Decades have passed since Naomi Sims, the first African-American supermodel, made the cover of Life magazine in 1969 and Beverly Johnson was the first black woman on the cover of Vogue in 1974, but African-American models remain underrepresented.
Find out more about some of the most successful African-American models, from trailblazers who created new opportunities for younger models to new faces that are making a big impact and represent the new wave in the modeling world.
The first African-American woman to appear on the covers of GQ and the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue could have rested on her laurels, but Tyra continued to push boundaries.
Business-savvy and charismatic, Banks turned her modeling success into a business empire that includes “America’s Next Top Model” and her own talk show, and she’s been on Time magazine’s list of the world's most influential people multiple times.
The 24 year old Victoria’s Secret Angel is already wildly successful in the fashion world. She signed her first modeling contract at the age of 13, and three years later she was walking the runway for Valentino, Marc Jacobs, and Anna Sui. She’s one of the most successful African-American models, and she appeared on the covers on Vogue, Teen Vogue, and plenty of other international magazines.
The most famous African-American male model is renowned for his work with Ralph Lauren Polo, but his portfolio also includes campaigns for Tommy Hilfiger and Sean John. He was the host of Bravo’s “Make Me a Supermodel” and made a cameo in “Zoolander”. Beckford also appeared in over 20 music videos, from Britney Spears’ “Toxic” to Mariah Carey’s “Infinity”.
See also: Shortest Famous Models
In less that a week after she started modeling, Jessica White had already met Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour and was hired to model for the magazine. She’s one of the most successful African-American models, and she’s appeared in the pages of Harper’s Bazaar and the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue. On the runway, White walked for Oscar de la Renta, Ralph Lauren, Mark Jacobs, and other big names.
After winning the 6th cycle of “America’s Next Top Model”, Dani Evans signed with Ford Models and appeared in Elle, Essence, Seventeen and many more magazines. While the CoverGirl contract was a part of her prize, she joined the very short list of models asked to do multiple ads for the company. Evans has walked for Mara Hoffman, Zang Toi, Michael Knight, and Baby Phat.
One of the most successful African-American models and the first one to land a major cosmetics contract, Veronica Webb became a Revlon spokesmodel. She walked for Karl Lagerfeld, Isaac Mizrahi and Azzedine Alaia, and was featured on the covers of Vogue, Elle and Essence magazines.
While you may know her as one of the models who was accused of bullying Kendall Jenner on Instagram, Binx Walton is definitely one her way to becoming one of the most successful African-American models. She’s already walked for some of the biggest brands in the world, appeared on the cover on Teen Vogue and in ad campaigns from Alexander Wang, Fendi, Balmain, DKNY, Chanel, and Nike.
A Yale graduate, Joy Bryant is one of the most successful African-American models, and she’s widely known for her role in NBC’s “Parenthood”. Her modeling career included contracts with Gap, Ralph Lauren, Victoria’s Secret, RocaWear, and Tommy Hilfiger.
Don't miss: Celebrities Who Don't Consider Themselves Black
She placed third on the 5th cycle of “America’s Next Top Model” and returned for the All-Star 17th cycle. Bre Scullark has appeared in ads for Old Navy, Garnier and Pantene, and she’s been featured in magazines including Elle Girl, Essence, Vibe, and CosmoGirl.
It’s unlikely that most of today’s most successful African-American models would have made the same impact without Beverly Johnson’s historic Vogue cover. Johnson was also the first black woman to appear on the cover of the French edition of Elle magazine, and in 2012 starred in her own reality show “Beverly’s Full House”.