10 Models Tell Us What It’s Like To Be Black In The Fashion Industry


What Would Naomi Campbell Do?

In celebration of Black History Month, NYLON is running a spotlight series called UNAPOLOGETIC. Every day, we’ll celebrate different aspects of black culture through profiles, interviews, roundtables, reviews, videos, and op-eds. #Blacklivesmatter and we hold that truth to be self-evident.

Diversity is a big word in fashion right now, but it can be hard to tell sometimes just how committed the industry is to making changes. (See: the Karlie Kloss geisha editorial in Vogue's Diversity Issue.) And when it comes to modeling, while there's no doubt we've seen increased representation of a variety of races and ethnicities, there's still a long way to go before achieving anything resembling an accurate reflection of the myriad people out there. And let's not forget that breaking into the modeling industry is hard no matter what—and it's long been much more challenging to do so as a person of color. To see what the state of the industry is really like, we spoke to 10 black models at different stages in their careers to learn more about their experiences. Here's what they had to say in the gallery, below.

Jordun Love, 20

When did you first begin your modeling career?
I started modeling randomly actually. I was waiting for a friend [who was visiting a modeling agency] and the president of the agency came out of nowhere and was like, "Hey, you look like you could be a model." I'm a dancer originally. I've danced in Disney World and the Sixers halftime shows. My first job was with Beyoncé for the "Pretty Hurts" video.

Have you experienced any hindrances or setbacks in your career because of your race?
Definitely. I believe there have been a lot of setbacks simply because a lot of designers aren't too open to being too diverse yet. When I first started, I was actually described as a black boy with long hair—that's all. I didn't have a name. I was just "black boy with long hair." 

Do you think that you would go further in your career if you were any other race?
Honestly, no. I never thought if I was white, I would have it easier or whatever. We have our own lane, we have our own path, and we are all succeeding in that way.

Do you have any advice for any black models? 
It's hard to start and get that first "yes," but once you get that, you'll be on the go. You have to keep going, keep pushing, be very patient, and just know that it'll take time, but the time that it takes is so worth it.