[Photo: Supermodel Alek Wek]
History month isnt just about Ms. Rosa Parks or Dr. W.E.B. DuBois. Many other
Black people have made tremendous strides in business and entertainment.
as Barack Obama may pay particular homage to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and
Lebron James may have extreme admiration for Earl Lloyd, the first African-American
basketball player, those in the modeling industry have special people to whom
they specifically give thanks.
women such as Donyale Luna, Beverly Johnson, Iman Abdulmajid and even Tyra
Banks are all recognized pioneers in the modeling world. They were the first
African-American women to be on the cover of global magazines, and the only
women so far to turn simple walks down a runway into budding empires.
still, influential Black supermodels are not limited to Americans or even to women, as we
discuss in this special fashion feature.
her untimely passing in 1979, Detroit native Peggy Anne Freeman, known professionally as
Donyale Luna, was a graceful giant. Sleek and stylish at 62″, Donyale brought
her elegance to the cover of Harpers Bazaar in 1965. She was the first colored
woman to cover British Vogue in 1966, and she even appeared nude in Playboy Magazine in 1975.
many say her demise was due to her own vices, Ms. Luna was a fine actress with roles in several films. She appeared in a few movies produced by eclectic Pop artist Andy Warhol, including Screen
Test: Donyale Luna and Camp. She also played the title character in the obscure Italian film Salome.
New York’s Beverly Johnson was the first African-American women to
cover American Vogue in 1974. Since then, she has turned her hikes on the
runway into a hair weave empire. The Beverly Johnson Collection features the
most top quality wigs and extensions in hair weave production to date. The duties of author, actress, model, entrepreneur and role model make up Beverlys extensive
but exciting resume.
a supermodel has turned life from turmoil to triumph for Sudans Alek Wek. The
seventh of nine children, Alek was discovered after she and her family fled from
their chaotic village. Since being exposed to the world of modeling, Alek has
been the feature face for Clinique makeup, Victorias Secret lingerie and
designer lines Calvin Klein and Donna Karen.
from that, she has been called upon to star in films and music videos. As of
late, Alek has designed a line of Wek 1933 handbags, has become a fine author
and an avid member on the U.S. Committee for Refugees Advisory Council.
instant success after appearing in the 1976 issue of Vogue, Iman has used her
catwalk presence for humanity. The daughter of a Somali Ambassador, Iman spent much of her childhood in Egypt, and later moved to Kenya. She is the Global Ambassador for the Keep A Child Alive campaign. That and her
latest movement, I AM AFRICAN, strive to put an end to AIDS in her native
Africa.Her successful Iman Cosmetics features a line of skincare designed with all women of color in mind.
all-too familiar Tyra Banks has become a model turned productionista since retiring
from the catwalk. Tyra was the first model to grace the covers of GQ, the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue and the Victorias Secret Catalog. From her runway days till now, Tyra helped create Americas Next Top Model,
a reality show designed to create opportunities for all women desiring to
follow in her footsteps.
The Tyra Banks Show, her daytime talk show
has already won a few Daytime Emmy Awards since its 2005 debut. An ex-model,
talk show host, producer, actress and one-time singer, Tyra is a true
go-getter. She puts in order what she wants and in due time, and she gets it.
indulged in a life of drugs, sex and violence, Tyson Beckford thought he would
live and die in the streets of New York. But after an impromptu meeting, Tyson
was convinced to sign with a modeling agency and soon became one of the most
sought after male models.
The prominent face of Ralph Lauren, Tyson turned
his chance meeting in a New York park into an extensive modeling and acting
has been named one of the 50 Most Beautiful People by People magazine, and even nabbed the Man of the Year honor from VH-1. He now co-hosts the Bravo TV show
Make Me A Supermodel as well. Being such a successful male in the modeling
industry Tyson has begun to inspire young, African-American males to join him
in his successes. Tyson proves that being beautiful isnt just a womans work.
actresses, authors, designers, entrepreneurs, producers, and television hosts
are what models have the power to become. Although Donyale, Beverly, Alek,
Iman, Tyra and Tyson only make up a fraction of successful models, their gift
for graciousness and eye for entrepreneurship has hailed them as leading
individuals in all races African.