Actress Dominique LaFleur On Acting, Beauty and Lookism
Dominique LaFleur literally lives for acting. The New York-born, Boston-residing actress is the second female of her generation to be born in the United States. She comes from a long line of people who often had to start from scratch to make a more formidable beginning elsewhere. Her grandfather, for instance, immigrated to the United States and left a comfortable life in Haiti for a new life in New York. One of LaFleur’s goals in life is to carry on that torch left by her grandfather, and honor his legacy by being as successful as she can be. She is signed to The Crawford Agency, and looks forward to conquering Hollywood.
The actress Sophia Loren is quoted as having said this of beauty: “Beauty is how you feel inside, and it reflects in your eyes. It is not something physical.” What about you…how do you define beauty?
Beauty has so many definitions. For me, it is not one of those words you can easily define and in different times in our lives it bears different meanings. At one point, beauty was having the best clothes in school, then it was being a wife and mother. My life has changed drastically in the past year, and beauty for me now, is positive reflection. Positive reflection of oneself in regards to life, work, emotional, physical, etc. I love Sophia Loren and admire her work greatly, but I want to quote a prominent Haitian actress on beauty. In an interview, Garcelle Beauvais said this about beauty: “It is being whole with yourself as a woman. We give so much and at the end of the day we just are stronger and more intelligent.” I want to be an example to the Haitian community, especially females. I have two baby sisters, so I think it is important to quote or bring to light women that represent “us”, that are gorgeous inside and reflect our own image.
Have you ever been a victim of lookism?
Judging by the root of the word; it is self-explanatory but I had to look it up just to make sure. I have not known this word existed till today, I just threw things under the category of ignorance, vain, offensive, etc. But my entire life I have dealt with this. From childhood to about freshman year in high school I got the usual “Haitian creation”, “You look Haitian”—used as a negative connotation, just the works. A strange shift happened after that. Even still to this day, a majority of people do not think I am Haitian. I always get accused of being another race but I quickly correct them with the “I am Haitian.” Then the offensive “Wow”, or “Really”, or “Are you sure you are not mixed?”—usually follows. I don’t know what the world’s image of a Haitian woman is, but in my opinion it is severely misguided. We come in many shades, shapes and sizes, and it is all beautiful.
It’s been said that one has to have thick skin, crocodile—rhino skin even—to be in the film acting business. What has been your experience?
No matter what business you are in, you need a thick skin to accomplish your goals in life. Some trades require it more than others–the entertainment industry being one of them. But, in my experience I steer completely clear of all naysayers and focus on being as positive and mentally strong as possible.
When was the last time you went to Haiti?
I have not been to Haiti since I was three, and that was a long time ago. English is actually my second language, because I was raised in Haiti by my wonderful grandmother for the first three years of my life after being born in New York. My mother goes every year though. Recently, she has taken my two younger sisters and they had a blast. I would love to go. I am totally going one day. I have to try some real legume.
Are you involved with any causes at the moment?
At the moment, I work with autistic and behaviorally challenged youth and adults about twice a week at a private institution. I have been doing so for several years now and I really love it. Some days are better than others but it feels good to be able to help people with their mental development no matter what capacity there cognitive function is.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned about self-esteem and confidence?
I am still learning every day. One of the biggest I have learned thus far is you can go after what you want and build it as you are on your journey. You do not need to necessarily have those traits to pursue your desires. It’s like waiting to drop ten more pounds at home before committing to going to the gym. It’s just unrealistic. After going through a traumatic event last year, it left me in ruins. I am still trying to build myself up from that and I just fake it ’til I make it or become it. Some days, my confidence is virtually nonexistent, but I don’t let that stop me from believing in myself.
Between modeling and acting, what do you find most enjoyable?
Acting is my life. All day. Everyday.
What goals do you have set for your set for the next couple of years?
I am going to work, work, work. I am building an empire. I want to spend my life doing what I love and I am ready to put in the work. I got my elbow grease ready. I never shy away from work and nothing scares me.
How do you care for yourself? We know that every girl has to make it her obligation to take good care of her body, but being an actress, it more than comes with the territory. Do you have a special regimen that you’ve put in place to keep yourself fit?
My mother has always been a great example to me in regards to health and physical fitness. I don’t remember a time when she was not doing aerobics or Tae Bo or Pilates. You name it. Because I have that drummed in my head; I have never been anything short of physically active. I have a very healthy diet, I also don’t eat past a certain time. The worst thing is just feeling sluggish. Energy is key. Depending on my mood I will do Pilates, kick boxing, running, walking, hiking, etc. Because I am slim I have felt no pressure from the industry. But I do want to emphasize that being fit has nothing to do with being skinny. One of my baby sisters is tall and thin; the other is short and curvy and battled obesity in her younger years. My tall and thin sister has never played sports or been physically active, but my short and curvy sister ran track and walks everywhere. Being fit is a state of being—not a state of seeing. You never know what is going on inside.
Do you have any counsel for girls out there who’d like to become actresses and models?
Stay true to yourself. It sounds so cheesy and cliché to say, but it is so true. Do not let anyone pressure you into doing something you do not want to do. Never compromise your integrity—that is really big with me. Do not lose yourself. Part of being successful is to be 100% you, because if you keep letting a little bit of yourself fade over time; then you will have very little of you left. That never makes for a strong foundation. I have accomplished so much in so little time because I hold true to this.