Dwana, in Paris


“Dream big and make every day of your life about making that dream a reality.”

DOUBLE dates don’t always click. Couples sometimes aren’t compatible for whatever reason, but the evening my husband and I were invited to dinner at the Frank’s home in Washington, DC, our double date lasted into the wee hours.

The first hint I had that DWANA FRANK was a woman of style + substance was not only the elegant dinner that she prepared herself, but the ease in which we began our conversation about everything from our favorite walking trails in DC to African art to our love of adventure and travel. I was inspired by Dwana’s warmth, her confidence, her intelligence and her view of the world.

A native of New Orleans, Dwana always dreamed of a wonderful life filled with limitless possibilities. After graduating from college with dual degrees in Computer Science and Engineering, Dwana began a successful career developing innovative telecomm technologies, but when the time came she enthusiastically embraced motherhood often balancing school runs with training for marathons. For the past few years, Dwana has embraced an unexpected adventure with gusto — living as an American in Paris.

As we move closer to a new year it’s important to remember that creating a beautiful life is within your grasp if you reach for it and Dwana is the embodiment of that because she is living her innate truth and we did this interview with the intention of inspiring you to live your best life in 2014.


Growing up in New Orleans, did you ever imagine the life you have now?
I can’t say that I imagined it exactly as it is now, but I definitely imagined that my life would be some kind of wonderful. Growing up, I was a dreamer who believed that dreams do come true if you work at them. The dream for me seemed easy to ascertain. It was a great job, a great husband, a few kids, a very close-knit family, a beautiful home (I literally envisioned a white picket fence) and I would travel all around the world with my incredible family. So, the first thing I needed to do to put my dreams in motion was to get an education to go after that great job. Once I received my Master’s degree in Computer Science and Engineering and began my career, I felt that I was on a path that would eventually lead to my dreams becoming a reality.

What’s been the most challenging aspect of living as an American in Paris?
The first challenge was to get over judging the cultural differences and having expectations based on experiences in America. The sooner I released ALL expectations, the better off I was. Another big challenge for me was the language barrier. Even though many people in Paris speak English, they don’t always want to, nor should they have to in their own country. It’s important to learn to speak French if you’re going to live in France. That’s just it! Communication is power.

How did you learn French?
I underestimated how much time and effort is required to learn French given the fact that enjoying Paris and traveling was a substantial priority. It’s truly not an easy language to grasp without great effort. I practiced Rosetta Stone, hired a private tutor, took a 2-week immersion course, and spent a few days a week in a classroom. But still, I have not dedicated nearly enough time to achieve my goal of fluency. But of course, living here and the opportunity to practice has brought me a long way. I can communicate in French, but I’m not fluent.

Was it difficult cultivating a social network?
The wonderful part about living in such a great city like Paris is that everyone comes to visit! Socially, I have not suffered at all because just about every month, friends and family from the U.S. come to visit. When I’m not hosting, I’m usually traveling because it’s so easy and convenient to visit another country in two hours! It’s been a blessing because honestly, it’s not easy to make French friends.

Why do you say that?
The French seem to be very personal and private when it comes to their family life. They’re not likely to invite “the new neighbor” over for dinner or invite you into their social network. Since my kids attend the American School of Paris, families from the school community are obviously in our social network. However, there are several other native Parisians we’ve met throughout the years who we are happy to call our friends.


If someone is considering a move to Paris, what advice would you offer?
Start learning French before you move because it’ll help you tremendously with the necessities for transitioning. Forget about comparing how things are done at home and let go of certain expectations of how you think things should be. Have an open mind and be prepared for Paris to blow your mind. It’s truly an amazing city with so much to offer. A simple walk outside is like strolling an outdoor museum. Enjoy the parks, learn to appreciate art, appreciate the details the chefs put into preparing a perfect meal. Take it all in. Enjoy it with a smile.

What’s one misconception about Parisians you’ve found not to be true?
They’re not as rude as the reputation that precedes them. But it takes time to cultivate into the environment to come to this conclusion. The French can be a bit fussy, but they’re just passionate and emotional by nature. But that same passion and emotion can very well be sweet, kind and helpful. It matters a lot how you approach. Please say “bonjour” before you open your mouth to say anything else. You’re considered the “rude” one if you don’t and you might find out very quickly how the French have earned their reputation.


Describe a typical day in your Parisian life.
An espresso at the cafe outside my door. A run around the Seine or a “get lost in Paris” run if I’m training for a marathon. A conversation with the store clerk as I purchase the day’s meal. Organize home duties. Various outdoor activities like a Paris tour with American School of Paris moms, shopping for fashion, school activities, a rendezvous with friends, beauty pampering, late night walks with my husband, long lunches and dinners with lots of French wine.

Living in the land of the chic Parisienne, what fashion tips have you adopted?
Invest more in quality, not quantity. Black works well for most occasions and can easily by accented with a beautiful scarf. Scarves and cute boots are a necessary part of Parisian chic.


You’ve visited 6 continents and 16 countries so far, where did your passion for travel come from?
I would have to say from my grandmother. She absolutely loved to travel. She particularly loved to travel by trains. Although I don’t think she ever got to travel abroad, her spirit for travel around the USA and the stories she told of the places she visited intrigued me. Other than that, I would see different places on television, so beautiful, and I thought…Wow, I want to go there!

Name one unforgettable place you’ve traveled too.
That would be India. Until you walk that land, you can never feel, see, taste or begin to understand the reality of life a trip to India teaches. I visited twice. The second time was to clarify my amazement from the first time. I felt the same impact. India, with all of it’s beautiful colors, festive, spirited people, amazing mosques, temples and home of the dreamily gorgeous Taj Mahal, a place of such opulence, was also a place where the level poverty I witnessed could not have been communicated through pictures or words. It’s one of those places where you have to see it to believe it. Once you see it, you’ll never forget it. My travels to India gave me a prospective on life that became a deep soul searching, eye opening experience.

Name a place you’d like to see before you die.
As you know, I’ve been working on my bucket list for a while now and I’ve made it a point to visit the places I wanted to see. So, even though Africa was on that list and I’ve been there, I would say that I’d like to go back again before I die. I probably won’t see all of Africa in this lifetime, but I would like to explore several parts. I would love to spend enough time to live the experience, perhaps teach in a school, build a home or help provide water to villages. So far, all of my travels have been for personal development, enjoying life and broadening my perspective. I really want to do something meaningful with what I have learned and experienced.


What are your three must-have travel essentials?
Running shoes to get my day started wherever I am. Walking shoes for daytime exploring, Diva high heels for night. It’s all about the shoes for a woman on the go.

With such a bi-continental life, how do you create balance in your life?
I don’t, my husband does! He says, “We have to slow down, we can’t do it all, look at our travel schedule, normal people get one vacation a year, you’ve scheduled 12!” Then, I try to compromise some sort of balance by taking a trip or two off the current list. But seriously, I paid my dues raising three wonderful children, two in college and one is a senior in high school now. So besides the fact that my kids have mostly traveled with me, the difficulty in balancing now that they’re older has somewhat subsided. Thanks to technology, work can often be conducted from wherever we are in the world. This is a very necessary balance since the job funds our travels.


Name a song that takes you some place special whenever you hear it.
‘I Was Here’ by Beyoncé.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Healthy, happy kids and a husband who’s my awesome best friend. Café crème in the morning and a glass of Bordeaux in the evening.

One word…

What advice do you have for younger women?
You only have one life. No one can live it but you. Cease the moment. Don’t be afraid to take chances because those chances write your life’s story. Be adamant and convicted when it comes to achieving your goals. Dream big and make every day of your life about making that dream a reality. Have tons of fun. Nurture your friendships. Love hard and be kind. Life rewards the heart.

If asked to write your memoirs. what would the title be?
From the Seventh Ward in New Orleans to the Seventh Arrondissement in Paris and Beyond. With Love.

Interviewed November 2013 by Yolanda, editor of Zavvi Rodaine.
Dwana was photographed in Paris by her husband for Zavvi Rodaine. Thanks, K!
© Zavvi 2013. No part of this interview may be used or reproduced in any manner without the express written consent of the Editor of Zavvi

Life + Style 33 Comments

33 Responses to “Dwana, in Paris

  1. 1
    Justin Frank says:
    December 5, 2013 at 2:04 pm

    Dwana is my mother,
    She is an inspiration to everyone around her! I am so blessed to call her the main woman in my life. Love you mom, Justin

  2. 2
    M.jones says:
    December 5, 2013 at 2:33 pm

    Wow, what an amazing woman. Great article!

  3. 3
    Brandon Winins says:
    December 5, 2013 at 2:44 pm

    That’s typical Dwana. Never flashy but always standing out. She’s one of a kind…lol
    Love my big sis!!!
    Fav Answer: running shoes, walking shoes, and heels lol!

  4. 4
    Kukuwa says:
    December 5, 2013 at 2:53 pm

    I truly enjoyed reading my girlfriend Dwana’s interview. She is truly blessed and loved by us all and she is a tough act to follow. Beautiful and radiant! God bless you Dwana darling.

  5. 5
    Sherri Pratcher says:
    December 5, 2013 at 2:59 pm

    Dee, I love this article! You have found a way to balance a career, a marriage, motherhood, friendships and family. You are truly inspirational! I am proud to know you! Love & miss you friend! Do you see all those exclamation points?

  6. 6
    Coco says:
    December 5, 2013 at 3:20 pm

    Beautiful article written about a beautiful woman! I am so blessed to have met a true friend like Dwana in Paris (and I am even French)! She has embraced the culture and promoted it not only abroad but in France (Saint Emilion, Nice, Saint Paul de Vence). She will leave her footprint -whether boots, running shoes or diva high heels- on the city of lights. Merci mon amie!

  7. 7
    Melvin Winins, Sr. says:
    December 5, 2013 at 3:35 pm

    My beautiful adventurous daughter, this article was actually sent from above for you to bless others. A lot of us, are not able to travel and see the world, but I wanted you to know when you travel and report the fun and the activities that you endure on your trip, I feel like I’ve been there. You have inspired me to read articles pertaining to Africa, India, Paris France and so many of the other places you have been. You have me reading and studying the different wines and cultures of countries I’ve never been to, and probably won’t make it to. Thank you for educating me through the blessings you have received.

  8. 8
    Dwana Frank says:
    December 5, 2013 at 4:10 pm

    Hi Yolanda! I just wanted to say thank you for a great interview. So many people have contacted me already to say how much they enjoyed reading it. Thank you for sharing our stories.

  9. 9
    Angelique says:
    December 5, 2013 at 4:21 pm

    Beautiful article about a beautiful person. I’ve known Dwana for a while and she is definitely a beautiful light in this world…kind, nurturing, caring, and a fantastic cook. Thanks so much for shining the light on my homegirl.

  10. 10
    Lydia says:
    December 5, 2013 at 4:22 pm

    OMG!! Such a deserving tribute! Dwana is truly a woman of style and substance. Yolanda could not have chosen a person who better exemplifies those qualities. Any one who knows Dwana can attest to her personal strength and beauty. Her virtues and values are intimately related to her integrity and character. She epitomizes what it means to be beautiful both inside and out. Being simultaneously smart and stylish as well as educated, intelligent, loving, giving, personable and down to earth the exception not the rule. She has a reputation for doing the right thing for the right reason even when no one is watching. The fact is though, we are all watching, and I very much like what I see. Dwana is dedicated to living her life in a way that she believes will lead to a happy, satisfying and righteous existence, and a better world. Congratulations Dwana, you truly deserve to be honored and featured. I am so pleased that Yolanda chose to share a little glimpse of you with the readers. Thank you Yolanda.

  11. 11
    Fay S. says:
    December 5, 2013 at 4:27 pm

    Such a beautiful story! I love living vicariously through Dwana.

  12. 12
    Ronnie D says:
    December 5, 2013 at 4:44 pm

    Bonjour, comment allez-vous Dwana?

    That was a great interview, and I can definitely relate to your experiences.


  13. 13
    Charles J says:
    December 5, 2013 at 4:55 pm

    A joyous read!!! This article inspires greatness and limitless opportunity.

  14. 14
    Renee' Woods says:
    December 5, 2013 at 5:32 pm

    What an awesome and authentic article!!! It captured the essence of Dwana. Thank you Dwana for always sharing and inspiring. Zavvi Rodaine has earned a spot in my on-line favorites.

  15. 15
    AC Jacobs says:
    December 5, 2013 at 5:36 pm

    Please write that memoir!!!

  16. 16
    Earlin V. says:
    December 5, 2013 at 6:51 pm

    A dreamer and a doer. A great friend who puts family first. A classy woman with a big heart who knows from where her blessings flow. You cannot know how proud I am of who you are and how you live your life. Love you.

  17. 17
    Jazz says:
    December 5, 2013 at 8:41 pm

    What a great article and spotlighting someone who I admire greatly.

    I was fortunate to meet Dwana when she traveled to India (where my husband and I are on expat assignment) and I was immediately drawn to her – she is every thing this article highlights and more… stylish – yes, warm – yes, fun – yes, intelligent – yes, but there was more… just an intangible that pulls you to someone without even knowing why, and it pulled me right in. Charisma?? Perhaps or maybe just her Joie de vivre. Thank you for giving others a glimpse of her through Zavvi Rodaine. Very well written.

  18. 18
    Stan B. says:
    December 5, 2013 at 8:58 pm

    There is not a man in America nor a man in Paris or anywhere on this planet that does not wish that you were his daughter. You and your wonderful husband and children are living a fairy tale life because you guys are dreamers that chase those dreams . Keep on dreaming and love the life you live the life that you love. So very proud of you, Dwana.

  19. 19
    Debbie D says:
    December 6, 2013 at 2:06 am

    Brilliantly done!! What a wonderful read. Featuring a Wonderful Woman and person who is full of love, happiness, and a whole lot of life!!! Yes! That’s my friend Dwana Frank! Keep encouraging us all, that dreams do come true. ….

  20. 20
    Sonya Freeman-Faciane says:
    December 6, 2013 at 6:35 am

    OH. MY. GOODNESS!!!!!!!!! I love your article Yolanda featuring my AWESOME friend and high school classmate. Dwana, you are a force of nature, a beautifully loving, adventurous and giving spirit YOU ARE to name a few. Thank you for being AN EXAMPLE of living your life ON PURPOSE…you and Kenny show us how dreams and desires are MANIFESTED when vision, focus, belief, faith and action combine. Is it wishful thinking to get another visit in before y’all leave LOL?! I LOVE YOU DIVA DEE…see you New Year’s Eve!

  21. 21
    Denise Lewis says:
    December 6, 2013 at 8:28 am

    Great story! Classy lady, classy life….Dwana embodies the spirit of ” I can” and “The best is yet to come”. Looking forward to her next adventure. I think she should be featured quarterly! Dwana is not afraid to share her blessings with everyone she meets. I’m glad our paths crossed. I never met a more positive, giving person. Blessings to Dwana and her family as they experience the world and allow us to experience it with them!

  22. 22
    Judy Carter Davis says:
    December 6, 2013 at 10:04 am

    Very nice article indeed Yolanda! Really captures the essence of Dwana and details what’s so important to her and what makes her that very special person she is. Awesome! P.S. fabulous boots!

  23. 23
    Terry says:
    December 6, 2013 at 10:17 am

    Dwana you are AMAZING.
    You are living the dream and you deserved it.
    Your intelligent, loving and an inspriation to all.
    Such a BEAUTIFUL person. Love ya so much

  24. 24
    Katrina Norton Jackson says:
    December 6, 2013 at 10:38 am

    Dwana, what an amazing article spotlighting your wonderful life. I enjoyed reading it very much classmate!

  25. 25
    Lee Lee says:
    December 6, 2013 at 6:15 pm

    Thank you for this wonderful story! I have literally contacted national magazines to try and get them to do a story on this phenomenal women and her beautiful family and to date, no takers. Having known her since elementary school, I have seen first hand the love, beauty, grace and substance that is Dwana Frank. She has always been the loving, giving, and compassionate person she is today…….”don’t be fooled by the rocks that she’s got- she still Dwana from the block!” LOL! Some people have embraced dysfunction as the new normal; however, when they spend just a few moments in Dwana’s company they know they have to do something to elevate themselves. She inspires folks to be their best! When they see her interact with her family and friends (rolling 20-30 deep in a restaurant, laughing, loving and enjoying each other) they are amazed. I have been asked, “is it real?” My answer, IT IS LIVE- never Memorex! It is the most authentic human encounter one will ever experience. I love you Dee!

    Yolanda, thank you again for this wonderful feature! It has been shared 16 times among my Facebook friends alone.

  26. 26
    Michelle H. says:
    December 7, 2013 at 9:19 am

    Beautiful lady inside and out. Well deserved! Dwana’s kindness and generosity is incomparable. Love her dearly.

  27. 27
    Kimberly H. says:
    December 7, 2013 at 10:14 am

    Yolanda this was such a beautiful and amazing story. My blood sister “Dee” has always been an aspiring, inspiring, encouraging motivator and my very best friend. When she shared this link I immediately thought she had secretly published her own article or BOOK. Thanks for exposing her beauty and compassion to your readers. She’s been this person all her life! I am so proud to call her my big sister! Congrats Dee! Love you dearly!

  28. 28
    Ramani says:
    December 8, 2013 at 1:56 pm

    Hi Madame Frank,
    Je suis très fier de vous madam , c’est un texte magnifique , je suis très contente de lire cet article ! je suis super contente de travailler chez vous , c’est un plaisir pour moi, je n’ai pas assez de mots pour décrire ma joie ! J’ai une chance énorme de vous connaitre , vous etes une personne formidable, je vous admire énormément. Such a beautiful story madam !!

    Hi madam I’m Ramani’s daughter !
    Wow it’s a Beautiful and amazing article ! c’est un très beau texte, ce texte m’a permis de vous connaitre mieux. Je suis très ravie d’avoir fais votre connaissance, vous etes une personne extraordinaire, votre histoire m’a fais rêver, et m’a donner confiance en moi , car depuis toute petite j’ai aussi des reves mais je n’ai jamais penser que les reves pouvait devenir réalitée. Ma maman et moi au fond de nous, on a une petite tristesse que vous partiez aux Etats Unis et que vous nous laissiez. Car nous tenons beaucoup à vous et à votre famille. Vous allez Beaucoup nous manquer si vous partez. Merci pour cette lecture agréable.

  29. 29
    Pamela S. says:
    December 9, 2013 at 9:56 am

    I enjoyed this article tremendously! Dwana is beautiful inside and out, and is an inspiration for appreciating family, friends and life! Dwana, you are truly an angel among us and I am blessed to know you!

  30. 30
    Seleste says:
    December 10, 2013 at 10:19 pm

    This article captures Dwana’s essence. A beautiful person, both inside and out. She definitely dreams big, loves hard and deeply, and makes everyone around strive to be a better person. So great that other people get to have a glimpse of the extraordinary life she lives!

  31. 31
    Pam H. says:
    December 13, 2013 at 8:19 am

    WOW! What an inspiring article. Dwana is captivating as well as intelligent, beautiful, articulate, level-headed, well-traveled and seems to be an awesome wife and mother. This article should be so encouraging to young people, especially African Americans, because it shows that the path to leading the life you envision as a young child can be accomplished with hard work, patience and tenacity. I truly admire the author, Yolanda, for the positive, perfectly crafted story, and the auspicious subject. Magnifique!

  32. 32
    Nanny D. says:
    December 13, 2013 at 9:35 am

    Congrats Dwana. Represented our city both in beauty and intellect. You are an exemplary role model for your family especially all of the younger Winins. Prayers for continued health and prosperity. I know Papa Winins chest is sticking way out and Nessa too. I speak for all of the Winins family and friends at Branch Bell Baptist Church (Lower 9th ward) New Orleans.

  33. 33
    Cheryl Agogobug says:
    December 15, 2013 at 1:10 pm

    This article touched my heart.
    Dwana, my life has been better for knowing you and this article highlighted the reasons you are able to touch so many. Your giving and caring heart, your love for family, friends and adventure have always inspired me. Merci mon ami!!!