While Colombian superstar Maluma is taking the world by storm with his new visual album, #7DJ (7 Días En Jamaica), fans can’t stop wondering who is the stunning model starring as the singer’s love interest. Her name is Davina Bennett, a Jamaican model and beauty pageant titleholder who, after being selected as the second runner-up in Miss Universe 2017, became an ambassador for the Caribbean country and a representation of Black beauty.
That year, Davina made headlines for challenging beauty stereotypes and competed with her natural hair in an afro. The beauty queen stood out among the blowouts and extensions, becoming the first Black woman crowned one of the top three Miss Universe finalists.
The 24-year-old Clarendon native, a district located on the south of the island, shared with HOLA! USA how much her life has changed in three years and how she was selected to be the model who steals Maluma’s heart in his new project. “My life has changed significantly. Thankfully, from that moment on, I’ve traveled around the world,” said Bennett, referring to her life after being crowned as Miss Jamaica and competing in Miss Universe. “Being an ambassador for my country, representing myself and other women around the world, and championing my foundation, has been a very good journey.”
According to Bennett, she is thrilled with how her career progresses. “It’s an upward trajectory, and it has never stopped,” she revealed. “So I can only count my blessings and give God thanks for blessing me.”
Among Davina Bennett’s blessings is the opportunity to star for the first time in a high caliber project like #7DJ (7 Días En Jamaica), an EP featuring seven songs along with their music videos. The experience made Bennett open her shell and walk away from the safe space. “Sometimes we have to step outside of our comfort zone in order to grow and evolve,” she told HOLA! USA. “And I have learned so much during this time and experience. I can really just thank God for giving me this opportunity. I have a great team behind me that kept pushing me and saying, ‘you can do this,’ so I’m happy to see how well the videos came out.”
Bennett’s support system includes her family, who advised her to pursue a career as an actress after seeing the videos. “I was just like ‘what my mom is going to say’,” Davina jokes, referring to all the kissing scenes. However, the reaction was nothing but positive. “They were saying ‘you should be an actress because you were very good.’ They are boosting me and telling me, ‘we see you going so many places.’ I think they were so overwhelmed, and they were so happy that they forgot about the kissing scenes.”
The album is a tribute and a love letter to Jamaica and fuses Maluma’s characteristic reggaeton-pop with tropical, dancehall, and reggae beats. The seven videos were filmed between Jamaica and Colombia, always respecting the island culture and its people and working exclusively with local talent. “Everything was authentic,” Bennett revealed, adding that although she had the time of her life while filming in Colombia, her country is home. “I think both countries played their role in bringing this project to life.”
Davina had freedom with her looks, and as a way to represent her roots, she went the extra mile. “Thank God, my stylist Neko Kelly alongside the team from Colombia, worked to put these looks together, and it was impeccable to see what they came up with,” she said.
“My hairstylist, Melleisa Dawkins, is hardcore.” According to the model, Dawkins had short periods to come up with the hair looks; however, she nailed each one of them. “She would be on set and transform my hair like in five minutes or less, several times throughout the day. So I have to thank my team because they did a fantastic job and they represent the culture really well.”
To stay away from cultural appropriation, Maluma and his team decided to use Jamaica’s production. “I must say that it is overwhelming to see how it was dealt with in such a cautious manner,” the model said. “They came to Jamaica, and they decided to use the production from Jamaica, the team said they wanted a Jamaican girl and Jamaican creatives, for me, that was very big, because this shows that they didn’t want to just come to our country and snatch what we have.”
The model said that although Maluma had the opportunity to choose any country or woman, including Colombia and a beautiful Black Colombian model, he took the time to highlight her nation of just 2.9 million people and give her a chance. “I remember asking him, ‘Why Jamaica?’ and he said that our cultures are so similar, our people are so similar, and I didn’t know that, I didn’t know how close we are and the things that we value.”
For the 27-year old Medellín, Jamaica became a place for soul searching. “He found himself in a different way, he projected his music in another way, and to be able to be a part of a project that means so much to him. It’s unbelievable,” she said. “There’s nothing that I would change. And if I got the opportunity to do this again, I will do it.”
Curious about the fantastic experience Maluma had in Jamaica, we asked Davina Bennett to share three places and three dishes she recommends to tourists, so they can fully immerse themselves in the culture. “The first thing to try is our national dish, which is Ackee and Saltfish with dumplings. You can’t come to Jamaica without trying the Jerk chicken or anything jerk, and the third would be oxtail with rice and peas,” she said, adding that drinking coconut water is a must. Bennett also chose Kingston, Portland, and Negril as the top places to visit while in the Caribbean island.
Before her beauty pageant and filming days, Bennett spent her days raising money for her charity. She founded the Davina Bennett Foundation for the Deaf, an organization to spread awareness to the deaf society. “Since COVID, I’m not able to travel and to meet and greet with people and to carry out the projects that I usually do,” she told HOLA! USA. “So so far, I’ve done at least five to six projects in schools in Jamaica. And my recent project was in Barbados last year.” Among the projects, Davina teaches future models how to walk the runway and improve students’ learning experiences by donating school supplies.
The model is looking forward to launching a platform where people can join and donate to her charity and help her bring relief and happiness to those in need. “I hope to do that in the future because a lot of people have asked to contribute. Initially, when I started, I did it independently, and I‘ve been doing it on my own. So I never thought that people would be saying they want to help, so I’m definitely going to put something in place to get that done,” she said.
Bennett concluded by saying that many projects are coming her way and invited people to follow her journey on social media. “Please remember me; this is not the last. You are going to be seeing me again and again. I’m going to keep pushing for myself, my family, and my country.”