Despite knowing that they mean well, it always irks me when people call me a self-made woman. Accepting this as a compliment would be an insult to all the people who believed and invested in me.
So, thank you, but I AM NOT A SELF-MADE WOMAN.
Both of my parents were quite involved in my early educational development. I was still in primary school when my father gifted me all the books that he left back in his house’s office in Haiti. Nearly a hundred of books from philosophers, sociologists, politicians, other great thinkers from previous generations.
My mom, to encourage my dream of becoming a writer, would listen to me and asked tons of questions every time I read her short stories that I used to write in my journals. Soeur Marie-Lune, a former nun at my primary school, and Mlle Magdaleine gave major roles in every school play. In my early teenage years, my friends, including Chris, Nika, Meme, Nadege, Many, Tania, Erlandy, Josue, Gary, Colbert, Carlos, to only name a few, and family members ALWAYS supported the different initiatives I was involved in. Also, I grew up with competitive and brilliant cousins who were always challenging my ideas and thought process.
My dear cousin Gougous started the only library in Grand-Goave, bringing to our small town great thinkers like Gary Victor and FrankÉtienne. I spent most my summer days in this library. Eddy Jean-Julien, my former school principle, and other teachers launched a literature and debate club to help students develop their critical thinking and public speaking skills. Intensive workshops and trainings led by Ricardo from COSAFH, Dukens, Gala and my brother from another mother, Kedner Dermine, from JAPROC (Jeunesse en Action pour la Promotion de la Culture), and other experts from CLAC (Club des Amis de la Culture) sharpened my performing art skills and sparked other interests in me. JA (Jeunesse Adventiste) instilled in me some core values about life and taught me to be disciplined and organized and the fundamental importance of teamwork. 3 of my mentors, Gaston, Dupas and Fedner, trained me to host my first radio show, Coin des Jeunes, at the age of 13.
Eventually, when I moved to the US, the Haitian community in the diaspora showed tremendous support to both my radio and TV programmes. In addition, I had amazing role models, colleagues and mentors like Antoine, Stanley Figaro, El Sadate, Jean-Marie Papin, Smoye, Yves and others who showed me the ropes of the Haitian entertainment industry.
Amazing professors and mentors including Livesay, Ana Rodrigues, Trisha Gorman, Alexander Mirescu, Ryan Royster, Demillo, Rachel Windfall and others always told me that I have great potentials and encouraged my commitment to learning. Ana Brown, another amazing mentor, taught me that service is the rent that one pays for the space she occupies on this planet and that a life without fighting for social justice is wasted life.
Various people invested a great deal in helping me develop my talents and acquire new skills. Everything that I have ever accomplished was because the people I named in this piece and many more not cited watered me as a little plant in their garden. They believed and invested in me. Without their help, support and guidance, I would not be where I am today.
As I still have a looong way to go, God will continue to guide my steps and open doors for me and send many more people to me and pave the way for me.
In the meantime, whenever people say that I am self-made, I will continue to tell them:
Thank you, but I AM NOT A SELF-MADE WOMAN.