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One of the most written and talked about supermodels is NAOMI CAMPBELL. In addition to her formidable modeling skills and exotic looks, Campbell is known for frequently throwing diva temper tantrums, more than one of which got her in trouble with the law.
But nothing interferes with her deeply respected status in the modeling world.
Born in London, England, Campbell’s mother is of Afro-Jamaican descent. After studying ballet, Campbell was discovered by a key person in the fashion industry and let that become her life’s work. Soon her face was everywhere, and the top designers came calling, including Yves St. Laurent and Ralph Lauren. She has appeared on more than 100 magazine covers. Nothing has ever stopped Naomi from expressing the way she really feels on any subject, including racism.
In fact, this year she commented, “The American president may be Black, but as a Black woman I am still an exception in this business. I always have to work harder to be treated equally.”
IMAN is one of the most recognized faces in the world. Born Iman Mohamed Abdulmajid in Somalia, northeastern Africa, she was studying political science at the University of Nairobi and soon after, certain events led to a career shift.
An American photographer discovered the beautiful and photogenic Iman in 1975 and recruited her as a model. By the next year, she was featured in Vogue magazine. Among her earliest supporters was Yves St. Lauren, who was eager to hire her.
Like most supermodels, Iman is involved in other projects as well, including Iman Cosmetics, Skincare & Fragrances.
Iman, also an actress, as are numerous other supermodels, has been married to rock superstar David Bowie since 1992. Prior to that, she was married to pro-basketball player Spencer Haywood.
There was widespread sadness when NAOMI SIMS passed on Aug. 1. She was one of the greatest in the modeling field and also an inspiration to others who sought to make inroads in that profession.
Sims, born in Mississippi, was studying psychology (taking night classes) when she won a scholarship to the Fashion Institute of Technology, located in New York. However, she was discouraged by the racial barriers that she encountered from agencies. Some had the audacity to say bluntly that she was “too dark.”
She decided to try a different approach — she went directly to a fashion photographer from the New York Times. The strategy worked, but even after appearing in that prestigious publication, the work was still slow coming in.
Campbell’s big breakthrough was being chosen for a national television campaign for AT&T. In those commercials she wore clothes designed by the famed Bill Blass. After that, she was in demand.
The fashion industry and the women in it had long intrigued Detroit-born VERONICA WEBB. As a young girl she pondered different career possibilities. After deciding on modeling, she realized it would be in her best interest to let New York City be her new home base.
It may sound like a fairy tale, but a makeup artist discovered Webb on the streets of the Big Apple. One thing led to another and she found herself being recruited as a spokesmodel for Revlon, the first Black model to sign an exclusive contract with a major cosmetics company. Webb has come a long way since her days as a student at Waldorf School in Detroit.
These ladies — and others — are to be commended for their impressive achievements, often against tremendous odds. They are further proof that Black is indeed beautiful, and unstoppable, too.
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