Daron Dean is a woman of many talents. When she’s not busy being a successful curve model for the likes of Nike, the beauty is sharing her wealth of science knowledge with the world as the host of Refinery29’s new weekly live-stream Twitch series Deep Dive with Daron.
Each week, Daron delves into a different science based topic which will pique the interest of any millennial. So far she has covered everything from climate change to coffee, skincare to the science of hangovers, and combines her bubbly personality and incredible knowledge to create live-streams which are both fascinating and fun.
Additionally, Daron is a powerful body positivity activist and an advocate for women in STEM education. Growing up as a biracial plus-size woman with a keen interest in science, Daron realised from a young age that she was different, however, over the years she also acknowledged the importance of embracing her natural beauty.
Daron is without doubt an incredible role model in today’s industry and uses her platform to spread a positive message which encourages women all around the world to be proud of the things which make them unique.
We recently spoke to Daron about embracing her inner science nerd on Deep Dive, her dream modelling collaborations, the advice she’d give to her eight-year-old self, and more.
Hi Daron, welcome to CelebMix! Please introduce yourself to our readers with a little-known fact about you.
Something most people don’t know about me is that I LOVE to play video games! I got a Gameboy for my birthday in 3rd grade with the game Donkey Kong and the obsession hasn’t stopped since then.
You’re the host of ‘Deep Dive with Daron’, a weekly Twitch live-stream on Refinery29 where you cover all things science. Can you tell us more about this project?
Yes, absolutely! My goal with this stream is to make science accessible and understandable to everyone, even if they know nothing about it. Science is such a broad topic, and it encompasses everything we do. From neurons in your brain firing to get you walking into work every morning, to the physiological and biological response of your body when you have your morning coffee. I want people to be excited about it and interested in what’s going on around them. I also want to show people (primarily women and people of color), that they are wanted and needed in STEM and that being a nerd is cool.
You’ve been a science fan from a young age and you’ve even got a degree in Biology. What is it about science which fascinates you so much?
When I was little, my mom would just kick my sisters and I out of the house to play. We lived on 2 acres so there was always something to get into. I would catch frogs, snakes, spiders, anything I could get my hands on. I loved to watch and learn more about them and how they live. Science is so incredible because it is something that is constantly happening inside us and around us even if we aren’t thinking about it.
Science is a topic which some people find boring, particularly when learning in school. How do you go about making the content fun and interesting for viewers?
There’s still sometimes when I’m reading something in a scientific journal and I’m like why is it written like this!? That’s just scientific language and it takes a lot of higher education to get used to the way scientists and researchers write and present their work. To navigate this, I try to pick topics that someone who may not have a big science background may like. For example, I’ve talked about the science of skincare and what products do to your skin on the cellular level. I’ve also talked about how coffee keeps you awake and why you need more to make you feel awake the longer you drink it. These are things that nearly every person may encounter on a daily basis. Another thing I do is explain it in a way that is simply conversational versus talking at people. That’s a reason why Twitch is so amazing! People can chat with me live and ask questions about my topic, so it’s incredibly dynamic.
What’s been your Deep Dive highlight so far?
I love when I am able to find a great guest to come co-host with me! So far, I’ve had amazing guests and we’ve covered great topics. I’ve had my younger sister, Summer, who is an environmental scientist come on and discuss climate change with me. I’ve had my best friend Grace on the stream, and we talked about queerness in the animal kingdom. This was a really cool stream because it highlighted so many different animals who don’t adhere to what humans would think as “traditional gender roles”, and how they thrive in the wild. Most recently, I talked to 2 female engineers. One is an aerospace engineer who literally builds parts for airplane and rockets, and the other is a body and systems engineer who builds 3D printed parts for cars…I mean how much more badass can you get?!
You’re an advocate for women in STEM education – growing up as a woman who wanted to enter the science field, what obstructions did you personally face?
The town I grew up in and the school system I went through was primarily white families and students. In fact, I was one of about 3 black students in the entire school. In high school, this really bothered me a lot. People would grab and touch my big curly hair, and I just felt so different from everyone else looks wise. And we all know in high school you just want to be like everyone else! I was an excellent student, but I remember in my math classes especially thinking “Am I supposed to be here? Can I do this?” because I was the only mixed student in the class. Other than that, I didn’t let anything, or anyone get in my way. I have to give my parents a lot of credit for this because they never made my sisters and I doubt our abilities. If anything, they always had us strive for more!
What advice would you give to any woman wanting to enter STEM education in terms of overcoming adversity?
The number one advice I can give is to surround yourself with the right people. Friends, family, whoever is going to rally around you when you are feeling inadequate to pump you back up and help you realize how capable you are! Another piece of advice is don’t be afraid as coming across as a “bitch”. Women are conditioned to believe that if they stick up for themselves or be assertive, they will be labeled as a “bitch”. People are going to label you no matter what, so let that fear go and fight for what you want!
You’ve recently been cast in the upcoming Hulu series ‘Shrill’. What can we expect from the series, and can you tell us anything about your involvement?
“Shrill” is based on a book by Lindy West which is a memoir about her life and the struggles and triumphs she dealt with being a plus size, opinionated woman in a culture and society that idolizes thin, quiet women. It’s set to be coming out in March this year and I play a guest role so there’s no guarantee that I’ll make the final cut of the show. My role works directly alongside Aidy Bryant for a few scenes, and even if my part doesn’t make it to the screen I’m so thankful to have gotten the opportunity to work with an incredible human being like Aidy!
You’re also a model and have worked with a number of brands, most recently taking part in the Spring campaign for Nike. What would be your dream brand to work with in the future?
The Spring campaign for Nike was such a dream! I played every sport growing up and it was my dream to play college basketball, which I achieved and am so proud of. Working for sportswear companies is right up my alley and I love being able to show the world that there isn’t one body type that can be athletic, work out, or play sports. I would love to work with other sports companies like Adidas and Reebok. Another dream client would be a beauty campaign with Fenty Beauty! I love Rihanna’s inclusive makeup line. And again, size has nothing to do with beauty so I would love to show everyone that a plus size model can rock a beauty campaign just as much as a straight size model.
On top of everything else, as a biracial and plus size woman, you’re a strong advocate for body positivity for all. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt when it comes to embracing your natural beauty?
Something my mom used to say to me before my basketball games holds true in modeling. She would say, “Daron, use that God given body!” It made sense at the time because I was almost always taller, bigger, and stronger than most of my opponents. In modeling and in life though, this still holds true. No one has my exact body. No one has my exact face. There’s no one like me, just like there’s no one out there who is quite like you. I learned that this was my super power; the fact that there is really only one person in the universe who can be like me and look like me. My differences that I once perceived as negative became the way I set myself apart from everyone else. I think if everyone looked at themselves this way, they would realize how incredible they are and how their differences make them unique and perfect in their own way.
What advice would you give to your eight-year-old self, when you first realized that you were ‘different’ to others?
Oh wow…this is hard because my 8-year-old self was so self-conscious, shy, and hated being different. I would say to myself to keep being you. Keep playing video games, catching bugs, and being curious about the world around you because one day you’ll realize that these will set you apart from everyone else and everyone will love you for that.
We think you’re an amazing influence when it comes to body positivity and we’re sure that a lot of people admire you. Who do you look up to (for either body positivity or life in general)?
The first person is my mom. She is intelligent, resilient, strong, and kind. She taught me that beauty is worth nothing if you don’t have brains behind it and always pushes me to be better! For body positivity, I absolutely love Katie H. Willcox. She is a model and founder of Natural Models LA and Healthy Is the New Skinny (look her up on Instagram! She’s incredible). She is so down to earth and has a great approach to body positivity, motherhood, exercise, and food.
You’ve already achieved a great deal of things across numerous platforms, but what are your goals for 2019?
I want to continue getting interesting guests for my Twitch stream and continue to get more viewers. I would love to have an astrophysicist, a doctor, and a biologist on my show and talk to them about what they do and the importance of their jobs in today’s world. Another goal I have which started in 2018 is to volunteer more. I began volunteering towards the end of 2018 and loved it and realized how important it is, so I want to keep doing that and find more volunteer organizations to donate my time to!
Are there any other plans in the pipeline for 2019 that you can tell us about?
Yes! I’m happy to say that I got into nursing school and start very soon. It’s something I’ve been working towards for about a year and a half, so it’s great seeing it all finally come together. I want to eventually become a nurse practitioner and open my own clinic so people who can’t afford a regular doctor or people who don’t have insurance can come and get their annual checkups as well as necessary vaccines and medicine.