Divine Maitland-Smith becomes her own muse
By Fiona Patricia S. Escandor
IT’S been two years since Divine Maitland-Smith came under the scrutiny of a nationwide audience as a “housemate” of the reality television show Pinoy Big Brother Unlimited (PBB). For for 152 days, she had no contact with the outside world, no calendars, no clocks, and no privacy, what with cameras that ran 24/7.
“I learned a lot about myself in the house. I grew up a lot,” said Divine, who was the last to get “evicted” before the finals night in early 2012. “I learned that I have more patience than I thought I did and I learned that I can do whatever I set my mind to.”
Since then, Divine – with the sweet smile, tattoos all over and striking personality – has become known around the country with the show nickname “darling dude from Cebu.”
More than a reality TV star
This year Divine, 23, returns in front of the camera, this time as an actress in her first lead role in an indie film that will be released later this year.
“I play this woman who was sexually abused as a child and who is now recovering from cancer,” said Divine, who just flew in from filming in Boracay, “It has a very powerful theme and it was very emotional for me, since the story was actually based on the life story of the film’s director and producer.”
The movie “No Reach Speak” is directed by US-based filmmaker Ces Ochoa and will be part of a film festival abroad.
“I’m hoping it will also be released locally, though it is a bit ‘out there’ for the country. Fingers-crossed it will and for the Philippines, it’s about time,” said Divine.
Apart from acting, Divine is busy with modelling as well – she just had a “daring” pictorial for a nationwide magazine that will be unveiled in May.
Art and individuality
Born to a Filipino mom and an English dad, Divine, as a child, travelled the world because of her dad’s business in the furniture industry. She had lived in England, Vietnam, Thailand and Singapore, and moved back to the Philippines in her late teens. Divine has a sister, Kymberly, who is only 18 months older than her.
Prior to landing a spot on reality TV, Divine was already devoting her time in the arts, mainly in painting, sculpting and tattooing.
“Art and individuality have always been things that I believed in and fought for,” revealed Divine, a licensed tattoo artist. She took a six-week course in Thailand when she was 18.
“This sleeve on my right arm is my wonderland. This reminds me of my childhood,” said Divine, as she showed the body art done by one of her favorite artists, Cebu’s Carlo Gabiana.
In recent months, the multi-talented artist has expanded her creativity in another medium. After taking a short course on DJing, Divine will be spinning in her first “party” in Distillery this month.
“When I play, I like including hip-hop beats, but my genre of music is definitely deep house. (It’s perfect) no matter what you’re feeling. The lyrics are upbeat while the lyrics are very emotional,” she said.
Having a voice
Having been vocal about her sexual orientation, Divine said basking in the limelight as a public personality has partly been her way of shedding light and bringing attention to the LGBT community in the Philippines.
“I’m not part of any organization right now, but I do support all in any way I can,” she said.
Her exposure in PBB, for instance, opened many doors for her, such as being able to play a big role in the LGBT Prom this year, which is one of the grandest events organized by the LGBT sector in the country.
“I have always wanted a voice, and I thought the only way to have that was to be known. (Before PBB) I kept on getting strangely looked at – maybe because Filipinos didn’t know where to place me in the sexual orientation preference. When they look at me, they see a cute girl who dresses manly. I felt like I needed to have a voice and share that we can dress in any way, and be comfortable in our own skin.”