In a world where individuals constantly seek inspiration and guidance to navigate their personal and professional lives, Leah Marville emerges as a beacon of hope and empowerment. Born and raised in Barbados, Leah Marville is a woman of many talents and passions. From her diverse career as a lawyer, model, beauty pageant titleholder, and philanthropist to her dedication to wellness advocacy and personal development, Leah has consistently shattered expectations and embraced her true purpose. In this article, we delve into Leah Marville’s remarkable journey, exploring her accomplishments, insights, and the valuable lessons she imparts to all who encounter her story.
Who is Leah Marville? Where are you from, where do you live, what do you do?
I am fun-loving, a deep thinker, a big Visionary, spontaneous, open-hearted child of God who was born and raised in Barbados. Even as a daughter of Barbados, I consider myself to also be Pan-Caribbean. I have lived in both Trinidad and Jamaica for some years, and those two countries hold special places in my heart and have shaped a lot of who I am today. I currently reside in Los Angeles where I am a fashion model, a Transformation and Personal Development Coach and Entrepreneur.
You’ve worn many hats during your career and now pour your energies into wellness and personal development advocacy, infrastructure-building and education through your podcast, speaking engagements, coaching and resources such as your Yearly Personal Development and Productivity Planner. What inspired you to focus on these areas, and what are some of the key takeaways that you want people to get from your work?
To be very honest, I did not set out on a path to do all these things. It was a mixture of saying “Yes” to life, being naturally ambitious and curious along with God’s hand on my life.
I say God because in many ways, based on my circumstances growing up there was no avenue available for me to be able to access some of the opportunities that arose for me. Modelling came into my life in a rather divine way. I started law school because my family insisted that I pursue an education and at the highest level lol.. and everything else came from being in position and saying yes to life.
The most conscious career choice I’ve made was to quit my law practice in Trinidad in 2017 and return to modelling which included moving to Los Angeles. While in LA I embarked on a journey of deep healing and a search for my authenticity. That journey brought everything full circle and I am now consciously tapping into what my purpose has always been – Service. I’ve always been involved in service through my legal practice, representing my island as Miss Barbados and through my charity. Now I get to serve people by creating an affordable and accessible Personal Development Tool with my Yearly Planner along with coaching Visionaries who wish to design lives of impact and excellence and to truly transform within a year!
Through my work, I hope to deeply inspire people to understand their inherent worth and to fiercely embrace their unique purpose! I hope that the way I live my life inspires others to live well and to operate from love, integrity and in excellence.
You’ve stated that on your path to discovering who you needed to become- you decided to walk away from everything and focus on the things that make you happy. How did your Caribbean parents react when you decided to pursue a more non-traditional career path (especially coming from a legal background)?
My mum has always been my biggest supporter and she gave me the room to make the decisions that I felt I needed to make. She would still always tell me that I like to “jump off cliffs” – meaning I take big risks – but even with that she would be right there cheering me on. My wider family has always been a little confused by my decisions lol… and in some ways did not always understand me. But over time, as the accomplishments rolled in, they have come to trust that I have a bigger purpose and that I always find my way.
You were recently awarded the Vanguard Award for contributions of leadership and excellence to the Caribbean Community- what was that experience like?
I am very grateful to Dr. Claire Nelson of the Institute of Caribbean Studies and founder of the Caribbean American Heritage Awards, along with her team, for choosing to recognize my work in this way. It has energized me for the next phase of my career which I am excited about!
The Vanguard Award came in such divine timing! I received the award 3 days after my birthday and a week before another major accomplishment. It came as a reminder to me that the work that I have done over the last two decades has not gone unnoticed and that the impact that I have always hoped to make, is being made, even when it doesn’t seem like it or I do not receive the feedback in real-time.
How do you balance your other careers with your wellness advocacy work?
I have learned to implement systems to assist with my efficiency across different areas. And where it may get overwhelming, I have learned to ask for help, delegate or seek support!
My planner! Lol but true ting! It is honestly not easy to create an adequate balance between all my ventures along with my personal life, but leaning on my planner allows me to find as much harmony as possible with all of it. I’ve also have a really strong work ethic, which I believe comes through practising law and the discipline that the profession demands of you.
How do you incorporate your Caribbean heritage into your wellness, advocacy and philanthropic work?
My heritage is organically included into everything I do because it is such a part of who I am which I love and cling to! Having lived in 5 different countries over 15 years, I’ve learned that my heritage is deeply interwoven with my essence and my authenticity and so I embrace it and lead with it in everything that I do. It is the lens through which my world was first formed. As a result, I have made “culture” a pillar of my Personal Development company BE.DO.BECOME because as I coach persons into walking in their purpose and leading lives of excellence, I do believe that the journey ought not to be divorced from understanding your culture, customs, and heritage. It will always inform very deep aspects of who you are and, in most cases, provide refuge when you feel like there has been a departure from your true self. I am a believer that your heritage and culture form part of your DNA and give you your unique edge in the world.
What advice would you give to someone who is just starting on a similar journey and just trying to figure stuff out?
Very simply, I’d say to follow your curiosities and just start. If you find that you are interested in something, explore that thing. Feel it out and experience yourself as you learn new things. The world will try to put you in a box and contain you, don’t beat them to it by doing it to yourself. Give yourself permission to be multi-dimensional and non-linear. This will allow you to discover the breadth of who are, open you to new opportunities and bolster your confidence. And the last note I’ll add for now is, to get clear on your values and root all of your life decisions in them. Let your values be the filter through which you navigate the world. You become what you worship, so I encourage everyone to understand their values clearly and wholeheartedly so that the world doesn’t lead you away from your true self.
As a Caribbean woman, what are some of the most important lessons you’ve learned about wellness and mental health over the years and about creating space for yourself and others?
My only responsibility is to hold space in love. As I deepened my wellness practice, I could see how my Caribbean upbringing and outlook were inflexible and how much more love and grace we need for ourselves as a people. I strive to be as open-hearted as can be.
Over the years, I have been living more and more by the commandment – Love your neighbor as yourself. For me, it is a reminder that, as much as possible, judgment has no place when holding space for myself and others. In addition, I have learned that in striving to love another as yourself, you must lead with a level of grace and understanding that allows people to find their own way home to their hearts. It is not my responsibility to tell you who you are and how you should be.
BDB Wellness the brand also has a YouTube channel and a podcast component. Who were some of your favorite guests and what gems did they drop while being interviewed that resonated with you?
All of my guests are my favourites! Hahaha. I say that because I am so intentional about the stories and people I share with my community. There are so many gems to name but let me try to narrow some of my favourites.
Marlon Peterson’s story about being in prison for 10 years, his redemptive spirit and bright outlook on life, despite the challenges that he faced, changed my life forever.
Walshy Fire’s vulnerability in publicly sharing the story of his life for the first time in the media was a true honor and I got to hold space and witness the mask of the male bravado soften. It was deeply moving, and I am grateful for his trust in sharing it.
My interview with Suicide Prevention Therapist, Heather Cluff, was a deeply emotional one for me. It is a podcast where she speaks to all parties involved, from those who are struggling with suicidal ideologies, to the family members who have lost members to suicide and us in society about how we can help ourselves and each other. This podcast was inspired by a friend of mine who I saw struggling with the loss of a family member to suicide and I wanted to offer expert advice to her and anyone who may be suffering. PS. I never told her about it.
The last two must-see episodes would be the episode with Soca Superstar – Skinny Fabulous – where he shares a side of him that we often never see. He invited us into his story and his heart in a very transparent, vulnerable and honest way.
And lastly, my latest podcast with Dr. Natalie Noumeh on Nutrition and the importance of the food we eat to our overall health and well-being. This one was special to me because I have an interest in nutrition and through my own understanding, I can see how much important information is not readily available to the average person. So my goal in the last episode was to hopefully impact some people’s lives by inspiring them to live more consciously and healthily.
Tell us about your Be.Do.Become Planner. What is it about? Why is it necessary? In your opinion, who would benefit the most from purchasing and using it. What are some of your favourite things about the planner?
The Be.Do.Become Planner is a Personal Development and Productivity planner that I designed to help people transform their lives in a year while achieving their goals and living a life with purpose and alignment. hearted as can be.
I created it to be an affordable self-guide for persons who may not be able to afford or may not be ready to step into personal coaching. It is for anyone (male or female) with a vision for their lives, a desire to step into their full potential, anyone just starting out or seeking to pivot out of a career or a life path or simply wanting to get clear on their purpose and direction.
Be.Do.Become is not only the name of the brand, it is a mantra and methodology that can be applied to any stage or phase in life. The methodology is that if you get clear on your values and how you are BEING in the world and commit to DOING the things/ take action in alignment with those values, you are destined to walk into the version of yourself that you seek to BECOME.
This planner is necessary and unique because it is so intentionally and intuitively created. I have channeled my background in productivity, discipline and problem-solving as an Attorney, my training as a Coach, my personal healing journey, my entrepreneurial history, my teachings in neurolinguistic programming and my interest in nutrition and fitness into designing a planner that is holistic, strategic, and effective. Most planners compartmentalize your life and focus on your goals or task list. This planner contemplates all the components of your life that work together to ensure your success.
The Planner makes room for your growth every year by re-inviting you to a new self-assessment; to reflect on your purpose, on how much you have grown and to chart the best direction forward in your current season of life.
Some of my favourite features of the planner is its unique style and design with its folded magnetic privacy cover and hidden wire; the fact that culture and art are highlighted throughout the pages of the book and that I get to spotlight Caribbean artists each year. I love that the planner spans both the physical and the digital worlds with direct access from the planner to a digital community, newsletter and resources. Throughout the months and weeks of the book, you are encouraged to be conscious about your health and to balance your personal desires while keeping you fiercely accountable to your goals and strategy for the year. It keeps your spirit uplifted with affirmations and faith-based quotes and encourages you serve your community through monthly stretches. It truly is a holistic and deeply intuitive life guide.
What are some of the most rewarding experiences you’ve had in 2023 and what do you look forward to the most in 2024?
2023 was a year of immense patience. My most rewarding experiences weren’t big and extravagant. They were small, quiet moments of confirmation from God that my life is unfolding as it should and in its own perfect timing. The Vanguard Award would be one such experience, being a part of a non-profit organization @ourown that creates Wellness Clubs in Middle Schools in Southern California which introduces wellness education to kids is another continuously rewarding experience. Also the blessing of celebrating my birthday recently with loved ones while in good health and the knowledge that my loved ones are also healthy has been deeply rewarding to me.
What are some of your favourite Caribbean-owned brands and why?
Oooo so many to name! Top of the list – @tropixswim from Trinidad and @sugaappleswim from Barbados are my go-to swimwear brands. I looveeee @fenoel ‘s aesthetic but I have yet to experience the brand. @designerjangelique is my go-to for sexy elegant wear. @noblefoodsbarbados – the healthy icecreams and snacks @stockingbykandi for my carnival stockings.
What are your plans for the Be.Do.Become brand?
In 2024, we will continue to scale the BE.DO.BECOME Yearly Planner making it more accessible across the Caribbean and the US. I will be launching my inaugural Coaching Cohort Program in January which will be a highly tailored, holistic transformation experience for persons who are ready to access and implement their Vision within 2024! I am so excited to bring my expertise to this program in a way that I have not shared before now! We have also licensed our Planner Design and Strategy IP to a beautiful Women’s Membership Club in North California, which launches in January. I am super excited about this and I look forward to more partnerships in 2024.
A big thank you to Leah, for sharing her incredible journey and insights with us. Your dedication to wellness, personal development, and serving others is inspiring. We wish you continued success in all your endeavours, and may your Be.Do.Become brand continues to empower individuals worldwide.