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Harlem, a community fit for a queen

Cyril Josh Barker | 4/12/2011, 5:30 p.m.
Davina Reeves (Bill Moore photo)

Davina Reeves' neighbors in Harlem might not know that she is royalty.

The 26-year-old uptown resident is currently serving her reign as Miss New York and will compete in the Miss USA pageant in Las Vegas in May. If she wins the title, she'll be eligible to compete for Miss Universe.

Living in New York for a little over a year and a half, Reeves is a model, actress and screenwriter. Originally from Austin, Texas, she also lived in Arizona, where she attended college. She is a strong advocate for holistic health and conscious living by improving the environment.

Devoted to using meditation, Reeves is on a mission to inform people on ways to improve the environment. She herself has taken steps to make improvements on her own, including switching her home to wind power and wearing eco-friendly and secondhand clothing. Reeves is also a vegan and encourages others to take advantage of a raw foods lifestyle.

Reeves came to New York after spending time modeling in Europe and Miami, Fla. She had the choice of living in Los Angeles, but she decided on the Big Apple.

"It was drawn from my heart," she said. "I was going to come here temporarily to do some short-term modeling, but when I went to Times Square, I felt this rush of this feeling of peace over me. As soon as I moved to New York, it was like I was home."

The move to make New York her permanent home brought her to Harlem. She said the neighborhood has a personality of its own and that she takes in the small accents that make Harlem what it is.

"Harlem is my heart. I love walking in the streets. I love the kids running around. There's something about the people here. I plan on staying here and raising a family here," she said.

Since her move to New York, she has appeared in several advertisements for Dillard's department stores and Bare Minerals, while her smile has been the subject of several ads for dental products. Reeves is currently a model for the Bella Model Agency.

She said her journey as a model is one that she is proud of, but she wanted to do more. With little pageant experience, she took a shot at being Miss New York USA. Reeves won the title in Albany last November, beating close to 100 other women.

"I was thinking, 'What could I do that's big?' and I thought, 'How cool would it be to be Miss Universe?'" she said. "When you have purpose, it trumps experience."

Along with the title of Miss New York, she serves as an ambassador for the state and is active in community service. One of her latest projects is working with girls at M.S. 203 in the Bronx, where she does creativity workshops.

As for her future, Reeves wants to continue to educate the community on ways they can help the environment and on the benefits of eating raw foods. She has dreams of opening a holistic health and wellness center in Harlem.

She said, "My journey towards Miss USA has been a journey towards discovering myself and what I stand for as a women. The crown is just a signifier. If I don't get the crown, I know there is something bigger and better waiting for me."

Reeves will compete in the Miss USA pageant on May 16. The competition will air on NBC. In the meantime, fans can log onto www.missusa.com to cast votes for her.