Before Naomi there was Naomi Sims who entered the fashion world in 1967. With her brown skin, gorgeous face and memorable walk, Sims quickly rose the ranks, appearing on the cover of Life magazine in 1969. She's often referred to as the first black supermodel.
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Although she had the potential for a long career, Sims gave up modeling to start her own wig business at the age of 24. Since then, Sims has written several books about beauty, modeling and success and launched her own cosmetics line, the Naomi Sims Collection. She died of cancer at the age of 61 in 2009.
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In 1986, Kimora Lee Perkins's mother enrolled her uncommonly tall 11-year-old in modeling classes to boost her self-esteem. Just two years later, the girl we now know as Kimora Lee Simmons signed an exclusive modeling contract with Chanel in Paris becoming Karl Lagerfeld's muse by the age of 13.
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After marrying hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons, Kimora got out of modeling and into the design business, taking over as head of Baby Phat. Divorced from Simmons, with whom she has two daughters, Kimora now runs Baby Phat and the KLS collection, in addition to starring in a reality show and writing books. She recently had a baby boy with Oscar-nominated actor Djimon Hounsou.
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Veronica Webb was just a 20-year-old design student when she was "discovered" on the streets of New York City in 1985. The Detroit-native soon became a fixture in magazines and on the runway, making history by becoming the first African American model to sign an exclusive cosmetics contract (Revlon).
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Officially retired from the runway, Webb has seamlessly transitioned from fashion to the worlds of television, movies and book publishing. Most recently, Webb co-hosted the first season of Bravo's 'Tim Gunn's Guide to Style.' She lives in the Florida Keys with her husband and two daughters.
Beverly Johnson, a champion-swimmer-turned-supermodel, is said to have graced more than 500 magazine covers in her long and storied career. The most famous cover of all? Her history-making 1974 Vogue cover. She was the first black woman to grace the cover of the American version of the magazine. She has said that by the age of 23, she was making more than $100,000 a year modeling.
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Beverly Johnson, now a youthful fifty-something, has completely conquered the hair biz with her extremely successful wig line. She's also the co-host of TV Land's 'She's Got the Look,' a modeling competition show for women 40 and older.
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While there is a laundry list of supermodels who have ruled the scene since the '60s, there are only a handful of male models -- of any race -- who can actually claim "super" status. Tyson Beckford is one of them. In 1991, at the age of 21, the New York-native got his modeling break when an editor from The Source spotted the looker at a NYC park. From there, Beckford went on to be the spokesmodel for Ralph Lauren Polo. The rest is history...
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No longer a mainstay in magazines or on the runway, Tyson is staying relevant in the fashion world through his hosting gig on Bravo's 'Make Me A Supermodel.'
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