Daphnee's Free Spirit
miss july will not be denied
As Daphnee Lynn Duplaix, dressed in jeans and a brown leather jacket, strolls to her table at Avanzare in Chicago, patrons glance up from their piatti and then stare. It could be Miss July's vivid green eyes or wonderful Haitian-Italian features that attract their attention. But more likely it has to do with an intangible quality: presence. Along with her talents as an actress, model, dancer and singer, 20-year-old Daphnee has a knack for being noticed. Not bad for a girl who says that at 16, she was "a skinny little tomboy."
What happened? "I just blossomed," she says with a smile and a shrug.
One person who noticed Daphnee was Sylvester Stallone, whom she met while playing an extra in The Specialist, which was filmed near her home in North Miami Beach. He told her she should audition for roles rather than take part in cattle calls for extras. Sly's advice turned out to be sly advice. Without heading for Hollywood, Daphnee has already been in nine movies. You can catch a glimpse of her in Striptease, Girl Talk, The Substitute and Donnie Brasco," and she appears alongside Matthew Modine and Dennis Hopper in The Blackout. Her ambition is to play "kick-butt action roles," and her biggest part so far, in the forthcoming Kickboxing Academy, seems to fit the bill. "I play a 16-year-old who is in a good kickboxing school," Daphnee says. "But a bad school wants to take over our space. The owner of the building suggests a competition between the two schools to see who gets the space."
Daphnee credits her mother, a former professional dancer who appeared onstage in New York and Paris, as the source of the qualities she hopes will make her successful -- beauty, athleticism and ambition. Daphnee's father died when she was six, leaving her mother to raise her, a brother and two sisters. They moved from Manhattan, where Daphnee was born, to New Jersey to Florida. When Daphnee was 11, her mother adopted six cousins from Haiti. By that time, Daphnee had her first job -- delivering newspapers. When she was 16, she worked at Liquid, a club in South Beach, and she paid her tuition at the International College of Fine Arts by working at Hooters.
"Growing up, I was always in the spotlight," Daphnee says. "I've been singing since I was little, and I've always wanted to be an actress." She'll probably move to Los Angeles, she says, because that's where the action is. Count on Miss July to be at the center of it.
Photography by Richard Fegley