RCC Alumna Domaine Javier discusses her struggles and successes throughout her life

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By Leo Cabral

Domaine Javier is a writer, actress, nurse and transgender icon, but most importantly, she is a regular human being, “just with extra sparkles.”

Javier, 28, was crowned Homecoming queen at Riverside City College in 2010, earned a total of seven degrees and became a registered nurse. She has starred on MTV’s “True Life” and participated in Season 20 of “Worst Cooks in America” on the Food Network, where she also stars in “Dirty Dishes.”

While attending RCC, Javier focused on performing arts in addition to nursing. She would attend a lecture in the morning, a clinical internship at a nearby hospital in the afternoon and head to “Rent” rehearsals right after.

Domaine Javier, center front, is getting a special recognition on-stage at the RCC School of Nursing Pinning Ceremony June 2015.

She was active in the Sexuality and Gender Acceptance Club, the International Club and the Alpha Gamma Sigma Honors Society.

“People thought I was crazy,” she said. “I always say that I just like keeping both sides of my brain active.”

Javier is proud to say she is a self-made woman. She would take the time to fill out every scholarship she could to get herself through school. She has scored her own auditions and worked hard her whole life to get to where she is. She plans to continue until she is satisfied.

“Did I mention I was an overachiever,” Javier asked in jest.

Although she has forged her path to success with sheer determination, the accolades did not come without their challenges.

Javier experienced bullying at a young age for authentically being herself and outwardly presenting as her gender. She faced discrimination when Cal Baptist University expelled her on the grounds of “fraud” when she checked “female” for her gender.

So, Javier is no stranger to anxiety and burnout, something some LGBTQ+ students can often relate to when it concerns identity, self-esteem and navigating a fast-paced, heteronormative and patriarchal society.

“College life is tough to begin with,” she said. “But it’s significantly tougher for trans people. We’re constantly having to prove ourselves and our identities to a world that somehow finds its way to invalidate our existence. It can be very exhausting.”

Despite setbacks, Javier persisted and found ways to thrive around them, with an emphasis on self-care to keep her going.

She poses next to her presentation about the Netherlands during an on-campus event.

Some advice she has for transgender students is that “getting a bad grade isn’t the end of the world.” It provides an opportunity to learn from mistakes and grow because they do not define a person’s identity or worth. 

She also said stress and anxiety are “facts of life” but “they should never become the way of life.” Additionally, she advised finding a creative outlet, allies, knowing your limits and spreading love and kindness.

Her career end goals include winning an Oscar, getting a star on the Hollywood walk of Fame and marrying Chris Evans — although, one more accolade from RCC would be nice for now.

“Give me the RCC Alumni of the Year Award,” she said. “That’d be nice.”

What would really make Javier happy, though, would be to play a superhero and do fight scenes in either a Marvel or DC production, especially with the lack of trans representation in the superhero genre.

The last time Javier was asked about her next steps in her career, she was sure her time on the Food Network was over, but she has been surprised before so she is putting her faith in herself, her fans and the process.

“So this time, I’m just going to shut my mouth and hope for the best,” she said.

The cast and crew of RENT poses for a picture where Domaine can be seen bottom left.

Q: Your IMDB says you hold seven college degrees. Can you tell me a little bit about your educational background and how that has shaped your professional career?

As a 28 year-old Taurus millennial who shares her birthday with Duke Ellington, Daniel Day-Lewis, Crystal Hefner, and Emperor Hirohito, that pretty much tells you my core personalities. One of which is that I am a natural-born overachiever. I also enjoy pats on the back and thumbs ups from people I look up to. Unfortunately, it’s a double-edged sword, because it also means that nothing is ever enough for me. There’s also this feeling that your success is being overshadowed by anxiety or a crippling fear of failure. But nevertheless, she persisted! Ha! So I received five associate degrees from Riverside City College, including a Fine & Applied Arts degree with a concentration in performing arts (acting and musical theatre), and an associate degree in Nursing. Then I did an RN to MSN program at Western Governors University. Now, did I plan all of this? Not really. I just kind of kept on going until I felt like ‘I’m done.’

Q: What did you study at Riverside City College? How was your time there?

Well, like I previously mentioned, I straddled two completely polar opposite worlds doing nursing and performing arts at the same time. People thought I was crazy. For me, I always say that I just like keeping both sides of my brain active. There was a point when I would attend a lecture in the morning, attend a clinical internship at a nearby hospital in the afternoon, and head straight to our rehearsals for “RENT” (a Broadway musical) right after. I was also very active in extra-curricular activities such as being a member of the Alpha Gamma Sigma (AGS) Honors Society, the GSA, and the International Club. The latter because I felt like I had to — my DNA genetic testing and analysis determined that I’m part Filipino, Caucasian, Spanish, Pacific Islander, Native American and Chinese. Ha! So I was attending events and conferences, and putting in 100 plus hours of community service and volunteer work every semester. Ultimately, I also received an AA in Humanities, Philosophies, & Arts, AA Social & Behavioral Studies, and an AS in Math & Science. Looking back, I had such an amazing time, but also I’m realizing — where the heck did all that time and energy come from?!

Q: You’ve made history a couple times, including being the first openly trans woman to get crowned homecoming queen (at RCC) and to be featured on the Food Network, what do you consider to be some of your biggest accomplishments?

Did I mention I was an overachiever? Ha! Honestly those two are probably up there on top of the list. But in general, I’d say I’m most proud of getting to where I am right now in life without significant help and assistance from others. Like, I’m truly self-made. I sent myself to college. I worked my own way to break through the entertainment business. At one point I was sending “cold” emails to celebrities and casting directors and production companies and executives. When I’m lucky, I get to pitch screenplays to the likes of Paul Feig (“Bridesmaids,” “Freaks and Geeks”) and Participant Media (“The Help,” “Green Book”). I made virtual friends in the likes of Spike Jonze (“Her,” “Where The Wild Things Are”) and Lilly Wachowski (“The Matrix,” “Sense8”). From my very first outing (“MTV True Life”) to all my current projects — all accomplishments thus far I can only thank myself for. I built myself from the ground up and now here I am.

One of my most recent accomplishments that I’m extremely proud of is that I was able to raise a few thousand dollars for a charity that benefits the homeless population — The LA Mission — by auctioning a dinner date via Instagram. To be honest, I’m still having quite a difficulty grasping the idea that men actually want a dinner date with me, let alone shell out thousands of dollars in the middle of a pandemic. But it’s all for a good cause and I’m very happy that I was able to help in my own little weird way.

Q: As a multihyphenate, how do you juggle multiple careers at the same time? How have you been coping through the whole COVID-19 situation?

Self-care has been instrumental in keeping me sane these past few years. However, I’m not immune to burnouts, and this stems from me being a “yes” person. To a degree, that is a good thing, but at a certain point it becomes too much. It takes some learning, but I now know that no matter where I’m at in life, taking time to step back and reassess is vital — accepting that it’s good to kind of pull out and recover. When it’s too much, it’s perfectly fine to say no. Your physical, mental, and emotional health comes first.`

This whole pandemic has thrown us off the proverbial loop. As a nurse, I took an oath to protect and do no harm. So I was alternating between being a frontliner (especially at the height of the pandemic when all Hollywood productions are suspended) and doing film and TV work. I’m fortunate to be able to find balance between the two, but I do hope that I won’t have to in the near future, for my sanity’s sake.

Q: What else do you wish to accomplish? What are the next steps for you?

Like end goals? Win an Oscar. A star in Hollywood Walk of Fame. Marry Chris Evans. Ha! Something imminent? Give me the RCC Alumni of the Year Award. That’d be nice.

As for the next steps — listen, the last time I was asked this question, I just got eliminated from Season 20 of “Worst Cooks in America.” Back then, I thought that my Food Network journey had come to a conclusion. I was grateful for the opportunity and I was ready to move on. But the “fans” (and I use that term very lightly, because “fans” are just friends that we’ve never personally met) wanted more. Their support was unwavering, and their passionate calls for a triumphant Food Network return ended up with me getting invited back for a second TV show: “Dirty Dishes,” which was so fun to be a part of. So this time, I’m just going to shut my mouth and hope for the best. *wink*

On a more serious note, I would absolutely love to play a superhero in a Marvel or DC film and/or TV show. Come on y’all, I’ll do anything. Call me. E-mail me. Text me. Slide into my DMs. And I don’t wanna be just the office technician or emergency room nurse this time. I want to get in there and play Marvel’s “Wave.” Or even a transgender “Human Torch.” Or DC’s “Element Woman” or “Nightmare Nurse,” or something. The closest I’ve been is being able to audition for the title role of CW’s Batwoman for the second season. We all saw how that turned out, obviously. So now it’s time to make it happen! I’d really love to be in a fight scene, you know!?

Q: Do you have any words of encouragement for trans students on their academic and professional journeys?

First things first — getting a bad grade isn’t the end of the world. If you get a bad grade, learn from your mistakes and move on. This was a particularly arduous task for me, but eventually you realize that while good grades are nice, they don’t define who you are and who you’ll turn out to be. For the record, I had mostly excellent grades, with also quite a few “meh” ones.

College life is tough to begin with. But it’s significantly tougher for trans people. We’re constantly having to prove ourselves and our identities to a world that somehow finds its way to invalidate our existence. It can be very exhausting. Keep up the good fight! You can do it! Find an ally you feel comfortable with, if you must, to get through some of these challenges. Just stay positive and do not be afraid. It does get better.

Anxiety and stress are facts of life, it’s a part of being human, but it should never become the way of life. It’s okay to feel stressed, anxious, and tired once in a while. Re-evaluate your coping mechanisms to see what you ought to be doing differently. Personally, my stress from the nursing world was counterbalanced by love for the performing arts. Find a creative outlet, if you must. Be your own advocate and ask for help when you need it. There’s no shame in asking for help. If you can’t find the answer on an internet search engine, don’t hesitate to ask other people. Chances are they’re currently going through or have already went through what you’re going through. They’ll be more than willing to assist you. Actually, if you need me, I’m just a DM away. And I’ll do my best to help.

Look for the good in everything. Seeing the good in everything is how you can have hope for the future. With every bad experience definitely comes a learning experience, so instead of dwelling on the negatives, try to achieve some good thoughts around the experience. When I went through that well-publicized nursing educational hiccup a few years back (Google is a friend), I was devastated. I honestly thought that my dreams have been shattered to pieces and that my life was over. Turns out, that was one of the best things to ever happen to me. Not only was I able to raise awareness regarding trans issues and make a difference, I also ended up getting into and graduating in one of the best nursing programs in the state — the RCC School of Nursing. Things happen for a reason.

Lastly, learn to spread love and kindness. Kindness has a ripple effect — one small act can make a tremendous wave of hope, love, and light. Also, everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be nice to people. Always remember that each and every one of us are not without influence. Every action we take can have a significant effect on the world around us. Learn to harness that power and transfigure it into something positively life-changing.

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