Former Miss Haiti South Florida Sandra Justice dominates the entertainment industry while boldly wearing the crown of womanhood.
The actress and producer knew she wanted to be a star from her earliest years in Haiti, even before she understood what stardom was.
Justice moved to America to live with her mother at 6 years old.
“Everybody tells you about America. When you get there, anything you want to do, you can make it there,” Justice said. “So being as young as I was, I was already hyped up for me to get to this place that when I got here, I can do and be whatever I want it to be.”
Justice discovered her passion for entertaining by admiring American icons like Whitney Houston, Janet Jackson, Halle Berry and Angela Bassett. Life in America, however, did not go as smoothly as Justice dreamed it would go.
Like most immigrants, Justice had a hard time adjusting to her new environment. She was often teased about her accent, but Justice was still proud of her Haitian heritage at a time when being Haitian was not the “cool” thing to be.
She learned about American culture through music videos and shows on MTV. That’s also where Justice solidified her goal of being an entertainer. She didn’t know then that one of her platforms would include being a symbol of her native country’s culture and beauty, as Miss Haiti South Florida.
“I wore [the crown] very proudly because even when I had the challenges that I had growing up when it wasn’t easy for somebody to say they’re Haitian, I would say I am Haitian regardless of what I went through,” Justice said.
Justice’s striking beauty, talent and stage presence quickly earned her a spot on the big screen. She started her acting career on the set of the 2005 film “Miami Vice.” She also had feature roles in “Step Up Revolution,” “Under Construction” and “Baywatch,” among others. Her TV credits include a host of commercials and the 2016 Lifetime movie, “The Boyfriend Killer,” television series, “The Glades,” and “Burn Notice.”
Justice said she is proudest of her work as executive producer and one of the creators of “Bae Night,” an award-winning relationship film that Justice also stars. It is slated to be on Tubi and Amazon in the fall.
Being in a male-dominated industry has been challenging for Justice. Still, she has been able to maintain a blossoming career with her integrity intact because of her production and support team.
“It’s not easy to make it, especially if you’re on your own. You can be taken advantage of in many ways,” Justice said. “Being a woman and being able to navigate while keeping your professionalism and coming out with your name untainted is very important.”
Cultural lessons about feminism is also what Justice values about being a Haitian.
“Caribbean women are loving, caring and nurturing,” said Justice, but they also carry that, “Je ne sais quoi” (unknown indefinable quality).
“There are some characteristics, mannerisms, values and ethics that are drilled in us that even though the times have changed, and things are a lot more modern, we still hold to the essence of womanhood,” Justice said. “We don’t negotiate our womanhood.”