Liya Kebede: The Ethiopian Supermodel With A Beautiful Heart

Liya KebedeEthiopian Supermodel, Liya Kebede, lights up runways in Paris and New York, all honey brown skinned and long limbed. And like Warie Daris, Iman, Naomi Campbell, Tyra Banks and her other black supermodel sisters, she broke through the colour barrier in the modelling world to become the first woman of colour appointed face of Estee Lauder cosmetics in a multimillion dollar contract in 2003 – it was the first of its kind in the 57 year history of the Estee Lauder brand.

Kibede was born 34 years ago in Ethiopia and like fellow African models, Somali born Iman and Waris Dirie, she had fortune on her side: She was spotted as a young student in Addis Ababa, by a film director whose recommendation got her signed by a French modelling agent. The rest is like a Cinderella story.

She relocated, first, to France and found it a discouraging experience as she struggled to get modelling jobs because she didn’t have the look most designers wanted. She moved to the United States and after a stint as a catalog model while living with one of her brothers in Chicago, she was eventually signed on to IMG – to pursue modelling full time. Read more

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