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Top 11 African Female Models To Watch

Here are 11 African female models that need to be on your radar as they make waves in the fashion industry.

Fashion is inextricably linked to its models, and models of color consistently serve as muses for top designers.


We are celebrating the 11 African female models below as they make major waves in the industry.

ICYMI, take a look at our top 12 African male models to know here.

1. Nyadak “Duckie" Thot (Australia/South Sudan)

Height: 5′ 10″

Agencies: New York Model Management, Premium Models (Paris), d'management group (Milan), Storm (London), Chadwick Models (Sydney)

Duckie went from placing third on Australia's Next Top Model to making an international name for herself. She left home and headed to NYC in search of acceptance of diversity and she found it. She's spoken out about her struggles with natural hair in the industry and is very conscious of the fact that she is a representation for girls that look just like her. When Rihanna launched her eponymous makeup line this year, she used this model to portray just how diverse the line was.

The depth of this model's skin jumps out at you. She literally resembles a Barbie doll. It come as no surprise that her career has taken off! She has graced an all-black 2018 Pirelli calendar, was in Rihanna's most recent Paper magazine feature and on its Fall '17 cover, landed a Vogue Australia editorial and Harper's Bazaar Kazakhstan cover, and has ripped the runway for both Yeezy and FentyxPuma. Her list of clients include Helmut Lang, DSquared2, Jeremy Scott, Mansur Gavriel, Moschino, Puma, and Sephora.

2. Adwoa Aboah (Britain/Ghana)

Height: 5′ 8″

Agencies: DNA Models (New York), Viva Paris (Paris), TESS (London), Viva (Barcelona), The Lions (New York/Los Angeles)

Adwoa was “born on a Monday" to a mother that's a successful agent and a father that is one of the most sought after location scouts in London. Fashion was a step that made sense.

She's a model in peak demand. She's worked for Burberry, Calvin Klein, Fendi, DKNY, Alexander Wang, Theory, H&M;, Aldo, Versace , Topshop, Rihanna x Puma, Kenzo, Simone Rocha, Chanel, Dior and Erdem, to name a few. Her caramel skin and freckles have even landed her on i-D, Italian Vogue and American Vogue covers alongside Gigi Hadid and Kendall Jenner.

The Italian Vogue cover we just spoke of came months after a suicide attempt and a subsequent coma from the trauma. She was depressed and addicted to drugs, but came out triumphant. Her triumph would be the founding of an online platform, Gurls Talk, to help girls like her deal with their sexuality, mental health, and body image.

3. Maria Borges (Angola)

Height 5' 11"

Agencies: IMG (New York/Paris/London/Milan), Traffic (Barcelona), Mega Model (Hamburg), We Are (Lisboa), MP (Stockholm)

Maria is a global ambassador for L'Oreal Paris and has graced Victoria's Secret's fashion show on many an occasion, once in particular, as the first black model to do so with natural hair. The beauty's list of clients include Balmain, Etro, Dior, Gap, Oscar de La Renta, Tom Ford, and Zac Posen. She's come a very long way from the orphan girl working in a supermarket to make ends meet.

4. Fatima Siad (Somalia/Ethiopia)

Height 5' 12''

Agencies: One Management (New York), Munich Models (Munich), Modellink (Stockholm)

After placing third in America's Next Top Model, Fatima's career took off. You can spot this beauty in editorials for American and Spanish Vogue, Elle, Australian and Indonesian Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, and Cosmopolitan. She's worked for Giorgio Armani, Hermés, Ralph Lauren, Dries Van Noten, Max Azria, Ralph Lauren, Marc Jacobs, Hervé Léger, Tiffany & Co., Armani Exchange, BCBG, and Liz Claiborne.

What's most moving about this model is her candid talks on experiencing female genital cutting in her youth and fleeing her home for safety here in the United States.

5. Halima Aden (Somalia)

Height 5' 6.6''

Agency: IMG (New York/Paris/London/Milan)

Halima was born in a Kenyan refugee camp and moved to the States at the age of 6. Scouted after competing in a Miss Minnesota USA pageant, she walked a Yeezy runway last February and went from that to Maxmara, Albert Ferretti, American Eagle, Fenty Beauty, a Vogue Arabia cover, a Glamour cover and an Allure cover. She redefines beauty standards by doing all the aforementioned in her hijab. She is breaking barriers for Muslim women everywhere.

6. Ayaana Aschkar-Stevens (Britain/Ghana)

Height 5' 9.5"

Agency: Premier Model Management (London)

Ayaana has been in an Ivy Park editorial and hopes to work for brands like Chanel in the near future.

7. Aamito Lagum (Uganda)

Height 6'

Agencies: DNA Model Management (New York), VIVA Model Management (Paris, London, Barcelona), Why Not Model Management (Milan)

Because she is the first winner of “Africa's Next Top Model," Aamito has been in the industry since 2013. The rebel skipped out on law school for her career! She has worked with J. Mendel, Tadashi Shoji, Yeezy, Ohne Titel, Zac Posen, Marc Jacobs, Paul Smith, Bottega Veneta and H&M;. She has appeared in Elle, Allure, W Magazine, British Vogue and Vanity Fair and spoke out against slanderous trolls who berated her when MAC Cosmetics posted a picture of her luscious lips.

8. Khoudia Diop (Senegal)

Height 5' 8"

Agencies: The Colored Girl, Electric Republic

Teased as a child for her skin color, Khoudia has since been placed in a campaign for French cosmetics brand Make Up For Ever and has been making major strides in the industry advocating for people with skin with as much depth as hers. Revisit her photo story celebrating her Nyenyo heritage.

9. Amilna Estevao (Angola)

Height 5' 10"

Agencies: The Society Management (New York), Elite (Paris, Milan, London), Da Banda (Luanda)

In 2013, 14-year-old Amilna landed an Elite Look contract in her capital city and it's been smooth sailing ever since. Her resume is a laundry list of some of the most highly coveted brands in the fashion industry: Givenchy, Lanvin, Balmain, Alexander Wang, Burberry, Phillip Lim, DVF, Dolce & Gabbana, Express, Fendi, Kenzo and more.

10. Herieth Paul (Tanzania)

Height 5' 11"

Agencies: Women Management (New York, Paris, Milan), Elite Model Management (London), M4 Models (Hamburg) Folio Montreal (Montreal), AMTI: Toronto (Toronto)

Herieth has worked for Victoria's Secret, Nina Ricci, Zimmermann, Adam Selman, Stella McCartney, Lacoste, Tom Ford, Calvin Klein, Armani, Cavalli and 3.1 Phillip Lim. She has appeared in editorials for i-D, Vogue Italia, and Teen Vogue and graced the cover of Canadian Elle. Her beautiful skin has even landed her a role as a face for Maybelline New York.

11. Imaan Hammam (Netherlands/Morocco/Egypt)

Height 5' 10"

Agencies: DNA Model Management (New York), VIVA Model Management (Paris, London, Barcelona), Why Not Model Management (Milan), CODE Management (Amsterdam)

Imaan prides herself on being an African-Arab model opening doors for girls just like her. The Muslim model celebrates all aspects of who she is. She's covered American Vogue on two occasions and has received Anna Wintour's applaud many a time. She's worked for Burberry, Alexander McQueen, Maison Margiela, Givenchy, Marc Jacobs, Prada, Michael Kors, Moschino, Chanel, DKNY, Jean Paul Gaultier, Hugo Boss, Stella McCartney, Oscar de la Renta, and much more. Her career is on fire!

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Yes, this was a bad year for many reasons, but we can still celebrate the black women who rose to prominence

Back in 2015, a group of Black women activists appeared in the French media: les afrofems. They were and still are, fighting against police brutality, for better inclusion in the media and to destroy harmful sexual stereotypes surrounding black women among other worthy goals. Since then, more influential Black women have gained a bigger representation in the media. And, even better, some of the afrofems activists, like Laura Nsafou and Amandine Gay, have made films and written books to bring more diversity to the entertainment industry.

2018 has, in many ways, been a year where black women made strides in France, at least in terms of culture. From winning Nobel prizes, to having best selling books and being on top of the charts, Black French women have showed that, no matter how much France wants to keep them under the radar, they're making moves. And, no matter the tragedies and terrible events that have shaped the year, it is something worth celebrating.

France's New Queen of Pop Music

We begin with Aya Nakamura, France's new queen of pop music. Her song Djadja was a summer hit. Everyone from Rihanna, to the French football team who successfully won their second world cup, sang it. Her sophomore album "Nakamura" has been certified gold in France and is still on top of the charts. She is the first French singer to have a number one album in the Netherlands since Edith Piaf in 1961. The last time a black woman was as visible in pop music was in 2004, with Lynsha's single "Hommes...Femmes".

Nakamura has received a huge backlash, mostly due to misogynoir—misogyny directed towards black women where race and gender both play roles. From a French presenter butchering her African first name despite the fact that he can easily pronounce words like "Aliagas", to online trolls calling her ugly and manly when a picture of her wearing no makeup surfaced, to people complaining that she is bringing down the quality of the entire French pop music industry, Nakamura responds to her critics gracefully. Her music is not groundbreaking but her album is full of catchy songs with lyrics using French slang she masters so well that she came up with her own words like "en catchana" (aka doggy style sex). And most importantly, many black girls and women can finally see someone like them in the media getting the success she deserves.

The Nobel Prize Winner

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Another Black French woman has broken records this year: the Guadeloupean writer Maryse Condé who won the Alternative Nobel Prize, a prize meant to replace the Nobel Prize in Literature, after the scandal that the Swedish Academy of Literature faced last year. Condé wrote her first novel at only 11 years old and has been prolific ever since. A former professor of French literature at Columbia University, she has published more than 20 books since the 1970s, exploring the complex relationships within the African diaspora. "Segu", her most famous novel, is about the impact of the slave trade and Abrahamic religion on the Bambara empire in Mali in the 19th century. Condé's work is radical and she remains committed to writing feminist texts exploring the link between gender, race and class, as well as exploring the impact of colonialism. Condé is a pillar of Caribbean literature and it's taken long enough for her work has been acknowledged by the Nobel prize committee.

The Children's Books Writers

From Comme un Million de Papillon Noir

And finally, 2018 has been the year where France's children's literature industry has finally understood how important, for the public, writers and publishers, being inclusive and diverse was. From Laura Nsafou's Comme un Million de Papillon Noir, a best selling book about a young black girl learning to love her natural hair which sold more than 6000 copies, to Neiba Je-sais-tout: Un Portable dans le Cartable, the second book of Madina Guissé published this year after a successful crowdfunding campaign, there are more and more children's and young adult books with non white protagonists. In France, there are still no stats about how diversity is doing, but in America, in 2017, only 7 percent of writers of children's literature were either Black, Latino or Native American.

There's still much to accomplish in France for the Black community to have better representation in the media, politics and all walks of life, but important strides have been accomplished this year, and it make me hopeful for what 2019 and the following years have in store.

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