15 Black Models Who Are Making Major Waves In The Industry Right Now
Naomi Campbell, Iman, Kimora Lee Simmons, Tyra Banks. They’re all legendary fashion models that made their marks. Here are a list of 15 up and comings who are slowly but surely becoming household names.
I think it’s fair to say that Chanel Iman is just as iconic as her first and last name. The Los Angeles native got her start modeling at just 13 and now at 23, she has appeared on covers of Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle and i-D magazine. Not to mention her countless spreads and advertising campaigns for Victoria’s Secret, GAP, DKNY, Ralph Lauren, Express and many more brands and designers.
At 15, this British beauty was discovered while shopping at a local department store in Hammersmith, London. Often teased for her height and weight as a teen, Dunn suffered from self-consciousness but developed an interest in modeling after seeing “America’s Next Top Model.” She’s been able to achieve several big milestones in her career so far. In 2008, Dunn became the first black model to walk the Prada runway in over a decade, and since then, she has gone on to become the face of Maybelline New York. She joined the Forbes list of Top-Earning Models in 2014, making $4 million in one year.
When Joan Smalls was declared the first black model to land a Chanel campaign, she received an email from the legendary Naomi Campbell congratulating her on the accomplishment. In 2013, Smalls was ranked number eight on the Forbes Highest Paid models list and in 2012, was picked as Model of The Year. That’s no surprise considering that she’s represented Chanel, Prada, Gucci, Tom Ford, Versace, Louis Vuitton and much more. Did we mention she’s only 26? Get em girl!
Although Leomie was signed at 14, it wasn’t until she made her debut in 2011 on a UK-based reality show (“The Model Agency”) that she really captured everyone’s attention. Since then she’s modeled in campaigns for Joe Fresh and Italian Vogue in addition to gracing the runway for big names like Oscar de la Renta, Tom Ford, Moschino and Rebecca Minkoff. In an interview, when asked about what it’s like to face racism in the industry, Anderson explained: “Well, it’s not my fault. That’s their opinion. They are out of date, and in time, they’ll have to change; they can’t continue with that perspective.”
If you’re looking for Damaris Lewis, you can find her getting the courtside deets as an NBA style correspondent or posing as a muse for GQ and Prince. And yes, we do mean Prince. The Brooklyn native got her start with Elite Model Management, and in her early days, she graced the pages of Sports Illustrated. Since then, Lewis has gone on to do campaigns for Yves Saint Laurent, L’Oreal Paris and much more.
In an interview with VIBE Magazine, Corey Baptiste shared that he enrolled in John Jay College with the intent of studying Criminal Justice. However, after applying for a part-time job at Abercrombie & Fitch, Baptiste was scouted out and drafted into the modeling industry. Drawing comparisons to the legendary Tyson Beckford, Baptise has modeled in campaigns for Kenzo and Polo Ralph Lauren. Earlier this year, he landed the 2014 cover of GCaribbean Magazine.
A Facebook message from photographer Tyren Redd is what convinced Broderick Hunter to give modeling a shot. After doing a few test shoots with Redd, Hunter set aside his plans for a future in basketball and began focusing on his new modeling career. In June of 2012 he posed for GQ Italia and later did a campaign for Polo Ralph Lauren. He also starred along Ciara in her music video for the single, “Sorry.”
When Shaun Ross isn’t getting down in Beyoncé videos, we can find him in the pages of British GQ, Italian Vogue, i-D Magazine, Paper Magazine and several others. Born and raised in the boogie-down Bronx, Ross has been praised as the industry’s first albino male model and an extremely successful one at that. A trained dancer, Ross studied at Alvin Ailey for five years before being discovered on YouTube and later crossing over to the fashion world.
“A lot of people have a story and a background, but mine is painted on my body,” Chantelle explained in her audition tape for America’s Next Top Model’s 21st cycle. The Canadian native suffers from vitiligo, but didn’t let that stop her from achieving her dreams. She recently served as the face of Desigual’s Fall campaign.
Another, “ANTM” success, Don Benjamin was featured on the 20th cycle of “America’s Next Top Model.” Since then, he has served as the face for Guess, Moods of Norway, Forever 21, Tilly’s, and Pink Dolphin, but that’s not all! Shortly after his premiere on “ANTM,” he started releasing his rap music, and has had success with that. Look’s like he has his eye on landing a spot on a different type of Billboard.
While Jourdan Dunn was ripping the Prada runway, her Malaika Firth became the first black model to book a Prada campaign in 20 years. At 17, Firth was signed to Premiere Model Management on the spot after attending an open-casting call with her mother. She’s walked in shows for Jean Paul Gaultier, Bottega Veneta, Marc Jacobs, Kenzo, Dolce & Gabbana and in 2013, made her debut at the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.
Maria Borges wasn’t too discouraged when she came in as second runner-up in the Elite Model Look Angola modeling contest in 2010. Her determination helped her become the winner of the Ford Supermodel Angola modeling contest the next year. Since then, she has walked in more than 39 runways shows and appeared at New York Fashion Week. In 2013, Forbes Africa crowned Borges the African Queen of the runway and listed her as number one out of the 20 Top African models.
Lopez started her career in 2004 after signing with IMG models. Since then she has graced the covers of American, Italian, French, Japanese, and German Vogue, Allure, i-D, Marie Claire Swedish, American editions, French Elle, and several other magazines. In 2008, Lopez graced one of the alternative covers of Vogue Italia‘s “All Black” issue alongside cover models Naomi Campbell, Jourdan Dunn and Liya Kebede.
It’s unusual to meet Vogue’s Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour within your first week of modeling in NYC, but for Arlenis Sosa, this was a dream come true. Despite the fact that she spoke very little English, she was whisked away to attend the MET Ball alongside Moises, son of (the late) Oscar de la Renta and later appeared in a spread for Vogue magazine. In an interview with Latina Magazine where she was asked about having tensions with other models of color, Sosa expressed, “Models need to stick together, especially black models, whom people are always accusing of being too competitive.” In 2008 she appeared in the Victoria’s Secret fashion show and is currently a spokesperson for Lancome.
When your Aunt is Alek Wek, you’re bound to be a dynamic force within the modeling industry. Ataui Deng made her debut in 2008 dominating the catwalks for designers like Jeremy Laing and Zac Posen. She’s been featured in several issues of Teen Vogue and currently resides in New York City.