Her story is one of great joy and great pain, struggles, self-acceptance, identity, abuse, trauma. Haitian activist and model Tico Armand exposes her truth. From being a baby born into poverty in Haiti, to her move to Brooklyn as a young girl and the adversities she’s had to endure, her experiences filled her with the strength and the motivation to succeed. She is now an accomplished model who has graced the pages of various magazines, and runways across the globe.
Interview by Ayara Pommells, AFROPUNK Contributor *
What was life like growing up in Haiti?
I wish it was long enough for me to have remembered and maybe it wouldn’t have taken me so long to go back. Life growing up was the street of Brooklyn New York, Linden Blvd, playing double dutch, listening to Michael Jackson and running away from bullies so I don’t get beat up for being Haitian.
What are some of your fondest childhood memories of the island?
Leaving Haiti to come to the US must have been a hard transition. How well did Brooklyn accept you?
The only hardship was learning a new language; the tongue was too heavy even as a kid to grasp the English language. [Laughs] I loved Brooklyn however I was bullied everyday and most days got a good whooping in the snow. My sister and cousins would run for dear life.
What went through your mind when the Earthquake ripped through Haiti?
Wow, just thinking about it gets me emotional. I was more in disbelief practically was numb to the devastation at first. I felt that God had truly turned his back on us as Haitians. For hours we could not get through to Haiti and that alone drove me crazy.
Did you return home?
I did and I cried from the airport until I reached my destination. Just couldn’t fathom the state of the country. I felt like a foreigner in a place I called home.
We haven’t heard anything recent updates about Haiti in the news over here. How well is Haiti recovering?
Honestly, the country is crawling its way out. Building to attract tourism and bring the diaspora back home. There is a lot more to do however I have to acknowledge the little that has been done.
What’s it like being a supermodel?
Wow, I honestly don’t consider myself a “supermodel.” I view myself as a young woman that have enough cojones to believe in her dreams and put in the foot work to make it a reality. It still feels awkward most times when people are screaming they love me or want an autograph. I appreciate it immensely but I’ve yet to start doing the type of work that feeds my soul and leave me satisfied which to me means fully commenting to becoming a philanthropist. It hasn’t happened as of yet however modeling should surely get me there. I’m in love with modeling yet no feeling comes close to generosity.
Which countries has your job taken you to?
I’ve been to many states, the Caribbean and Europe as a model. It’s only the beginning of so many other great things to come.
Is the fashion industry as racist as some people say it is?
I wouldn’t’ use the word “racist” because if you’re damn good, no one will be able to escape that however it definitely is harder for colored model.
Your favorite modeling job to date?
Any words of advice for any young, black women wanting to break into the modeling world?
My words of encouragement to my beautiful black sisters are never compromise your worth and be true to who you are. When you don’t give into the world, the world have no choice but to give into and unto YOU!