For Daphne Lee, Miss Black USA “is a woman who knows how to serve her community, knows how to speak and engage her audience, knows how to use her God given talents for good, and knows how to market herself.” Daphne is a professional ballerina, an Activist, Goodwill ambassador to the Republic of Sierra-Leone Daphne, national spokesperson for the Heart Truth Campaign and a Masters student of Fine Arts in Dance. When she isn’t wearing one of her many hats you might find her “eating popcorn and watching black and white movies from the 1930’s-40’s and chatting with her boyfriend.” Read on as she gives us an insight into her life and personal beliefs.
1.Daphne won the national competition without wearing a weave; the first in its history.
Her mission is to endorse and promote diversity and beauty standards towards women of color. When asked to give advice to all of the young, black women of today’s generation, Daphne replied “My advice would be to “always defy what the media makes us to be. Don’t get sucked in to how they want to portray us on reality TV or other media forms. I want black women to stay true to themselves, honor their history, and push themselves as far as they can dream. And not to settle. We stand on the shoulders of many women and men so we should push forward knowing those things.”
“Representation matters. It’s all about accessibility. As a black ballet dancer, many young girls and boys want to know they can achieve something when they see it.”
2. Her mother was a dancer too
Miss Lee is a first generation American raised by Caribbean parents. she says, “I was always exposed to the arts. From musicals to icons like Michael Jackson and Madonna. She tells Gritty Vibes: “My mother was my first teacher, I would sit and watch her teach students and eventually I joined in. She tells us, “I never wanted to be a professional dancer but that idea changed for me once I turned 18 and auditioned for Juilliard just to see how far I would make it. I got into the Ailey/Fordham BFA program and soon landed a contract with Alvin Ailey II my junior year of college where I toured 60 cities and 7 countries.
3. She doesn’t eat meat or fish
It is expected that every dancer should follow a healthy diet; especially at a professional level. For Daphne, Healthy living has “changed so many things about how I feel not only towards the environment, but physically. Since cutting out meat, fish, and gluten, there is a huge shift in how my body feels, my energy, and overall mood. Ever since my mom got diagnosed with cancer, it’s been fueling my fire to live my best life. This year really changed how I can better myself from the inside out. Society focuses so much on meat, dairy, eggs and sugar. but never carrots, greens, chia seeds and lentils. Food is political, but I’m not losing my identity with my Latin and Caribbean cultures.”
4. She has worked for Beyonce
Daphne is a trained dancer and ballerina, dancing for Alvin Ailey II Dance Company and working for Beyonce’ and Storyboard P. Daphne was featured in the opening video for the Mrs. Carter World Tour for Beyonce.
5. She is a woman of faith
Before reaching this professional level, Daphne says she had to learn to be patient with Gods time. “I always kept thinking how things will work itself out or how my hard work will pay off. Recently, I’ve had to make sacrifices since my mother has been Battling Multiple Myeloma cancer and my father Parkinson’s disease. I’m appreciating life and the gift of dance more and more each day to connect with God/ universe more.” On how she overcame obstacles to get to where she is today, she points to her faith as the key. “I like to stay rooted in FAITH so I Forward All Issues To Heaven. I take each day with the belief that everything happens for a reason. I’m aware that the words “no” meaning Next Opportunity and I continue to persist.
6. She loves Drake
When she’s doing some type of arts or crafts which she likes to do on her off days, you might hear her chiming to one of Drake’s tracks. “I’m a Drake fan so all Drake songs plus Hiatus Kaiyote’s “Builiding a Ladder.” She shares: “I also balance out work obstacles by making sure I enjoy my play time. I love to travel, eat amazing food, pray, read, listen to music, and literally dream about making my goals come true.”
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