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Portland coconut vendor turned model basks in new-found fame

Steele: Landing in Paris was like landing 10 years into the future

BY KIMONE FRANCIS Staff reporter francisk@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, March 19, 2017    

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“MI feel like a star.”

Coconut vendor turned model Tevin Steele could not adequately put his feelings into words after walking the runway at the Yves Saint Laurent show in Paris, France in February.

Steele, prior to being scouted by Saint International boss Deiwght Peters only two months before, told the Jamaica Observer that he never imagined doing anything like that in his lifetime.

“Mi love how people a come to mi and a greet mi and a tell mi how dem proud a mi. Dem a ask mi how it feel to be a celebrity. Mi really give God thanks fi this because normally it never did a happen before. Mi feel grateful,” he said while sitting by the coconut shop just outside of Port Antonio, Portland.


“The customs officer dem never know mi when mi did a leave but when mi come back everybody a seh ‘nuh Tevin dat’ and a ask fi picture. Mi couldn’t believe it,” he continued.

He recalled that the journey began when a customer suggested that he would do well in modelling. He said he decided there and then that he would pursue it because others had also encouraged him to try the field. The former Seaforth High School student said the customer linked him with Peters and the rest was history. He described the day he met with Peters as one of the best days of his life. It was also the day he turned 21.

Shortly after, the young man from Clear Springs in the parish got word that he might be travelling to Europe, having never left the island before. He would learn the date for departure only the day before he departed on the 24th of February. Steele said he could not contain his excitement which of course came with fear.

“Mi did kind of scared, still. A di first time mi a travel pon plane and it sometimes go down and come up back and a 10 hours flight, so imagine. Mommy push mi though and seh relax suh mi deh pon di plane and a listen pure music and sleep, wake up and eat. Mi love di food pon di plane mi naah tell nuh lie,” he said with a broad grin on his face.

Steele told the Sunday Observer that landing in Paris was like landing 10 years into the future, evoking laughter among those listening. He said, however, his schedule did not allow him to see much of the love capital. His time was spent at fittings and rehearsals preparing for the show which, he said, was his focus.

“Now that mi really get inna it and understand it, mi really like it. Who wouldn’t like travelling and getting exposure?” he said, noting that he felt very little pressure.

He said, if anything, he received encouragement and advice from those around him which caused him to live in the moment.

“On the runway mi just feel like a star. Mi never get nervous, mi just keep mi composure and walk. It coming like mi just make fi this. Mi dreams dem a come true and mi just have to give God thanks.

“And mi a tell you Observer lock it down wicked, man. Observer turn mi inna star. Dem always stop and support mi suh mi thank unuh to and Mr Peters, him a mi boss; him encourage mi whole heap,” he added.

Steele’s mother, Margarieta Belafonte, who has been the push behind him and his four siblings, said she has tried her best to guide her children along the right path.

“Mi push him and even company-wise mi nuh want him a linger pon street corner with guys. Him can have him friend dem but him have to know what him doing. Mi always just try fi keep him out of problems at all times,” she shared, adding that Steele was also a good music selector who goes by the moniker ‘DJ Spinal’.

Belafonte reiterated that it is important that she keeps her son “grounded and focused” amid his new-found stardom as she expects him to excel in his career.

In the meantime, Steele said he is not bothered by negative opinions about the industry which he hopes to leave his mark on.

“Mi never really recognise negative people before this and mi not going start now. Mi love modelling and that’s what I’m going to do,” he said.

Peters confirmed that Steele has been signed for upcoming shows in London, Milan and Paris, scheduled for June of this year.

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