The Model: Beverly Johnson

The Covers: American Vogue August 1974, French Elle 1975

Where She Was Then:      

Originally from Buffalo, NY, Johnson was doing double duty as a model and Manhattan shop girl (waiting on high-end clients like Jackie Onassis), when her agent informed her: “Beverly, you got it… The Vogue cover!” Johnson said of the coup, “I had had other covers in the United States and abroad, but getting the cover of Vogue was the gold medal.” A year later, she became French Elle’s first black cover girl.

Where She is Now:

Johnson is an actress, author, whose name has sold her eponymous collection of wig and beauty care supplies. Most recently, she starred in Tyler Perry’s Good Deeds and executive-produced the reality series Beverly’s Full House on Oprah’s OWN channel.

The Model: B. Smith

The Cover: Mademoiselle July 1976

Where She Was Then:      

Pittsburgh native Barbara Smith got her start on Mister Roger’s Neighborhood playing a model on a 1969 episode. In the 1970s, she worked as an EBONY Fashion Fair model, and began going by her first initial “B” when she called modeling agency Wilhelmina for appointments. In 1976, Smith ended Mademoiselle’s white-only cover girl streak when her image covered the July issue.

Where She is Now:

In 1986, Smith transitioned from fashion to food, opening her first of three B. Smith restaurants. She soon extended B. Smith into a home enteratining brand, releasing the book B. Smith’s Entertaining and Cooking for Friends in 1995 and, in 1999, hosting the syndicated series B. Smith With Style. She hosted the show for nearly a decade, and has since penned two more books. In September 2012, Smith was inducted into the American Chef Corps, a collaboration between the U.S. Department of State and the James Beard Foundation. As part of the Corps, Smith helps prepare meals for foreign leaders and participates in public diplomacy programs.

The Model: Urs Althaus

The Cover: GQ November 1977

Where He Was Then:        

When the Swiss-Nigerian model completed his business studies; he broke into modeling, walking the runways for designers including Valentino, Armani, and Calvin Klein. In 1977, he became the first ever black model to cover the gentleman’s mag GQ.

Where He is Now:

From 1978 to 2001, Althaus took on different roles in the modeling/fashion industry. According to his imdb bio, he created a model ensemble called Xtazy Ltd, then co-founded the fashion label Gary Gatys Ltd before working as an agent. During this time, Althaus was also building a career on the big and small screen. He stars in the upcoming German film Simplify Your Soul.

The Model: Naomi Campbell

The Cover: French Vogue August 1988

Where She Was Then:      

As a kid, London-born Naomi Campbell appeared in Bob Marley and Culture Club music videos; by the ripe old age of 15 she was discovered by a modeling scout. Her inaugural shoot landed the cover of British Elle, and at 18 she became the first black model to cover Vogue’s Paris edition. The backstory goes Yves Saint Laurent vowed to yank his ads from the magazine if they didn’t put Campbell on the cover.

Where She is Now:

The legendary model went on to dominate the 1990s era of the supermodel covering countless magazines including Time and appearing in music videos. In 2000, she launched the first of seven perfumes. In 2005, she helped found Fashion for Relief to raise money for survivors of disasters and related non-profits. In 2013, Campbell premiered new reality modeling competition The Face. She stars on the show and serves as executive producer.

The Model: Tyra Banks

The Cover: Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition January 26, 1996, GQ February 1996, Victoria’s Secret catalog 1996

Where She Was Then:      

Scouted at 17, Banks left her native Los Angeles in 1991 to walk Europe’s runways. After two years, the Cali girl set her sights on Hollywood, landing a role on popular NBC sitcom Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. From 1993 to 1995, Banks starred in Higher Learning, Love & Basketball and Coyote Ugly. Still modeling throughout, she landed the coveted cover of Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Edition at the top of 1996, covering GQ the following month. That year, she was also chosen to cover the Victoria’s Secret catalog. In all three cover cases, Banks was the first African-American to do so. Where She is Now: Banks famously transitioned from modeling to create a lifestyle empire focused on demystifying the modeling business. She released a book called Tyra’s Beauty Inside & Out in 1998, and launched the instant hit show America’s Next Top Model. She went on to host and executive produce an eponymous talk show via which she earned two Emmys. In 2010, she left her daytime talk show and a year later launched fashion and beauty destination In 2011, she released the novel Modelland, the first of a planned book trilogy inspired by her experiences as a model.

Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond is a fashion blogger and the author of  ‘Powder Necklace.’ Follow Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond on Twitter at @nanaekua.