Many people have the misconception that models have it easy because all they are required to do is sit there and look pretty. As we’ve come to learn, models are more than that. Many are college educated and have taken the opportunity to sit in front of a camera to build their own fortunes. Such is the case with a multitude of black supermodels.
Chanel Iman and Sessilee Lopez are the model industry’s reigning black queens because they were taught how to maximize their potential by the black models who came before them.
Check out the shoulders of giants on which Chanel Iman and Sessilee Lopez are standing on.
To the young women of today, the name Roshumba Williams might not mean anything. However, she was a pioneer in the modeling world. She is the first black woman ever to appear in Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Issue. Tyra Banks wouln’t have had the opportunity to appear on the cover in 1997 if Roshumba Williams hadn’t appeared in the magazine a few years earlier.
The transition Williams made from fashion into acting was seamless. For a time, she worked as a VJ for VH1. She has appeared in films with such cinematic luminaries like Woody Allen. As of late, Roshumba Williams has found a home on reality television. She has hosted shows like the male makeover show “Live Like A Star” and WEtv’s “Swimsuit Secrets Revealed.” Williams also replaced Beverly Johnson as judge and mentor on the TV Land model competiton for women over 35 called, “She’s Got the Look.”
Known for her stunning features and amazing copper-hued skin, Iman is the epitome of a supermodel. After gracing numerous prestigious magazine covers in the late seventies, Iman became the muse for many of the world’s top fashion houses. Yves St. Laurent, Calvin Klein, and Gianni Versace have all worked with and praised the Somali-born model turned businesswoman.
In 1994, Iman began her own cometics company to fill a void she saw in the market for makeup for ethnic women. Today, Iman Cosmetics stands as one of the biggest cosmetic brands geared towards African-American women. The company grosses more than $25 million a year and is one of the best selling brands at Walgreens.
Naomi Campbell, co-star and co-host, “The Face.” (Image: File)
Now known as a journalist and television personalty, Veronica Webb got her start as a supermodel. She is the first black supermodel to get an exclusive contract with a major cosmetics company. While most women say they got into modeling to be able to wear expensive clothes, Webb said she always admired the freedom models posed with when she was a young girl.
After strutting runways and posing for major ad capaigns with that same freedom she admired as a little girl, she moved into film with a role in Spike Lee’s “Jungle Fever.” While making a name for herself in fashion and film, Webb was also contributing news segement s for “Good Morning America” as well as writing a monthly style column for Paper Magazine. Her writing has also appeared in The New York Times and Details Magazine.
Though now known as the host, judge, and executive producer of the hit modeling reality competition show “America’s Next Top Model,” Tyra Banks broke barriers down in the fashion world before many of the reality model contestants could walk and talk.
Tyra was the first black woman to appear solo on the cover of GQ Magazine and Sports Illustrated in 1996 and 1997 respectively. Victoria’s Secret helped her make history again when they picked her to be the first black woman to cover their coveted catalog.
Since retiring from modeling in 2005, Banks has created a media empire. Not only does she run Bankable Productions which produced the Emmy Award-winning talk show “The Tyra Banks Show,” she proved models have brains when she graduated from Harvard Business School.
She now contributes regularly to Italian Vogue’s website, while still training aspiring models on “America’s Top Model,” which still airs on The CW network.