Naomi Sims, is considered by many to be the first “Black Supermodel.” In 1968, she appeared on the cover of “Ladies Home Journal” which was an amazing feat considering black models were rarely featured in major publications let alone, magazine covers at this time. The covers she graced in 1967 for the “New York Times” and 1969 for “Life” are featured in the Metropolitan Museum, “The Model as Muse” exhibit. After retiring from modeling, she went on to start a multi-million dollar wig line for women of color and authored several books focusing on modeling and health & beauty. Ms. Sims lost her battle with Cancer, August 4, 2009 at the age of 61.
Beverly Johnson graced more than 500 covers during her career span. She made history when she became the first black model to grace the cover of American Vogue in 1974. A year later, she became the first black model to appear on the cover of French Elle. All the notoriety would eventually pave the way for other black supermodels, Naomi Campbell & Tyra Banks that would soon follow. Like Naomi Sims, Beverly Johnson launched a successful wig line. Today, she is 61 years young and currently staring in a “reality show,” “Beverly’s Full House” appearing on the OWN Network. She has one child, daughter Anansa Sims born in 1984.
Iman Abdulmajid, is a Somali-born fashion model, actress and entrepreneur. She first hit the modeling scene in 1975 later becoming a muse to French fashion designer, Yves Saint Laurent. Iman paved the way for African-born beauties wanting to break into the high-fashion world of modeling. She became the first black model to appear on the cover of German Vogue and remained on top of the modeling world for more than a decade. She is also known for her charity work as Global Ambassador for the Keep A Child Alive campaign and AM AFRICAN, strive to end the Aids pandemic in her native Africa. Today, she is 58 years young and better known as David Bowie’s wife and her successful make-up, IMAN cosmetics. She has two children, Zulekha Haywood, born in 1978 and Alexandria Zahra Jones, born in 2000.
Veronica Webb is an American model, actress, writer and television personality. While a design student in New York City, she was discovered by a make-up artist at the age of twenty. She soon began working the runway for Azzedine Alaia, Issac Mizrahi, Todd Oldham and Karl Lagerfeld and would later become an in-demand editorial model landing the covers of Vogue and Elle magazines. Her most notable achievement was becoming the first black model to land a major cosmetics contract with Revlon, in 1992. Today, she is 48 years old and has two children, Molly Blue Robb and Leila Rose Robb.
Roshumba Williams is an American model who first became known for her appearance in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition in the early 1990s. She was discovered as a teenager in 1987 by French fashion designer, Yves Saint Laurent and quickly became a regular on international runways. Known for her signature short-cropped hair-do, a style she rocks today-Roshumba stood-out as most black models wore long-hair during that time. Some of her other achievements include: Face of Cover Girl and Maybelline campaigns. Since retiring from modeling, Roshumba has written, “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Being a Model,” worked as a correspondent for LIfetime and NBC and hosted Oxygen’s reality-series, “Style.” Today, she is 45 years young.
Naomi Campbell is a British model. She was discovered at the age of 15 and quickly established herself among the top three most recognizable and in-demand models of the late 1980s and 90s. She was one of six models of her generation declared “supermodels” by the fashion world. During the infamous “Supermodel Era,” she was part of the “Trinity” which included Linda Evangelista and Christy Turlington. These three ruled the fashion industry and later appeared in the George Michaels Video, “Freedom” along with Cindy Crawford. Campbell was the first black model to land the cover of French Vogue and is on record as one of the highest paid supermodels of all times. Today, she is the Executive Producer and one of three Supermodel coaches on the Oxygen Network’s modeling-themed reality series, “The Face” where she competes to find the face of a major brand. She is 43 years young and still rocking the runway.
Tyson Beckford is an American fashion model and actor. He was born to a mother of Chinese and Afro-Jamaican descent and a father of Afro-Panamanian descent. During his school years, he was often teased about his looks. In 1993, he was recruited by Ralph Lauren as the lead model for the company’s Polo line of male sportswear. He is widely considered the only male “supermodel” to exist. This year he will co-host ABC’s Red Carpet Live show along with Robyn Roberts, Lara Spencer and Jess Cagle. Today, Tyson is 43 years young and has a son, Jordan Beckford born in 1998.
Tyra Lynne Banks began her modeling career with Elite Models at 17. She landed her first contract with Cover Girl in 1990 and first became famous after appearing twice on the cover of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue and working for Victoria’s Secret as one of their original Angels. Banks is the creator and host of the UPN/The CW reality television show America’s Next Top Model, co-creator of True Beauty, and was the host of her own talk show, The Tyra Banks Show which ended in 2010. She has the distinction of being the first black model to land the cover spots of GQ, Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue and the Victoria Secret’s catalog. Today, she is an American television personality, producer, author, actress and is 40 years young.
Liya Kebede is an Ethiopian born model. Her big break came when Tom Ford requested she sign an exclusive deal for Gucci’s Fall/Winter 2000 fashion show. She appeared on the cover of Paris Vogue in the May 2002 issue. The entire issue was dedicated to her which catapulted her career. She would go-on to become a much in-demand model, seen on numerous covers and ad campaigns including: Yves Saint-Laurent, Emanuel Ungaro, Dolce & Gabbana, Escada, Louis Vuitton, Tommy Hilfiger, GAP, Victoria’s Secret and more. In 2003, she became the first black model to become the newest face of Estee Lauder cosmetics in the company’s 57 year history (her contract was rumored to be worth 3 million dollars). At that time she was ranked number one on models.com and has appeared on the cover of US Vogue three times. According to Forbes, she was the eleventh-highest-paid top model in the world in 2007. Since 2005, Kebede has served as the WHO’s Ambassador for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health. Today she is 35 years young, a clothing designer and actress.
Selita Ebanks is a Cayman-born British fashion model and actress. She was scouted by an agent from Elite Model Management at age 17. She made her debut in 2001 at the Tuleh show. In 2007, she wore the coveted fantasy bra set at the Victoria’s Secret fashion show. Ebanks has worked for high fashion brands Neiman Marcus and Ralph Lauren, and appeared in magazines such as the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, Vogue, and Glamour, but she is best known for her work with Victoria’s Secret, as one of the brand’s “Angels” from 2005 to early 2009. She is 31 years young.
Joan Smalls Rodriguez is a Puerto Rican fashion model. Joan is ranked the #1 model in the world according to models.com since September 2012. Joan ranks at number #8 on Forbes: The World’s Highest-Paid Models, 2013. Joan was the first Latina face of Estée Lauder Cosmetics history. In January 2014, Joan graced the cover of American Elle, the issue was dubbed “The Return of the Supermodel: It’s Joan Smalls”, cementing Joan’s status as a Supermodel, an honor for any model. Given that American Elle is usually reserved for Hollywood starlets and singers it’s big news when a model lands on the front page. She was one of three models featured in Beyoncé’s-Yoncé video. She is 25 years young.
Jourdan Dunn is a British fashion model. She was discovered in Hammersmith Primark in 2006 and signed to Storm Model Management in London shortly thereafter. In 2008, she was the first black model to walk a Prada runway in over a decade. She has attracted attention because of the paucity of black models in the fashion modelling industry. In July 2008, Steven Meisel selected Dunn to appear on the cover of the Vogue Italia issue devoted entirely to black models. In November 2008, Dunn was named “Model of the Year” at the British Fashion Awards. She is 23 years young.
Chanel Iman Robinson, professionally known as Chanel Iman, is the youngest and most successful African-American High Fashion Model of her time. She signed with the prestigious Ford Modeling Agency in 2004. Just a year later, Chanel went on to win third place in Ford’s “Supermodel of the World” contest. Her first season debut took- off in 2006. Designers and major fashion houses from New York, London, Milan, and Paris added her to their A-List lineups. In Spring 2009, Chanel was the first Black model to walk for Gucci in eight years. In 2007, Chanel caught the attention of Anna Wintour, Editor in Chief of Vogue magazine. That same year, the legendary Wintour selected Chanel as one of 10 girls to be featured on the May 2007 cover of Vogue, naming her as one of the “world’s next top models.” She was the youngest (at age 16) to ever grace the cover of Vogue and though there had been several black Vogue models before, Chanel was only the third to have ever graced the cover. She considers it very important to give back to the community, and has been involved in significant charity work over the years. When asked “What do you do to prepare yourself before going out on the runway?” Her answer is simply: “I pray and thank God for all of my blessings.” Today, she is 23 years young.