Alaska wildlife raised, discovered as a model in Australia, traveled the world in an exciting celebrity life as one of the most popular Playboy playmates, actively involved in charities, meets the man of her dreams, starts a family, gains 80 lbs via pregnancy, and loses it all to become a wellness expert. Whew!!
When I think of Div, I immediately crack a huge smile… because her sense of humor is off the charts. A woman who is very comfortable in her skin and of herself, broad experience and well traveled, Divini
Rae has that unique self confidence to take others’ opinions with a grain of salt and truly be happy. So much fun being in her presence… Personality plus. My analogy of Div would be to my celebrity girl crush, Angelina Jolie, because of her very strong spirit, empathy driven to action for human suffering, love of family, and “I don’t care what you think of me” attitude. Divini is cut from that same cloth and now she is also on my Girl Crush List 😀
I first met Div at Chady Dunmore’s Fitness Camp where I volunteer my time as a lecturer. She was sitting in the back, intently listening and taking notes like the other attendees… but her striking looks caught my eye. Call it Photographer’s Eye. Later we kept in touch and connected shortly after to do a cool yoga shoot on the monolith beaches of Malibu, CA. Lots of laughs, serious images mixed with goofy ones and assisted by her equally gorgeous cousin, professional dancer/model, Amber Soleil. A great girls day in SoCal, can’t complain!
Coupled with the amazing shots that we got (she is one heck of an athlete, check out the strength moves she pulls off!) and an insightful interview, read on to learn about the fabulous Divini Rae.
1. Can you tell us a little bit about your background? What it was like growing up in a remote village in Alaska?
My sis and I grew up in a log cabin in a village in Alaska. We didn’t have running water or electricity. No electricity of course meant no television, and so we didn’t grow up with pop culture like most people do. Instead, we grew up reading everything we could get our hands on. My mother read to me long before I could walk or talk. Needless to say, I grew up reading a LOT of books, and still adore them to this day. There is no better gift you can give me than a good book. My attic is piled full of boxes and boxes of books that I’ve read and can’t seem to give away. With the E-Book popularity on the rise, it seems that my old-fashioned paper books are already relics, which is kinda sad… but good for the trees I guess….
Growing up in Alaska I was very active, always outside, even in the coldest winter months, and always doing chores like hauling firewood, taking care of the sled dogs, etc. I spent time fishing in the summer (my parents were commercial fishermen), building forts, climbing trees, sewing fur mittens and mukluks….
My favorite class in high school was shop class. I loved making treasure chests and bookshelves and giving them as birthday or Christmas gifts. I also loved carving driftwood, which is something my Dad taught me to do when I was about eight years old. The gifts I received while growing up were things like books, rifles, carving knives and art supplies. I still love being outdoors, and people always assume that because I’m from Alaska I must be into camping — but I’m not fond of camping in the least. The way I grew up was one long camping trip, and though I wouldn’t change it for the world, I’m quite happy with the fact that I now have electricity and running water, and so no thank you — you won’t find me sleeping outside in a cold tent with the spiders.
2. How did you get started with acting and modeling?
It wasn’t something I sought out, but a very random turn of events…. I was “discovered” by a photographer while vacationing in Sydney, Australia. I decided to take advantage of the opportunities that came my way and seek out new opportunities. My life thus far has been very full, exciting, and I feel incredibly blessed. I’ve entered a new phase of life now that I’m a Mother, and it’s even more incredible than I could have dreamed.
My daughter is everything to me. I want to inspire my her to LIVE her life without fear, and to do everything that causes her to feel light, love, and joy. I like the quote “The life you live is the lesson you teach.” I hope that one day when she looks at the life I have lived she understands that she too can manifest whatever it is she dreams of and desires, because her Mother certainly has and does.
3. You were Miss November 2003 Playboy Playmate of the Month. What was it like working with Playboy?
Working for Playboy Enterprises was quite a learning experience for me. Having grown up in a very conservative family, I found the nudity in posing for the magazine very freeing and empowering. A healthy human body is beautiful, and I don’t think it should be hidden; it should be celebrated! I’m told I have a very “European” view towards nudity/sexuality/relationships, and I suppose I do. I certainly have nothing in common with the attitude of judgement that prevails in middle America and other parts of the world. I’ve never been interested in judgment, as the mind that judges is a very limited one.
I am grateful for all of the traveling I got to do for Playboy Enterprises, and the opportunity to experience so much of the world on their dime. I was flown to many different countries to give interviews and make appearances, and I have so many interesting, crazy stories to tell… the most entertaining experiences will be recounted in my book.
After many years in front of the camera I ‘retired’ due to the fact thatI like being behind the camera even more than being in front of it. I prefer to fly just under the radar; I have never had any interest in being a celebrity, and have shied away from projects that would put me in the public eye in any major way. I’m a very open person, but I also value my privacy. I had a nightmare once that paparazzi followed me around because I was really famous. Awful! I woke up terrified that it was real.
Most of the time I prefer to be one of the creatives that works behind the scenes rather than the star of the show, as to me it’s simply a far more interesting and creatively challenging and stimulating job. That’s not to say that I don’t like being the “star” of the show from time to time, because I do, but generally I prefer shine from behind the scenes You’ll still see me doing some fitness modeling from time to time, because I like inspiring other women to get healthy, but these days my focus is primarily on my family. Work comes second.
4. You’ve been passionate about photography. Have you explored the possibility of developing your passion into a career?
Like most artists, I’m passionate about all kinds of things and good at a lot of different things. I’m a writer, fitness model, makeup artist, beauty/image consultant and a headshot photographer, and work part-time. Over the years I’ve learned that I’ll never be fulfilled doing just one thing or having a “normal” career. I prefer to do many different things part-time, rather than have just one, full-time career. I like the freedom I have in setting my own hours and being my own boss. I pretty much do whatever the heck I want to. I have that kind of freedom because that is what I chose for my life. Nothing has ever been handed to me; I have manifested everything in my life through my actions and choices – both the amazing and the not-so-amazing.
Before I became a busy Mama I spent a significant amount of time raising money for charity work, and as my daughter gets older I will be including her in fund-raising projects. I started doing charity work back in high-school, and found that giving my time in that way caused me to feel that I was helping to make a difference. I only do what feels good to me, and feeling like I can help make the world a better place feels great — as cheesy as that may sound.
6. You are deaf in one ear and have hearing loss in the other. Can you tell us more about that?
I grew up in a very remote, secluded place, and didn’t see a Doctor on a regular basis. It turns out I had tumors (from a bacteria in the water) that were eroding the bones of hearing, and they went undetected for years. Once it was discovered, I had numerous operations on my ears over the years. Thankfully they were able to remove the tumors, and though they tried for years (and surgery after surgery) to repair the bones of hearing, they were unsuccessful. I was told that I would probably be completely deaf by my mid-twenties, and it was suggested that I learn sign language.
I thought sign language was amazing, but it seemed to me that believing that I was going to go deaf would be a defeatist move, so I chose not to believe that. I’ve never been one to give up without a fight, so I decided to keep sign language as an option but focused primarily on learning to speech-read (or “lip-read” as many people call it). I am now able to “see” people speaking more than I can hear them, and it’s always fun to “listen in” to conversations taking place across a room by watching peoples’ mouths.
Interviewers often ask me what it’s like to live with a hearing impairment handicap. That question always surprises me because the word ‘handicap’ doesn’t correlate with anything about me and I have no connection to that word. I believe that the only handicap any human truly has exists in their minds. And you know what? I never went completely deaf. I still have 60% hearing in one ear, and about ten months ago I had a BAHA Cochlear implant surgery done on my deaf ear. It has given me partial hearing back in what was before a DEAF ear!! Isn’t that amazing?!? It blows my mind. Technology is so cool. And yes, of course at times I find it challenging not to be able to hear very well, but the fact is: most of what comes out of peoples’ mouths is such nonsense; I believe that my not being able to hear most of it is actually a blessing.
7. Can you tell us about your life with your 2 year old daughter? What activities do you do together?
One of the things we love to do is travel. Before my daughter was a year old I’d taken her on almost a dozen different trips. My family is of utmost importance to me. They come first, work comes second. Sometimes it’s challenging not to get caught up in all of the exciting projects that come my way, but after taking on myriad projects at once I soon realized that I’m not Kelly Ripa. I’m not one of those people that is able to “do it all” and keep a healthy, happy, balanced life. I also find that when I get really focused on work projects my relationship with my daughter suffers because I’m with her without really being with her: I’m with her physically but I’m not connecting with her or engaging with her, and of course she notices this and it’s hurtful to her.
As soon as I realized that I was falling into the pattern of doing this I put a stop to it. Mia won’t be little forever, and I want to spend as much time with her as I can. At the end of the day, she’s the most important person in my life and she’s all that really matters. Work will always be there; Mia is going to grow up and move out one day. Ack! Perish the thought.
8. How do you balance your life between fitness and parenting?
I love the word balance; I’m obsessed with the concept, which I have to admit, often times feels very mythical and elusive. I’ve found that one of best ways for me to do create balance is to include my daughter in my fitness activities and make it a priority to stay active with her. We run and play at the park, we’ll go for walks around our neighborhood, and we’ll play “chase” on the days that the weather keeps us indoors. I’m really into boxing, Krav Maga, Muy Thai, dance, Vinyasa Flow Yoga… I’m a very physical person and I have a ton of fun — and my daughter does too! She’s still too little for martial arts, but every now and then I teach her some moves, and it’s adorable to see her imitate them.
I’ve found that it’s very important that I make time for myself as well, so I feel great about taking the time to train solo, without my little girl. That’s MY time, and doing the things that I love helps me stay focused, present, and relaxed when I’m with her. There are those days when I’m working and she and I don’t have a lot of time together, but on those days we lack quantity time we make up for in quality time. I make it a point to really focus on her and stay present and engaged.
My daughter is such an amazing person. She has a wicked funny sense of humor, and is such an old soul. She’s one of the most affectionate people I’ve ever known, always giving me and her Daddy hugs. Sometimes she just goes on a Hug-a-thon, where she runs back and forth between us giving us hug after hug. Sometimes she’ll run up to me and hug me really tightly and say, “Oh Mama, me YUV Mama.” She makes my heart feel like it’s going to explode from loving her too much.
9. You’re now a fitness personality who inspire others to stay in shape. What tips would you give to anyone who wants to get healthy & fit but can’t find the time to exercise?
You make the time! Believe me, I know how daunting it can be when you’re just getting started, and sometimes you just need some help, support, and proper information! There are so many fad diets out there that sucker people in but simply do not work. I’ve had so many women write to me on Facebook and ask me for diet and weight-loss tips that I haven’t even been able to answer them all yet. I realized that the best way that I could help everyone was to start a blog.
On Feb 14, 2012, I’ll be launching DiviniFit.com, where I give tons of free information that you’d typically pay a trainer and nutritionist hundreds of dollars for. I gained almost 85 lbs when I was pregnant, so getting the weight off was no easy feat, but I did it because I wanted to be a healthy and happy mama. I can absolutely relate to people who are depressed and overweight — because I’ve been there! On DiviniFit.com I feature before and after photos of myself (after I had my baby I was over 200 lbs!), and give tons of tips, tricks, and info on how I got the weight off, got healthy, and started doing fitness modeling! If I can do it anyone can.
10. Where can we find you on the internet?