Some of these responses have been edited for clarity.
Whenda “Wanda” Tima is a media maiden whose love for her Haitian heritage inspired her to build a successful platform for her people. Tima launched L’union Suite in 2011, a Haitian-American website dedicated to positive and uplifting stories about Haiti and the Haitian Diaspora.
Tima has won countless awards from the National Association of Haitian Professionals and the Consulate General of the Republic of Haiti in Miami. She has been recognized as a top professional under 40 by Legacy Magazine and Bethune-Cookman University. Tima has also been featured in Black Enterprise Magazine, Forbes Magazine, on NPR and more.
Tell us about your journey:
I was raised on the beautiful island of Grand Turk and later moved to Florida as a teen. I am the oldest of four children of Haitian immigrant parents. My roots are from the historic and majestic Cap-Haitian, Haiti. After graduating from high school at 16, I became the first person in the family to earn a college degree from Bethune-Cookman University with a bachelor’s in mass communication and a specialty in journalism and public relations. I worked in broadcast media at various radio stations, interned for BET Network, and subsequently, two television stations in Daytona and Orlando, Fla. Excited about my heritage and with a passion to give back, I started L’union Suite.
At the core of L’ Union Suite, I seek above all else to present Haiti to the world in an accurate and authentic Haitian way. By December 2011, I co-founded a Facebook page, The Haitian-American. It quickly grew to over 100,000 fans while averaging 5 million views weekly. With blogs and posts going viral every day, today my company L’union Media Group LLC, L’union Suite, is the No.1 digital platform for Haitians with over 400,000 subscribers. It reaches an average of 10 to 15 million people weekly. The platform includes daily social media updates, yearly celebrity fundraising events, monthly Facebook live shows and a podcast. I have traveled internationally covering events like the Super Bowl, Emmy’s and partnered with celebrities like Karen Civil, Pierre Garcon, Pras Michel, Wyclef Jean, Andre Berto, Mackenzie Alexandre, Mona Scott Young and more. I’ve highlighted the best of the best of Haiti and Haitian culture. In April 2018, I opened up the very first computer lab at College Bell Angelot in Cap-Haitien, Haiti. I am working on opening a second one soon.
What inspired you to pursue each goal?
As the oldest of four and the firstborn on both sides of my family, I’ve always strived to be the best at anything I put my mind to. I wanted to be an inspiration to my siblings. As I got older and I looked up to people like Oprah and Maya Angelou, I knew whatever path I took in life, I wanted to inspire and empower. I didn’t always know what I wanted to do, but I knew I was going to steer my own ship and put all of my heart into it.
My current goal is to continue building my digital media company, complete my resource center project in Haiti, find investors to financially support the company and continue to grow as an entrepreneur. My ultimate goal is to have a L’union Media Group Production/Media company with staff worldwide.
What are three words you would use to describe yourself?
Passionate, spiritual and a survivor.
How does being Caribbean-American influence your everyday life?
My background now is the most important part of who I am, who I wake up as, and what I do every day. L’union Suite was created to offer a bridge between the country and the community. I’m influenced every single hour by my history, people and culture. The more I utilize this platform to support others, the more I learn who I am and the more it influences me to create the change I want to see in my daily personal life and career.
What do you like most about being Caribbean or of Caribbean descent?
When people think of the Caribbean, they think of lush beaches, drinks with umbrellas. For those based in the diaspora like myself, we’re blessed to have one foot in our home soil and one in the land we live in, which is an amazing privilege filled with traditions, culture and undeniable history. My history includes a revolution where my ancestors rose up to overthrow both slavery and French rule, creating the world’s first Black republic. There’s nothing like growing up in the Caribbean, the food, the carnival, beach parties, family parties, the music, the dances and so much more.
What is your definition of success?
The older I get and as I experience life, the definition continues to change for me. One thing that never changes is to make sure whatever I do in this life, is aligned with passion and purpose. Right now, my definition of success is remembering to put on my own oxygen mask before assisting others. Self-care has become massively important to me and understanding it is essential if I want to have a meaningful impact on the world around me. Next year this time, I might measure it differently.
When are you the happiest?
When I am spiritually, emotionally and mentally at peace with myself!