Davina does it
Model moments with Davina BennettSunday, May 16, 2021
BY RICHARD JOHNSON
When Miqueal-Symone Williams steps on the stage later today representing Jamaica at the 69th Miss Universe pageant, she will have the support of another Jamaican who knows all too well the excitement, pressure, and thrills associated with the international competition.
Davina Bennett, Miss Universe Jamaica 2017, who went on to place third at Miss Universe that year and created a sensation due to the fact that she sported a natural afro, is firmly behind her fellow Jamaican.
“I have known her for some time. What a lot of people don't know is that she entered the pageant during my year but withdrew due to some personal issues. She is so beautiful and poised and as a Jamaican, I am just looking forward to her performance and pray she does well,” Bennett told the Jamaica Observer during a telephone interview.
Bennett said she has reached out to the reigning queen and shared a few moments with her, based on her own experience.
“I know what it is like and how stressful it can be with you expecting a lot of yourself and on top of that, the country expecting a lot of you. So I just told her to stay focused and be true to herself. It is important that she doesn't focus on winning, but rather live in the moment and give the entire experience all that she's got,” said Bennett.
“One of the the biggest lessons I learned from participating at Miss Universe was that winning is not everything. I went in so focused on winning that I lost out on so many moments. I was so competitive that all my energy went there rather that soaking in the entire experience.”
Bennett's third place has only been bettered by Yendi Phillipps, who placed second in 2010, and she joins other local beauties such as Sandra Foster, Kimberly Mais, Nicole Haughton, Christine Straw, and Kaci Fennell who have earned semi-final placings at the international pageant.
She noted that she has walked away from the Miss Universe experience with a life lesson which she has been applying ever since.
“It taught me in that moment that even though I did not win, I could still win in my own way. Just look at the reaction to me and my natural hair! That means I won the hearts of persons and I did not need the crown to be the winner. Sometimes when you think this is the right door to walk through, it really isn't. I have learned that not every door is the right one for you, but these experiences will eventually lead you to the right one and you will be certain and just walk through,” said Bennett.
It is this life hack that has sustained her as she embarks on another attempt at becoming a successful model.
Seven years ago she had set out on the journey but met only obstacles in the fashion capitals of Europe. Now armed with faith, experience and a whole new outlook, Bennett says the wait is beginning to pay off. She is currently based in New York and said already the experience has been somewhat overwhelming.
“I don't really know what it is...perhaps it is a feeling that it is just my time. I just completed that project with [Colombian singer] Maluma, where I appeared in seven of his music videos. That added another layer, so now I can be seen as actress, model, girl from the Caribbean. This piqued the interest of a number of agencies but it was DMM who caught my interest. They are not a large agency, but they had my interest at heart and they believed in me.
“I had been to about eight or nine agencies, and they all said yes. This was mind-blowing. As for the past seven years, I had seen countless agencies in London, Paris and New York and they all said no. Now I was having to turn down offers. I am also being represented by Industry New York and LA Models,” she continued.
At this point Bennett is in the process of building her portfolio and is now shooting with various photographers in New York, as well as meeting potential clients.
“I got to New York in April and on the first day I had a shoot I heard the news that my grandfather died. I was very close to him and I wanted to cancel the shoot. I spoke to my family and I realised that he would have wanted me to push through [with the] ad [and so] that is exactly what I did. I stepped out in his name and the photographer said 'You turned your grief into something so beautiful [and] you will appreciate it later.' There are a lot of things in the pipeline. A shoot I did is being considered — of course, I can't say the details right now,” she shared.
Among her moments of which she is proud since launching in New York is that she walked in a fashion show for designer Anne Klein, and she opened and closed that show.
Bennett also shared that she has put her plans to open her own model agency on hold. In 2019 Bennett and business partner Dimitris Kosvogiannis established A Model Management, an agency with headquarters in the Faubourg Saint-Honoré district of Paris, France.
“This has been a very hard experience, but I have not given up on this dream — after all, I will not be modelling forever. But the truth is, to start up an agency as a Caribbean woman in Europe is hard even though you could prove that you had the funds, investors and expertise. There was always something with the law or paperwork. But it is still something I want to do and I will just have to create the space for that to happen. Maybe it's not the right time, so I'm being patient.” said Bennett.
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