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Article

Isadora Grevan

was born Adriana Alves on 12 December 1976 in São Paulo, Brazil. She was born in the Jabaquara neighborhood in the South Zone of the city. When she was 1 year old, her parents moved to a neighborhood on the outskirts of the city. Her parents and grandparents were born in the state of Bahia in Cruz das Almas. She was raised as a Catholic and always attended public schools, receiving a B.A. in marketing and advertising from Bandeirante University of São Paulo (Uniban) in 2004.

Adriana Alves’s acting career started when she joined the Teatro Escola Chehfa theater group in São Paulo in 1995. She took theater and acting classes and acquired membership in Sindicato dos Artistas de São Paulo (Sated-SP), equivalent to the Screen Actors Guild in the United States. In 1998 she made her stage debut in the play O sorriso do palhaço The ...

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Ana Luiza Libânio

was born Taís Bianca Gama de Araújo on 25 November 1978 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She is the younger of the two daughters of Ademir de Araújo, an economist, and Mercedes de Araújo, a schoolteacher. During her childhood and adolescence, Araújo attended private schools in Rio de Janeiro, and she graduated with a degree in journalism from Universidade Estácio de Sá. She also studied English and Spanish, practiced ballet and gymnastics, and took drama classes. Her career in the amateur theater began at age 11, with performances in the Os Bananas and Grupo Procênio theater companies. As a teen, she worked with the actor Reynaldo Gianecchini, a future costar on Brazilian television.

With a rich educational background Araújo had many career options and planned to be either a dentist or a diplomat but she instead dedicated herself to modeling Soon after her career began she was modeling for international ...

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Eva Ruiz

was born in Cúcuta Norte, in Santander, Colombia, on 8 March 1978. She later studied business administration at the Instituto Politécnico Bolivariano de Cúcuta (Bolivar Polytechnical Institute of Cúcuta). In 1996 Arizala began her modeling career as a participant in the Miss Cúcuta beauty pageant, where she placed second, thereby making a name for herself on a national stage. In 1997 she represented her hometown in the Top Model Colombia competition and placed second again. The following year, she placed fifth in the Elite Model Look Colombia pageant, and in 2000 she participated in the International Female Model pageant in Aruba, where she also took fifth place. In 2001 she traveled to Pachuca, Mexico, where she competed in the Miss Tourism Universe pageant, once again placing fifth.

After several years of competing in beauty pageants both in Colombia and abroad Arizala began to make a name for herself within ...

Article

Steven J. Niven

film actress and model, was born Halle Maria Berry in Cleveland, Ohio, the daughter of Jerome Berry, a hospital attendant, and Judith Hawkins, a psychiatric nurse. Her father, an alcoholic, abandoned the family when she was four, leaving her mother to raise Halle and her sister Heidi, first in predominantly black inner-city Cleveland and later in that city's white suburbs. Berry's childhood was troubled, in part because of the economic hardship of growing up in a single-parent household. But as the light-skinned child of an interracial couple—her mother was white, her father African American—she also endured racial taunts from both blacks and whites. Fellow students called her “zebra” and on one occasion left an Oreo cookie in her school locker. Berry never had any doubts about her own identity, however, and states on her Web site that her “race” is African American and English.

An extremely shy teenager ...

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Charmaine A. Flemming

In 2002 the highest honor for a film actor, the Oscar, was awarded for the first time to an African American female, Halle Berry, for her work in Monster’s Ball. Berry is considered one of America’s most beautiful women, a first-rate performer, and one of Hollywood’s most sought-after leading ladies.

Born to Jerome and Judith Berry in Cleveland, Ohio, Halle Berry was the second daughter of this interracial couple. Halle and her older sister, Heidi, lived their early childhood years in an inner-city neighborhood. When Berry was four, her abusive father left the family, leaving his daughters to be raised almost totally by their mother, a psychiatric nurse. Some time later, Judith Berry moved Halle and her sister to the predominantly white Cleveland suburb of Bedford.

When discussing the family s move to Bedford Berry said it was there that her growth as an interracial child and teenager was ...

Article

Stephanie Y. Evans

actor. Halle Berry was born in Cleveland, Ohio, to Jerome Berry, an African American hospital attendant, and Judith Hawkins Berry, a white psychiatric nurse. Leaving an abusive relationship, Judith Berry moved Halle and her older sister Heidi to the Cleveland suburb of Bedford where, despite many racist attitudes, Halle flourished in high school.

In 1985 Berry won the Miss Teen All American pageant, in 1986 she was first runner-up in the Miss USA pageant, and also in 1986 she represented the United States in the Miss World competition in London. After her pageants she enrolled in Cleveland's Cuyahoga Community College to study broadcast journalism. She moved to Chicago and then to Manhattan, where she managed to get small roles in several television programs.

Berry first gained widespread recognition as Vivian, a crack addict, in Spike Lee's Jungle Fever (1991), and she won roles in The ...

Article

Shelle Sumners

Halle Maria Berry was born on August 14, 1968, in Cleveland, Ohio. Her father, Jerome, was an African American hospital attendant and her mother, Judith, was a white psychiatric nurse. When Berry was four years old her parents divorced and her mother was left to raise Halle and her older sister alone. Initially they lived in a predominantly black area of inner-city Cleveland, but by the time Berry was a teenager her mother had moved the family to the suburbs, where Berry attended Bedford High School. She felt she stood out as a racial minority in her mostly-white school, and was determined to participate fully in school activities. She became a cheerleader, an editor of the school newspaper, and class president. Berry was voted queen of the prom, but because of suspected voting irregularities had to share the title with a white student.

At age seventeen Berry represented ...

Article

Stephen Bourne

Black Londoner whose life as a working‐class seamstress was documented in Aunt Esther's Story (1991), published by Hammersmith and Fulham's Ethnic Communities Oral History Project, and co‐authored with Stephen Bourne. Aunt Esther's Story provides a first‐hand account of Bruce's life as a black Briton in the pre‐Empire Windrush years. Her father, Joseph (1880–1941), arrived in London from British Guiana (now Guyana) in the early 1900s and settled in a tight‐knit working‐class community in Fulham. He worked as a builder's labourer. When Bruce was a young child, Joseph instilled in his daughter a sense of pride in being black. After leaving school, she worked as a seamstress, and in the 1930s she made dresses for the popular African‐American stage star Elisabeth Welch. She also befriended another black citizen of Fulham: the Jamaican nationalist Marcus Garvey She told Bourne he was a nice chap ...

Article

Leyla Keough

Fashion critics praise Naomi Campbell as “the Josephine Baker of the 1990s.” Her graceful beauty, natural modeling ability, and magnetism on the catwalk have earned her up to $1 million a year.

Campbell was born in London, England, to Jamaican immigrants and raised by her mother in south London. Slender and stunning, she speaks with an Asian accent, attributed to the influence of her Chinese grandmother. When Campbell was fifteen years old, a local modeling agent took one look at her and implored her to sign a modeling contract. At the time, Campbell was attending the prestigious London Academy of Performing Arts. After completing the school year, as her mother insisted, Campbell had her first photo shoot and signed with the Elite Model Management Agency in 1987. In 1989 she became the first black model to appear on the cover of the French Vogue magazine and the ...

Article

Camilla Townsend

the first black winner of the “Miss Ecuador” beauty pageant, was born Mónica Paulina Chalá Mejía on 11 April 1973, in Quito, Ecuador. She was the third of six children born to a mother from Esmeraldas and a father from the Chota valley, two rural migrants who had come to the nation’s capital in search of work. Through her parents, she was thus tied to two historically black regions of the country, but she herself was raised as a quiteña. Her older sister Liliana Chalá (1965–) was a successful athlete in school and went on to win international prizes in hurdling and sprint events, representing Ecuador in the 1988 and 1992 Summer Olympics The young Mónica attended modeling school in Quito and through her sister s contacts she soon secured work in a television advertisement for a major bank alongside a famous soccer star A ...

Article

Patricia Hunt-Hurst

one of the pioneers of black women in fashion modeling, was born in Texarkana, Texas; she was the seventh of eight children. Her mother was a school teacher and her father a carpenter and farmer. Dorothy studied biology at Wiley College in Marshall, Texas, where she completed her degree in 1945. She planned to study medicine, but when her mother died she moved to Los Angeles to live with family. While there she earned a master's degree in education at the University of Southern California, married, and started her modeling career.

The fashion industry in the late twentieth century included the major fashion centers of New York and Paris New York was known for its American ready to wear and Paris for its couture or made to order dresses of original designs Fashion models were vital to the display of the designs in both facets of the ...

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Wendy A. Grossman and Sala E. Patterson

was born Casimir Joseph Adrienne Fidelin on 4 March 1915 in Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe’s largest city and economic capital. Fidelin posed for several photographers in Paris in the 1930s, including Roger Parry, Wols (Alfred Otto Wolfgang Schulze), and Man Ray. Although there is remarkably little written documentation about her, Fidelin is widely recognized as the model featured in an extensive assembly of images by Man Ray and acclaimed as the first black model to appear in a major American fashion magazine.

Fidelin emigrated with her family to France following the catastrophic September 1928 hurricane that swept the Caribbean archipelago and the South Florida peninsula killing twelve hundred people on her native island She came of age in Paris in an era in which the influx of émigrés from the French colonies in the Caribbean fueled the creation of a vibrant diasporic Antillean music and dance community that coincided with and ...

Article

Mohamed Adhikari

South African trade unionist and political activist, was the only son of David Gomas and Elizabeth Erasmus. John Stephen Gomas was raised in Abbotsdale near Cape Town. After his father abandoned the family, Elizabeth moved with her son to Kimberley in 1911. Here Gomas entered an apprenticeship at a tailor’s workshop in 1915, where his employer, Myer Gordon, a Russian immigrant, introduced him to socialist ideas. In 1919 Gomas joined the International Socialist League, the African National Congress (ANC), and the Industrial and Commercial Workers Union (ICU). Toward the end of that year his participation in a successful clothing workers’ strike transformed the quiet, bookish youth into a vociferous champion for workers’ rights.

In 1920 Gomas moved to Cape Town where he worked privately from home as a tailor He was active in the ICU the ANC and the Tailors Industrial Union Attracted by its militancy and ...

Article

Ifeona Fulani

was born Beverly Grace Mendoza Jones on 19 May 1948 in Spanish Town, Jamaica, to Marjorie and Robert Jones. She was raised in a religious family; her father was a minister and her uncle a bishop in the Pentecostal church. Jones’s family migrated to the United States when she was 12 and settled in Syracuse, New York. After high school Jones studied theater at Syracuse University but dropped out after her first year to become an actress. Her attempt to break into films was unsuccessful, and in her twenties, she turned to modeling. She found it difficult to get work, however, because of her dark skin and features. “When I started modeling I didn’t really get many jobs—‘Your nose doesn’t match your eyes and your eyes don’t match your lips—where the hell do you come from? What are you?’ ” she explained in a 19 November 1985Tonight Show interview ...

Article

Jolie Guzmán

was born in Medellín, the capital of the Antioquia Department in northeastern Colombia, on 19 July 1982. Considered one of the most important ambassadors of the Latin American modeling world, Lozano’s success embodies the potential of Colombian women in particular and the Afro-Colombian community in the Colombian Pacific.

Lozano began modeling at an early age, catching the eye of local designers with her African heritage and her precocious ability to carry herself in the manner of experienced models. When she was barely 14 years old, she won her first beauty competition, Miss Barbie Negra (Miss Black Barbie) and emerged as one of the most promising models in Colombia.

Her obvious talent as a model combined with her interest in fashion and design For this reason in her childhood she did not hesitate to participate in a design project of the recognized Antioquia designer John Miranda who discovered her talent ...

Article

Esther Aillón Soria

was born in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia, on 3 September 1992. Her father, Ronald Nogales Terrazas, who resides in Spain, is a dental technician, carpenter, and builder. Her mother, Angélica Rey Ballivián, was born in the town of Suapi, North Yungas, in the department of La Paz (Bolivia) and resides in Santa Cruz; she is a professional masseuse and acupuncturist. Nogales belongs to the second generation of Afro-Bolivians who migrated from Los Yungas to the cities of the backbone of Bolivia (La Paz, Cochabamba, and Santa Cruz). Most of her mother’s family lives in Warnes (Santa Cruz), and she no longer has family living in Los Yungas. However, she maintains ties with family members and with the broader Afro-Bolivian community in her city. Nogales studied at the Manuel Ignacio Salvatierra and Soria Schools in Santa Cruz, completing her high school education in 2009.

As a model ...

Article

Gloria Chuku

Nigerian businesswoman and political activist, was born Mary Nwametu Onumonu on 16 October 1898 in Oguta, Nigeria. Her father was Chief Onumonu Uzoaru, one of the first two warrant chiefs appointed for Oguta by the British colonial government. Her mother was a veteran entrepreneur who dealt in palm produce, which she sold directly to the European traders in exchange for assorted imported goods, including textiles. Mary attended elementary school at St. Joseph’s Girls’ Convent in Asaba, Nigeria. Soon after graduation in 1920, she married Richard Nzimiro, a clerk with the United African Company (UAC). Their relocation to Port Harcourt, the site of many foreign businesses, opened opportunities for Mary and resulted in the expansion of her trading enterprise. Her husband resigned from his job and helped Mary manage the business.

As a petty trader at Illah Mary dealt in salt and palm oil But when they moved to Port ...

Article

Martin J. Manning

Parks, Lillian Rogers (01 February 1897–06 November 1997), White House seamstress and author, was born Lillian Adele Rogers, the daughter of Emmett E. Rogers, Sr., a waiter, and Margaret “Maggie” Williams Rogers. Source information is sketchy regarding her early years, but her godchild, Peggy Holly, believes that Lillian Parks was born in the District of Columbia and as a child spent summers with relatives in Virginia. Her father—by Parks's account an alcoholic unable to hold a job—left his family when she was a child; in 1909 her mother took a job at the White House at the beginning of William Howard Taft s presidency and often found it necessary to take her daughter along with her when she went to work A victim of polio at the age of six Parks used crutches for the rest of her life She attended St Ann s Catholic School ...

Article

Lara Allen

South African singer, film actress, and fashion model, was born on 2 April 1928, in Randfontein, west of Johannesburg. Rathebe’s mother was a domestic worker, and initially Rathebe was brought up by her maternal grandparents. When her mother remarried, Rathebe moved to the Johannesburg suburb of Sophiatown, where she went to school. Born Josephine Malatsi, she changed her name to Dolly Rathebe at the beginning of her performance career.

In her late adolescent years Rathebe sang jazz standards as an amateur at private parties and in jazz clubs. In 1949 her vocal abilities and performance acumen were noticed by recording company talent scout Sam Alcock, and she was invited to audition for the second film to be made in South Africa with an all-black cast: African Jim (later retitled Jim Comes to Joburg Rathebe won the leading female role that of a nightclub singer Her performance launched her ...

Article

Roanne Edwards

Since the release of his 1992 debut album Supermodel of the World, RuPaul has become a nationally recognized celebrity. Although best known as a drag queen, he also enjoys surprising audiences by appearing as a man. “Drag queens are like the shamans of our society, reminding people of what's funny and what's a stereotype,” he told People Weekly writer Tim Allis in 1993. “I feel very powerful when I'm in drag, and when I'm out of drag I observe our culture.” Six feet, seven inches tall in heels, RuPaul is painfully aware of the contradictions of being a black man who wears a platinum wig and platform heels. “When I'm dressed up as this goddess,” he told Allis, “people trip over themselves to give me things. But as an African American male, I can walk into an elevator and have people clutch their handbags.”

Born RuPaul Andre Charles ...