stage shows.

Now, the young Angeleno, who still requires a wheelchair to get around, is taking on a new challenge by studying to become a makeup artist as a way of helping others to embrace their best self.

She said: “I know some people who, when they're not feeling the best, especially in my situation, just put on a full face of makeup. It makes you feel empowered.

“Sometimes how you feel on the inside and what you're showing is not actually how your true self is. Just being creative, being able to do a full face of makeup and getting out there and just living life, it transforms you as a person.

“I can't even explain what makeup has done for me because it's just that profound. Regardless of if one arm works and the other doesn't, I think I do a pretty good job.”

This latest pursuit was somewhat unexpected for Khloe, who had previously put her energy into performing.

“Growing up I was never into makeup,” she said.

“Then I took a course in college and I was able to play around with makeup.

“I really wanted to help other people feel the same way as I did with makeup, because it really did empower me.”

The makeup student has been practicing as much as possible on others and recently applied her best friend’s makeup for the first time.


Corinne Meek, who also has a physical condition called Spina Bifida, met Khloe in middle school and the two have remained friends ever since.

“Corinne was the first person I met who was in a similar situation to mine,” said Khloe.

“Even though she has a different disability, we’re both really connected, especially during a time where we were growing up and needed somebody to lean on.”

Following the makeup session, Corinne said: “I am completely and totally proud of Khloe. I have seen her do so many looks on so many other people, so I’m glad I got the honour of being the next person.

“It was so great. She used one of my very favourite colours. All the colours complimented each other and I really loved the look.”

She added: “Khloe is very kind and has a very good heart. She's very passionate with anything that she does.

“I think her newfound passion for makeup means a lot to her. She’s been doing so well with it.

“She's been getting out of her comfort zone and doing these amazing, intricate, really detailed looks and I think she puts 100% into her work and her love of it.”

And while Khloe has brought so much joy to others with her determined and passionate spirit, she remains aware of how much she’s had to struggle - even when it comes to overcoming others’ expectations.

She said: “I feel the biggest negativity and judgment that I face today is still the fact that people don't believe individuals, either with disabilities in general or in a wheelchair, can do what they want to do and live out their dreams because of their limitations.

“People see the chair first, they don't want to see the person behind the chair most of the time. If they took the time to get to know me, see who I am as a person, they’d see there's so much more to me as a person than just my disability.

“In order to kind of help facilitate that and bring more understanding, I'm very open, I like to talk to everybody and anybody, because I feel like that helps.”

Such determination to remain positive and make a difference has brought Khloe the attention of others, especially online where she shares her life through YouTube and Instagram as @khloequintana.

She said: “People always tell me “oh, so you're an advocate.” I don't even like to put myself in that category, I'm just being myself.

“Who you surround yourself with is ultimately who you become, I really do believe that.

“So surrounding myself with the circle that I have, as well as just doing everything in my power to do what I'm passionate about, also keeps me positive because I mean, I'm living my dream, what else can I ask for?”