Darline Exume is no ordinary medical student. In her fifth year of medical school, she’s a professional model.
She’s the founder of the We Care Haiti Foundation, a non-profit that provides free medical mobile services, medication, and school supplies to residents of Haiti’s rural and remote areas.
She’s a former Miss Progress Haiti, and won the Miss Haiti United Continents title two years ago. Currently, she’s the reigning Miss Grand Haiti International.
Kreyolicious: When you were younger, was there ever an aspect of your physical self that you felt self-conscious about? How did you get over it?
Ever since I was little…and as far as my adult years, there was always an aspect of my physical self that I felt self-conscious about. It always made me feel uncomfortable and uneasy with myself. And when someone would stare at me, I’d always be ready to turn away…or give a quick explanation to explain away the object of all the staring…without being asked. The physical aspect of myself that I’m referring to is my hair. Ever since I was little, I had something called alopecia…it’s a disease that keeps your hair from growing in a particular spot. It could be at the front side of the head, in the center…or at the sides of your head. Mine was on both sides of my head. Because of that, I could never get the hair styles I really wanted. I had to comb my hair in a way that covered the bald spots. Despite a lot of different treatments, I could never find a solution. As I grew older, I learned that I had to keep this little problem from having too much power over my self-confidence. I started to think about what hair style I could put on that would teach me how to love, accept, and live with it. But even in contemplating this, I still lacked the courage to make the change…to shave my head bald. I met with my modeling agent Matti Domingue and she helped me a lot in making this decision. She brought me to a hairstylist and I cut off all my hair. Now, I felt more confident in myself, more secure and comfortable. These days, I don’t think of alopecia as something that bothers me.
Above: Beauty in a poet’s blouse. [Photo Credit: Hugue-Robert Marsan]
Kreyolicious: That’s a very inspiring story…How did you get into modeling?
I started modeling in 2010. I didn’t have any experience. A friend of mine made me register for this beauty contest and I placed second. After that, I received so much encouragement from friends and strangers alike—their saying that I had the talent to become a model. I started to discover it myself. I started taking pictures and posting them on social media. Photographer and designers started to contact me. I started to network with people, and eventually I started entering all these different national and international pageants…including Miss Grand Haiti. I started to follow a lot of popular local and international models just to get a sense of how things were. So, that’s how I started.
Kreyolicious: Do you work out?
Yes, I work out. I do it by sessions. By that I mean…I could work out for three months…stop for three months…then start all over again.
In Port-au-Prince at a modeling event. [Photo Credit: Roroli Light]
Kreyolicious: What’s the most inspiring book you’ve ever read? What made it so inspiring?
The 17 Essential Qualities of a Team Player , a book by John C. Maxwell, which talks about all the qualities a person needs to succeed in life. Some of the qualities are: the ability to adapt, collaborate, communicate, be engaged, prepare, enthusiasm, discipline…among other things. This book is a really great resource for anybody. If you’re dealing with people in any form, you need those qualities. Whichever type of team you’re building…marriage, leadership, sports, work…in any team-building context…whether performance, capacity…behavior…Whether person-to-person or society as a whole…To me, everyone should read this book.
Above: Miss Haiti Earth shows off another dimension of herself. [Photo Credit: Mc Alexander S. Ciceron]
Kreyolicious: Have you ever been really incompetent at something that you are now very good at?
[Laughter] Yes. Everyone has a a weakness at something. What’s important is that you acknowledge the weakness, and take steps to correct it. My weakness was that when I’d be on the runway, and I’d be making my turns…I was really bad at it. As time went by, I learned from other people. Now, I don’t have that problem anymore. I’m glad I was able to see that it was a problem, and that I was able to fix it.
Above: Modeling a piece from the collection of Haitian designer David Andre. [Photo Credit: Mc Alexander S C Photography]
Kreyolicious: Where do you see yourself five years from today?
Five years from today, I’d love to feel be able to see the results of all the work I’m accomplishing now…in my life and the life of others. I’d like the privilege of not having to introduce myself because all the work I did and my accomplishments will have already introduced me and established me, and spoken for me. I’d like to have a kid before I’m thirty. I really love kids.
Above: Wearing a creation by designer Louca Bell. Photo Credit: Jumenus Coreus/Dezobri for Chokarella.
CLICK HERE TO READ MORE STRAIGHT OUTTA HAITI ENTRIES…in which—in which I interview a figure who’s based in Haiti and doing great things.