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Avellon Williams 

The continent of Africa is home to many beautiful women from diverse cultural backgrounds. A plethora of African women has successfully changed the way people perceive beauty and the African woman. 

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Many of these women have dispelled stereotypes that others thought they knew about African women. In terms of beauty and elegance, African women can compete with any woman in the world. Besides being attractive, these African female models are intelligent and beautiful and can drive any man nuts. 

In the past few years, African female models have dominated both the fashion and film industries, and they are taking center stage even on the global red carpet, blazing runways and capturing the attention of audiences around the world. 

Additionally, they use their platforms and careers to create a diverse and inclusive community for other emerging models.

It is now history that women are household keepers, breaking the notion that men should dominate every profession the world has to offer. 

Listed below are some leading African models who have broken stereotypes and are rocking Africa and the world. 

Fatima Siad – Somalia / Ethiopia

Fatima Siad /Image, TW/

She grew up in Somalia with her mother, and two sisters, and is the daughter of Somali parents. Siad was born on December 17, 1986, in Mogadishu, Somalia. In her early childhood, her parents divorced. A female genital cutting was performed on her when she was seven years old. During the civil war, her two sisters were killed by the Somali army. Having lost her sisters at the age of thirteen, Siad and her mother fled to the United States for safety. 

Siad says she lived in a shack when she was younger and had low self-esteem. During high school, she participated in the Boston University Upward Bound TRIO program. During her time at Bryn Mawr College in 2004, she was a Posse Scholar. Upon graduation, she transferred to New York University to study pre-medicine and political science. As a result, she transferred back to Bryn Mawr College to complete her education.

Fatima Siad /Image, OLJ/ 

The Somali-Ethiopian fashion model Siad, who is based in New York, is one of the best African models around.  During Cycle 10 of America’s Next Top Model, Siad came in third place.

Numerous fashion magazines have featured her, including Elle, Cosmopolitan, Essence Magazine, and Marie Claire. In 2014, Siad was hired by Ralph Lauren for a print campaign along with Pantene for a campaign. In the same year, she walked the runway at London Fashion Week Fall/Winter for Emilia Wickstead and Lucas Nascimento, earning her spot on the top list of African models. 

Aamito Lagum – Uganda

Aamito Lagum /Image, LNF/

Ugandan actress and fashion model Aamito Lagum born on 3 December 1992, is best known for being the winner of Africa’s Next Top Model’s first cycle.

The young girl was raised by a single mother named Sidonia Ayaa in Kampala. She moved in with her grandparents after her mother lost her job in Kitgum. Later, she returned to Kampala to attend St. Jude Primary School, Katikamu Seventh Day Adventist Senior Secondary School, and St. Lawrence High School.

Upon reaching the age of 16, Lagum began to pursue a career in modeling. The first job she had was walking for Gloria Wavamunno’s GW Collection during Ugandan Fashion Week. As a result of Lagum’s meeting with designer Adele Dejak in 2012, she was invited to Kenya for a photo shoot.

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After winning the first season of ‘Africa’s Next Top Model’ hosted by Nigerian supermodel Oluchi Orlandi, Ugandan model Amito Lagum rose to fame.

Despite her mother’s wish for her to become a lawyer, Lagum’s desire to be a model drove her to take a 16-hour bus ride from Uganda to Kenya to participate in the reality show’s East African casting. WSJ Magazine and Elle South Africa have published the 30-year-old’s editorial work since winning the competition and signing with DNA Model Management. Among the international fashion designers Lagum has walked for are Paul Smith, Marc by Marc Jacobs, and Lacoste. It is one of her goals to work with renowned fashion editors Anna Wintour and Franca Sozzani at Vogue.

Candice Swanepoel – South Africa

Candice Swanepoel /Image, WF/

A South African model and philanthropist, Candice Susan Swanepoel was born on 20 October 1988. Victoria’s Secret is one of her most recognizable brands. In 2010, she was selected as a Victoria’s Secret Angel. Forbes ranked her 8th on its list of top-earning models in 2016.

In Mooi River, South Africa, Swanepoel was born to Willem Swanepoel and Eileen Swanepoel (née Green). The Swanepoelsare from an Afrikaner family of Dutch descent. Her father is from Mutare, Zimbabwe, and her mother is from South Africa. Stephen is her older brother. Swanepoel trained as a ballet dancer while growing up. She attended boarding school in Hilton at St. Anne’s Diocesan College. The Durban flea market was where she was discovered by a model scout when she was 15 years old.

She began booking modeling jobs across Europe a year later and made the big move to New York City at 18 to pursue it full-time.

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With an estimated net worth of $10 million, Candice Swanepoel is undoubtedly one of the biggest names in the modeling industry. Forbes listed her as one of the world’s best-paid models in 2013.

Besides being featured in numerous magazines such as Nylon, Elle, and Vogue, Swanepoel has walked the runway for notable designers such as Diane Von Furstenberg, Nanette Lepore, and Betsy Johnson. Her current contract is with IMG and she is yet another worthy mention on this list.

Agbani Darego – Nigeria

Agbani Darego /Image, AP/

The Nigerian model and beauty queen Agbani Darego, born 22 December 1982, was crowned Miss World in 2001. Her victory made her the first black African woman to be crowned Miss World.

Originally from Abonnema, Darego grew up in Lagos as the sixth child in a family of eight children. When she was two years old, her family relocated to Port Harcourt where she was raised in D-Line. At ten, Darego was sent to boarding school to keep her away from her mother, who was battling breast cancer. She moved to boarding school two years after the death of her mother, who owned a rice trading business and a clothing boutique. Despite the loss, Darego has spoken of how it prepared her for future challenges.

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Despite her conservative father’s wishes, Darego auditioned for the M-Net Face of Africa modeling competition as a teenager but was not chosen as a finalist. Darego studied at Federal Government Girls’ College, Abuloma. In the years following her secondary education, she studied Mathematics and Computer Science at the University of Port Harcourt.

Among Darego’s notable accomplishments are an endorsement with L’Oreal, which ended in 2005, as well as walking the runway for designers such as Oscar De La Renta, Marc Bouwer, and Tommy Hilfiger, as well as gracing the covers of magazines like Elle, Marie Claire, and Cosmopolitan. In addition to holding a psychology degree from New York University, Darego owns her clothing brand called AD by Agbani Darego, and she also serves as a brand ambassador for two of Nigeria’s leading brands: Arik Air and Nature’s Gentle Touch.

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In 2010, Darego was named one of the 20 most influential Nigerians by Vanguard. As the first Nigerian models to enjoy successful international careers, she and fellow model Oluchi Orlandi are considered pioneers of the modeling industry in Nigeria. 

Ataui Deng – Sudan

Ataui Deng /Image, GR/

Sudanese American model Ataui Deng was born on 3 November 1991 in Khartoum and began her fashion career at 17 years old. Initially associated with her more famous aunt Alek Wek, her youth quickly became the aspect of her career that the media focused on.

As a Dinka from South Sudan, she migrated to San Antonio, Texas in 2004 with her parents, just one year before the Second Sudanese Civil War ended. New York City is where she currently resides.

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Her career began in 2008, four years after her family moved to Texas from Khartoum, Sudan. She has since walked the runway for renowned designers such as Diane Von Furstenberg, Oscar De La Renta, and Mugler. Among the glossy magazines in which Deng has appeared are Harper’s Bazaar, Teen Vogue, and Vogue America. She is currently represented by Trump Management in New York, Elite in Paris and Milan, and Models 1 in London. Among the most beautiful models in Africa.

Leila Lopes – Angola

Leila Lopes /Image, BEN/

Miss Universe 2011 was crowned by Leila Lopes, an Angolan model and beauty queen born on 26 February 1986 in Benguela, South Angola. Lopes is the eldest daughter of seven children. She is the first woman from Angola to win Miss Universe, she had previously won Miss Angola UK 2010 and Miss Angola 2010.

Lopes studied business management at the University of Suffolk in Ipswich, United Kingdom, before competing in beauty pageants.

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She has worked in HIV/AIDS prevention campaigns in Angola and has been an ambassador for the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) which combats land degradation. In 2012, Lopes modeled at New York Fashion Week, gracing the covers of several magazines including Maxim and New African Woman Magazine.

In addition to being signed to Trump Management, she is married to Nigerian-American footballer Osi Umenyiora.

Behati Prinsloo – South Africa

Behati Prinsloo /Image, WP/

Namibian model Behati Prinsloo was born on 16 May 1988 in Grootfontein, Namibia. Before her birth, her father was contracted to work in South Africa, but her family moved back to Namibia when she was three years old. She is the only child of church minister Boet Prinsloo. She is the daughter of Magda (née Rossouw), who runs a bed and breakfast. A native Afrikaner, she grew up speaking Afrikaans and was educated in English. She graduated from Grootfontein Secondary School after Grade 9 to pursue modeling.

While vacationing with her grandparents in Cape Town, she was discovered by a scouter Noelle Doukas, daughter of Sarah Doukas. “We went to the grocery store after church and this guy came up to me and asked if I was a model and wrote his number on a piece of paper…”.

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Prinsloo shot to supermodel stardom in 2009 when she was named a Victoria’s Secret Angel and became the face of their ‘Pink’ brand. In 2014 and 2015, she opened consecutive Victoria’s Secret Fashion Shows. She walked in ten Victoria’s Secret Fashion Shows (2007-2015; 2018).

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As a model, she has walked the runway for top fashion houses including Chanel and Louis Vuitton, and graced the covers of high-profile magazines like Elle and Vogue.

In July 2014, Prinsloo married Maroon 5’s Adam Levine in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. In the same city, they celebrated their first wedding anniversary, where Adam sang “Let’s Get It On” by Marvin Gaye.

Malaika Firth – Kenya

Malaika Firth /Image, FT/

Kenyan-born Malaika Firth is a British model born on 23 March 1994, in Mombasa, Kenya, and brought up in Barking, a suburban town in East London, when she was seven years old. 

It is believed that her family belongs to the Giriama ethnic group in Kenya. Eric, her father, is British, Seychellois, and Ugandan, and Jecinta, her mother, is half-Kenyan and half-Swiss. The family moved from Kenya to Barking when Malaika was 7 years old.

At the Four Seasons, Eric worked as a French polisher. The way Malaika speaks about her family shows her ambition, but also a rootedness that might keep her from the worst excesses of her industry. 

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She says, “I don’t come from a posh or high-class background. We lived in flats in the ghetto, our version of ‘the Bronx’. We weren’t poor, but there wasn’t a lot of money. I shared a room with my sister and my auntie. I struggled getting by in school, with £2 for my lunch. When the EMA (Education Maintenance Allowance) came out I was so excited – £20 a month! I appreciate everything that has happened. For me to have this career is life-changing for my family”. 

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Home is Kenya or New York – maybe Los Angeles, one day. “Everywhere is home. I am like a gypsy!” she says. She has not been back to Barking since she “blew up” – the family has all moved to Kenya, so there are no ties to east London left.

“I only had one or two friends in sixth form anyway. I was bullied a lot at school. People were like – “she’s so shy, she’s so boring, I don’t want to talk to her. But – ha! – now look where I am. I see people’s comments on Instagram, talking about how well I am doing. When I think about stuff like that I just think: “Thank you, God”.

In 2013, Malaika became the second black model to appear in a Prada advertisement in nearly 20 years since Naomi Campbell. 

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“After that Prada campaign when I was being compared to Naomi Campbell I was so happy. She’s a legend,’ stated Malaika in an interview with The Guardian. ‘People are allowed to talk about my race. I like it. I guess I see myself as a kind of junior ambassador.”

Having walked the runway for Prada, the 28-year-old is well on her way to success after being named one of the models to watch. A huge part of her success is due to her mother, who contacted Premier Models in London to tell them about her daughter’s modeling credentials. Premier Models represents her and she is currently based in New York.

There are many other African models to name on this list. Let us know which one you admire most

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Avellon Williams

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